The World Before Us (Complete)

 

 

To Eve,

your name is for the living

 

 

 

January, May, June 2013

 

 

 

For Hugh

 

Today and yesterday, tomorrow too,

your tender hands are there. They hold a son

unlike so many sons, and yet the one,

the only one, for life’s intents are true,

the boy that love has given you. And few

are those who live amidst life’s ordinary

ways that understand simplicity.

Simplicity is in your home, it grew,

a desert plant in sand, and watered by

your tender hands it flowers in the sky.

Are you alone? The sweetest harmony

is open fifths and thirds. Your constancy

is part of one great envelope of sound,

harmonics on an elemental ground.

 

 

 

A Garden

 

My wife loves watering our garden, early

on a sunny day. A little bird

is skipping near, a joy without a word.

The water leaves the leaves refreshed, curly

shoots are climbing there, new emergence

from the fertile soil; an ant explores

the darkened litter, minors start to call.

The summer finds her here, the nurturer

of day. The silent clouds withhold for now

the purpose of the sun, and even rain

begins to fall as distant thunder sounds.

Prepared, the garden needs no rain, its dowry

paid beneath a canopy of shade

where basil, mint and parsley can be found.

 

 

 

Fuji

 

 

cloud lifting

from Mount Fuji – all

is changing

 

 

perfection

vanishing like the

morning mist

 

 

a rainbow

of white – long ago

at war

 

 

silent

mountain – adrift by

the sea

 

 

mount dipped in

cloud – can old age be

beautiful

 

 

waves break all

around – still you point

to the sky

 

 

today is

as yesterday – your

face unchanged

 

 

another hot

flush – now children are

memories

 

 

when the snow

returns to the clouds

what is left

 

 

sea of trees

Aokigahara

its shadow

 

 

One

in sight of

thirteen million

 

 

thirteen million

in sight of

One

 

 

Mt Fuji

is earth your home

or the sky

 

 

five lakes

so many

tears

 

 

sweltering

city – cooled by one

big ice cream

 

 

what mountain

are you a

reflection of

 

 

the ageless ages –

a weathered tomb

in the dew

 

 

 

 

Imprints

 

At times we catch reflections of ourselves,

a silent pool, a puddle left by rain,

our presence leaves a mark, a steady flame.

Whose eyes are they whose glance appears to delve

beneath the surface of our soul like bells

that fill the evening air with resonance?

The background is the infinite expanse,

the border soil and rocks and grass, the smell

of nature, chirping birds, the cricket’s call.

We do not look for long into those eyes,

the motion of our steps that brought us there

propels us past the pool, reflections fall

like arrows, life’s ascent towards the sky

forgotten now like bells diffused in air.

 

 

My childhood room looked out upon a bay.

Today the wind has marked its length and breadth,

a thousand tiny waves, a kinesthesis

that the sea provides the wind as grey

clouds move across the winter sky. I stay

inside and watch the wind, invisible

to it, yet its invisibility

as clear as day to me. I used to play

not far from here on grey escarpments weathered

by the sky. The wind has marked me too,

I am the evidence of unseen worlds.

And secrets of the soul within are tethered

to the years that pass, the life we knew

revealed by time like canvas sails unfurled.

 

 

A mask revealing more than it conceals,

the world invisible and visible

has left its imprint. Unmistakable,

the one we have become. We blindly reel

eternity towards our boat and feel

the swell of God beneath. The wind has tossed

our aging hair, the ocean that we’ve crossed

oblivious. So solitary, our keel

that pushes through the waves. We are the face

of our short years, the weathering of a storm,

the funeral mask of death, an imprint made

to be the prelude, not the play, the place

our history passes through, a winter dawn

unfolding to the beauty of the day.

 

 

 

Another Tide

 

 

The sharpest blade is sky

dividing soul from spirit

 

sun from wind

 

 

Through an open door

enters the sound of day

 

the wind and birds

 

 

Our very old dog

paces the wooden floor

 

restless to see

 

 

Daylight floods the room

another tide

 

lighter than air

 

 

 

Closest Star

 

The planet turns towards the closest star

and all the currawongs begin to sing.

In distant trees, united as a spring,

they imitate the music of the spheres.

The sun has lit the face of half the moon,

all else is blue. A wind has caught the trees

and ripples through their sea of sunlit leaves.

I stand, a witness to a world in bloom.

Horizons circle, bright where day was born.

A tiny sparrow sings, the shadows softly

rest upon a bed of grass or shelter

at the base of trees. The earth is sworn

to sky, and turning eastward modestly,

unveiled, it looks into the face that melts her.

 

 

 

Mirror

 

The sky is our companion, mirror image

of each one who lies beneath its gaze.

We see ourselves, and strangely, in a blaze

of recognition, heaven sees its visage

in our humble forms. A mountain ridge

divides the coastland from the plains, a blue

escarpment hinting at a world that’s true,

the sky is both a mirror and a bridge,

inviting us to look beyond what is

to what is not, a visionary world,

the structure of another age where we,

who only know this side of time, will live –

a pale reflection, marked within by swirls,

the spiral forms of distant galaxies.

 

 

 

The Cliff

 

A view of ocean, far as eye can see,

and here beneath my feet, firm ground. Is this

where futures are decided, options missed

and what we hoped would never be, will be?

I stand upon a cliff where wind swept trees

look out towards the ending of the world.

Before me rocks have fallen in the void,

engulfed by the dull thunder of the sea.

At night this is the clearest sign, and so

our blindness needs its steady roar to warn

us from this path. My voice, being added too,

shall be the sounding of a wave, that thrown

against the shore, expends itself, till dawn

reveals the tragedy in starkest view.

 

 

 

Drops

 

By ourselves there is so much that we

can do – the daily trips, the food we eat,

the purchases from near and far, the seats

on flights for holidays – there is a fee

of misery which others soon must pay

for all these little things that each of us

entail. Our drops make oceans. Few discuss

the implications of their lives, the way

our culture leads. To halt its slow advance –

what can we do? Those little changes made –

the sacrifices, transformed attitudes

are just the start of something great, a lance

into the wound. We drive it deep, afraid

but true, our duty in this interlude.

 

 

 

Call to Me

 

Call to me and I will answer you

and show you great things. This is how He spoke

to Jeremiah – dreams gone up in smoke

and little left to comfort him. It’s true

our home, this earth, will one day be renewed,

but we, like him, are prophesying a city’s

fall. A distant hope – what good is it,

when what we see ahead is only ruins?

Yet God has called – call out to me. Who knows

what He may do? Our world has little light,

a tragedy of ignorance and greed,

an avalanche that tumbles through the snow

and swallows everything into its night,

but underneath they grow, the future’s seeds.

 

 

 

Truth

 

Like silence, certainty is hard to find,

the noise of life distorts reality

and skews us from the truth. The single eye,

commended in the gospels, is the blind’s,

they see with greater purity, a sign

to all, when in a crowd they recognize

the footsteps of the King. A clarity

is in the air for mountain tops to shine.

A silted harbour blocks the ships – a dredge

must come to clear a way. We need the patience

of enquiry, time to sift, the insights

of a noble mind – a privilege,

to search for truth, a project of endurance,

holy company escorts the light.

 

 

 

Responsibility

 

How can we weigh responsibility?

Each action has a consequence, some small,

some large. It seems in this great issue all

we do contributes, like a city,

street by street in dense complexity

the problem exponentially expands.

It seems our way of life is built on sand.

The issue is of stark simplicity –

the future is made captive to our greed,

a billion lives are forfeit. Every time

we turn the engine on, a poverty

is there – for we decrease as other’s needs

are more. There is a mountain we must climb –

to see the multitudes with clarity.

 

 

 

The Journey

 

Silently the journey ends that started

with a flame. A generation lived

like kings, forgetting those who’d come to give

their lives to pay the bill. And now, outsmarted

by the forces that our hardened hearts

ignored, it is our children cursed to work

the barren soil. A weight – to be the ark

that carries nature hence, to play a part

in how the poorest fall into a greater

poverty – this is a solemn thought –

to usher life into another age.

How grave, that we should be the curse of later

times, a web of fate in which we’re caught,

an urgent call to turn another page.

 

 

 

Sacrifice

 

When Jesus saw the world in pain he offered

up his life. There is an otherworldly

power in a martyr’s death. Though cold,

impregnable and high, a range is often

breached by morning sun, and kindness softens

brittle hearts once locked away by grief.

Selflessness is like a wind, both brief

and pure, its gusts are strong enough to open

wooden doors, to send a ship across

the sea, to bring the rain, to lift a prophet

heavenward, to turn a world in pain

into a different world. There is a loss

that we must find within to bear, a profit

that a sacrifice will surely gain.

 

 

 

Day’s End

 

As always, song begins in failing light.

It is a testament to how they loved

the day, that birds all join to sing above.

Perhaps they fear the coming of the night

and know that, in rejoicing, their delight

is like a dream that will continue. Soon

they settle in the trees and sleep. A moon

appears and stars begin their lonely bright

encircling of the sky. Attentively,

we listen to their song, in hope of learning

all we can – for we all face the ending

of our lives, and soon eternity

will beckon us. And so we each discern

what is within that keeps our hearts from bending.

 

 

 

Guilt

 

I took a flight to India last year.

Who can conceive a water source that fails,

not just for some but for a nation? Pale,

the sky on winter days is rarely clear.

The rising clouds from cities smoking near

is not the only thing they face. A hidden

cloud has covered all the earth, unbidden,

silently it grows. To have a fear

of this is what we lack. Relentlessly,

it melts the mountain ice, the glaciers

on which a billion lives depend. And I,

I took a flight near there last year, to see

a people I hold dear, and now, a seer,

I discern my guilt before their eyes.

 

 

 

The Book

 

These words are somehow different to men’s words,

although men wrote them long ago. A landscape

covered with the snow, a parting handshake

warmly given, silence we have heard –

these words are somehow different things, like birds

whose welcome calls are constant through the years,

as fresh as dawn, and wise, as night draws near.

From age to age their testimony has stirred.

Men wrote of what they’d seen and mysteries

revealed, and in the craft of writing, careful

with each word and phrase and echo, what

remains is like a field of snow tipped trees,

a parting handshake, warmly made, a prayerful

voice the silence stirs, a wedding knot.

 

 

 

Holy Ground

 

Sometimes I cannot bear what we’ve become,

my people are compatriots in crime,

though ignorant, eventually the time

draws near to take account of what we’ve done –

extinguishers of human hopes, the ones

responsible for genocide – unplanned,

but just a real as that of evil hands.

The voice of other life beneath the sun,

unheard in any human court, resounds

to speak for all the voiceless ones whose right

to be is stolen. Knowing now the cost

of modern life, we stand on holy ground –

atonement must be sought while there is light,

and change embraced before so much is lost.

 

 

 

The Bell

 

Twelve thousand years of human culture – times

of flourishing, a climate temperate

and kind, indeed it was a perfect state,

a sweet parameter for us to shine.

The sun, in passing from us will incline

towards the west, imperceptibly

at first, the shadows lengthen noticeably

before the world grows dark. A church bell’s chime

commemorates the solemn times of year.

Today it is the scientists who warn.

The halcyon days are passing. Human culture

has a night. To heed their words with fear

is what is needed in these days. Forlorn

and harsh, the future’s sky is full of vultures.

 

 

 

Before the Curtain

 

Perhaps it all shall end before it starts,

the sunrise come before the night – the Son

of Man at last returned, that what’s begun

may be reborn. Prediction is an art,

we have no claim to it. A longing heart

is all we have and all we need. But what

of this poor world? The fire may not stop,

the children in the furnace will depart.

Luther said that he would plant a tree.

The world continues till the trumpet’s call,

we must attend to it. The Good Samaritan

still stopped and helped the broken man, the fee

was paid three days ahead. The curtain falls,

but we for now must do all that we can.

 

 

 

Desert Springs

 

Springs are promised in the desert, pools
in thirsty ground, where nothing grew the rose
will bloom. Are these just metaphors, supposed
to soothe in troubled times? They are the fuel
of hope. Though others may believe we’re fools
we have another’s testimony. He once
lay in a grave. All nature made allowance
for his words, it bent before his rule.
Their sickness he would drive away – could he
not turn a desert into pools? Where sin
is great his grace abounds; what man
destroys he recreates. A broken tree,
no canopy, lashed by winter winds –
secretly, a tiny bud begins.

 

 

 

Morality

 

Here in my home, Australia, few actions

match our words. The hand that limits carbon

now releases it – abandoning

our principles, the savings are a fraction

of the plumes we send abroad. A faction

of society demands, and we

obey. A great responsibility

rests on our nation’s shoulders. Inaction

will condemn us – soon our mines will be

among the greatest. Influence is good,

if used to help mankind. Ours could be great,

with coal left underground. Morality –

of power that is rarely understood –

this country could embrace and celebrate.

 

 

 

A Curse

 

The sun retreats into the western sky.

So gradual is its long descent that when

the night has come we are surprised. It lends

to us its warmth that we may live. I try

to comprehend its majesty which ties

all life to it. They’re silhouetted now –

the stately trees before the orange glow.

The stars produced the elements of life.

I recognize their Maker. We have tampered

with the systems of His world. This gift

of light mankind has made a curse. The great

exchange of energy is slowed and hampered.

Gradually our pride begins to lift,

we contemplate our terrible mistake.

 

 

 

 

Sweet Light

 

High up from here, far, far away, his kingdom

is. And we, beneath each star that crosses

overhead, are people who have lost

their way – an inner sun has set and seldom

rises in the darkness of our wisdom.

No one wants it so. Its light was sweet,

and sometimes we are privileged to greet

its morning rays, refracting in our prison.

There is a story of a man like this.

They took away his liberty, and waiting

in a darkened cell for certain death,

a light awoke him. I cannot dismiss

its relevance. We are the ones creating

night, while longing for the morning’s breath.

 

 

 

Innocence

 

Each morning when we wake we see the sky.

On cloudy days, without the sun, a sadness

settles. Shall I tell you how this sadness

lifted? It was gradually. Life flies

away, but joy, that through the night lies

on the grass, in daylight slowly melts.

It was so real, the mystery I felt,

like stalactites that form far from our eyes,

the numinous in warm fertility

would drip. My daughter has an infant class,

each drawing, stark, original – the product

of a mind still innocent. To be

is an experiment, a half filled glass.

Day turns again, the willing to instruct.

 

 

 

One

 

We seldom know the purpose of our lives.

It is a thing too great, perhaps too small.

The Jewish sages taught one thing is all

that we are here to do. The scrolls are five,

elucidating everything to prize –

a law of life. But sages said that man,

they found, was often called to one command,

in keeping it God’s heart was satisfied.

A man that failed would be reborn, to do

what he had left undone – a single act

of faithfulness, a word, unspoken in

the air, now spoken and forever new

inside an empty heart. This thing we lack

it’s true – so he implants the seed, within.

 

 

 

Imagination

 

It’s unimaginable, the sorrow soon.

When numbers grow through millions to beyond

our minds are left behind. It would be wrong

to say we understood. A flower blooms

and we are moved. Our soul is pitched in tune

with other souls, we feel the dissonance

when sorrow sounds in them. But this abundance

overwhelms us. Suffering in bloom –

in orchard after orchard, spilling over

each horizon found until another’s

seen – no soul can contemplate. We must

retreat. But even this is sobering –

imagination, feebly seeing our brothers,

teaches us to not betray their trust.

 

 

 

The Unborn

 

Now when I think about all this – the ending

of a world I’ve known, not only I,

but all those generations that have died

in knowledge that their world remains – defending

the unborn becomes a call. They lend

the world to us. Our gifting to their time

shall be the meditation of my mind.

An avalanche from high above can bend

the strongest trees. The weight of snow demands.

Time’s at our gate. These city walls cannot

withstand its surge. To cry defeat and join

their side – that is our option. Love commands

us to comply, our profligacy stop,

to mint their unseen faces on our coin.

 

 

 

Idolatry

 

We live with animals around, our brothers

when we think of it – for we are one

of them. Their faces look upon the sun

as we. Their nations and their tribes, another

great society, their peoples lovers

of their kin, who live and die to see

their future in. Their culture’s history,

for most, is more august than ours, they suffer

our superiority. Their God,

I think, is ours, though we have made his will

to be destructive to their lives. And now

a great idolatry, that makes a god

of us, has risen, their own blood to fill

the temples of our greed – to this we bow.

 

 

 

The Arrow

 

Today the reading past four hundred parts

per million. Once there was an arrow aimed

at nowhere in a battle, yet it came

to pierce the armour of a king. His heart

was where this arrow flew, he was its mark,

unknown to all excepting God. His reign

was one of infamy, his worship vain,

and reckless greed he raised to be an art.

One day he saw the future’s face and feared.

His fasting and his cries, the eloquence

of true humility, God noticed – hope

drew near. But on that day in latter years

he died with nothing changed. Could we this once

the future fear, and turn the arrow’s slope?

 

 

 

Requiem

 

A requiem with beauty speaks. The lofty

sadness is appropriate, its lift

and fall is life’s. It tries to heal the rift

of death with all its art. The rain that softly

falls today has shrouded everything. It costs

us nothing, yet its steady rhythm comforts.

Latin words like water flow, escorting

us on sound, like funeral boats that cross

the Styx. We live surrounded by a world

so beautiful, it sings in everything.

The biosphere on which all life depends,

the history of humanity unfurled

through time, together are what beauty sings,

escorting us, enriched, unto our end.

 

 

 

Christians

 

A Christian, like their master, loves the good,

and patiently or swiftly acts. In this

debate calamity – that some, dismissing

all that science claims is understood,

ignore – this current crisis – is what should

be foremost in our minds. I know it’s right

to share the Gospel, shining its bright light

in death, awaking the new born. But would

I be mistaken now to add to that

the burden of this hour? What good

to be the one to offer this new life,

neglecting where calamity now sat

awaiting our demise, no Christian would –

the burning bush becomes a Mount Sinai.

 

 

 

 

Affluence

 

Our culture teaches us to want, and wanting

more is like a trap, that opens, taking

all. It teaches us to live a waking

dream where nothing lasts, a false accounting

where each thing is valued less, while, dreaming

still, we long for more. What is the answer?

This pernicious, ever-growing cancer,

left unchecked, all life will soon demean.

Once born in Western man, it resonates,

no culture is immune. It grips the heart.

Empowered by oil and coal, its influence

is deep, year after year it decimates.

An antidote, quarantined apart –

simplicity’s surpassing affluence.

 

 

 

The Moon

 

His life was forfeit, seeing our misery.

No answer for a world in pain except

to offer more, a flood of it that left

our hearts in fear that such a love could be.

The salty tears of those who watched their freedom

dawn that day, turned into quiet joy

like mornings after rain. What was destroyed

begins again. He asks of us that we,

who share his joy, may share his life of pain,

and like the moon that brightly shines then fades,

as summer’s flowers, we, content would be

to change with passing hours. And so to reign –

an influence, unseen upon the tide,

to turn our age towards the heavenly.

 

 

 

A Little Thing

 

It is a little thing – to go without.

Not necessarily that much – perhaps

a thing or two. Our world will not collapse

and soon we shall grow used to it. We doubt

that we could manage – people are devout

about the ordinary, little wonder

that society is slow to change. The thunder

there, that rumbled frequently throughout

the summer past, unsettles us. A storm

is near. A ship in strife will throw its useless

cargo overboard. Will we? And what

of those who profit from our need? Reformed,

an alcoholic learns the power to choose.

We’ll send them broke – severed, the Gordian knot.

 

 

 

Times

 

When summer comes the western sky extends –

the sun must travel further, hours are added

to the day. And to the east time gradually

shifts, and dawns appear to be suspended

in the atmosphere. Our view depends

on where in time we are. A winter night

is just their mirror, full of points of light,

advancing through the gates of day, transcendent.

Which time of year are we? Our world’s

beginnings shine in eastern skies, but now

I fear, the stars of a remoter age

ascend. The light constricts, the night unfurled

sets sail with the insignia of power

to write our history on another page.

 

 

 

Long Ago

 

To you our lives were long ago – you mention

us from time to time. From where you stand

we all take on a different hue. A grand

awakening – to have an apprehension

of the past the future sees. Convention

says we need the luxury of time

to see with truer understanding. Fine,

let’s try to grasp its full dimensions.

We are founders of your age, heroic

pioneers, without our contribution

life would not be as it is. In fact

so many will not be, and mothers, stoic

at this fact, are gathering dry roots

in lands once prosperous, now barren tracts.

 

 

 

Impossibility

 

We heard the names read out, one after one –

they stretched across the hours – on the occasion

of the innocent remembered. Saying

them clearly was a way to honour them.

There were three thousand names that day, begun

at nine o’clock, continuing till two.

I could not help but think – and so they grew –

six million names, familiar once, by heathen

men annulled, the tens of millions lost

in war. But other names, as countless as

the stars, demand another destiny.

The billions wait beside the sea, to cross

impossibility and live. His passion

has decreed that life must always be.

 

 

 

The Angle

 

The angle of the earth determined how

its climate would unfold. The rise and fall

of temperatures, some so extreme, were all

results of this. A tiny tilt allowed

the sun to steadily increase in power

and in influence – the rise of temperatures

ensued. This principle of course endures –

another force is operating now.

The angle of the heart of man inclines

towards the west. His waywardness is bound

to ancient trees. But those who taste forbidden

fruit, we know, eventually will find

that paradise turns into thirsty ground,

and sorrows comes like unseen winds, unbidden.

 

 

 

Hatred

 

The Christ is said to be the son of David,

how then can He be his Lord? He asked

them this, the greatest one of all, whose task

was then to educate before he saved.

A principle perhaps is in this phrase.

What is, is like a womb of something more,

its features have the marks of distant shores,

eternity appears before the grave.

Each thing has value inwardly, and holds,

in perfect equilibrium, its dual

identity – a place within the chain

of being, and yet, an origin of old,

a spark of what it soon shall be. The cruelty

that He bore was hatred of these claims.

 

 

 

 

Never

 

The stars are high tonight. I sometimes think

that there are more of them than us. I know

that Abraham witnessed the future so –

his nameless progeny amidst the inky

sky. I understand their power to link

us to the future of mankind. It’s only

in more recent times that distant zones

of space have been revealed, and tiny twinkling

stars in countless multitudes appeared

where none had been before. But what of those

they represent – if they should never be?

If putting down our telescopes made sheer

abundance disappear? God never chose

it to be thus, and never too, should we.

 

 

 

Where are they?

 

The clouds keep parting from us over hills

as if they’ve never been. What difference, now

that they are gone? Perhaps to go allows

that there be more. Some may agree. But still

we wonder if there is a heart to will

that this be so. We are of course referring

elsewhere. Every day their forms defer

to the same destiny. It makes us ill.

Sometimes we wake to cloudless skies. If weather

patterns hold they may go on for days –

in deserts it may be for years. Tell me

friend, what would you do? A thing we never

thought would be is settling here to stay.

Where have they gone, the ones come after me?

 

 

 

A Statement

 

Australia should stop exporting coal.

What once was ignorance becomes a crime

when knowledge comes. It’s right to draw a line,

a statement to the world, both fresh and bold –

a people come to do as they are told

by conscience, ethics, evidence and precious

commonality.  Should not the death

of multitudes because of what it sold

give pause to any nation? Can we bear

this great responsibility? It’s us

who hold the coal reserves and infrastructure –

we export so easily. Declare,

Australia, where you stand. Debate, discuss

this issue. Listen to how love instructs.

 

 

 

And us

 

Sodom’s skies are filled with darkness, fire

rains down. Cities fall for reasons other

than those often told. The law – when brothers

meet a brother from a distant shore,

duty bound, they honour him, enquiring

of his needs, and lavishly provide.

But watch the stranger’s treatment now – outside

the house the citizens appear, desiring

to bring shame to those that sought to shelter

there. The prophet said their sins were these –

both arrogant and overfed, they all were

unconcerned. The proud are not the helpers

of the poor. And us? Your honour, please

excuse us here, for we were unaware.

 

 

 

Good Night

 

Good night. The earth has closed its eye to sleep.

The dawn awaits it, hidden at the other

side. In silence now we mourn the brothers

and the sisters that the earth now keeps.

For lives cut short, for suffering, we weep.

What could have been, but is not – for this

we mourn, and fill our pillows with our tears –

for great appointments that we failed to keep.

And bitterly they flow, as time reveals

what is, but need not be, if time could ever

take a different path. The night deepens.

The tears appear like stars. A trumpet peals.

We glimpse the other side of night. Its never

ceasing shadows in the dawning, lengthen.

 

 

 

Foolishness

 

Carbon shows no partiality –

all men are equal under its law. Rich

and poor, from criminals to missionaries,

each share a common currency – for any

one emission is the same, and every

tonne that is released will go into

our common atmosphere. But some are barons

in this black economy, who empty

wallets full, while others only coins.

These are the ones – including us perhaps –

an aristocracy, whose profligacy

impoverishes. A foolishness to join

their ranks, the wise in heart avoid the trap.

 

 

 

Liberty

 

For nothing is impossible with you –

in other’s crises, and his own, these words

were freshly said. What others thought absurd

he grasped in its immensity. He viewed

the earth as eagles do, their thoughts attune

to boundless air. He was no prisoner here.

His life, he knew, was never his, and fear

of losing it he could not fear. It’s true

he once reached out into the boundless sky

to ask if his desire to live, so strong

and pure, might bend before another wind.

But that is why he came to be, to die

for other’s liberty, and turn to song

the bitterness of living trapped within.

 

 

 

A Face

 

Why is it that you are so beautiful?

A face that shines impartially, a heart

so kind. Each thing that we call good once started

in your mind, and flowers now in fullness

in your time. A mirror here until

the end, our face reflects your countenance

when we look in your eyes. Experience

will not decrease, but shine it brighter still,

the great reality of knowing you.

The blind you love to make them see, the deaf

to hear their destiny – to speak the world

that you behold into existence. Few

can see it at this time, when life, bereft

of knowing you, towards the darkness hurls.

 

 

 

A Parable

 

The moon has little strength – its borrowed light

must often be returned, and vulnerable,

it hides unclothed in darkness. Parables

will speak to us if we take time. A brightness

shines on them. It’s said the greatest insights

are like veins of gold, for often humble

rocks disguise, and unprepared, we stumble

on the truth that’s hidden there. Night

contains more than we think. We should not fear.

To be stripped bare and wait – though we’d prefer

another way – the moon instructs us how.

The poor would once take out a loan, uncleared,

they’d pledge their cloak. The rich could not defer

to give it back at night – I see it now.

 

 

 

Serene

 

The moon is dying. Night by night it fades.

I cannot tell if it returns the light

with willingness or not. There is no fight,

so its relinquishment is not a slave’s,

but equanimity as men behave

who know their freedom and their fate. A beauty

marks its passing – silently the dew

is formed beneath its crown. And then – it gave

no more. The light returns to whence it came,

the moon to dust – for dust it is and dust

is where it now returns. The darkness swallows

all. When we return it is the same.

Who cannot then with pure delight – I trust

it so – in seeing the moon, serenely follow?

 

 

 

Love

 

The sun I think must love us, see how it

returns and takes its place again above

our world. Its manner is to give its love

at first with such humility that starlit

night, caught by surprise, must soon submit

to newborn light, which rising, shows its colours

everywhere – for unrestrained, its ardour

grows. How can it be that we are fit

for such attention? Wonderfully, the sun

each afternoon descends, a holy dove

awakening our minds. As hour by hour

its passion grows, and so, a death begun,

it wistfully at last takes leave, its love

like petals, closing, one by one – a flower.

 

 

 

Bread

 

It’s here, the time to take a stand. It’s not

always, for what we do has consequences –

history overwhelms our weak defence.

Within the halls of time we’ve reached a spot

ahead of which the future is so hot

and fierce that death itself appears to be

the most expected possibility

for much of life on earth. There is a lot

to do that cannot wait. A speeding train –

we know the scene from films where just ahead

the track leads to a precipice, and there

before them are the points to change – the same

decision waits for us. Our daily bread –

these things to do, we eat and don’t despair.

 

 

  

Tomorrow

 

What will it cost? Our souls are future’s bread.

What we will give is nourishment to other

mouths. He said his flesh was food, uncovering

truths they had forgotten since the bread

from heaven fell. For did not God, instead

of hiding from their pain, come down and see

their misery, and thus commit to free

their children from the chains? And so he led

them out, a fire at their head, and daily

left a fragment of himself for them

as bread. We only have ourselves to give.

It’s said by some it was not bread today

he spoke about – tomorrow’s food is mentioned

as his aim. For them we are to live.

 

 

 

Halley

 

It passes by with regularity,

a lifetime is its human measurement.

Some see at their beginning and their end,

a strange summation of mortality.

It sees what we have all become, no pity

in its eye, its visit swift, it grasps

a slice of our humanity, a vast

uncharted darkness is its destiny.

The records state – collected over great

expanses of our history – that thirty

times its fiery trail was seen. When it

appears again what will we be? Too late

by then to change. A little thing, unworthy

of eternity, but oh so bitter.

 

 

 

Jacob

 

When you appeared in nineteen eighty six,

there in the mountains, on an autumn night,

the southern skies displayed a foreign light –

a comet’s visit intersected with

your visit to this world. They say it is

coincidental, yet I wonder why.

Some twins, through separation, are denied

a common life, brought up perhaps by different

families. If they should meet again

in distant years we’d note identity.

But in between what darkness have they seen?

The silent stars above the steady rain –

invisible, the dark celestial city,

intersecting streets of what has been.

 

 

 

The Apple

 

All I have been you’ve looked upon, I am

all that you see, the days I do not know

are bright to you. A grain of sand below

expansive sky, among the billions fanned

by wind, your eye keeps all that you began.

Who is more precious than the one you look

upon? Yet every name is in your book,

and like a mother with a child, you cannot

cease your tender gaze. For every grain

upon the shore is near the ocean’s sound.

A family whose numbers stretch towards

infinity, each being that lives remains,

the apple of your eye, the one who’s found

the multiplicity of love is broad.

 

 

 

Brothers

 

Your face is now half covered by the sun

that shines on you through our uncovered window.

The autumn leaves outside already blend

into the scene, their colours match the one

the light has painted on your face. The sun,

so distant in reality, is here

with us – the particles of dust appear

like tiny moons lit up, just like the one

they each are microcosms of. Your face

is as an icon here, its light is but

an image of a deeper truth. Another’s

face has crossed our countenance, it stays,

forever marking us. The door is shut –

it shines within, the grace that made us brothers.

 

 

 

Prophets

 

For surely if we understood that action

now could spare a multitude, just think

what we would do. We’d find a way to sink

an anchor firmly in. To find some traction

is the issue, lacking it, inaction

rules. This is required – the sight of prophets.

Those who would need only this – an honest

person’s willingness to climb. A fraction

of the tragedy can now be seen

upon this plain of common thought. The mountains

call, their air is clear. But prophets are

misunderstood, a lonely life, unseen,

ignored, is frequently their lot. They count

the cost and faithfully endure like stars.

 

 

 

A Problem

 

Our problem is the opposite – before

a spacious land with grapes upon the vine

they saw the cities giants had designed,

concluding then that failure was the law

encoded for their lives. Our quest is more,

a world is our responsibility,

but on the whole it is the good we see,

not towering breakers rolling into shore.

The saw the bad, and seeing did not discern

the favour with them that would turn it all

around. But we – we often see the good,

the silver lining in the cloud. To learn

to look at evil times, to scale the walls

of wishful minds – this angels understood.

 

 

 

Personal

 

It is so personal – this thing called life.

Beginning in the womb identity

is there, a mystery so deep. A city

too is like a living being. A knife

can separate us limb from limb. A midwife

often sees the coming of another,

each an individual like their mother.

Cities have complexity, their strife

and vibrancy we call their character.

But who would really say that they are one?

And we – although death tears apart – continue.

Living things – a trillion sentient creatures –

have this quality. They have begun

the showing of God’s face, his tiny windows.

 

 

 

Demands

 

What would you do if you knew? Questions take

some time to answer, this I realise,

especially if they make demands. A life

may sometimes be among those implicated.

If it’s ours we soon see what’s at stake.

When fingers find at last a place to point,

to change the subject then will disappoint

awakened consciences. It is too late.

Returning to what once was shared, the views

of our contemporaries, is nothing but

betrayal. Blood that passes through the heart

exerts itself against the walls, the tissue

sometimes fails, a blockage is enough

for danger. Life demands we play our part.

 

 

 

Ethics

 

His ethics grew in fertile soil, their roots

were in the Torah. Trees that are majestic

grow as much beneath the surface, lest

their stature be ungrounded. Tender shoots

give way to trunks, uplifting life in beauty

to the sky. It is simplicity,

how carbon molecules become a tree.

Before it, every tongue is as the mute,

our multitude of laws like stacks of cards,

unsteady in the breeze, our good intentions

multiplied like weeds. Humanity

is choked by incapacity. Too hard

for us to keep – so love is all you mention.

 

 

 

Songs

 

The living things emerged to offer glory,

many voices in the choir. All

have value – who are we to say which call

could safely be excised? Illusory,

our place as soloist, it is a story

of our own. What orchestra exists

where one performer overpowers the rest?

Each plays a part, their beauty momentary

in one apocalypse of sound. It’s not

unknown for choirs to host composers in

their ranks, a joyful voice included among

peers. When You came down it did not stop,

You joined creation’s praise as one within

the multitude, where every song belongs.

 

 

 

Beginnings

 

The place where I was called was where I was

conceived. How strange that two beginnings meet

like that. I woke, as daylight touched my feet,

with such a simple question. My first cause

was found within my parent’s lives – the laws

are clear, each one proceeds from those before.

But what of the beginning? When that door

was opened wide it was His face I saw.

And then I knew He had been here, and I

was His eternally. Beginnings are

a window, from the seed we see the branches

of a full grown tree. A clear blue sky

is overhead, encircling us like stars,

in singing birds the light of heaven flashes.

 

 

 

Winds

 

I think you were a simple man who cared

about the world. The moon and stars were set

in place according to design, each letter

of their law divine, yet little fair

upon the earth. With inner beauty rare

you came to know the misery of man

estranged, alone, and felt your Father’s plan

pulsating in your veins, and soon, aware

that sorrow comes as torrents, flowing swiftly,

placed yourself within its waters, knowing

you would drown. A man who cared too much

to let the world go on, it marked you deeply.

We who know that bitter winds are blowing,

turning now our faces, feel their touch.

 

 

 

The Bird

 

They showed a photo of a little bird,

excited that they’d seen it recently –

endangered birds of course are rarities

few have the pleasure to be near. I heard

a sound of joy, an honour undeserved,

that they beheld it personally and witnessed

its uniqueness passing by. It is

a solemn thing to speak our final words

to family. We feel inadequate,

and yet we know we must, and so we thank

them for their lives and comfort with our love.

They watched the bird, so free and delicate,

in calm assurance landing near – it drank

and quickly flew away, like Noah’s dove.

 

 

 

 

Mozart

 

Today, while listening, understanding came.

This music speaks to me far better than

biographies. Its ebb and flow, its planning

and its subtleties, the notes, like rain

that falls, refreshing us – it is his name

the music speaks, the subtleties and details

of a man I’ll never know. Betrayal

marks each personality the same –

the way that time, our friend, erases us.

But here, in notes upon a page, he lives

again, and we, who only know his face

in faded portraits, meet him face to face

in fragile sound. And so the joy it gives

away is resurrected from the dust.

 

 

 

Eve

 

It was the first day of winter when

you told us. How silently the seasons turn.

Today seemed so like yesterday – discerning

change amidst the ordinary, like friends

we recognize within a crowd, depends

on thoughtfulness. A thread is weaved through time,

connecting day to day. His eye is fine

whose handiwork it is, with skill he blends

each colour there, according to his vision.

Watching all, he knows our destiny,

accompanying us from room to room. And we,

who hear this winter day, give our permission –

within life there are epiphanies,

the one we love departs from us so sweetly.

 

 

 

My Face

 

My face is not the one I looked upon,

the years transform, though memories of a face

in photos is my reference, empty spaces

grow between our times. The sun that shone

is not the one I see, the past belongs

to others. As I look today at my

reflection, it is someone else who tries

to manifest themselves. Am I wrong,

or is it there my mother’s face I see,

or features of my grandfather, or ones

unknown to me? The boy has disappeared –

though features of his world’s geography

remain like rivers, glowing in the sun,

or distant mountains, untouched by the years.

 

 

 

Winter

 

As the earth turns from the sun the stars’

ascendancy begins. The constellations

silently are journeying. Great nations

used to follow caribou in polar

latitudes. These galaxies in far

off winter skies awaken hunger in

our eyes, their freedom infinite like wind

upon the tundra. We who live in solar

times, before the night consumes the sky,

are wise when with sobriety we think

about such things. Is this our fate, to be

custodians of certainties that fly

from us? In deeper waters we must drink,

where stars reflect, like beacons on the sea.

 

 

 

Mary

 

Your years are like a cluster full of grapes,

left hanging on the vine. Attending them

with tenderness, the farmer takes a stem

and draws it to his heart. This is the shape

of what will be. Look how the hour is late,

and silence grows within the western sky.

All that we do is not what meets his eye,

but what we show – a vintage that is great

is in our eyes, our mouths, our ears – the light

that shines from who we are. The wine to be

is meant for heaven’s tables. Sweet and pure,

it carries fragrance of the summer’s brightness,

when it lay concealed in ordinary

things, whose love and tenderness endure.

 

 

 

  

Dampier Rocks

 

 

consciousness

on

ancient rocks

 

 

face

of living

rock

 

 

spirit

being

rock

 

 

rock

figures

transfigured

 

 

rocks

dreaming

 

 

hidden

cliffs –

luminous

 

 

initiating

art

imitating

 

 

religion in stone in religion

 

 

the surface lives –

and the depths

 

 

art

awaking

 

 

all that is

important

all that is

 

 

caves

softly

disclose

 

 

these animals

passed here and will

return

 

 

 

their tracks

follow

into us

 

 

Australia

inside

Australia

 

 

the surface

is significant

 

 

tracks –

winds erase

fingers renew