An Old Friend Passing

I have on an old tee shirt that I've worn
these many years; it's threadbare, stained and torn.
The dye has faded, it used to be coal black
but it's lost it's rigour and the neckline's going slack.

When I take it off tonight it's for the bin
or cut up into rags for polishing.
And I'll feel like giving thanks to this thing
I spent those many years being in.
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Sacrifice

      When you said ‘let’s burn the bonfire’ we’d built for Guy Fawkes night even though the small ones were ill; not ours of course, who were grown and gone but Stan and Wilf, our ‘secular’ children, I have to admit, I was none too pleased. My counter suggestion to go to the pub, celebrate half-term, your week’s respite, your cooling off, was met with the pursed lips, perfected over the years and employed to ward off such ideas.

    So, out you went as I still struggled into my boots, papers underarm, matches held astrike. By the time I arrived it was already ablaze and you were shifting branches from one pile to the next to prevent the incineration of hedgehogs, your orange face filled with fire.

    We spent an hour or so feeding the flames on a still night as a massive sky absorbed the smoke of a million atoms heading towards the stars. And I imagined Cranmer, who had, only that afternoon, looked down on us from his pious Oxford perch, feeling first the warming of his toes before the flames got a grip, soon consuming in that hot revenge the cries he must have made. I tried to imagine, with all the lifting, lugging and lurching, accidently throwing myself into the fire as some sort of sacrifice the god I’ve never known wished to extract, for me feeling curmudgeonly at not going to the pub.

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Tripping with the Magi & Power Tower

A contribution to Ronovan’s decima challenge 334. Stable being the tricky rhyme on rhyme line D. Greedily, I have made two this week.

Tripping with the Magi

Three Magi travelled from the East,
beyond the land of Palestine,
beyond the Dead Sea's viscous brine,
each carried on a hump-backed beast.

Each one of them, some kind of priest,
bearing gifts from a Persian king
as if it were a christening;
carried straightway to a stable,
witnessing the birth of fable;
miraculous Lord of the Ring.


Power Tower

When Babylonians aspired
to build a temple touching sky
a certain god asked questions why,
from where such hubris was acquired.

She said 'It's not what I desired,
demolish, scatter all the stones,
make sure each one of you atones
for mocking me; it's unstable,
damn this Leaning Tower of Babel.'
(Off stage: hear polyglottal groans....)

A Way

For the Ronovan Decima challenge No.33 
Prompt word - Blind on rhyme C


A Way

Revealed religion is a way
of mapping out a path to peace,
those seeking to have love increase
on pilgrimage to judgement day.

Who judges though is hard to say.
Uncertain but yet hardly blind
we raise our children to be kind
and hesitate to know a god.
Like Frost, we take a path less trod,
a way evolving, not designed.

Penitence

My contribution to the Ronovan Decima Challenge 31: 
Sleep on B rhyme


Penitence

Forgive me. I used to awake
to the sound of your smile asleep
beside me, a smile buried deep
inside me. Now there is an ache
embedded there for my mistake.
And years do not diminish how
I lightly tore apart the vow
we made while looking at the sea,
the moonlight sealing silently
a love that was - but is not now.
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Revelation

Revelation

Revealed religion is a way
of mapping out the road to peace,
seeking to have love increase
until the judgement day.

Who judges though is hard to say;
there's much opinion on that theme,
which strand is paramount, which scheme
affords the greatest sway.

There're many actors in the play,
their scripts confuse and agitate,
add little to the great debate
of whom to disobey.

Rabbis, priests, muezzins, grey
with worry if they've got it right
in their promotion of the fight
for souls, are rarely gay.

They, no doubt, fret that they'll betray
their version of a vengeful god
who's liberal with the wrathful rod
in this grim affray.

Yet most of us, we know we're clay.
Uncertain but yet hardly blind,
we raise our children to be kind,
then quietly decay.

When Rain Falls

When Rain Falls

When rain falls I find you
confounding conventional wisdom,
countering expected frowns
with a smile as wide as the world is.

You're not long to lie a-bed
listening, expectantly smug
with thoughts of snuggling down
further to your dreaming.

No, I watch you rise, slipping
the duvet back to cover me,
cavorting quickly into your clothes
and two steps a time on the stairs.

When the backdoor clicks I settle
into sleeping. Dawn's just beckoned
when back you splash into bed,
hair sparkling with morning rain.
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Edging Spring

Edging Spring

We issue small blasphemies
when weather palls, changing from what we 
prefer to rain or to sunshine,
perhaps to snow, peculiarities
of cloud casting gloom, or this
stark light on a wet road.

Our skin likes the weather it likes,
drawn in, mingling with our blood
and the windlessness of pulse.
So how, then, can we somehow mind 
when Spring edges it's white lines of crocus
beside the salted roads,
sparrows foraging for twigs,
a confusion of pigeons dancing? 
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Recital

Recital

Inside the hall a soprano sang,
her lieder deluding us,
our somnambulism mocking sleep.
In her voice a sadness grew
like rainclouds without rain.
Someone coughed,
someone scraped a chair,
as a mild explosion of applause
muffled the roars from the Falls Road
where songs of freedom
encored their farewell.
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Diaspora

For St. Patrick's Day and my ancestors who made the long trip from Ireland to New Zealand in the 19th century.


Diaspora

However tall your ships were, how long
they took to reach your chosen shores,
could they contain intact your beating hearts,
swollen with leaving, aching with imminent 
arrival; the slow salt haul on following seas?

Were prayers said daily, attempting to appease
those catholic saints, their shapes reminiscent
of wet lands you left in colder parts
particularising rain? Did you pack your laws,
clutch them closely, like an Irish song?

How do we gauge the sorrow leaving brings
but by a return in our imaginings.
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