Archives for category: 2013 poems

Today marks the start of Lent – Ash Wednesday. I had a few comments at my circus class this afternoon, “Is that a mark on your forehead?” “You’ve got something there!” “I rubbed mine off as soon as I got it.” The mark of ashes is a reminder about what this season is shaping up to be: a public call, a public brand. This is our life – and Lent is a time of spiritual preparation for Easter. I wrote this poem for Lent two years ago.

Lent is In

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Down the trendy Op Shop
and the chants of children
in classes:
“Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.”
There are piles of other ‘re’ words
and they all apply.
The green season
– but violet is the new green –
when it is cool to be eco-friendly.
In the latest top tips for health and wellbeing –
refresh, rejuvenate,
rejoin the reason for being here at all.
Relight the flame that has gone out.
Rejoice and return
to find Him exactly where we last left Him,
struggling to the cross-
roads of busy city streets
where all have blank looks
and “BUY!” written in their electric-powered eyes.
Remember, reground us in the earth.
Let us join the tree-huggers
and deadline-less surfies
and medicine-free remedies.
I won’t even mention retreat, that goes without saying.
Renew, redeem the silence
from the noise
and the luxury
from what you cannot buy.
Receive the vegetarian Fridays.
Repose, relax, replace our worries
with prayers.
And, most of all,
repent
for the way this trashed-up planet looks,
for the scars left on every soul,
for our refuse not yet released.
Lent is In.

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Today is the feast of St James and we had the gospel reading about him and his brother wanting to sit on either side of Jesus in his kingdom. I have always felt a bit of affinity to these two brothers – at least they were honest about their ambition and selfish dreams!

So I have dug up a few poems on this theme. The first is from 2013, the second from 2009.

 

Self

Source of all my doting,
shall I look past you to the
underfed wisdom trapped at the horizon?
Shall you, little life,
be pleased to give way to the
freedom in a dangerous liaison
with what lurks beyond?
Oh, far beyond you is
what is most close, what only
exists to swell this heart,
to bring you undiluted joy
and pain. But though I think
I love you, my clinging hold
refuses this breach of the jail cell,
this cleansing bush fire,
this feeding of the sapling,
growing to encompass the whole of the universe.
This lust I have to love
only you, it strangles,
slow source of seductive suffering.
This is not love.
This is fear.
This is grasping what’s meant to be launched –
you face towards freedom, year on year.

 

Virus Undetected

Insidious, this…
seeking praise,
defending territory –
a virus in the system dodges our gaze.

Turning from God
to be needed
by the mirage
that good works have superseded.

Ambition, yes…
and stealing the light;
thunder of applause
is more sweet than the brownie working by night.

Explaining away
any defect;
what utter shame
should the truth-revealer decide to interject.

Insidious, this…
climbing the ranks
when the gospel points
to the only one who truly deserves our thanks.

 

You were once strangers
in a strange land.
But never in Australia –
of course, you understand.
For never ‘cross our pristine shores
may strangers come and go
Unless we give them leave before
they must depart, you know.
We have a proud tradition
of settlers in this place
Who come from pure British stock –
the highest human race.
We’re forward-thinking democrats,
enlightened Christian roots;
Generous to the others,
but only when it suits.
There were perhaps some early folk
who camped but did not farm,
but they did not debate our claim
and brought on their own harm.
We treat this land the right way –
we profit and extract.
We’re literate and tidy
and by the law we act.
Of those who’re coming to us
we don’t know what they’ll do –
They wouldn’t handle freedom,
the ATM or modern loo.
We’ve far too many people
for this island nation state;
We can’t just let them pour on in
at this avalanching rate!
So someone’s got to stop them –
a Christian or Israelite
Remembering God’s words to us –
sure he didn’t get them right!

I was reading Deuteronomy 10:19 and the great irony of our situation in Australia hit me. These terrible things people are saying – and believing them!

A few months ago I wrote this poem. It seems to fit today’s reading very well: “It is easier for a camel to go  through the eye of a needle than for someone who is rich to enter the kingdom of God…But for God all things are possible.” Mat 19:24,26

What does all our wealth, even wisdom and advice, matter at that point in life?

The Rich Man Who Got Old

Blue heelers make good pets;
they care, and raise us all
to the pitch of a bark.
When onions are full grown
I’ve heard it’s best to hang
them to keep in stockings.
I browse the DVDs,
turn away, drunk instead
on sweet reality.
The lawnmower just needs
a bit of oil on wheels
spun ripe for the munching.
The full moon just come up,
red, hooks me into now –
a space I don’t dare leave.
When the heater is on,
don’t leave the door open
for cold to wander in.
Work and play is balance
I have not learned but ask,
“Can you both play and work?”

Blue moons bark at a bit
of oil in stockings, drip,
one sweet at a time.
Now not reality,
that came too late, hook
to wander in a bark.
Play and work, pet, instead
I’m drunk on what, forget
name and don’t you dare leave.
Don’t open on wheels, hang
it up, advice, munching
ripe for the space of full.
Stockings of DVDs
at Christmas no onions
keep lawnmowers away.
But ask, “What is this life
now I am leaving it?
What still glitters, cold, now?”

We are all weighed down by the harshness of Labor and Coalition plans for asylum seekers who arrive to Australia by boat.

I met one of these men once, who had come by boat from Sri Lanka. He spoke with regret about having been married when still a child to avoid being conscripted to the Tamil Tigers. Yet he also spoke with love about his wife and two children, who he desperately missed. He had been in exile in India, before returning to Sri Lanka and having to escape again to Malaysia, Indonesia and finally Australia. It was a long journey to this point and, finally landing in Australia, he faced having to be returned to Sri Lanka or living in suspense for years in our unwelcoming country.

Biography in Brief

Married at eight
to escape my fate,
exiled at twenty years old.
Now twenty-seven,
I’m almost for heaven,
life’s over and death has a hold.

But though we did part
you still hold my heart:
each second you are in my mind.
My family dear,
I’m wishing you here;
in our distance don’t leave love behind.