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The Artist

The Artists Plain

Pictures splash furiously onto each page,
Images shaped with both light and shade,
Memories and thoughts, things she wished she had said,

Emotions and fears that had never been shared.

Some pages were dark, some filled with desire,
Yet others glowed with heaven’s own fire;
Some scenes that exposed the true hearts of men,

Were blotched by tears she had shed over them.

Some pictures were smudged, some faded with time,
Others vivid with colour, rhythm and rhyme.
Some portraits brought pleasure, some caused her pain

That she had hoped she might never feel again.

And the truth looked directly back into her eyes,
Its gaze unashamed, its candour undisguised,
For what she had thought had been fiction’s domain

Was staring at her and speaking her name.

The shock of enlightenment jolted her soul –
Each page revealed truths that had never been told;
Every fiction created as part of her art

Had been drawn from the depths of her world-weary heart.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

The Artist is one of my favourite poems from ‘Leaf’.

I was inspired to write it by my friend Nicky, who is an incredibly gifted

Leaf 2nd Ed Title Only copyartist. On looking at one of her paintings, I commented that I wished I could do what she did.
She said, “You do. You just do it with words.”


Leaf is available in your favourite digital bookstore or in paperback.

Late Fall.

Given that ‘New Horizons’ just won first place for Short Story in the Summer Indie Book Awards,  I thought I would share a story from that book this week. 

I hope you enjoy it! 


“Are you okay?” he asked.

“I’m fine,” she lied.

So he left, not worried at all.

And she stayed, as she always had.

She had always wished he would touch her face gently, or hold her hand, and say he’d be back as soon as he could be. She longed to hear him tell her that there was nowhere else he would rather be than with her. She wanted him to hold her close when the nights were long and lonely. She craved for him to love her the way he had promised to, all those years ago.

But her hopes had faded with her memories of their happiness. For all she remembered of those times, it could have been someone else in the faded pictures in the album that she knew by heart, but could no longer bear to open.

A wedding dress. A baby’s first steps. A smiling couple in front of a small house in the suburbs. A schoolboy. A graduation. Another wedding dress.

The only thing that mattered anymore was the baby, and he was long gone, a grown man living on the other side of the country, pursuing his own hopes and dreams.

Probably for the best, she thought. No point in him knowing what my life has become. Just let him be happy.

What she wanted now was to be somewhere – someone – else.  It almost didn’t matter where, or who. Those things are not so important to someone who has almost entirely forgotten who she used to be.

She gazed at the leaves falling in the yard, flurries of colour falling to the ground, skittering playfully in the breeze.

So free. So beautiful. I wonder how they know when it’s time to fall.

Then she realised: they just do. It just happens.

She  turned away from the window and went to the closet. She took out a suitcase and began to fill it with her things. She was preparing to leap from her tree and fly to another place.

She was afraid of falling; she was afraid of the wind.

But she was more afraid of staying where she was and ceasing to exist at all.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

Promo New Horizons Cover eBook new with SIBA badge


‘Late Fall’ appears in New Horizons.
Find out more at www.jvlpoet.com/books


Circus Life

Promo TPOTN Circus Life Plain
It’s a difficult day at work as
She realises her childhood dream
Of becoming a star a the circus
Was not as silly as it seemed.


The contortionist folds herself neatly
Into a sturdy coloured box
And pulls the lid closed tightly
So the clowns can close the locks
That confine her securely within,
Which ends the first act, allowing
The escapologist’s act to begin.
Daring, nimble,death-defying!
She emerges from the locks and chains
Escaping the darkness that smothers,
Miraculously free of those constraints
Inflicted on her by others.
But the show is not over yet!
She leaps onto the high trapeze
Of life without a safety net
Where she swings and sails with ease,
Until the tightrope twists and tangles
While she’s still up in the air –
She is caught and left to dangle
While the audience gawps and stares.
Upside down, she swings herself low
Then dives into a tiny pool!
It’s all part of the Big Top freak show
Full of wonders, misfits and fools.
She stands smiling at the Ringmaster
Who deftly throws those deadly knives
Which fly so hard and fast at her
That one false move could end her life.
An almighty roar distracts her –
There’s a lion on the prowl!
Hungry for blood, it attacks her
Then continues to snarl and growl.
Taking a whip and a sturdy chair,
With which to tame the big cat’s rage,
She holds its gaze with a steely glare
And forces it back into its cage.
The strong woman flexes her muscles
Benchpressing the weight of the world,
 Carrying it all as she hustles:
 A veritable Supergirl.
She juggles all the spheres of her life
Despite her growing sense of doom,
All the while balancing astride
The elephant in the room.


She keeps looking for the exit sign
And dreams of running away
From being the star attraction
At the circus, day after day.


©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam

the passing of the night title orange
This poem and fifty others appear in The Passing Of The Night.

The Tempest.

Promo X The Tempest Plain


The cruel, frigid wind wails.
The blizzard chills everyone who hears its howl
While vicious frozen shards stab them in the back
As they turn and run for shelter, for safety
From the dangers of the vicious storm.
There is no safe place to hide.
Even those who might escape the snow and ice
Could still freeze in such perilous conditions.
The cold is just as deadly as the weapons
Hurled in its tempestuous anger.
The assailment seems endless.
Only the intensity of the fury
Varies: moments of silence lure its victims
Into a false sense of hope for redemption
Before the moaning of the tempest resumes.
And then, at last, there is peace.
The frostbitten cheeks of Winter blow no more,
Her chapped lips, weary of woe, fall silent now,
And the world, white with her frozen tears, is still.
©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam


                   This poem and 50 others appear in The Passing Of The Night.

Note To Self.

Promo X Note To Self
Today, I did not fall apart
Although burdened by a heavy heart,
Full of regret, self-doubt and sorrow
Plagued by worry about tomorrow.
I discovered I was strong enough
To not give in when things were tough,
And when my spirit had almost failed
To my surprise, my courage prevailed.
From now on, when trouble comes my way
Or when problems seem to plague the day,
I can be bold and stand to face
Those trials with integrity and grace.
©2017  Joanne Van Leerdam
the passing of the night title orange.
This and fifty other poems appear in ‘The Passing Of The Night’.
More information at www.jvlpoet.com/books


Promo X Hostage Plain


Cowering, shrinking back into the shadows,
Fearful of my captor’s retaliation
Should I make a wrong move or unwelcome sound,
I find refuge in my imagination.
The steady pulse of rhythm and rhyme
Is the echo of the pounding of my heart,
While images of another place and time
Distract me from the snare in which I am caught.
The target of unrestrained hostility,
Held prisoner in an insidious cell,
Paranoia feeds on my fragility
While I endure this private living hell.
My tormentor leaves me drained, paralysed,
My spirit crushed by uncontrolled fears,
And I struggle to find the words and lines
That flow as freely as my pitiful tears.
Yet the longest night of the longest day
Still cannot drive my prayerful hope away
That the darkness will end, and with the dawn,
I will be freed, and my wretched soul reborn.



©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam



img_3407This poem and 50 others are published in my newly released book. The Passing Of The Night.

Plea for Equality

Who ever died from an open mind?
Or suffered because of equality?
Why should different people be denied
The same rights enjoyed by you and me?
What could you possibly stand to lose
By accepting someone else as you find them?
Where harm can befall you if you choose
To put the darkness of hatred behind them?
You’re not perfect either, you know,
But advantage has blinded you to it:
Why not take this opportunity to grow
And become stronger and wiser through it?
What do you fear, my closed-minded friend,
From giving to others their freedom?
Will the sky fall? Will the world end?
God forbid, it might change how you see them!
©2017 Joanne Van Leerdam
img_3407This poem and fifty others are now published in a new collection: The Passing Of The Night.