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?

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.

There’s no such thing as a baby

 

A baby? No such thing.

Only the discourse with its blurred edges

and misunderstandings.

 

You may stand in the forest,

Winter bejeweling your breath

and a lone cry in the pearl vacancy

 

as you listen to the heart’s

empty rhythms. You may turn your eye

to the far horizon where the geese fly.

 

You may cling to the illusion

of transcendence, of a personal vision

but you are not there.

 

You are where the sounds of strife

make you shiver, where you lose yourself

in the exchanges of difference,

 

where accusation and affection

chip away your edges, grow scar tissue,

where you change with the world.

Becket

 

All sensation boxed – a mouth,

a spool, a rocking chair

in an empty room,

buried to the neck in sand,

or waiting under the dead tree –

only words, endless words,

inescapable rambling words,

the ceaseless torrent of anxiety.

 

But the door has closed,

the tree is dead,

the tape decays.

All that remains is the beat

of babbling bewilderment,

the distant sound of laughter,

the hand resting softly

on the lips and

the musical lilt of words.

God is Dead

It was when he came to the stream,

the soft breeze of the water flowed

over his face and washed away

years of thoughtless obedience.

 

Suddenly the birds were singing,

had they waited for him to leave

the quiet courtyards of convention

where he’d bent his back to labour?

 

Beyond the stream, the horizon

stretched – a universe of unknowns –

and the knowns of his slavery

stood at his back, humming gently.

 

He waited, not knowing which path

would connect him, and to what end.

So there in the growing shadow

he sang cruel songs of oppression.

Christmas Snow

It’s Christmas  movie snow.
All the weight of expectation;
all the lightness of love;
all the show of a night out;
all the softness of a cradle;
all the silence of shelter;
all the playfulness of a park;
all the chill of cleanliness;
all the heat of a rosy cheek;
all the romance of childhood;
all the deathly cracks of bones.
The Nativity is just our birth to Nature
at one with the cattle in the manger.
It is enough to nuzzle for warmth,
to look about with the eye of wonder,
and to paint our world with our own colour