Wednesday, November 14, 2018


The dry grass bends in the scorching heat
But the human beings won’t stay neat
And the hidden drums thud a quickening beat
And the drumbeats cry of freedom!

Their sorrow speaks in a thousand tears
Of the pain they’ve borne for too many years
The black man’s torture and the white man’s fears
And the drumbeats cry of freedom.

They lock a man in a dark, dark place
They name his words as a deep disgrace
For they cannot bear to see his face,
And the drumbeats cry of freedom.

But who is prisoner, who is free
Where racism holds sovereignty
And hatred holds the mastery?
And the drumbeats cry of freedom?

Forgiveness comes at a costly price
But peace must make the sacrifice
Truth isn’t easy and it isn’t nice
And the drumbeats cry of freedom.

The man who conquers his heart’s rage
Is the man who steps up to the stage
For he’s walked the darkness and he’s paid the wage
And the drumbeats cry of freedom.

Monday, November 12, 2018

Barefoot Girls

This world is not quite safe for barefoot girls
Who long to wander in the dew-wet grass
And feel the flowing-skirted touch of life
Roam ankle-deep through seasons as they pass.

But, oh, there are sharp stones beneath my feet,
And thorns and thistles snapping at my heels,
And all the world would say shod is more sweet.

Must we wear armour in this untamed place?
Must I defend my steps with hard firm shoes?
Why can I not go dancing into light,
Twirling and whirling barefoot when I choose?

Only in Eden were such footsteps safe;
Yet I await that day of running free
When there is not a single shoe to see.

I will be dancer, He will be my dance.
I will be singer, He will be my song
I will step boldly on unfading grass
And all the wondering world will dance along.

Blessed are those who love

Blessed are those who love; the ones whose hands
Are opened wide, to give and to receive,
Who live embracing mercy every day,
Walking the wondrousness that they believe.

Blessed are those who love; who face their fear
And reach across the valleys of their dread
To touch another’s soul with gentleness
And speak the words of peace and grace instead.

Blessed are those who love; who turn aside
From every thought of envy’s dark dismay
And rather choose to cheer another’s joy,
And cast the self’s idolatry away.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

Memoriam 11.11.2018

Stand here and pray for peace, while soft-voiced ghosts
Speak of a century of agony
In tones that must compel our deeper prayers,
They bore their part and suffered; they are we.

Stop the loud thunders, listen to their words,
And be ashamed of every careless thought,
The swift scapegoating of all otherness:
Have we learned nothing that their pain has taught?

Have we learned nothing down the long slow years?
Have we not learned that every man bleeds red?
While politicians arc their platitudes
Let us be ones that pray for peace instead.

Let us be peace in every day its breath,
Let us be quick to listen, slow to speak,
And reach out hands to give and bless and heal,
And grow an olive leaf for this dove’s beak.

Saturday, November 03, 2018

She called me sister

You, who have suffered unthinkable things
From my race and my people;
The loss of your children and language,
The loss of your land and your culture,
The loss of hope
When greedy hands, white hands,
Snatched what they desired;
You, who have walked the path of Job,
Through loss and pain,
Loss and pain,
Loss and pain,
And darkness over the deeps;
You who were robbed,
By my kindred and my people,
The race by which I gain:
You called me sister!

This is the hospitality of Christ,
And to you I give my tears.

Thursday, November 01, 2018

All Things New

Your people are broken, your people are aching,
Fragmented, confused underneath sin and death;
But you are our Father, who loves us forever,
And all the dry bones come to life at your breath.

Our tears become rivers of blood, burn like acid,
Corroding the heart and despairing the soul;
But you, our Redeemer have bought us, will keep us,
Your body was broken that we might be whole.

We flail in our weakness, collapse in the shadows,
Heart broken and helpless, know not what to do;
O Spirit of God, who gives life to the dying,
Look down on creation and make all things new.

Wednesday, October 31, 2018


As spring breathes towards summer,
They come.
Hinting, hinting, at dreams of bluest purple,
They come.
Sweeping the skyline, lovely as a promise,
They come.

They are the punctuation
Between bottlebrush and Christmas bush;
Dancing with the golden brown of silky oaks,
And the bright mirage of flame trees,
They come,
And we smile at their coming.

Sing, flowers, sing!
Sing of the quiet places,
The shadowed and secluded,
The rest that summer needs,
Refreshment of the weary:
Twilight at noonday
In your gentle, purple haze.

Each year returning
You bless our bright Novembers,
We lift our eyes from scurry
And pause in our great hurry
As you grace our teeming city
With your flowers and your fronds

Thursday, October 25, 2018

Song of the Victims

Shattered ere we were formed,
Broken ere we could cry,
Trembling within our beds
To some cruel lullaby;

Pain was our very air,
Confusion wrapped us round,
Yet, in our deepest hearts,
We still knew up from down.

Oh, we have been the crushed,
Yet we rise up again
Strong where we are most weak,
Dancing where we are lame.

Looking you in the eye,
You who would make us small,
We have a king who cares,
The Father of us all.

He did not leave us there,
Bleeding from bitter spite,
We are wrapped in his robe
Lifted into the light.

Lifted into the light,
Light shining burning clear,
Drinking so deep of love,
Learning to shed our fear.

Waiting until the dawn,
Waiting till Kingdom come,
Waiting that perfect morn
When we behold the Son.

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

The dark cup

Take up the dark, dark cup,
Wine purpled, swelled with tears,
Bitter with haunted fear
The burden of the years.

Drink it, drink down the dregs
With sword-sharp shuddering,
Pain that congeals like ice
Screams through our muttering.

Pain? Yes like drinking thorns
Cruelly to lacerate,
One part our nightmare fears
One part is rage and hate.

One part the jealous soul,
Whipped by another’s joy,
One part the monstrous lies
That steal, kill and destroy.

Yes you must drink it down
In its entirety
Courage, and faith made bold
Name its mortality.

Here is compassion born
Here love is made complete
When death is swallowed up
There is no more defeat

Monday, October 15, 2018

Apple Blossom

I wore that perfume then! How it evokes
The memories of a night! Near fifty years
Have passed, and still I feel the things I felt.

The time was nearly Christmas; summer night
Laden with languid heat, the party held
Down by the water, in a dream-lit yard.
(The dreams, as I remember, were all mine,
Inchoate, helpless, fresh and sharp and strong,
And innocent as newly-mint sixteen.)

So little I recall: what dress? What food?
Only the perfume, and the magic sense
Of entering a world I had not known.

No, nothing happened, not a prince was there,
(At least not mine); only the summer night,
The velvet darkness sequinned with small lamps,
The heady mix of freedom and soft dreams,
The first toe stuck out into life’s glad stream,
And all the joys and sorrows yet to come.

The river of the years has borne me on
Without regret, for she still lives inside:
The dreaming girl who sees the beautiful
In every moment’s gift, still tender-glad
To be and to become: to reach, to love.

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Let Their Cry go up to Heaven

Let their cry go up to Heaven!
Let the earth hear it;
Let the sea stand still in its writhing,
To gather in their tears.
Let the clouds weep in sympathy
Upon this thirsting soil.
Let the grass blades supplicate,
And the sun scorch our clamour to silence,
So that we might hear their cry.

Let their cry go up to Heaven!
Let the angels pause to listen,
Lifting up the terrible pain.
Transmuting it to glory
As only Love can do.
There shall be a day of reckoning.

Let their cry go up to Heaven:
The broken and the tortured,
The disregarded, robbed of human worth
(Precious beyond our counting),
The misused, the throwaway people,
Thrown away, like rusted-up spare parts,
Or viewed as merely vermin
By some cold, Satanic glaze,
The sneered-at, the despised ones, who crawl with broken hearts:
Let their cry go up to Heaven.

Let their cry go up to Heaven!
Strip our ears
From the self-talk of our comfort,
Our cotton wool pretences,
The Machiavellian melodies
That politics sings loud.
Let us kneel down in the dust
And join our tears to theirs!
Let their cry go up to Heaven!

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

All is well

Emptied within the night, and the soft rain falling.
Lean back against the wind, feel the tendrils blowing,
And whisper, in the darkness, “All is well.”

Gentle, my heart, my heart, feel the glow of sunset
Warm in your deepest places. Do not fear the stars.
They are heralds of becoming. All is well.

Let the grass speak to you, it has borne all weathers.
Or be strong as the blossom, unafraid of fragile,
Dying to bring forth fruit; and all is well.

Lift up your face, drink of the light. Its promise
Sings over clouds, bedecking them with rare beauty.
Welcome both sun and shadow. All is well.

Hurricanes hurl you, and the wild torrents toss you,
Still he walks on the water, walks towards you,
And he is all your stillness. All is well.

Sunday, September 30, 2018


I am poet without a poem
Song without any voice.
Breath breathing out and in
In stillness I rejoice.

I am feet without a path,
Prayer whose hands can’t clasp.
Whispering I cannot shout
That which I scarcely grasp.

I am tears in eyes too dry,
Laughter without a sound.
Yet, though I scarcely walk,
I go the whole world round.

I am the might-have-been.
I am the yet-to-be;
Waiting to be complete,
Tuned to Christ’s harmony

Saturday, September 29, 2018

And the sun shall warm them

And the sun shall warm them,
And the cold of night embrace them
Down to the very bones,
The skittering, chittering skeleton,
Of whom we have no fear.

And the grass shall grow, wild and free,
And the mountains stand in all their solemn majesty;
While the small streams laugh at their folly
And the birds sing
A tune for every hour:
And everywhere a holy place
Under a sheltering sky.

Let us be unafraid
Of the burden of mortality:
The fading and the slowing,
And the terror of the dark.
For we are held and carried
By one who went before us,
Who bears us in his palm prints
And never lost one yet.

And beyond is only love

Thursday, September 20, 2018

Birthing dreams

Beyond the futile dream, reality
Breaks through the mist, sword-sharp, and spear-tip bright.
Life with hard edges knocks against the soft
Of hope unfounded on the solid light.

A dream is not enough, unless we wake
Still holding fast, and bear it into day,
And plant it in this bitter, frost-bound earth,
And let the burning sunshine have its way.

And water it with tears, such tears as fall
From the deep sorrow of all that we are,
The toil of laboured hearts, till sweet-winged grace
Purges the stones and rips apart the scar

Of all our digging. Then the fresh-turned earth
Sings a new song, a melody of light;
And dreams become our wings, and raise us up
To shine into a world that’s steeped in night.

Tuesday, September 18, 2018

Prayer for Truth

Oh keep me truth and not a lie
The while I live, the while I die
Upon this sweet and broken earth
Where tears are mingled with our mirth.
Oh light more fierce than any sun,
That beams upon us, one by one,
Give honesty to every breath
For dark untruth is always death.

And when I speak, as speak I must,
May my words rise above this dust;
Truth, like a sheer, transforming flame
Shall burn away the dross and shame.
The deepest truth is charity
In which alone our hope can be.

Monday, September 17, 2018

On Listening to the Agnus Dei

The music swells and fades, the sin goes on,
And who can profit from so dark a thing?
How shall we bear? But he has borne it all,
The Lamb of God who takes our every sin.

And all the world, and all the world he takes,
To bear the world’s vast agony away.
The sin of all the world? How shall we count
Its measure, who have built it every day?

Give us your peace, not ours. Ours is too small:
The peace of butterflies and sunbeams’ dance.
We need your peace, peace that endures all things.
This is our hope, this is our only chance.

The Wind Blows

The wind blows.
Hard and fast, against the shutters of our minds,
The wind blows.
“Holy, Holy …” it whispers
And we shun the dereliction
Of our slow-dissolving dreams.
The wind blows.

The wind blows.
Whirling the dust of our foundations
Into dervish shapes, chanting the walls will fall.
The wind blows,
Hard and fast, shattering, destroying,
The wind blows.

The wind blows.
Roots of our world reversed,
Outcry of angels,
The wind blows.
Wind that we cannot see, cannot name,
Wind we cannot contain,
The wind blows.

The wind blows:
Oh my soul, my soul!
Turned inside out,
Cringing from blazing light.
The wind blows,
Blows us over
Again and again, as fast as we can build,
The wind blows.

The wind blows,
Somersaulting the world
And every breath cries holy!
The wind blows.

Monday, September 10, 2018

Suddenly Spring!

Suddenly Spring! And the blossom trees
Lift up their hands in praise;
The flowers
Sharpen their colours,
 Magpies swoop and sweep
Carolling the morning with their echoed cries.

Suddenly Spring! And the new leaves
Peep from their buds,
Waiting the kiss of sun;
Cockatoos graze
On the seeding grass – little sheep with a comical habit
And feathers white as wool.

Suddenly Spring! Earth moves with subtle mirth,
The air has changed its flavour – mild and warm;
The crested pigeon pecks at his reflection
Like the plastic bird that dips its head in water,
Then flies away, away on whistling wings.

Suddenly Spring! Winter’s cold heart is banished,
The witch is dead, the Lion rules again.
Tremble your gladness – listen to the whisper
Murmuring through the golden, light-laced air,
Oh bend your heart to hear it:
(The promise with us until Kingdom comes)

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

For This One Purpose

(one from the archives)

For this one purpose fell the seed;
For this one purpose fell the rain.
(The soil was yielding-soft that clasped
The tree-to-be, the buried grain)

For this one purpose grew the tree
On some far, bare Judean hill.
For this one purpose came the axe
And every stroke the Father’s will.

For this one purpose planks were planed
From the straight trunk; fixed crossbeam-wise.
The apparatus was raised up
A stark, black cross against the skies.

Sunday, August 19, 2018


My one regret
Was the puniness
Of my rebellion.
I did not set my searing star
In a place that strained to reach,
But kept my comfort;
Smiling when I should have shouted,
Wriggling out
Of the challenge set too hard.
Being a daffodil
When I should have been a tree.

Only now I know
That daffodils, too, have courage,
Bringing hope
In the time of shearing wind.
It is better to sing feebly
Than be silent altogether;
And I still can learn to shout!

Friday, August 17, 2018


The hour of blossom:
Clings to the bough,
Till any breeze
Spreading wide,
The promise that is Spring.

And we,
Lift up our eyes;
For beauty
Has visited again.

Wednesday, August 15, 2018

How long, O Lord?

Dark waves turn all to waste
As they have done before;
Despair leaves a thick taste
And pain is at the door.

Injustice slinks around
And snatches here and there:
A paw-print on the ground,
A cold stench in the air.

No matter what we try,
A sense of helplessness;
With no tears left to cry,
For tears are powerless.

Can prayers reach past the clouds,
The skies that hem us in?
Our words fold in like shrouds,
Our breath begins to spin …

A world of futile pain,
A heartless, bitter place
Where loss comes after gain
And laughter seems misplaced.

Yet, patient on his throne
The King of Heaven waits
Still caring for his own
Still bringing in his saints.

Still waiting through the night
Until the stars shall flee:
The coming of the light,
His bright eternity.

And, till that day shall rise
When justice is complete,
Birds still sing in the skies,
Grass still grows round our feet.

And grace, his precious grace,
Through every rainbow glows;
And there is still a place
Where mercy ever flows.

Monday, August 06, 2018

Today I weep for the children

Today I weep for the children,
The captives of human bitterness,
Too young for any crime;
Sundered, caged, denied,
Ripped from all human decency
And pointing to our guilt.

Today I weep for the children,
Pawns of the politics of hate,
The playthings of our greed,
Objects of lust,
The torn and the broken,
The trampled least-of-these.

Today I weep for the children,
The victims of our systems
Detritus of a throw-away society,
Conveniently out of sight,
Abandoned to the predators
And crucified again.

Today I weep for the children
Desperately seeking
For the words they don’t yet have
To name their dreadful sorrow,
To remind us
What was said about a millstone and the sea.

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Acceptance (after Schubert)

Here falling leaves
A coverlet of peace
On summer’s weariness.
We have a need of Autumn.

And here, where winter
Barely takes its turn,
We seek our rest
Before the upswing comes;
The giddy cycle
Growing shorter every year.

Let us give thanks,
Here in darkness,
Claiming peace before light comes:
When we are uprooted
There is treasure underneath.

Monday, July 30, 2018

Listening to Schubert

No pillow for your head, no rest on earth,
The broken heart can find no bandage here;
But a rich vein of beauty opens wide,
And a sweet stream of loveliness sings clear.

No haunting night of devils and fell things
Holds you entire, another siren song,
Born from translucent joy, gives spirit wings
And touches glory all the while you long.

Therefore embrace through feared mortality
Love is its own reward, though your self breaks;
For we are broken that love may come in
And give far more the very while it takes.

And though such tears may spring, and endless spring
From the deep rupture of our loneliness,
Love still! Embrace the sharpened blade! Its sting
Is mercy’s rescue from our fruitlessness.

We sing the songs of ashen pilgrimage
With fumbling lips and throats parched raw with pain,
But where our voices fail, the angels take
Our prayers, and garnish them with hope again.

Thursday, July 26, 2018

These are the Ones

Here is the time, here is the place.
These are the ones that need our grace:
These are the ones washed up on bitter shores.

These are the ones whose tears and pain
Drown in the unrelenting rain:
These are the ones whose hands reach out in vain.

These are the ones who haunt our dreams,
We block our ears against their screams:
These have no home upon the bountied earth.

These are the ones we cast aside,
(We are the great self-justified):
These who are out of sight are out of mind.

These are the ones we cannot face
As we deny our common race:
We turn our backs but cannot flee the shame.

These are the ones we put on hold,
Each with a soul more dear than gold:
Thus is our birthright cheaply bought and sold.

These are the ones – Lord hear their cries!
Silence our cold, pathetic lies:
Let there be justice for the least of these!

These are the ones, and we are they
Who took their human rights away:
Lord, let your kingdom come today!

Saturday, June 16, 2018


Let your word be as fire to my heart,
Fire to my bones.
Let your word rinse clean my soul
And restore my spirit,
Give wings to my breath
And iron to my will.
Let my feeble lips proclaim it
And my feeble fingers write it.
Let it burn through the world a restoring flame,
Till all creation is renewed.

For the light shines in the darkness
And the darkness has not overcome it.
It shines still.
Cowardice and ignorance,
The preference for the easy way,
Have not overcome it. 
It shines still.

Murder and cruelty,
Pillage and ferocity
The careless violence of violent men,
Blood shed upon blood
Have not overcome it.
It shines still.

The seduction of plenty,
The greed of our fear,
The applause of men
And the lure of cheap power
Have not overcome it.
It shines still.
And the prayers of the ages are a river of deep grace.

They did not come walking on water.
They came as men come
In a coracle, a boat:
Riding the waves into history.
Flesh and blood, flesh and blood,
And lamps for God to burn in,
Carrying, in their smallness,
The weight of all the Word.

They came in sorrow and penitence
And found work that was worthy of their hands.
They came in long self-doubting
And built in solid rock.
They came through storm and passion
And brought eternal peace.

Let us be as they were,
Quivering with truth
Alight with love
Welded to Christ by fire
In a bond that cannot be broken.

Let us be as they were
The dead reborn alive
Seeking no kingdom of our own
In love with our King forever.

Let us be as they were
Holding no weapons in our hands
Learning to be crucified
In little daily things
So that we might love forever.

Let us enter the furnace of God’s love.