Archives for category: Poems

Today is Holy Thursday. A reflection of mine from 2009:

The Thursday Moss

These rocks that I nurture
ramble indolently
from the bent-over One
to the bent-under three
and if messages could
pass along my dull green,
oh! It would change
this weak human scene.
On my eastmost rock
see, I bear elbows
that are shaking, trembling
like minor death-throes.
My leaves are absorbing
muttered words of prayer.
They cry soundlessly
to show that I care.
My stalks are channelling
these heavy tears,
absorbing the shivering
release of his fears.
And all of this drama
is making me frown,
for what a contrast
from my west, further down,
for here I’m a pillow
for sleepyheads, three,
who haven’t discerned
the One’s urgency.
He told them to wait
and I’m waiting too,
but doing much better;
they nodded on cue
and now they’re dead to it
and I’m left awake,
a witness, He’ll die
for theirs, and my, sake.
Also, for some more good Easter poetry, see


The Advent Time

Grass crackling dry like tinsel
and mozzies singing their carol-like tunes.
This is the season we have been waiting for,
counting off the suns and moons.
Expectation hangs like pregnant air
and plans go flying, calendars fill.
Even the atheist shopper knows
that the world is holding its breath until
the clanging of a baby’s cry matches the bells
and it’s time to be loving, giving and true,
as from splashes of red and green emerge
the purple hope of a life that’s new.
And we’ve only to notice the promise of joy
if we doubt that God could visit the earth.
As we blur in the rush and parch in the heat,
for one heartbeat away from Advent, His birth.

The war shot the patriot from my heart
as if the curse of blood
were not enough.

At the going down of the sun
and in the morning
I thank my God for evenings and mornings
that rest quietly in the graves of the fallen,
the absence of war
and, yet, the presence of war
in the still-wet killing fields.

I thank my God for the peace
that punches our hearts
and never gives up its search
for a welcome,
who homes even into the midst of slaughter,
who pursues and teases the returned,
who shrinks from the decision-makers,
who feels left out of the rallies
– even those in its name –
but haunts those who have passed beyond the depths.

We will remember them
and we will cry tears of blood
at the sight of our sins,
at the lies that led us to hate,
at the creation of the ‘other’
and the mother’s children dropping from our country’s eyes.

May God build a shrine in my soul
large enough for every unmarked trauma,
with a white flag
and the charred remains of borders.

May God shower us with sorrow
for all fever to exploit,
to colonise,
to name superior,
and to ever be loyal
except to God’s truth.

O God, purge the hatred from amongst us,
let us retaliate by blessing.

Beat the drum against all evil,
most especially in my heart.

Lest we forget
the pain of every wound,
the glory lost to conquerors,
the sweat of every peace-maker:
Lest we forget.

One day the sun rose in the West.
Nobody blinked.
Well, one or two marvelled at the phenomenon.
A couple, just like you or I,
checked their memory-banks for where the sun should rise
and, having confirmed the East,
permitted themselves to be startled,
at least.
But the rest,
perhaps unable to pinpoint the strange sensation
of the rising sun in the West,
went about their daily business:
checking the camels,
baking the bread,
mending the nets,
tending the pets,
spinning the wool,
spinning tales of the sun
rising on every horizon,
but never in the West.
And we, too, go about our daily business:
checking the cheques,
buying the bread,
spending the bets,
fending off debts,
telling the tills,
telling the tales two thousand years later.
One day the Son rose in the West.
Well, West of here, but perhaps for you
North or South or East
at least
as one or two professed.
That Son who’d died
came up where least expected:
His light had resurrected.


I don’t pretend to know your thoughts
as you rocked on the edge of the precipice,
arms flung out,
waiting to fall
and not knowing how to fly.
I heard that your words were lost
in acres of vast silence
and you cried,
but your tears
turned to salt just like the rest of us.
I suppose the guilt laid on you needed an outlet,
a fall to match our fall
and in the pain
of forgiveness
you promised to keep gathering our trash.
I wish I had the innocence to be shocked
that you not only fell but you flew
and we have life
and could fly
if we too could fling our arms out for love.


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


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,
for the way this trashed-up planet looks,
for the scars left on every soul,
for our refuse not yet released.
Lent is In.

This is an old poem, written in 2007. Am I still as idealistic as I was then? I hope so.

Idealism reported missing in action

We start off as idealists
we famish in our dreams
our castles crumble in the Dark Ages of life
we eat poison and drink bitterness
we let go of the hot-air-balloon string
and bow to the gods of “the way things are”

Often it is no great drama
we are killed not by a dagger
but by the insidious seepage of reality
that grows like mistletoe in our brains
and soon takes the reins
and steers us along a path only slightly different
until, laying drugged up in the back seat,
we arouse ourselves and do not notice
the new conformity of the scenery

We believe we are still hitched to a star,
somewhere in Centaurus, Andromeda or Orion
while, all along, we have been tied to our sun,
travelling around and around
in dizzying circles of sinister status quo

Something has become our worshipped goal

Idealism Tracing Service

harsh? Perhaps, but family is a gift
for now, that passes
but too often ties down and
gags, smothers, hangs
us up to the altar of this
unaware that beyond is a larger clan
that is all we will have left
when these have gone
when we can see, with Jesus,
more brothers and sisters, mothers and fathers,
expressions of God

harsh? Perhaps, but career does not start in motion the chain
of work, to money, to fulfilment, to happiness
unless it is done with the most
enticingly rare and audaciously daring
alignment with our unique role
for creating a shocking new
un-God-forsaken world

harsh? Perhaps, but even the most innocent of roles
clothed around the form of
orthodoxy incarnate
has limited our hope for the future
and vision that we dared to achieve
now all-but-desecrated
in our need to be needed
to fit in like a ring on a finger
slowly strangling
and refusing to be removed
while the finger grows
whenever we feel irreplaceable
like the ashes and dust that make up our earth
that will be replenished when we join them

Yes, while our backs were turned,
idealism eloped with mystery
and we were hemmed in by our new masters
clarity and “JU”,
rarely called by its true name
justification of the unjustifiable

Abject as this situation seems
we can nevertheless retrieve our souls
and let them loose again
in the paddock of hope
for, as we can imagine a world of harmony,
God is necessity, the mother of invention

Sun plane

Song for a New Season

That tangled storylines
might unravel themselves
into sturdy road signs,
showing you the way.
That what was grafted
onto the lower roots
might wither away
to reveal the truth.
That illusions crafted
to hide the depths of pain
be gently released
and, washed by rain,
bare, you may rise.
That mystery be pieced
together just enough to
reassure you of God’s eyes
yet not enough to
make you smug or proud.
That your rope may be slung
to some distant cloud,
no matter how fragile,
so you may climb day by day
and hope with the young.
That you may stray
just beyond your comfort zone
to keep hail and agile,
grasping life by the wing.
And that you may steal
enough time and space
for wisdom to grow,
for the Spirit to sing
and all wounds to heal.


I found this echidna up a mountain in Gariwerd (the Grampians) on my retreat last week. It was the only picture I took as I relished the chance to be away from the usual technology. But this post is not about animals, it is about fruits – specifically, olives and nard. I wrote these two poems after a fascinating reading of the gospels through ecological lenses, with our wonderful retreat director, Veronica Lawson RSM.

A Neighbour in Service

I am crushed / to the heart.
Beautiful, aromatic, sweet,
my essence streams away from me,
poured out as libation
to mercy.
I keep / for the time being
as all who wait on God’s promises,
as all who strain to hear
the whisper of a call
and flex slightly,
a promise to keep.
I travel / through new horizons,
vigilant with my partners
in the crime of mercy.
We see / a break.
It is an interruption,
an anomaly
in the fabric woven of our desire
for harmony
and the life that gushes eternally.
It is my moment / now.
The call whispers, tendril-like
around my guard of common-sense
to propose a toast to infinity,
a taste of the garden of paradise
and the certainty
of who I’m meant to be.
And so I am / the libation
poured out
in mercy, by mercy, for mercy.
And I am received
in gratitude
by the screeching scars.
As I flow / in dissipation –
traces kept by sore, to store,
most in the proud rubble neighbour –
I remember my source,
the belief of my parent.
My mentor, who planted in
me the seed
of the triumph
of being a sacrifice
of mercy
and who sent me to be crushed,
all the more to partner
that good, compassionate man.

(Luke 10:25-37)

The Cost of Remembrance

I have always been a risk;
hard to get and tempting.
Kings and courtiers know my name,
as I keep far from the lowly ones,
until their deaths.
Although I love to dance
in the warm sunlight
and stretch to tantalise
the nostrils,
I am more often kept,
afraid in the dark,
afraid to be spilled and wasted.
And so I sang my lonely song
until the She-who-would-do
came along.
And she carried me resolutely,
like one who knew freedom,
like one in step with the fuse of a bomb,
like one walking from a funeral into a birthing-room.
And then she stopped.
I shivered once
and waited
for the glorious, raucous, outrageous
shattering of the jar around me.
I tiptoed out, unsure,

and bolder then,
I let pour and pour
like pure surrender
I drained myself until there
was nothing more.
Over, through, under, around,
I caressed His head,
I let flow through His beard
with a sweet massage
and, in my gaseous form,
swam through His nose.
It was all part of the risk.
I knew what this woman needed from me.
My instinct for healing,
my bold proclamation of royalty,
my rising prayer in death.
And so my drops were tears
and so my voice sang of good news,
news that rose beyond death
to silent life.
And for She-who-had-done
I covered Him in love,
washing away the sense of
and preparing Him
to die.

(Mark 14:3-9)


Next week is Anti-Poverty Week and today I was amazed to hear that Australia has come out at the very top of Credit Suisse’s world rich list on wealth per person for the past two years running. We have so much, yet we (at least, at the government level) share so little with the disadvantaged both in our own country and overseas. I do hear that personally, Australians are very generous towards charities, but there is a mentality that solving poverty is someone else’s business. Where now is the Christian call to “bring good news to the poor”? Can we also bring news of relief from poverty? I wrote this in 2009, finding that we are all culpable in one way or another.

Someone Else’s Saviour

When resigned corporations
think that money turns the world
we fear
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When rice-fields, mine-fields, grave-fields
bury freedom underground
we pray
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When eking out a living
leaves no room for them to speak
we dream
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When tangled in this messy net
of interdependent responsibility
we feel
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When real stories shock and shame us
and we look into their eyes
we sense
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When the echoes of their voices still
haunt us in the market
we guess
there’s enough to share it ’round.

When burnt-out lives leave ashes
on our doorsteps
we regret
there’s enough to share it ’round.

Well, it’s too late, mate,
but the researcher has found:
we know
there’s enough to share it ’round.