Planet poem

It is good to see restored, something that was sad before

With a note of joy imbue, something that was damaged too

Clean and shine and polish, then, see the loved thing gleam again

So let nature strike a chord – for the wild must be restored

Like a painting, dull and faded, ecosystems are degraded

Do we want their beauty back? Then we must get back on track

Something that involves us all, to see the planet rise, not fall

Farmland, forest, river, lake – their well-being is at stake

Grass, savannah, ocean, coast, each their native glory boast

Maybe a good place to start, is in my own mind and heart,

In this inner private place, give green thinking now some space

Marking World Environment Day, will we act on what we say,

Start to do that little thing, that will help the planet sing?

(For World Environment Day 5th June. Broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds.)

Image by enriquelopezgarre from Pixabay

Audio:

Test of truth

A topical poem

Lately we’ve seen on the box, in the news
A few individuals get knocks – can’t excuse
Some behaviour that’s proved underhand and uncouth
That’s played fast and loose – sometimes planned – with the truth
It’s not exactly news to say short term gain
Produces, like night follows day, long term pain
Things that get covered up for weeks, months or years
Have an unfortunate habit of ending in tears;
So what is the antidote to this kind of thing
How can we help life not stall but, well, sing?
A tip to ensure we don’t go ‘on the blink’
Is to care a bit less about what people think
In the right way, I mean – it avoids so much stress
When you don’t get fixated on chasing ‘success’
The best way to chart a steady course, not go bust
Is surely our God up in heaven to trust
Counting on the Father to make our paths straight
Is a winning approach you can’t too highly rate
Choosing the route that’s not easy but right
Leads to broad happy places of life, peace and light

Image by PDPics from Pixabay

Pentecost poem

In our rational world any talk now of God
Is for heated debate a lightning rod
We think we’re sophisticated, clever and wise
So any God-talk – we easily despise
Some of us embark on a spiritual search
Meditation, chakra (not often church);
What if we altered our approach to this art
A little less intellect, a little more heart…
What if my defences I could surrender
A chance I might find a God wild and tender?
What if I admit, on my own life is sour
Might I then savour some spiritual power?
Being too cerebral, life can be pale
Let’s open up, get some wind in these sails
I’m tired of pursuing a shadowy course
God let me feel – your hurricane force
Don’t let me shrink back, retreat or retire
I want now to taste some spiritual fire
I let go of my stuff God, I’m up for the ride
I wanna be shaken and stirred, purified
Not just tread water the rest of my days
Hold me and mould me God, set me ablaze

Image by Hier und jetzt endet leider meine Reise auf Pixabay aber from Pixabay

Audio:

Path of peace

How do we reckon with histories of pain
That simmer and burn, and flare up again,
Smouldering anger, how do we quell
And not let it grow or continue to dwell,
How through intractable grief find a way
To build up a justice that lasts and will stay,
How can we unearth the best, not the worst
Till someone lets go of their pain, and moves first?

Image by Gidon Pico from Pixabay

Prompted by the current middle east conflict.

Feeling for India

I’m struggling a little, I’ll say it, be blunt
About what’s happening in India, where they’re bearing the brunt
The weight of the suffering, we see it, we know
That they’re stuck, they can’t breathe, they’ve got nowhere to go
‘I can’t breathe’, now if you recall that’s a phrase
That we heard quite a lot, dating back to last May
George Floyd, Black Lives Matter, it was only last year
That nine minute video got us hooked – now we’re here
And I know that it’s different, but there’s something the same
It’s not about feeling bad, finding someone to blame
It’s about trying to connect with the pain of another
Imagining it, feeling it, for my sister, my brother
Cos we’re one global family, and if we’ve got heart and soul
Then if part of the body hurts, we feel it, the whole
So let’s not wait for one icon, one publicised case
When we see the pain etched on a suffering face
And let’s not forget we have Asian friends here
Let’s feel for their anguish, connect to their fear
You know, when it comes to relating to pain
That our God’s got it down – sends the sunshine and rain
On the good and the bad, and when a small sparrow falls
He notices and cares, and he doesn’t have walls
Between people or nations, more ‘worthy’ or less
In his eyes we’ve all got great worth, and I confess
That the change that I most want to notice and see
Is for us to follow his example – that’s you and that’s me

Image from REUTERS/Adnan Abidi

Fairness & furnishings

This week in the news well you could say we’ve seen
Some things that’ve taken off power its sheen
And one of the topics that’s kinda been trending
Is a particular flat refurbishment spending
Dodgy dealing in politics ain’t anything new
Though odd for soft furnishings to be in the mix too
Now the public, we don’t wanna be taken for fools
We wanna see everyone stick by the rules
And it’s not too old-fashioned to want to be grounded
In truthfulness, justice, real and rounded
Not get caught napping, adrift or asleep
Cos we know in these things, well our God, he looks deep
Seeks out integrity in whole not in part
Sees way past appearances – down to the heart.

Image by Marco Cuppone from Pixabay

A blast from the musical past

I didn’t see it coming. Like a thunderbolt, that exultant first line lyric and guitar lick blasted out from the car radio, seized my audio pleasure centres, and for the next three and a half minutes wouldn’t let go. I cranked up the volume, only realising minutes later that it was so loud I couldn’t even hear that the car indicator was still going.

We were on our way to Bridlington, Anna and I. We pulled up at a small garage, just in time to take my hands off the steering wheel and launch into an exuberant air guitar solo. Then, almost as soon as it had started, the nineties pop behemoth wound up. I sat back and bathed in the ecstasy. Anna was dumbstruck. The garage attendant looked concerned. 

To identify this track that launched me into such a frenzied performance is, in terms of kudos, the equivalent of wearing belted jeans pulled up above the waist – or styling floppy hair, outside of the 90s. It is indeed the one and only ‘The One and Only’ – by Chesney Hawkes.

 There, I’ve said it. Put your head in your hands if you will. Refuse ever to speak to me again. I don’t care. It may indeed have cheese levels to rival certain regions of France, but I bloomin’ love this song and, to throw in some Emmental, ‘you can’t take that away from me’. I feel toward the Ches a bit how I feel about the child actor from The Shining. That boy was in only one film, and never acted again. But it doesn’t matter. It was ‘The Shining’! Likewise, Chesney, ‘mister one hit wonder’ himself – but it was ‘The One and Only’! Worth ten average hits if you ask me (which you may never again after this). What’s more, this equivalent of an audio caffeine burst has triggered an unanticipated trail of discovery. Until a week ago, I knew next to nothing about either song or artist. Now it’d be harder to list what l I don’t know.

It was penned by Nik Kershaw – who bought two houses from the earnings. Chesney crashed and burned a bit afterwards – which is why many of us never really heard from him again – but became a cult hit at student unions, and is still a working musician, putting on zoom gigs, and living happily with his family in LA. Seems a nice bloke in interviews. Supportive of mental health initiatives.

I’ve seen one or two of the original performances on YouTube.

A young Chesney owning the stage, curling his lip and drawing screams from his teenage fan base, like a blonde Elvis. This was thirty years ago. There were no mobile phones or anything! I was in my first year at uni. Chesney was jetting around Europe, girls were camping outside his home, while I was grappling with Flaubert, essay deadlines and fragile self-confidence.

It’s all sparked some thoughts. About the wonder of a pop tune that becomes a hit, the strange alchemy that allows a particular sequence and timing of musical notes to trace a path which burrows its way into your head and stays there. That sent a song flying up the charts to occupy the top spot for five whole weeks.

Also about youth, aspiration, aging and the passing of time. There’s something poignant here. Though still a working musician, in mainstream popular imagination Chesney is frozen in time as the ‘beautiful boy’ who a long time ago belted out a megahit, then like a brief firework faded from view. It is, in my view, primarily faith that allows a more enduring ‘youthfulness’ to dwell and grow in the spirit. As Paul said, ‘Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day’. A theme I may revisit. Suffice to say for now that I believe it allows you to walk with another dimension of ‘dignity and pride’.

Post Easter poem

It’s not very long (unless I’ve got this wrong)
Since Easter, that marks resurrection
Which (let’s not be blind) to the scientific mind
As a theory, seems far from perfection
To hold in your head someone rose from the dead
Stretches credulity at best
Some are inclined to think we should find
Ways to put this idea to the test.
The problem right here, to be perfectly clear
Is it’s not something easily repeated
But to turn round and say that it’s bunkum, go away
Is no way for the thing to be treated
For a moment just think (it might make you blink)
We once thought (cos we’re standing still)
The idea this place, is now barrelling through space
Would have made the average punter quite ill
But when someone suggested (it was sorely contested)
That we hurtle full pelt round the sun
This novel solution sparked a revolution
In our views (that must have been fun).
In a similar way, I ask in our day
When the notion of God is derided
And pushed to the brink, maybe time to rethink
Some ideas that we long ago decided
I don’t mean to plod, but just think, if God
Like the sun is what life goes around
Then the thing that seems weird, that some bloke with a beard
Came to life, might just get off the ground.

Image by PIRO4D from Pixabay

Audio:

Easter weekend poems

Good Friday

Good Friday: its meaning has tended to fade
In our world been forsaken, neglected, mislaid
We have some inkling of Jesus, he died
For ‘the faithful’, their faith now a fast ebbing tide
What if we found though, and fresh understood
That Jesus, like none else, was radiant and good
That somehow he soaked up our rage, sin and pain
To lead us to God; could it move us again?

Holy Saturday

Sometimes in life we must stay still and wait
Unsure what’s coming, we sit, ruminate
Life can then feel like a prison, a tomb
For purpose and pleasure, we find little room
Where do we turn when our comfort is gone
How do we cope, when of hope there is none
Like a faint gleam when we’re low and forlorn
We can be sure, swift approaches the dawn

Easter Sunday

Resurrection remains an intriguing idea
In popular culture, its resonance clear
The records are tantalising, strange and oblique
In tracing a thing so surprising, unique
Gospel accounts hint and beckon, invite
To see what’s beyond that which lies in plain sight
The bold thrilling promise remains: if we choose
To connect to this life, it both fills and renews

Image by analogicus from Pixabay

Audio:

Easter poem

What a strange year for the world to endure
For the trauma, the loss, there’s no quick easy cure
Sadness and loneliness, trouble and grief
Enough to test anyone’s faith – and belief
Something to think on this Easter weekend
In the midst of a trial that’s not yet at an end
Something to muse on, to dig deep and ponder
This traditional season of life, hope – and wonder
Something that burns deep inside me this hour
Is a hunger, a thirst now for resurrection power
There may be a ‘road map’ to guide us through trial
But where to find hope – that lasts more than a while?
I long, yes I do, that every bruised battered heart
That struggles and thirsts, could find a drop, yes a part
A portion, a helping of this marvellous thing
That like liquid gold fills the soul, makes it sing
That doesn’t just endure for a short fleeting night
But like the sun soars through the spring morning bright

Image by Raheel Shakeel from Pixabay

Audio: