Joan Small Poetry and Books


Nature Poems

Tawny Frogmouth Chicks

We’re huddled on this gum tree branch, my brother chick and I.
It’s time to leave our tangled nest. We know we have to fly.
But flying’s not what we do best. We’d rather look around
For any tasty morsels that we see upon the ground.

Watching, ever watching, staying still as I can be.
This tawny frogmouth sees you well. But you will not see me.
For camouflage is what I do, by dusk and light of day.
I calmly sit upon a limb to watch the insects play.

Fat insects are my staple diet. They make a juicy treat.
I’m ‘carnivore’ you see, so moths and beetles are my meat.
I’m perched upon a low tree branch and looking just like wood.
With feathers tawny-speckled, my disguise is awfully good.

You’ll walk beside my branch and never know that I am there.
But frogs and crickets, rats and mice - I’m warning you – beware.
My yellow eyes see in the dark to find the meal I seek.
And I can drop without a sound to crunch you with my beak.

My call is like a drum beat, you can hear it far and wide.
I need not fear, for nature’s gift has coloured me to hide,
Though dogs and cats will sometimes give me quite a nasty fright,
And flying after moths may catch me in your car’s head-light.

One day we’ll find a mate for life, by brother bird and I
And then it will become our turn to make a nest, and fly
To seek the food to feed our chicks and hatch them in our care.
We tawny frogmouths are unique – ‘the bird that isn’t there’.

© Joan Small June 2007

Birds at Play

Quite early this morning birds came in their hundreds,
Chirping and squawking in the stately gum trees.
I stood in amazement, and gazed at their frenzy
As they put on a show intended to please

For they flew in formation from treetop to treetop,
Flashing their oranges, yellows and greens.
There were hundreds of lorikeets flying formation,
The most beautiful bird-show that I've ever seen.'

They swooped and they dived, and hung from the branches,
Zoomed o'er my head right in front of my eyes.
In my very own backyard the noise rose to deafening
And me, the sole watcher of this brilliant surprise.

Then all of a sudden, as I turned and lost interest,
As quickly as they had appeared, they were gone,
And all that I heard was a cricket's dull chirping,
And off in the distance a lonely birdsong.

I wonder the reason that made me so special
To view such a splendid performance today.
I know that the birds came to show me our purpose
Is just to have fun - live in "Spirit of Play".
(c) Joan Small 2004

A Garden of Memories

When I was quite small with my sister I’d play
In our shady flower garden each bright summer’s day
I’d smell all the roses the violets too,
Leave letters for fairies ‘neath flowers Mum grew.
We climbed in the trees and had berry fights
Picked poppies and pansies, watched butterfly flights.
But soon came the day when this garden we left
To move to the city and I was bereft.

Our house was a new one – the yard, it was bare
With sandy poor soil - no flowers grew there.
My Mum planted lavender, buffalo grass,
Tried roses and sweet peas but didn’t show class.
While on empty house blocks the pigface survived,
And vines with their jam melons - juicy - all thrived.
She made the sweet jam, with some lemons she juiced.
Then with added manure even vegies produced.

Those ‘Bugs Bunny’ carrots so sweet from the ground,
And peas tasted best before ripening, I found.
But soon to the Territory off we all flew.
Poor Mum had to start with her garden anew.
She’d been told in the town Frangipanni grew high,
But soon found the gardens were only a lie.
No water was piped to the town, it was carted.
One lady, in pots a small garden had started.

The mine where we lived was on rocky hill top,
Thin bulldust disguising dense layers of rock.
The rough house surrounded by castor oil plants,
And rubber plants – noxious – just food for the ants.
While in the close bush, sharp spinifex spikes
Punched holes in your legs if you went out on hikes.
The eucalypts spindly were dotted around,
And tombstone anthills grew out of red ground.

My mum was a fighter – a garden she craved.
So with rocks and with shovel each evening she slaved.
Scraped soil to make seed beds, took cuttings from friends,
Whatever was hardy would soon serve her ends.
No roses, no violets, no pansies or stocks.
No sweet smelling jasmine or tall hollyhocks.
She planted some jade – strong and lucky they said -
And pretty pink vinkas in her garden bed.

She found that rosellas were green and were tough
Made Rosella jam – It was almost enough.
But queen of her crop were the black-eyed Sturt Peas
With bright scarlet bird shapes, designed just to please.
Their glory a contrast to stark red and brown,
A showcase to brighten the bare mining town.
She added her magic, created a home,
Defeated the hardship like a true garden gnome.

My mum was a gardener wherever she went.
I thought a green thumb to me heaven had sent
So I still plant a garden wherever I go,
Attempting to add to the beauty – I grow.
Like Mum I have battled the elements too.
The grubs – furry, stinging, all wanting to chew,
The weeds and the weather, wasps, borers and bugs;
Sometimes I imagine they’re sneaky cruel thugs.

But beauty and pleasure from gardens I’ve known
Has outweighed the sadness to lose what I’ve grown,
And each time I move - to a new place I come.
I always plant Vinkas in memory of Mum.

© Joan Small 2012

Autumn Colours

When living in the west of Oz no autumn colours showed.
The evergreens were plush and green and lined each city road.
The seasons came and went, but red and orange never glowed.

The winter mornings’ icy frost - white footsteps on the grass.
And in the spring I’d fuchsias pick as on the path I’d pass.
The summer hot, but autumn – no - all evergreens – en masse.

I didn’t go to England there to walk ‘neath Oak or Beech
Where mighty trees with autumn leaves up to the sky did reach.
I didn’t find all seasons, experiencing each.

I never went to Canada where autumn glorified
The mountains, lakes and crystal streams with colours multiplied,
And every road with scarlet, ochre, golden on the side.

But one day I did travel east to Melbourne where I stayed.
‘Twas May, the sky was overcast, and chilly in the shade.
We took a drive into the hills where colours were displayed.

The Dandenongs - a burst of orange, yellow, scarlet too,
Spectacular before my eyes, all wet with dripping dew.
I gazed with wonder at the sight – I marvelled at the view.

Upon the grass the dying leaves in colours were arrayed.
The crackling sound as happy feet walked, ran and jumped and played.
The joy of nature’s dressing – what beauty was displayed.

We cycle like the trees and plants – we’re born, we live, we die.
From birth we strive to make our mark – we work and love and try.
Developing our colours clear until our last goodbye.

Our spring is full of vibrancy, with budding days a glow,
And we can choose our colours – to others we can show.
Like flowers blooming rich and fresh we’re learning how to know.

Then summer comes, the blossoms die but fruit hangs on the vine.
We’re nourishing the soul within – discovering Divine,
Maturing in a wondrous way like mellowing of wine.

With autumn comes the wisdom. Experiences past
Create a warming of our truth of knowledge that is vast;
A transience of brilliance that we know just cannot last.

For the winter of our years is near, with beauty of its own,
A time to reminisce, reflect and think of going home.
A fitting ending to our life and ending of this poem.

© Joan Small 2012

Coloured Transparent Transformation

The day dawns gloomy, dark and cold. A wind now chills the air.
The sun has gone to hide its head as if it isn’t there.
Thick coats put on, umbrellas raised, to work go rushing feet,
As droplets fall to wet the world. Cold winter made complete.

Then people draw into themselves, the gloom descends down low.
Too cold to talk, to touch, to smile at people we don’t know.
No time for fun, just work to pay the bills that always come.
No time to keep in touch with friends, ring family or call Mum.

Just work and slog, and slog and work, and now I have a cold.
Is this what life is all about. My face is growing old.
On board the train through window’s mist I see cars moving past.
It’s warm in here, but soon I’ll step out into winter’s blast.

My foggy brain perceives a glow. What are those colours bright?
Has someone lit a sign above to turn the gloom to light?
A coloured bow across the sky as sunbeams peep through clouds.
The people in the street all stop, look up – enlightened crowds.

And as the rainbow lights the town, smiles light each upturned face.
A glint of hope, a sign of life revives this busy place.
The wondrous colours – orange, red, blue, yellow, indigo,
Green, violet – chakras all reflect, and make our bodies glow.

At rainbow’s end the pot of gold, a symbol of the whole.
The God within and God without that makes us all one soul.
We can connect, touch, smile and laugh, for we are one in love.
The rainbow brings to us this truth. A miracle above.

© Joan Small 20/6/10


Inspirational Poetry

More Poetry

Joan Small - Tawny Frogmouth Chicks
Tawny Frogmouth

The Stately Eucalypt

Tall and stately Eucalyptus tree.
Symbol of Australia’s country free.
Painted by the many in this land.
Famous under Namatjira’s hand.

Named with true affection, just a ‘gum’.
Memories of my childhood – Dad and Mum,
Breaking off the fresh new tips to place
In a vase - put smile on mother’s face.

Darling Ranges gums make homes for wrens,
Tawny frogmouths lower in the glens,
Kookaburras, and wood swallows blue
Flying through the treetops swaying too.

Living in the sparse North Territory
Gums are spindly – hardly like a tree
Tough the leaves, with stalwart roots to rest.
Cling to rocks midst spinifex, ant nests.

By the creek the ghost gum white and strong,
Leaves hang down and branches growing long
Make a place to hang the kids’ rope swing.
Jump in water, joyous cries all ring.

South, in Sherbrook Forest – canopies.
Taller and yet taller grow the trees
Reach for sky – so far above, leaves sway
While beneath, the graceful lyrebirds play.

Epitome of hope and bouncing back.
Gum trees live – despite the worst attack.
Hail may strip to barest trunks, and yet
New growth springs when branches feel the wet.

Bush fires decimate the once live bark
Leaving blackened ghosts like tombstones stark,
Yet before too many moons have shone
Luscious green fresh shoots are born.

Shoots for nature’s strange marsupial bear.
Fat koalas love to nibble there.
Haven for the possum and the snake.
Condo towers that nature loves to make.

Do we fear our precious earth will warm,
From that C02 obtain much harm?
Plant more trees – for they all love to breathe
In Co2 - then oxygen bequeath.

Symbiosis - nature’s balance true,
Breathing in and breathing out anew.
Plant more eucalypts, so we can share
Symbol of our glorious land most fair.

© Joan Small

Neptune’s Playground

Blue Planet in space like a clear crystal ball,
A beauteous bubble, so fresh and pristine,
The moon hanging close makes the tides rise and fall
And the ocean laps shores of land masses between.

The water seems pure as I look down from space,
And imagine the sea creatures swimming in peace.
Yet the murk that’s spewed out from the whole human race
Has transformed crystal liquid to thick oily grease.

Tall yachts moving freely with billowing sails
Cut paths through the waves as they race to the heads.
Beneath is the haven for dolphins and whales
Who wonder at rubbish that lies in their beds.

At times mighty oceans rise up on the land.
Before them tall buildings collapse with a crash.
King Neptune in fury is showing his hand
And saying ‘You take it. I’ll give back your trash.’

So love the great ocean, above and below:
Its colourful coral, sea horse, mighty shark;
Our water sport playground. It’s time now to know
We must keep it clean. Neptune’s ‘Wet ‘n Wild’ park.

© Joan Small November 2006

Helensvale Writers' Group
Helensvale Writers Group - Joan Small3rd Thursday each month
Helensvale Library - ground floor meeting room
11.30 am to 1.30 pm


Contact Joan:

Poetry in Paradise
Poetry Club
Poetry in Paradise - Joan Small
3rd Sunday
each month
Southport Library meeting room
1 pm to 3.30 pm