Form

My love is older than the rocks:
I planted it when life was young
and watched it bloom with new delight
where a new, hopeful, stream had sprung.
I kept it close through seismic shocks:
betrayal; anger; pain; relief;
then sent it whirling into flight
to take its chance with joy or grief.
Now you can hold it in your hand,
washed clean, worn smooth, by time and tears.
An age of time, a flash of art
brought it to you from dust and sand.
It’s grounded by the weight of years
and rests contented in your heart.

 

*

This is another one written for a Lioness Challenge. There’s something about Elise’s pieces that gets me experimenting with tight forms that I’d usually write off as ‘too much like hard work’ or ‘not for the likes of us’. But in this case, with dinosaur bones for inspiration, it had to be a hoary old form like a sonnet.

A metrical version of the Magnificat, to an appropriate tune for the day

My soul proclaims God’s mighty glory
and my spirit shall rejoice
in God who saves me and exalts me,
who makes the poor his choice.
God’s bounteous blessings fall upon me
from now and through all years:
the mighty one has raised me upward:
God is holy, and God hears!

So take comfort, who suffer; this good news is for you:
Your trials will be changed to triumphs, and you will receive your due;
So take comfort, who suffer, and claim your rightful place:
God loves you, and has chosen you, of all the human race.

God stands with those deprived of power,
and God’s power will win the day;
He gives the hungry food in plenty
and he sends the rich away.
He empties thrones, and lifts the humble,
brings confusion to the proud;
He remembers those who are downtrodden,
and has saved us, as he vowed:

So take comfort, who suffer; this good news is for you:
Your trials will be changed to triumphs, and you will receive your due;
So take comfort, who suffer, and claim your rightful place:
God loves you, and has chosen you, of all the human race.

 

 

After Luke 1 46-55, obviously. You’re welcome to use this in church if you think you can get away with it.

Happy May Day, everyone!

Rood

We –
stand here, helpless,
see him trapped between earth and sky
where we cannot follow –

You –
knew the God in the human,
loved with caress and kiss,
(which is simple, though never easy)
understood, through the bright wreath of pain,
who God was, who he was –

He –
loved to the end and always,
you, me;
saw the only way; told us:
from that hour

I –
who am I, without him?
Who knows, if not you?

Road of Tears

You weep for one you do not know,
for one who walks your streets to die.
Don’t waste your tears: before it’s over,
you’ll call upon the hills to cover
you and your children where you lie
and weep, who reap what others sow.

 

* * *

I wrote this for my friend Kathryn, who needed a text with a specific metre in a bit of a hurry. It’s part of her Stations of the Cross, which was premièred in St Machar’s Cathedral by the University of Aberdeen Chapel Choir last month. She’ll be putting sheet music online once she’s got her PhD out of the way.

It’s more or less a paraphrase of Luke 23: 28-30.

 

Lullaby

My love, the moon is rising;
The sun sinks in the west:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And rest.

My love, the moon is shining
A path across the deep:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And sleep.

My love, the moon is showing
A beacon in its gleam:
Pull up the blanket of the stars
And dream.

My love, the moon is setting;
The day begins to break:
Fold up the blanket of the stars
And wake.

The Journey

Kings and camel from Playmobil nativity set

Crevasse            and chasm,         piano,        bookshelf,        mantel: we set off
when all the rest have got there, go the long way round,
know nothing of what draws us save that far faint blaze
of glory glimpsed across vast empty skies. We saw,
and set out on a path long known, unprecedented,
traced our own steps; idled, forgotten,

inched forward;

travelled

in fits

and starts;

one last unlikely leap compelled us, just in time. To see,
learn what we had forgotten, remember what we longed for.
We have been here before, but never quite like this –

– For one brief day we stand before eternity,
knowing at last, and seeing, seen and known,
this moment not to be clung to, lost in its attainment –

– Journey done, we wait once more in darkness. Next time
we’ll start again from the beginning, knowing
the way to be long, fulfilment fleeting,
but worth the travel, travail, this time, next time,
for all time. Beyond time.

Provisioning

Peanuts give you, gram for gram,
the densest protein ratio, and crisps
(fat and carbohydrate) are best
for energy. Likewise, poetry’s
the most efficient form in which
to take your words. Three slim volumes
(you buy it in slim volumes, like
crisps in bags, unless you get the
multipack, Collected Works)
will make a feast
to last me eighty miles.