Mourning Song

Photo artwork by Joanne Van Leerdam. June 24, 2020.

Tears fall,
Can’t stop them,
Can’t hide them.
You’re gone,
Can’t bring you
Back again.
Why am I always the one who is feeling
The pain of the wrenching and tearing of leaving?
Why must this pain be so raw deep inside of me?
My heart
Misses you
Desperately.
Please say
That you won’t
Forget me.
I can’t imagine my life without you in it,
Bereft of the light and the joy of your loveliness,
Every room filled with the echoes of memories.
Never
To be the
Same again.
Tears fall,
Into the
Loneliness.
You’re
Gone.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

Mourning Song.
#poetry #grief #Emotions #poetrylovers #personal #ReadAWrite

This poem is included in my collection titled ‘Leaf’.

Letting Go.

Image: ©2020 Joanne Van Leerdam

You held my hand for so long
Or was it just me holding onto yours?
Somewhere, in a sleight of hand,
Familiar affection transformed into
Holding on for dear life,
Interlocking fingers
Exchanged for a rescue grip.
I beg you to hang on, to not let go,
I pray for the strength I lack
To pull you back from the edge, 
For just a little more time with you,
And for the courage to be what you need;
But you slip from my arms— 
Whether by choice or the power of gravity, 
I shall never know—
And I watch, helpless and alone,
As you fall gently into yesterday
Where I must leave you.
I wipe my last goodbye from my eyes
And hope that when my time comes
A gentle hand will hold mine
Until I, too, must fall. 

Old Man.

Image: Joanne Van Leerdam 2020

Vigour has yielded to frailty,
Pain tarnishes every day,
He longs to be free of his misery – 
Oh! If one could wish suffering away!

He despises his aged condition:
When he stands, his body is bent;
He cannot escape his suspicion
That the best of his days have been spent.

His voice has grown soft and he mumbles,
It’s harder to focus his mind,
He is more prone now to grumble – 
His good humour has slowly declined.

His children observe the difference – 
They lament the toll of the years;
What he prays for as deliverance
Will, for them, mean sorrow and tears.

For now, he sits in his armchair,
Dozing off whenever he can: 
Precious little brings any pleasure 
For the tired and broken old man.

Then, in an instant, he leaves them – 
No more misery, no tears, no night:
He casts off his pain, finds his wings, 
Becomes an angel and takes flight. 

ⓒ 2018 Joanne Van Leerdam 

Old Man: A Poetic Tribute To My Dad.
#Memorials #Fathers #Poetuit #poetrylovers #blogpost

Her Light Burns Brightly

In honour of International Women’s Day, This poem pays tribute to all the women in history who paved the way for women today to enjoy the freedoms and rights that we do.

Image of Millicent Fawcett by dimitrisvetsikas1969 on Pixabay

Her Light Burns Brightly

Strong, resilient, like no other
Fighter, defender, lover, mother,
Teacher, leader, inspiration,
Backbone of a generation.
Of a kind, yet individual,
Shrugging off the chains residual
That remain from eons past,
Smashing ceilings made of glass.
She honours mothers, sisters, aunts,
Who fought to give her every chance
To vote, to lead, to work, to win,
To overcome history’s sins.
Her light burns brightly: in her wake
Are those she has inspired to take
The future into their own hands,
On their own terms, not those of man.

ⓒ2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

In celebration of all women on International Women’s Day: Her Light Burns Brightly by @jvlpoet
#poetry #poetrylovers #InternationalWomensDay #WomensHistory

This poem appears in the collection titled ‘Stained Glass’, dedicated to the strength and resilience of women.

Superficial

I wrote this poem two years ago. It’s still far too relevant,

Too bright, too individual, too funky, 
Too wild, too unafraid, too chunky, 
Too short, too loud, too bold, too dyed—
When will you ever look inside? 
It’s so easy to label something as sin
Ignoring the gems concealed within—
Love, passion, talent, loyalty, art.
Yet you say God looks at each person’s heart
For faith, service, and integrity:
Why can’t you look that way at me?

©2018 Joanne Van Leerdam

PS: 
I saw you looking at my ears
And all my pretty piercings there; 
Your distaste was almost palpable
And I still don’t eally care

Muse

Crowned with a garland of heavenly flowers
My muse appears at times of solitude;
Cherished companion of secluded hours,
Bestower of verses in plenitude. 
In precious moments of visitation
Her ephemeral presence comforts me; 
Her gifts of lyrical inspiration
Give birth to a wellspring of poetry,
Where thoughts and emotions cascade into 
A broad pool of thoughtful reflection
Where the seeker can find perspectives new      
Amid moments of deep introspection. 
Hers are the lines that purge my troubled soul:
Let these songs heal my heart and make me whole. 

***

‘Muse’ is one of the poems in the collection titled ‘The Passing Of The Night’.

©2016 Joanne Van Leerdam

The Burning Question

The teacher placed the stack of papers on the table and addressed the class. 
“Thank you for your essays. Are there any final burning questions?”

Most deliberately avoided her gaze, but one girl raised her hand, initiating a chorus of groans.

“Yes?

“Why do you always wear black?”

Insolent laughter erupted around the classroom.

The teacher nodded. “Fair question. It’s camouflage for my sense of humour— or my soul. You choose.”

She shrugged, and the collected papers behind her burst into flames then powdered into ashes.

She smiled at their silence. “Perhaps you’ll all be more respectful from now on!”

The Final Blow

Image by Geanette Saad 2019. Used with permission.

“How many times do I have to tell you not to pick your nose?”

Sam sighed. All he wanted to do was dislodge those crusty bits that stabbed the inside of his nostrils every time she made him blow into a tissue, and remained there stubbornly regardless of his efforts with the tissue. Those things hurt, and they didn’t let go on their own.The best way to remove them was gently, with his favourite finger, and then flick them into the bin.

She should just be thankful he never wanted to eat it. He didn’t understand how other kids could. Just the other day when they had gone out for lunch he had watched another boy in the restaurant eating his booger off his finger before picking up a chicken nugget and eating that. He shuddered at the thought.

“You don’t know what damage you might do in there, Sam. Please, just use a tissue and blow your nose, and let me get this last jack o’ lantern done for tonight.”

As his mother turned away to finish carving the pumpkin, Sam defiantly slid his finger back up his right nostril, where he found a great big pointy one, shaped just like the witch’s hat that already sat on a carved pumpkin on the porch by the front door. This was possibly the biggest and pointiest one yet, like a miniature mountain that had grown to dominate the inner landscape of his nose. Just as his fingertip reached for its peak, his mother looked over at him. 

“Sam! Get your finger out of your nose! Now!”

She ripped a couple of tissues from the box on the sideboard on her way past and almost slapped them over the lower half of his face. 

“Blow!” she demanded. 

As he exhaled, she pinched the tissue around his nostrils. Sam began to protest as he felt a sharp stab deep inside his nose and the powerful jolt of a momentary headache, followed by a strange sensation of being lighter and freer than he had been only a moment before. Sam fell silent and limp  as his head imploded, collapsing in on itself like a punctured ballon, leaving his mother with an unsoiled tissue in her hand and a grimace of shocked surprise on her face.

His sweet face lay shrivelled and flattened on his shoulder on a bed of dark brown hair, eyes still clenched shut as they had been when he felt the pain in his head.

She gathered Sam into her arms and cradled him there, his face flat against her skin and a thin trail of bone dust and ash falling from his left ear. She rocked him, keening and weeping as dusk began to fall outside and late into the night that followed. 

When the moon rose high in the sky, a small, ghostly hand touched her shoulder, then took her hand and led her outside into the silvery light. She watched as the small boyish figure walked up a bright moonbeam, then turned to wave goodbye. 

She waved languidly with one hand, the other still clutching his lifeless body to her chest. 

When he was so far up the moonbeam that she could no longer see him, she laid his body on the ground and fetched a shovel. The shovel crunched into the ground beneath the willow tree time after time, until she had dug a small trench in the earth.

She leaned the shovel against the trunk of the tree, and then gently gathered Sam’s body into her arms. Silent and sombre, she carried him across the yard, whispered a few words, and lay down in the grave with him in the waning moonlight to await her fate. 

©2019 Joanne Van Leerdam

Classy Humour.

The teacher stood at the front of the room, textbook in hand, as the students settled down to business. 

“Please open your text book to page four hundred and four, and… yes, James?”

The teacher looked with anticipation at the young man sitting in the second row, hand raised and an awkward smile on his face. 

“That page cannot he found.” 

His classmates looked confusedly at James, and then at the specified page in their own books.

The teacher frowned. “Are you sure? There must be some kind of mistake.”

James’ smile became a triumphant grin. “It’s an error 404.”

***

Credit for this story must be given to my student, James, who actually did this in one of his classes, and gave me permission to write it as a drabble.

A Unicorn or Nothing.

“I want you to come in to work tomorrow.”  

“But it’s my day off!” Cassie pouted. 

“I realise that, but tomorrow’s meeting is important.” 

She remained silent.

“Look, I’ll give you a day in lieu a little further down the track.” 

Cassie almost snorted. “A day in lieu? Might as well be a unicorn.”

He frowned. “How so?”

“People like to talk about them, but everyone knows they don’t actually exist.”

“Cassie–“

“No. I must be owed ten days in lieu by now.  It’s a unicorn or nothing.”  She resumed typing, but the silence lingered until he walked away, defeated.

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