Trilogy of Limericks by Daphne Jaaback

There once was a sturdy Great Dane

Whose preference for socks was insane

When they opened him up

They found in this pup

Twenty  one pairs of  socks causing pain


There once was a frog called Kermit

Whose behavior was that of a hermit

He discarded his socks

And swallowed some rocks

That survivor of note called Kermit


There once was a Pointer of note

He was sporty and bore a short coat

Disregarding his fate

A skewer he ate

And lived to be Pointer of note



(Inspired by “They Ate What?”, an annual competition in which vets submit their most bizarre cases.

Kermit received first prize and joint second  were  the sock scoffing Great Dane and the German  shorthaired  pointer.)

Safe Anchorage by Daphne Jaaback

Soulmate of mine

Always there for me

For the last fifty years

Ever remembered with love


An anchor in storms

Now anchored himself

Cancer consumed

Home at the end

On morphine routine

Rallying at times

As he bravely fought

God gave him rest

Ever remembered with love


3 Flashes From Mars by AM Smith



I knew I would die on Mars.

When I signed up they said: you do know it’s a one-way trip? But I didn’t care – going to Mars! Being a space pioneer – one of the first colonists on Mars. My lifetime dream actually manifesting as reality.

The training, the launch, the long journey, the botched landing, the struggle to establish our temporary survival domes – achieved on adrenaline alone. But the chain of accidents, the slow attrition:  hard to bear, but I survived. And now I’m alone, dying on Mars, tasting the bitter failure of Mankind’s last chance to save our species from extinction. At least we  tried.


You can train all you like, but when Lift Off finally happens nothing prepares you for the feeling – not so much the physical force, the noise, the sheer power – no: it’s the feeling of exhilaration. We did it! you yell inside your head. And when we landed clumsily and off-target on the red Martian soil another wave of feeling: elation, mixed with dread. Over the years, tsunamis of feeling: triumph, bitterness, disappointment, sorrow, and loneliness. I never thought I’d be the last one. I suppose somebody had to be. Why me? I snivel. There’s nothing noble or special about closing a doomed mission. I slowly take off my helmet and look over the horizon in the direction of Earth.


Goodbye, Baikonur! At last – no more Russians! Mars here we come! If we succeed, we’ll be the first crew on Mars. Pity about the Russian’s Mars-shot last year – Andrei Zatov was a decent guy, even if he was a Russian. Whoa – this is gonna be a rough landing! What the ? . BAM!! .. Urrggh … pray I can  open the hatch before this baby blows –  made it! Now what? Huh? Crackle-crackle-hiss – impossible – how can there be a local signal? Welcome to the new Soviet Republik of Mars, Comrade!  Huh? Andrei ?? Andrei Zatov? You’re supposed to be dead!

Writing Group Blues by Gwynn Dawson

The lass on my left

is waiting to publish,

While I’m sitting here

trying not to write rubbish!


The girl in the wing- back,

is pen -poised and gifted,

Oh! help me, the Muses!

As through hell I’ m sifted.


Now they’re all on about


Are we writing or fishing?

Oh yah ! Its tea time!


On , on we go

Just so much to know.

My verbs are entangling,

My adverbs not lucid.

My nouns are all jangling,

My commas quite putrid.

My grammar is terminal,

the sub text ,sub zero

Oh Lord  I’ve forgotten

To write in a hero!


What! You all like my piece ,

its spontaneous and free.

Dear fellow writers,

This group is for me!


Now as I leave you,

To live in the country,

I know I will miss you.


The laughter,

The banter.

Oh yes !it’s been fun,


Somehow , a miracle!

Good writing was done!

Peacock Feathers by Daphne Jaaback

From an early age, our son, Ken, realized that monetary coins were different from all other circular or cylindrical objects. They had a unique  swappable  value. Marbles could be swapped for marbles, precious stones for precious stones but coins could be swapped for anything, dependent only on the size of the thing.

At a sea-side shop  he spied a brightly coloured beach ball which he had to have. He was two years old at the time so he didn’t  have his own stash of coins. He pulled my arm and asked for one. He proceeded to the counter , proffered the coin to the assistant and pointed to the ball of choice. He was disappointed that no change was forthcoming. The assistant explained that he could have a smaller ball and that purchase would give him an additional coin. Ken happily went that route. Perhaps this was his first lesson in spending according to one’s means.

Years later we moved to an area close to a tree lined park , the centre piece of which was a small dam. The latter was home to small fish, frogs and a host of other fascinating water creatures. Peacocks, herons and other birds inhabited the lush surrounding s.

Armed with rods of stick, string and hook our children  used to head to the water. They would thread worms onto the hooks and spend many happy hours   catching tiddlers. Ken would  sometimes sell these fish at our gate.

One afternoon they discovered a dead peacock and carried it home for burial. Before lowering it into the hastily dug grave, Ken insisted on plucking half a dozen feathers. He had heard that the owning of a peacock feather brought good luck.

Next day he stood outside our front gate and placed the jar of feathers, with a ‘For Sale’ notice, on a rock. He did brisk business and  pocketed  the proceedings.

That night he seemed restless and I wondered whether he was unwell.

Early in the morning I caught sight of him by the grave. He appeared to be exhuming the peacock. He then carefully placed some small objects on top of the body and covered it up.

“Ken, what are you doing?”

“I felt so sorry for the turkey that I had to give him the money.”



To me a good book is ….  a magic carpet that whisks me away to other places, other people, excitement, wonder, new ideas, different scenes, strange sensation, no matter whether they be  enchanting, terrifying or bizarre.

Through a book one can experience altered reality without any electronic intervention (cyber games) or without the aid of mind-bending drugs. And all for the price of a book. Granted,  these days, your book might be a hefty price – the top end of R200 or in lucky instances, a charity-sale buy for a few rands,  but these bargains are rare.

I enjoy travelling via a good travel book. Now that I’m growing older, long distance flights and the maelstrom of airports are a daunting prospect, but: pick up your book and in a flash you’re in the olive groves of Italy, the mountains of the Hindu Kush, the African bushveld, the snow of Alaska, the exotica of the Asian countries, the glitz of Manhattan – unlimited travel, but alas, no Frequent Flyer Miles. On the plus side, no jet lag, foreign languages and no horrendous foreign currency exchange rates. If you’re yearning for the tastes and smells, you can visit a local ethnic restaurant, armed with your book of course, and you can order dim sum, or sauerkraut, or – if all else fails – phone the local takeaway and order a curry!

A good book is as good as – or better than – any movie, TV show, or theatre experience. You have the flexibility to pick it up or put it down, entirely at your convenience. You can read for five minutes, or all night, if that is what you want to do.  You can scream with delight or horror, giggle uncontrollably, you can cry unreservedly, in privacy.  How often have I come out of a really sad movie, with aching throat and a heavy lump of sadness in my chest, from suppressed tears? When all I wanted to do was sob loudly, but because I was in public, I was too inhibited. But at home, on your sofa, book in hand, you can wail, weep, sniffle, sob, until your nose runs and you are exhausted, and so is your box of Kleenex tissues.

Just as you can weep without restraint, watering the pages with your tears, you can giggle, roar with laughter, snigger, or scream in horror, and the only person you’ll disturb might be a vaguely startled cat, jerked momentarily from its slumbers.

So: a good book is the key to enjoyment, or a key to the suffering of the universal human condition (try any of the classic Russian novelists), a transporter to an escape from mundane life, a source of information and pleasure.  There is just no substitute for a GOOD BOOK!

Counting sheep by Daphne Jaaback

To sleep ,perchance to dream

Sleep does need a scheme

Some  do  count the sheep

A seamless dream to reap

Another plan have I

As in bed I lie


I tab each operation

To encourage some sedation

I work from toes to head

As I lie there in my bed

While listing all of them

Sleep occurs  as REM




A slip at the gym

Put a toe out of trim

Veins  varicose

(I begin to doze)

Hips replaced

Sarcoma traced


Burst appendix

And uterus  fix

Tonsils removed

And teeth improved

A dive too close

And a broken nose.

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