My Poem, ‘His Coriander’

His Coriander:

Flourishing above the planter box, it’s ready for harvesting.

I snip the curling tendrils with their skinny stalks,

hearing the clean snap of stem from dense green foliage.

At the end of a rain-filled night, the earth smells heady.

He took his suitcase, his cello, and his sheet music.

He left the fragrant coriander seeds,

said, Tending a relationship is like keeping a plant alive.

So I’ll take this herb

inside to the kitchen and chop it.

I’ll disperse it piece by piece with my hands,

the longed-for exotic spice of citrus and curry.

I’ll be forever grateful for escape,

from my infatuation

with coriander.

Copyright Libby Sommer 2022

‘His Coriander’ was first published in Quadrant Magazine September 2020

My Poem ‘Hostilities’

My poem ‘Hostilities’ is published in this month’s Quadrant magazine, available in newsagents, good book stores and in libraries. Big thank you to Literary Editor, Barry Spurr.

Hostilities:

I worry about the ones

who disbelieve in science,

the ones on social media

with no qualifications

but a good command

of gobbledygook,

and the one who said

she’d had enough of wimps like me.

Scientists observe and calculate,

study the risks,

wave us across

as we wait by the side of the road,

even though the science of pandemics

is incomplete.

It takes a lot of guts sometimes

with those who are close to us.

Relatives, old school friends, intimates …

Anti-vaxxers still find arguments

to fire at us. I think of Aristotle’s warning:

there is only one way

to avoid criticism –

do nothing, say nothing,

and be nothing.

Copyright 2022 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘Holding On’

Submissions to the fifth issue of Australian literary journal Burrow are open until July 20.

I’m very happy to say my poem ‘Holding On’ was accepted for the upcoming September edition.

The editors, Rhiannon Jillian Hall and Phillip Hall wrote:

“We are delighted to be able to publish ‘Holding On’. This is such a richly evocative and appreciative poem of place, & emotional/spatial fragility. We love it.”

I encourage my fellow poets to check out this fabulous journal. The provocation for the September issue of Burrow, Old Water Rat Publishing is : What does mental health (good or otherwise) look like through the prism of place?

My Poem, ‘Jogger At My Heels’

a path through the trees in Cooper Park

My poem, ‘Jogger At My Heels’ was first published in The Canberra Times, Panorama arts section 20 November, 2021. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Jogger At My Heels:

Each morning he races up the steep

steps of the gully and then down again

on the path I take

to buy my daily newspaper.

I recognise his exhalations just behind

and apologetic grimace running back,

urging me to move aside

to let him through,

but today I understand him

more fully than before.

Hearing my own heavy breathing

as I walk up the gigantic slope

I’m sure he’d like to say, Don’t rush

don’t rush.

… but he’s in too much of a hurry.

Copyright 2021 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘White Ibis’

My poem ‘White Ibis’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in December 2021. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

White Ibis

We wish that nature could stay put

in their home, far away …

not urban tip turkeys, bin chickens –

not like us,

scrounging for a living in cities,

but stay where they thrive,

feeding in swamps, lagoons,

floodplains & grasslands

their black downward-curved bills

digging for crayfish and mussels.

The farmers’ friend,

featherless black heads

flocking in V-shaped flight

to locust-afflicted areas,

gorging on ravaging hordes of insects.

Unlike us, they can eliminate

plagues with ease.

There are nights when we fall asleep

dreaming of ibises

flying back home.

Copyright 2021 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘Survival’

Have a read of my poem ‘Survival’ first published in Quadrant magazine December 2021.

Hope you like it.

Survival:

More gusts of wind

through new high-rises

sharped-edged.

More traffic,

more construction dust

much overshadowing

in grey & black.

Newly-planted in the local streets

the bottlebrush should know why it exists:

nectar feeding of insects,

of butterflies & birds.

East of the city

blue beaches dazzle & swell.

They re-emerge

in a spring break out

giving hope to the lone crimson flower

squeezing through densely-packed leaves.

Copyright 2021 Libby Sommer

My Poem ‘Quarantine’

My poem ‘Quarantine’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2020.

Have a read. Hope you enjoy it.

Quarantine:

But there still are the other things –

water’s rhythmic tumble

over rocks,

the gentle hush of wind through leaves –

we celebrate

in solitude.

Copyright © 2020 Libby Sommer

My Prose Poem ‘Amber Puppy’

My prose poem ‘Amber Puppy’ was first published in Quadrant magazine in September 2019.

I do enjoy writing prose poetry. Prose poetry is a cross between a poem and a prose piece, although, according to Wikipedia,  prose poetry is poetry written in prose form instead of verse form, while preserving poetic qualities such as heightened imagery, parataxis, and emotional effects.

Have a read of my poem and tell me what you think:

Amber Puppy: 

What can an amber puppy mean in a world of Siris and driverless cars?

I was older, one of the Baby Boomers. Life was a series of warnings:  Don’t fall over rugs or loose cords, don’t overeat, don’t go to bed before nine, drink coffee after midday, watch too much Netflix. When the new puppy arrived one birthday, rich brown as a raisin, I heard it shadowing me: Don’t trip on the dog’s lead.

There was much to be anxious about. One day, walking through the park – the rain had eased, spring waterfalls spilled into the creek, soon we would cool off under the trees – I lost my grip on the lead. Into the bushes he fled, disappearing into green. Since when did parks swallow small dogs? I drove home in a frantic car. My best friend. I’d loved him and he’d loved me.

The days staggered past like drunks. I prayed silently, absorbed sunshine, climbed steps, wrote Letters to the Editor. Don’t panic, don’t shallow breathe, don’t think the worst – you could hear it all around. A reclining Buddha could show you how to deepen the breath. A bird call at first light could tell you when to get up. A storm could remember to fill the dams and the water tanks – I was meandering between the trees when I saw him scampering through the creek. Splashing around then shaking himself dry. A muddy escapee. A barking survivor.

Where had he been these three long days? I could wash him, wrap him in a towel, take him home. Unexpected good news could still happen. Dogs off-the-leash need to stay close to their mistresses. Trees shed their leaves in winter and dogs run away, but find their way back. Seventy-two hours later, what can an amber puppy tell you in a world of Botox and identity theft?

See the difference between holding on and losing your grip.

Copyright © 2019 Libby Sommer

My Poem: Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon

painting of girl lying on beach in torquoise bikini reading a book

During the pandemic I find myself turning more and more to poetry, to the reading and the writing of poetry.

My first poetry collection ‘The Cellist, A Bellydancer & Other Distractions’ will be published by Ginninderra Press in May 2022. I’m currently working on a second collection, loosely themed around mental health.

My poem Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon was first published in Quadrant magazine January 2017. Have a read. Hope you enjoy it:

Lying On A Harbour Beach At Noon

There is an opening out of the self which happens

when the sun is high in a cloudless blue

and its warmth sinks into the body.

It occurs on a gentle beach.

It is a slow opening,

like waking up in

your own cosy apartment.

When all the tenants wake up

and the blinds snap

the windows open wide.

If you are in bed you struggle to open to the bright light.

If you are elsewhere, feeling your separateness, alienated,

you long for home and think you’re falling apart.

You are not falling apart.

You could open into your own particular self,

feel your skin move away from the bone,

your belly like an open wound tightening

then opening with everything exposed.

You know you can stop the empty grasping if you want to

because you have a deep knowing,

you open to it, and for now

it holds you gently.

Copyright © 2017 Libby Sommer