Shadow Hunting


a sequence by Jan Dean and Julie Thorndyke

the road is long
the river wide, the sky high
no need to fear
life has many favours
when the wind is at your back

in this cave
there is no hint
of frost, sleet or gale
the fire heats my toes
and sends stories to tell            

fireside fingers
with wiggling toes cast shadows—
the first cinema
was a screen flickering
animals on a stone wall

horned monsters
shriek in the moonless night
she stokes red embers,
traces charcoal figures
of hunter and prey on limestone  

little remains
of their victory dance
beneath rubble
tangled hair, a bone gnawed bare
but thrills of a kill linger

sounds of footsteps
sliding over loose gravel
a reptile skin
dry and curled
too large for any snake              

muffled drumbeats
send warnings near and far
ignored by sly ones
a cape of scales comes forth
on the beast of prophesy

lightning comes
as if by his command
this night, children
pant with fear, women
look over their shoulders     

few understand
why men and women rise
again and  again
to defy their fate, leaving
torn petals, squashed seeds

on this voyage of life
together we may
travel even further
than we have dreamed              

Jan Dean and Julie Thorndyke 

first published LYNX 27:3 October 2012


2014-06-28 10.33.37

The beach has changed this year
tall dunes have washed away—
our rock pools dry and bare
… so fall the sands of time.

The surf club walls have lurched
foundations sink and warp
each window pane has cracked
to admit the sands of time.

The jetty timbers creak
and splinter with the tide
with every passing week
sink deep in sands of time.

The camping ground has closed
bright sign has fallen low
weeds thrive where children played
… so fall the sands of time.

© Julie Thorndyke
First published June 2014 by Australian Children’s Poetry

Sonnets From The Kitchen


I’ll write a sonnet built of liquorice tea
of almond flakes and sponge with raspb’ry jam
no one shall taste the meaning save for me –
it shall be hidden well in seasoned ham.
The bite of lemon on my eager tongue
sweet berries mixed with mascarpone cheese
I wipe away the sugar when I’m done,
leave to the sparrows crumbs that do not please.
Let sweet and savoury pies be rolled and filled
roast beef and parsnips, mustard, gravy boiled;
fresh lemon sole be caught and finely grilled
my fork with fettuccine nicely coiled.
My tonsils from their sweet hot cave rejoice:
the pastry chef has given me a voice.

I cut the grease with water boiling hot
detergent bubbling like a snow capped dome
I wash the words to see what they are not
and look for silver tines to take them home.
What shall the ending couplet now expound?
I’ve cleaned and polished language to the bone
fresh tastes, exotic spices rarely found
but still the sonnet leaves me not alone.
I search the cookbook longing for a taste
of wild plums that will raise my poem high:
why let the shortcrust pastry go to waste?
For even little Jack played in his pie.
I take my finger from the pot of jam
go out into the world, see who I am.

Julie Thorndyke

first published in Phoenix : The University of Sydney Writers Journal 2006 p. 108 

Nearly a decade since I wrote these “tongue in cheek” sonnets in Judith Beveridge’s poetry class at USYD.

They still make me smile 🙂

Café Poet at Muse Gallery

Muse G

It is always great to find a congenial place in which to write. Too easy, if at home, to spend time doing the domestic tasks that return, week after week. The washing, the tidying, the ironing…

Writing tends to take last priority.

Recently I heard about Muse Gallery opening at Castle Hill, so I went along to see the work of local artists on display. Tucked away in an industrial estate, in a warehouse space transformed by Mary Louise into a vibrant gallery, I knew instantly that this was a place to which I would return. When I learnt that there was a café opening in the gallery, I was hooked. An artist and wordsmith herself, Mary Louise has generously allowed me to take on the role of Café Poet.

I am looking forward to many hours enjoying the work of  our local visual artists, sipping a coffee, and scribbling away.



Tending to the Miraculous

I haven’t watered the garden for more than a year. I take water restrictions seriously. I have not dobbed in the neighbours who water their lawns in the dark of night; I have not installed a rain water tank. I have just let the garden ‘be’.

Dark pink daisies by the letter box erupted first. A crowd of round, dense cerise heads watching me as I look for letters. Someone next door has pruned the buds from my star jasmine. I try not to let the anger rise. I’d been looking forward to the white star petals. I carry two bills and a writers’ newsletter across moss-rimmed bricks up the drive. Violets on long, vigorous stems emerge from every crevice of the rockery. Twisted vines of purple sarsaparilla cover the native frangipani. Lillipilli berries cluster amongst glossy rippled leaves.

After a weekend away we arrive home to a burst of yellow—freesias are out, all across the lawn, under the budding maple tree, amongst the azaleas which have never looked so well. I make smelly posies to fill the house with their grandma fragrance.

Today the lavender heads are opening and a flush of roses revel in unexpected spring rain. The strident tones of TV politicians denounce the other side, watering their crop of terror. I look at my miracle garden and wonder at the resilience of spring—someone, somewhere, is tending the garden.

spring rain
the bowed head
of the peace rose

 Julie Thorndyke

First published Contemporary Haibun Online  December 2006, vol 2 no 4

© Julie Thorndyke 2015. All rights reserved.