Leaf litter organisms

Sally gave me the words NOW, GORGEOUS, and GAUDY. And I came up with this (rather cumbersomely-titled) poem.

Leaf litter


Far below the gorgeous blossoms of spring branches
and gaudy summer blooms —
hide in a world of golds and browns
and seed pod husks,
bits of bark and damp and dark.

Hide away.

Now take the bushland’s songs and stories
taste them, test them, tear them,
bury them,
still …
until they turn to earth.


After a storm

Sally gave me the words CRUSH, STORM, WHEN, NO, YES and I was super slow getting this poem written. (It’s been awfully busy in my household.) But here I am! Finally!


nasturtiums photo copyright Rebecca Newman 2017After a storm, when you run through the garden,
crushed nasturtium leaves
smell strong and peppery,
snails hide under their green glowing canopy
where no-one can see.
Willy wagtails shake raindrops from feathers,
they swoop and play,
they call to each other —
Will you dance?
Will you dance?
Will you dance?

Yes! I will dance!
I will dance!
I will dance!


Back-to-school Blues


You can see I’m a little late posting this poem. But I’m sure it’ll work just as well for starting term 4 …


The school break is over.
It’s time to prepare,
re-set the alarm clocks,
start brushing my hair.

My hat smells quite musty,
my shoes need a shine.
I can’t find my jumper —
this one isn’t mine …

I’ve got those
Term 3 back-to-school blues.

What’s this in my backpack?
My lunchbox is black.
I think it’s gone mouldy and
my drink bottle’s cracked.

Back to boring old sandwiches,
apples, (no cake).
How many sleeps
’til next holiday break?

I’ve got those …
yes I’ve got those …
I’ve really got those
Term 3 back-to-school blues.


Sea secrets

Sally gave me these words: TOGETHER SEA TONGUE TO

In the end I decided not to fight the sea setting, so here’s what I have.


Together they rise to the surface of the sea.
With salt on their tongues, their lips,
they sing
of treasure.
Where? Where?
Deep down there
in the dark and cold, where barnacles hold
to shipwrecks —
glass and shells
and pirate gold.

© Rebecca Newman, 2017

Read some of our earlier poems featuring the sea:

Sing by Sally Murphy

Summer Swim by Sally Murphy

Cottesloe Beach Skipping rhyme by Rebecca Newman


Ghost train on platform 2

A spooky poem for 31 October. (Sally gave me the prompts GHOST, ALMOST and USE.)

Spooky train station photo from pexels.com


At 6.05
the ghost train pulls in to platform 2
but there’s no getting on
and there’s no getting off.

Maryanne scans the station
until she finds the woman with the pram.
Though she knows it’s no use, Maryanne knocks at the window —
“hello? hello?”
The baby looks up, alert.
He kicks his legs.
As the train pulls away Maryanne stares;
she’s almost sure …
next time.
Next time.

© Rebecca Newman, 2016






It’s been so long since Sally left words for me that you will have forgotten what the words were.


And here’s the resulting poem, called ‘Hope.’ (I found this word combo the hardest Sally has given me. But I’m sure she would say that I deserved it after the Shakespearean tag I gave her earlier … )


Where the shadow of the house meets the lavender pots
is a contemporary sculpture made from boots.
Out in the street someone calls, come on!
but the boys are edgy —
they’ve done this before.

They pull boots from the pile
and shake them
and hope the cobwebs are old.

© Rebecca Newman, 2016

Cottesloe Beach Skipping Rhyme

NB: This post contains instructions. If you just want to read the poem, scroll to the bottom of the page!
At the last tag, Sally gave me DANCE, ONE and CARAMEL.
Cottesloe Beach (in Western Australia) has recently had lots of visitors to see Sculpture By the Sea. This is a poem about the beach and how I always find the sand so hot and the water so cold, and how there’s always someone ready to splash me with the cold seawater before I’m ready to ease myself in …
When I was at school, my favourite skipping rhymes were the ones with a constant cycle of skippers moving through the turning rope. Here we go!
First: assemble your ‘Skipping Rhyme’ kit.
  • A long skipping rope, with a bit of weight to it.
  • A sunny day and a large patch of grass to skip on. (A park is a good option.)
  • At least five people — two to turn the long rope, one person to skip, and one or more people ready to run in and join the skipper. Note: There will be two people skipping at the same time occasionally.
  • The words to ‘Cottesloe Beach Skipping Rhyme’ (see below).


  1. Two people start turning the skipping rope. One person skips. When you have a rhythm going, everyone starts chanting the skipping rhyme (see below).
  2. Where there are names in the rhyme, you need to replace them with the names of the people actually skipping instead. 🙂
  3. Everyone waiting for a turn to skip lines up in a queue just beyond the skipping rope (so they don’t get whacked by the turning rope) and the person at the head of the queue needs to be ready to run straight in and start skipping when the rhyme says ‘along comes Tran’
  4. Where the rhyme says ‘Run, Sally! Run!’ the first skipper needs to exit the skipping rope, leaving the second skipper behind, jumping on their own.
  5. Try to keep the rope turning and see how many people you can cycle through before it all crashes in a heap!



Sally at the beach                                     <— Replace ‘Sally’ with skipper’s name.
on the caramel sands,
hops to the water
with a hot sand dance.

Along comes Tran                                 <— Second skipper runs in & skips too.
looking for fun —
one cold splash!
Run, Sally! Run!                                    <— Sally exits.


Tran at the beach                                  <— Tran keeps skipping.
on the caramel sands,
hops to the water
with a hot sand dance.

Along comes Rebecca                            <— Another friend runs in & skips too.
looking for fun —
one cold splash!
Run, Tran! Run!                                   <— Tran exits.


Rebecca at the beach                           <— Rebecca keeps skipping …
on the caramel sands …


Beneath the Front Yard Lemon Tree

Sally gave me the words BENEATH, CLOSE and WEEKEND. The non-human character featured in this poem was inspired by a willy wagtail, a frequent visitor here, and I kind of wished I’d taken a photograph of him so I could have included it with the poem. But if I wait till I get the photo, the poem will never get posted …


There’s a weekend bird
that chats to me
beneath the front yard lemon tree.
He hops on rocks and
pecks at leaves
and tells me all his joys and woes.

We watch the sky
and feel the breeze
beneath the front yard lemon tree.
And spelling lists
and mental maths
seem far away and long ago.

My weekend bird
hops close to me
beneath the front yard lemon tree.
Though he’s a bird
and I’m a boy,
we swap our stories; off he goes.

© Rebecca Newman, 2015

For Sally (on her birthday)

Can I tell you a secret? Today is Sally’s birthday. So, herewith — a poem written for Sally’s birthday using the prompts she left for me: TAKE, FELINE and CLOUD. (Happy Birthday, Sally!)


As Winter slinks out with feline disdain,
Spring elbows past her.
In her wake:
blue skies
cumulus clouds
yellow blossoms.

She takes a step into September
and breathes into the day.

© Rebecca Newman, 2015

The birth of an idea

Sally gave me the words birth and together.

I read an article once called something like: Writing tips from the Great Writers. One of the tips was ‘don’t write about trying to write’. Here’s a poem where I blithely ignore advice from the Greats. (Sorry, Greats.)



What should you do at the birth of an idea?

Swaddle it in muslin,
sit together in the dark
and rock;
whisper in its ear
with joy in your heart
and a spark in your eye;

then set it down
on its legs
and let it go.

© Rebecca Newman, 2015