The Poems We Could not Write

There are words that we do not express. There are moments where we gauge the time has not come for such speech.  There are deep experiences that we feel too vulnerable to share.  There are sentiments which may be received differently to how we intend them and we do not wish harm on others.  We have seen the harm that some social media posts have generated and we lament that harm.  The following free verse is for all of those experiences that we are unable to bring ourselves to articulate. 

The Poems We Could not Write

Here is a verse

To the words within,

The poems we could not write.

Pregnant with potency

Yet unsuitable

Somehow not safe

To be birthed

Into the light

Of day.

These are our secret selves.

Not that we wish to be scurrilous,

But we intuit

That some of us

Just cannot be said.

It is part

Of that unique alone

That we must bear ourselves.

Others may not appreciate its richness

Or fathom its depths.

And so we risk

Breaking our souls

Against the misunderstanding minds,

Like ships

Rent on the rocky waves

The foam carrying our splintering self

Back into the dark depths.

So, in that vault

We guard

As single sentinels

The love that never lived,

The anger never spent,

The tears silently shed,

The dreams dissolved,

As we sit

In our solitude.

The only common ground

That we tread upon

Is that we all

Have such treasures

Under the peaty turf

Of our lives,

But cannot,

In the hummus of our hearts,

Send those blessed experiences up

As shoots towards the sun.

Simon C.J. Falk             1 December 2013

Freckles

As a child I had some freckles (barely visible now in my middle years!).  I did not like them on me.  Nor did I find them attractive on other people. In recent times things have changed. On some persons faces I have noticed their freckles actually enhance their beauty.  It has been helped by really looking at people when with them. This free verse poem had begun to write itself over a period of time. It finally popped on to the page last night.  It is dedicated to all the young, and young at heart, who bear freckles to our world.

 

Freckles

 

Fondness

For freckles

Was not part

Of my repertoire

Of yesteryear.

I ust’

Think of them

As blotch and blemish,

Detritus on the countenance.

Until

I saw them

On a face

And then

On another.

They gave definition,

Tonality,

A smattering of beauty

I’d

Not before seen.

Now

I enjoy them

Upon pate and profile,

Spotting cheek and jowl,

Across the nose

And under the eyes.

The make-up free facial,

The natural self,

Unadorned

With false beautifiers,

Just in its

Bare necessity.

Spotted and delicate.

A delight

In its difference.

 

 

Simon C.J. Falk  5 November 2013

Colours Shaded Blue

This one is hot off the press!  News has not been good in recent days. There have been various changes, griefs and losses in our lives.  Friends move away. Others have family with cancer. People in our State (of NSW) are beset by devastating fires. This poem takes up some of the mood and moves to concrete, Christian hope.

 

 

Colours Shaded Blue

If colours fill our lives

Then these days are shaded blue;

As fresh news comes upon us

We face this shadowed hue.

 

Change and loss and illness

Fill our spoken words and screens;

The unknowing makes us wonder

As we tremble at unseens.

 

Sometimes we have too much information,

At others, not enough;

But when those near us suffer

The going becomes rough.

 

It’s this sense of having no power

To change or help or fix

The situation there before us,

There are no short-cut tricks.

 

So, we travel as companions

And together share the load;

Like the broken figure on the cross

Who struggled a gravely road.

 

To truly understand each other’s

Heavy heart and throbbing head,

It helps us to remember

God shared in our living and our dead.

 

When we were misunderstood the other day,

Remember in Jesus’ preaching

And his crowd that walked away.

 

When others round us suffer

And we grieve who or what we’ve lost;

Jesus’ heart grieved his mate Lazarus

Yes, God does know the cost.

 

If we really believe in Jesus

Then we believe God lived our way,

And is with us as much tomorrow

As he is with us today.

 

But where, O where to find him?

Well look beside you here,

He’s in a friend’s embrace,

And in another’s face of cheer.

 

He’s in the person bringing flowers,

The one with casseroles at your door,

His spirit washes you in the shower,

And wants to show you more.

 

More of his peaceful presence

In a buddy sitting by your side,

Even when no word passes,

When in the car you ride.

 

Even in these days of troubles

When our feelings are coloured blue,

Our God is right there with us,

Because we see him in you.

 

 

SCJF 23102013.

 

 

 

Fires, Firies and Beckom!

As our State of NSW (here in Australia) continues to burn, we remember all those who are fighting fires.  We remember those who have lost homes, property and livelihood. As we experience all of this, I was reminded of a poem that came to me some months ago.  It was based on two experiences.  Firstly, visiting a farm at Beckom and beholding the vista it offered. Secondly, hearing of the local bushfire brigade responding to a serious collision between two semi-trailers on the Newell Highway at Beckom.

 

After a Day at Beckom

In the chill of winter,

When the fog comes sinking down;

As the blades of crop

Poke through the frost coating on the ground;

Morning comes to Beckom

And the farming families around.

 

Around they gather at their tables,

With breakfast to get through the day;

As they watch the sun rise upon their land

And prepare to meet the fray.

The hills give them undulation

On their stocked and grain-sown plains;

After sowing there’s celebrations,

When their dams are full from rains.

 

They tend the Newell Highway

When the traffic comes to stop;

And will lead you down safe byways

When the firies replace the cops.

For those bush firies

Try their hand where o’er their needed;

When the scrub blazes round the paddocks,

Or the highway presents the bleeded.

They toil in death and devastation

Dust and floods and smoke;

They pour out generosity before reservation,

They can be serious or joke.

 

Then they return to their families,

Lock up the chooks,

And kiss their kids.

Then it might be time for bills and books

Before they lie down and close their lids;

Their lids over eyes been wizened

From many a light of dawn and dusk;

To sheep lying dead in paddocks,

Or grain rotten in its husk.

From farewells to their old characters,

Or those far too young to die;

From when dust blows away their topsoil,

To raging torrents from the sky.

 

They gather at the Beckom Pub

After a game of bowls elsewhere;

Or may find a Church or civic do

Within the Beckom Hall there.

Lunches in the park

Have been known for hours long;

As long as beer and food will last,

And if the summer sun’s not too strong.

 

As we look across the paddocks

Of the green rising through the soil;

Beckom silos stand in sentinel,

To Beckom farmers’ toil.

 

When you drive along the Newell,

Remember to tip your hat;

For the stories of our dear ones,

Are housed along those hills and flat.

 

Simon C.J. Falk

 25 June 2013. 

Image

 

Beckom rest area near the site of the semi-trailer collision.

For Those Undertaking School Leaving Exams

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I couple times back when I was still at school, I had posted poems on the school noticeboard to encourage my classmates. Seems that some of us kept to their old tricks and didn’t grow up.  I’m still short anyway!

 

For those in our families and friends in HSC (or equivalent) exams:

May your thoughts be sharp and clear,
Your supervisors of good cheer.
May your hands float across the page,
And the hours not seem an age.
May you give your very best,
And to the Lord leave all the rest.

Blessings from us all! 

A Pope Francis Ethic?

‘Religious Police’

have me mending my ways.

There’s nothing like rattan [cane]

For helping one praise.

I’m halfway to heaven;

with God I’ve made peace.

He tells me hell’s full of

‘Religious Police’.

Geoff Page, ‘Religious Police’ in Cloudy Nouns, (2012: 54-55)

Excerpts from Geoff Page’s poem ‘Religious Police’ provide a handy preamble to this post on Pope Francis.  As a Catholic I find Pope Francis refreshing. What follows is an impression of his life and recent interview with Jesuit media. It does not reflect official views.  It was written some weeks ago, but, time… well… it gets away.

A POPE FRANCIS ETHIC

Mesmerised

by the man

Francis:

Pope

and person

Who speaks

with actions

as much

as with words.

Stunned

some were

By his reportedly

shift in emphasis

of the ‘big ticket’

moral slogans.

Some

sadly

secure within their

insecurity,

need to hear

the words

“abortion”

“euthanasia”,

as if

pencilling places

in a pre-packed profile

that

convention commands

a Pope must do.

But Francis,

surprised us again!

Is he really

departing

from the ‘done thing’?

Or is he inviting,

coaxing us,

to ponder why

we do or say

what we do?

Might he be drawing us

to delve deeper?

To dive the depths

of the waters

of our baptismal faith,

to come to know

the wellspring,

Christ himself,

and why his actions,

and words

mean that we

speak and live

in a certain way.

Is he training us

to stand aside

from our supposed role,

as

sentinels safeguarding

systems of statutes?

Away from being

intense inquisitors,

to be a cheerful charitable.

That we may be people

living like persons

who follow a

personal God

who loved us first,

and then,

called us

to live

in that love,

sharing it with others.

We are not

people of a book,

important

as Bible and Catechism may be.

They are not the living God,

but commentaries

and pointers,

helping us to enter

into the conversation,

with God whom they describe.

There comes a time,

when just knowing about God

falls away.

And then,

we must meet

with God.

God shown to us

in witnesses,

like Pope Francis,

who invite us

to also encounter

God for ourselves,

that we too

may then

also

be witnesses.

23 September 2013.

Footprints

Pope Francis has inspired individuals and groups to service by the example of his own living and giving.  This poem was written earlier this year in response to an experience of the Washing of the Feet on Holy Thursday at a community called Ariah Park.  The washing of the feet is a Christian ritual action expressing service after the manner of Christ in the Gospel account according to John, chapter 13.

 

FOOTPRINTS

 

Footfalls

On the floorboards

Padding

The path

Of pilgrims’ lives.

Each footprint

Bears an imprint

Unique to our world.

And yet

They come

From the same creator’s hand.

Feet were washed

Kissed and wiped

After the Master’s example and care.

Each bearer

As they placed their foot

They showed

The grounding of their stand.

Stand

Upon their generous service

Loving others as Christ has loved.

Can they see

Their gift

To their sisters and brothers

Is seen and noticed

Both here below

And above?

As we washed

Those pilgrim feet

A teary smile alights the face.

At this Assembly

On Holy Thursday

Three generations

Witnessed grace.

Grace

Flowing through

Water and towel

At the Saviour’s

Example and command.

Yet they know

Not just the ritual

For they live

The service somehow.

 

Simon C.J. Falk

Ariah Park,

Holy Thursday, 28 March 2013.

Whence?

Image

 

Labyrinth at St. Clement’s Retreat and Conference Centre Galong NSW.  A place where one can walk when one has questions.

There is often debate about violent activities and the relationship between violence and the weapons used. The poem below was written this week and explores how on both an individual and societal level we have some questions to ask about self-discipline.  Spiritual writer, Jean Vanier, in many of his books, reminds us that we all can be angry or violent within.  Vanier’s writings and this poem are far from being the only answer. But it does ask some of the questions.  One point it does seek to affirm is this: that if you and I are attempting to be self-aware, self-disciplined and peaceable, we are creating our own little sphere of influence where we are.   The poem is written in memory of all families affected by acts of violence.

 

 

Whence?

 

Whence does this come?

This foment within,

That leads to destruction,

wreck, ruin and sin.

 

Whence does this hatred

come forth and arise?

That curdles the blood

And narrows the eyes.

 

What makes a person

Callously premeditate to kill?

To take down another

What kind of will?

 

What kind of will

Courses their veins?

Making meek to maniac,

Who holds the reins?

 

Any debate on the gun

Or the bow

Will only sort out

Some of this hatred below.

 

It’s not just the weapon

That’s held in their hands,

It’s the set in the heart

That governs their plans.

 

How can ‘civilised’ nations

Repeat this offence?

It’s happened too often,

What is their defence?

 

It may be the gun

It may be the knife,

But is it really the weapon

That delivers the strife?

 

Who is responsible?

Where goes the blame?

The pain wanders the nations

To bed down its shame.

 

Each person must fasten

Self-control as their shield

No matter what weapon

No real threat will they wield.

 

Two questions remain

And encircle my mind:

How may we untangle

This terrible bind?

 

Firstly, each one of us

Needs hold guard of our heart,

To each search our desires

We’ll be playing our part.

 

And another question

Sits upon our fair lands,

What culture are we breeding

That produces these stands?

 

These moments of road rage

Of bullying and killing,

This anger and violence,

What are we instilling?

 

 

Eden Rain

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Snug Cove in Eden, NSW (pictured above) provides a bountiful vista in any weather.  The following free verse was written after I’d walked in fine rain along Eden’s Aslings beach during the last drought.

EDEN RAIN

Caught

in the moment

of Eden rain.

Needly,

The drops fell;

stitching

through the dryness

of the dusty air.

Life

it brought;

People took notice;

perplexed, disbelieving at first,

then

delightfully convinced

of the steady wetness

falling upon them.

Gift from the sky,

Salve in our chapped land.

The wetness

on the lips,

and the damp-dust aroma

filled nostrils and lungs

with not only

the wetness

but with vitality.

Caught

in the moment

of Eden rain;

I walked through

like a fish in a pond

enfolded in bounty.

 

SCJF13012010

Nearer

Image

Nearer

Nearer

Than the breathing

In

Or out

Closer

Than

Mine own breath

The Lord is

Is there

In the stillness.

Deep inside

Near my heart

Under my lungs

The lifeblood

And

The breath

Come from his.

Stop

Be still

Know

That he is

Is nearer

And

Always within.

Turn not aside

To pace

And frenetic activity.

Stop

Look within

God is there

In the stillness.

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This is a recent free verse from a time of retreat I had at Jamberoo Abbey ( http://www.jamberooabbey.org.au/html/home.htm ).  It is a thank you in response to a time of prayer in Christian Meditation.