Hear Tineke perform this poem for the Australian Poetry Slam 2012.

If food had a language
it would be French:
moules marinières et dorades dorées.

If a kiss could speak
it would talk in Italian:
saro il tuo contadino
e tu la terra mia.

If the wind could speak
he would sound Flemish:
met gierende stem in de gutsende regen.

If Mother Earth had words
she'd speak in Bibbulmun:
Nidja boodja. And ask, Where is your fire?

If peace could plead
it would say in Kirundi:
Leave Africa alone.

Let drums sound,
tears be dried
Let breath be spiced
with the scent of rain on desert sand

Let wind blow away the memory of blood and war
Let rain infuse life into crusted land.

Let elegance brighten the days.

Let language bring language
Words bring vigour
Parole, parole.

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

For Séraphine

Ugiye he?

Ugiye he, where are you going, you ask
Kw'isoko, I say, I am going to the market
You laugh when I can't get the tone right,
when I don't say isoko but isooko, which means ‘source’,
like the source of the Nile.

N'amahoro? Is there peace?
people greet us as we walk past the new election billboards
Children giggle and call me umuzungu.
You've told me it's a word for white person, it means someone you only ever see going past,
like explorers, slave merchants, colonials
and aid workers in cars.
I guess the word has not lost its meaning.

We stop to look at the newest wax hollandais, the latest fashion prints from Congo,
while local pagnes, wrapped in green, red and yellow, parade by.
We work our way past rickety stalls made of tired bamboo
They sell bright orange palm oil in bottles, rice in any quantity you can imagine,
and beans, beans and more beans.
Amahoro ni meza, yes, there is peace, all is good.

This market is as busy as a red anthill
We buy fish capitaine, Nile perch,
but your kings live in the green hills, you say,
never see Lake Tanganyika
for fear of death.

You don't greet the Batwa vendor

Then a word spreads through the crowd

‘Events.’ How very Burundian,
this euphemism for ethnic killings.
Vendors pack, vehicles toot and beep.
The crowd thins.
We follow the crowds across the street, past
Belgian shops, remnants of the past
People empty the shelves in fear,
compete, for sugar, flour, rice, tea
and beans, beans and more beans.
For days the city pretends to be asleep.

N'amahoro? No, there is no peace
There is fear in your voice
Don't worry, I say,
we are here to bring peace
See — elections are coming
Multiparty democracy
You'll win, everyone will win
You shake your head
You don't know this country, you say
I can't wipe the fear from your almond spiced eyes.

What happens next only the tall grass on the hills can tell.

Ugiye he — where are you going
Umuzungu — the one who is always on the move
N’amahoro — is there peace?
Amahoro, umuzungu, ugiye he?

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Marginalization (Blackmail Press 2012).

Some jewellery by our featured poet

Tuart in silver with Zambian amethyst and citrine
Made by our May 2013 featured poet, Tineke Van der Eecken, for the Into Eternity exhibition at Elements Art Gallery.

Like a person

You made me feel like a person.

With hands to read,
legs to stroke,
breasts to hold,
and eyes to be seen.

Someone with feelings
and words to give meaning.
A brain
to understand,
to be understood.

You made me feel like a person again.
Not just the one
who takes the children to school,
pays part of the mortgage,
keeps the dishes clean.

Unimportant, you say?
Understand, you say?
Love, you say?

You don’t realize
you leave me
more needy,
more wanting,

more dependent,

more alone.

So I take it back:
all of what's mine:
the eyes, the legs, the hands, the breasts.

I'll think with my brain
before I give again.

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

Val di Mello

Quotes in Italian from Quando finisce un amore by Riccardo Cocciante (Quando si vuole bene, Boventoon bv, 1986)

I feel the softness of my blouse as your hand touches it
You flick me a smile
Silk is the fabric of love, you say
In Italian it sounds even better

Quando finisce un amore

Your words, your hands, your look make me
buzz and hover like a honeybee
It's just what I need
at twenty-three and about to leave
the world I know

On your Yamaha 650
you take me to your favourite place
the wind around our bodies
the snow high on the Alps

Val di Mello, the valley of honey
the grass is a feather quilt
the water is golden
Its glistening froth clings to the rocks
floating, holding on to something
already gone

Your love sticks to me like honey
Quando finisce un amore, when love ends

Because of Val di Mello
because you — us — are not real
because a black hole is forming
a new home without you

Once, on the dark continent, I write to you
in my Italian latinizzato, as you call it,
but I don't hear you say this
I don't see your glorious smile,
I don't feel your hands reaching for mine
I don't sense the empty seat behind you on the Yamaha

Quando finisce un amore

Feel a knot in my throat
a hole in my stomach
an emptiness in my head
and understand nothing.

Quando finisce un amore
ti senti un nodo nella gola
ti senti un buco nello stomaco
ti senti un vuoto nella testa e non capisci niente

Then one morning,
a letter from you,
sent many months before
plans to visit,
now long gone

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Poetry d'Amour 2013 (WA Poets Inc 2013).

Plat du jour

Dedicated to Matthew Froud

At my table I serve you
plump tomatoes of empathy
bright peppers of joy
creamy eggplants of meaning
in a tangy pickle of truth

I sprinkle you with sugar
and tickle you with berries.
When you're gone
I sizzle you in my memory
and fry up a plan
to invite you again

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)

First published in Creative Connections 2012

A bark in the park

Shhh. Tap runs. Flip flop, footsteps. The door. Klunk klunk krrr, the coffee machine warms. Flip flop flip flop. The door! Krrr krrr pshh, machine, coffee smell. Flip flop flip flop. Klik. Yes. We’re in. Hello. [sniff]

Hey, I smell cat! There they are, spoilt brats. Drinking milk. Drinking milk! Don't look. Keep going. Flip flop flip. Hey, I know what we're doing. Let’s go!

I'm first in the bedroom! I can jump and be first on the bed. Oh, okay, I'll wait.

Can I jump now?

Lick lick lick. Cats have milk. Don't listen to them. Stay focussed. This is important. This is my time.

‘Come’ she says. Forget about the cats and the milk. Cuddle in bed. Oh yes! How about here, on my tummy? And there? Oh yes.

Hey, that milk must nearly be finished. [sniff] Coffee, close, yuck. Cat's milk's better! ‘Where are you going?!’

I'm fast. Scare the cats. They run away. My turn for milk. Ahh.

Back to the bedroom. Flip flop flip. Bedroom, kitchen, boys' room, kitchen, bedroom. Flip flop. Kitchen! Djunk. The fridge! What are we having? Djunk. Nothing. Djunk. The fridge, again! I'm here — hello! Djunk.

Shower runs. I'll just sit here. Whoooo! the hair dryer. I'll just sit here.

Here she is. What are we wearing? The black wind jacket? Come on, the black wind jacket. Oh. Skirt. T shirt. What about shoes? What shoes? Pick the boots, pick the boots! Or the crocs, crocs are good too, even if they're ugly. Heels? Oh no. (Sigh)

Huh? Is she swapping shoes? The ugly crocs? Yes! I'll be good. I promise I'll be a good boy. Let's go let's go! You know what? I'll run ahead!

Where is she? Clickiticlick. The leash! Is it the red one? With the yellow plastic bags? We're in business!

Cross the road… The park! Aah, ooh, oh yes!

Tineke Van der Eecken (Western Australia)


The Grey Stone

Sometimes the grey stone
hangs heavy
around my neck
diverting my gaze
into the earth
and the name written on its face
reminds me of my impending end

Terry Farrell (Western Australia)

First published in Poems for the Revolution of Love (proximitypoetry.com 2012)


You were meant to be my
savior, to listen to me
and give me wise counsel,
bless me and make me feel
loved, to forgive me and
help me to be at peace
in this world.

I didn’t know you would
crucify me, nail me to the
bed, pierce my side with
your sword, leave me to
die — your starched collar
removed, revealing your
Adam’s apple — I forgot
you were only a man.

Maureen Sexton (Western Australia)


photographs from jeff's wall

for agwa

a sudden gust, held
by a post, clips
branches in wirtz'
garden. from
tree, spring snow
costumes historian

. shop window
: polishing. . .  just
washed view from
. volunteer dressing
night, throw coastal
, bench furniture, door

pusher untangling in
visible man. drawing
from a specimen, pipe
diagonal composition
. double self the wo
-man & her

Scott-Patrick Mitchell (Western Australia)

A Magnifying Glass

A magnifying glass filters the sun
And with patience
I focus the rays to a single dot on the concrete
Moving this dot onto a leaf the power of my dot becomes obvious
First smoke and a smell, then blackness and finally a hole
I make a second, third, fourth
Different leaves, different smells
And soon I am surrounded by holey leaves.

I take my magnifying glass to school. Clouds part and allow me to demonstrate my newfound skill
‘Let me have a go!’
‘I’m next!’
Each, in turn, feels the joy I discovered yesterday.
Again I am surrounded by holey leaves.

But young boys, trying to outdo each other, turn their attentions to innocent ants.
Scanning my dot over the ground
Eventually capturing an ant within its boundaries.
Ant gone
Victorious boys find the next victim
And the next
My discovery, turned into a tool of death.
I silently watch on
The ants pay the price for my want to stay quiet
And be accepted.

Caitlin Mahony (Western Australia)


You used to fall asleep
Happy and safe
When my palm could cover your face
You’ve grown up
With both hands I cannot embrace
I could only cover your eyes
And I will not do this
My son

Anna Habryn (Western Australia)

From Anna's collection ‘The Dance of Looks’, published in Krakow in 2009.