Ash Wednesday

Ash is blowing away on history’s wings.

No more the daily product of fire, swept

Together on bended knee from soot lined

Hearths; Cinders is a figure of folk lore;

Loved ones are gathered to be thrown to air;

Stains and foul odours are no longer purged

By ash; no more does ash shine the silver.

But it still sticks to woeful Wednesday.

Its pall can still douse the pride of lost hearts.

With the embers of vanity painted

On brows, bowed before the unchanging force

Of time, we still hope for transformation

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The Wall

Ahead stands the wall.

Unavoidably there

for no reason.

Blank indifferent unmarked.

The mists of Winter

fall from the skies

with the lethargy of despair.

Only the wall remains,

the wall and the breathing.

Clouds of vapour, bearing

the unmistakable scent

of a life, of the unconsidered,

hang in the air;

a condensation.

And so it comes to this –

the wall and moisture

mysteriously at a moment

in doubt with each other.

Both unseen, unseeable.

Only the shade crawls

through the silence

to reach the wall with a shudder.

But is there music?

Where were you when Kennedy was shot?

Was it hope that died

when rifle shots blasted the promise of youth,

silenced the dreams of perfection?

The radio crackled, the valves flickered.

Heroes were reduced to the banalities of grief

and the leaden prose of eulogy.

 

Now these phantoms ride

in a bubble, thinking strengthened glass proof

against the drunken stupor of destruction.

Cushioned in posts and tweets, the absurd

washes away the vernix of infantile belief

to leave only power as our cold theology.

 

The journey from saviour to villain

remains a short road, well signposted

and heavily trod, a blood stained highway,

a monument to misconceived hopefulness.

 

So these bitter reflections are scattered

across my world’s shrinking horizons.

They are transient litter. They may scar

the view from my window but I am too far

from the place where the earth still breathes

and hope hops from step-stone to step-stone

in the froth of the raging waters.

The World of the Spirit

With his head lifted up and all senses

six feet above his destiny, he seeks

the flights of freedom in the thinning air.

 

There he can dream of the ineffable,

pure wholeness of the imagination,

wings stretched to embrace the invisible.

 

Head and heart may merge in the clear sunlight

where the elemental truths of the earth

seem to reside, raised to the eternal.

 

How shocking then the world on which he stands,

shoes stained with dirt, place of defecation,

bedding for the expulsion of desire.

 

There he finds where the wholeness of the poor

drinks unholy waters, ingests poisons,

thirsts for blood crushed beneath his ecstasy.

 

Now he feels his bare feet clamped to the soil

and the spirit stirs not in the abstract

but in the arguments of connection.

New Year Sonnet

The year ends in the cold sludge of Winter.

Shapeliness hides, triple wrapped against wind,

save for the wiry scowl of the jogger.

This is no time to be alone, watching

sands drift through your fingers. The year is gone,

to be simplified by history’s lies.

Let it be gone and take a stranger’s hand.

Truth is weightless but courses through your veins

before the mind can grip it in knowing.

Throw your laughter to the air and watch it

float away; dance over the churning seas

and sing your anthems to whatever comes.

For love must embrace the grim thirst for blood,

outstare the evil and repay bad with good.

Can God make a fool of us?

It͛s all very well to talk

About the foolishness of God.

But fools are not in short supply.

Human wisdom may have to bow

Before God͛s foolishness

But who is to say which fool

Is God͛s fool? Is it the fool

Who has had enough of experts?

The fool who leans on common sense,

And the ͚likes͛ on his Facebook page?

The fool in his yacht in hiding

From the smells of the abandoned?

 

The tender foolishness of God
Meant silence before destruction,
Agony in the loneliness
Of death and relentless deeds of love.

Abstraction

  

The tree dies, dispensing

Decorative detritus,

Depth and disguise

To become form – diagram.

 

 On death, shape is ragged

Violent in its skeletal

Splinters, cutting

Into the demure softness


 Look away – to the hills,

To the smooth slate greys, cloud formed

Where comfort sleeps

To wait for the seed to crack.