Remembrance Pearl of Peace

In annual deep autumnal gloom, of russet red November,
Many of us stop a while, to pause, reflect, remember,
Huddled groups, dark overcoats with splash of poppy red,
Reassuring ritual, of words said and unsaid.

This year coronavirus lends the day a different hue,
Musings on mortality touched with other sadness too,
So if you can, go the extra mile to reach out and remember
Those who may be struggling and fragile this November.

While crimson poppies are the norm, some wear a poppy white,
A broader deep perspective to keep within our sight,
Puzzled people ask me what a white poppy is for:
To honour every person killed or traumatised by war.  

We mark the memory of the fallen, costly sacrifice
Of those who bravely gave their lives, but also mark the price,
The causes and the roots of conflict, issues broad and deep,
And actively pursue the peace, seek to preserve and keep.

In doing so, we emulate the fragile precious art
Of weaving harmony that lasts, a pearl of God’s own heart,
Like him, let all our yearning for such deep ‘shalom’ not cease,
Until, as oceans cover earth, our world is filled with peace. 

Something for Halloween

It’s that time of year again, you know, Halloween
When kids like to dress up as goblins and ghouls
Like it – or not, there’s a reason we’re keen
On the spooky – it’s not just for numpties or fools.

It’s thoroughly human to love a ghost story
Not bonkers to want to dress up as a witch
I get it that you like what’s scary or gory
That Halloween scratches where you want to itch.

Let’s face it, some things are both strange and mysterious
Deeper than we had imagined or thought
There’s more than our five senses tell us, I’m serious
If you’ve not considered it, believe me, you ought.

But here’s just a small thing you might like to ponder
I ask myself sometimes if we’ve got this right
We rave about the dark side, but tell me, I wonder
Is there not something powerful too – about the light?

What can seem just a little surprising and weird
Is our tendency to see God as boring and tame
We tend to think ‘stuffy old bloke with a beard’
But what if the reality makes that thought look lame?

What if God’s actually mysterious, exciting
That’d sure change the picture, to put it quite mild
To think God is active, and beckoning, inviting…
Us into relationship – that’s really quite wild.

Good bad and ugly, we’re a complicated mixture
It’s not surprising the dark side we want to embrace
But if God’s all-encompassing love is a fixture
In our messiness that’s pretty good news – it’s called grace.  

Be a food hero!

Of all of the things that are crackers and barmy
That drive me beserk and that mess with my head
A biggie’s that we could feed a sizeable army
With the food we could eat – that we throw out instead.

The more that you learn, the worse that it sounds
It makes me quite sad, I hope you can tell
Each year every family wastes seven hundred pounds
That’s a second hand car! – and some choccy bars as well.

Four point five million tons, ten billion edible meals
Allow me to show this in terms of a zoo
It’s like three million rhinos, a shedload of seals
Half a million African elephants too.

And you know what? The big thing that most makes me angry
Scrap that, hopping mad! – close to irate
Is that nearly a billion folk worldwide go hungry
Even in Blighty it’s one out of eight. 

So now that we know this, why not make a plan
To waste far less nosh – and here’s a few tips:
Make a list and buy only what’s needed – you can!
Then turn all that leftover veg into dips.

‘Use by’ means just that, ‘best before’ is a guide
Don’t forget there’s a whole lot of stuff you can freeze
Get creative, and you’ll find you’re turning the tide
On the scandal of food waste, try, it’s a breeze.

Wouldn’t it be fab if the amount we chucked out
Got gradually whittled down to one big fat zero
Then we’d have something to shout loud about
And you could say, “Know what? I’m a real food hero.” 

A poem for #WorldFoodDay


World Mental Health Day

How are you feeling, what are your thoughts?

Have you been burdened by ‘ought not’s and ‘ought’s?

Do you feel anxious, worried and stressed,

Like just getting through every day is a test?

By heavy clouds do you feel weighed down,

Thick like a fog, every smile turned to frown?

Listen, I’ve no easy answers to tell,

I’ve been there too, got the T shirt as well,

Sometimes there’s no simple fix and no balm

To soothe away troubles and usher in calm,

But it’s important, I want you to know,

No matter how deep the dungeon, how low

You may feel, believe me, you’re not there alone,

Even on days drenched in sepia tone,

Lift up your head just a little and see

Things won’t stay dark as they now seem to be,

Though crumbs of comfort now seem out of sight,

One day you’ll catch that first sliver of light,

For now though, just reach out, place your hand in mine,

I’ll tread this path with you, step at a time,

One foot in front of the other, and then,

One day you’ll feel that warm sunshine again.

Yemen Lament

colour hands PB 7-20
I saw the news the other day – and it’s not gone away.
It’s proving hard to put out of mind. Impossible, I find. 

A frail child, lying still. I wondered, was she alive?
Until… I saw a movement, tiny, small. And that was all. 

Delicate limbs, needle-thin. Doting father, only kin.
Daughter in his lean arms held. Courage, felled. 

Sorry plight, fragile, weak. Mercy now, all he could seek.
And all he had to hold her there – was love and prayer. 

Those pictures flickered on my screen. In countless homes they too were seen.
Not sure our hearts can yet contain – such bitter pain. 

I wonder can such crying need, pierce our apathy & greed,
For a far off child’s sake, can our hearts break? 

I doubt that I can fully rest, till such injustice we arrest.
Until the bombs and guns will cease – I’ll have no peace.


Poem for Refugee Week

In the shelter, by a bus stop, do I see you standing there?
Will I take a moment now to think of you, and will I care?
Will I spare some head space, and reflect what life here’s like for you,
Step into your heart and soul space, put myself into your shoes?
I don’t know quite what it feels like, being in limbo, not at home,
Feeling different, disconnected, not quite part of things, alone.
Far from friends and family, loved ones, system here is sometimes cold,
Living with uncertainty, a sense that life’s been put on hold,
I don’t face the pain you’re facing, long protracted painful wait,
Feeling like you’re sinking, drowning, just about to suffocate,
But I’ll take some time to just be there and say a prayer for you,
Be a friend and not a stranger, take an interest – smile too,
As I step outside my comfort zone to know you, make a start,
I may find I’m on a journey too, the journey to your heart.


Image by <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1226611″>fsHH</a&gt; from <a href=”;utm_medium=referral&amp;utm_campaign=image&amp;utm_content=1226611″>Pixabay</a&gt;

Pentecost poem

What does this strange story mean,
Of something heard, and something seen,
A violent wind, hurricane roar,
That fell from heaven, slipped through door?

Yes what strange power filled that place
Through corridor and room did race,
That swelled with such majestic sound,
And rooted each one to the ground?

And what to make of ‘tongues of fire’,
That did not hurt, but did inspire,
That this strange day, did not consume,
But rested on those in that room?

What Spirit made them shout aloud,
What strange commotion drew the crowd,
And what divine mysterious art
Produced such languages of the heart?

Was it that they were humble, pure,
And ready for such presence sure,
With hearts receptive, like a child,
To heed a power so raw and wild?

And what of us, who count and measure,
Could we receive heart-stopping treasure,
Could we, who think we know so much,
Accept that melting, humbling touch?

Audio with music bed:
Image by Holger Schué from Pixabay

‘Thy Kingdom Come’ poems

A few poems inspired by the Anglican-initiated global ecumenical call to prayer, this year 21-31st May:

What brings joy without alloy
To Father God above?
And what may lure strong pleasure pure
From his deep heart of love?
To see lost sheep step out (or leap)
To seek him in this place,
One ounce of trust enough, He must
To such reveal His face.

A sudden shock your boat may rock
In life’s tempestuous seas,
Or worry creep and steal your sleep
And leave you ill at ease;
Yet Christ alone, the Living Stone
Can take the helm and steer,
Instil his peace, and bring release,
Dissolve your crippling fear.

Though made to soar, by some strange lore
This world keeps me confined,
A flag to fly, past ‘work, play, die’?
Elusive, hard to find;
One pure and brave rose from the grave,
Unlocked a wider view,
Of greater scope and deeper hope –
And offers it to you.

To trust in ‘truth’ may seem uncouth
In our world-weary age,
Faith may be lost, abandoned, crossed,
“Move on, turn over page”;
Yet Spirit-fire may yet inspire
Faint embers of the heart,
And on them blow, that we may know,
The joy of a new start.

Image by Couleur from Pixabay

VE Day 75th – a poem

Faded footage of bygone celebration,
A carnival spirit of joy and vacation,
Buckingham, Trafalgar, and lining the Mall,
A people determined to party, “We shall…
Rejoice through the night!”,
they might well have said,
And struggled to put manic children to bed;
A nation in lockdown now fights novel foe,
A fresh incarnation of trouble and woe,
We hail our key workers with rainbows so bright,
A rich ancient symbol, yes let’s not lose sight
Of their role as God’s pledge, to never again
Strike world with a flood-like disaster, and then,
As a king on VE day thanked God up above,
May we learn, perhaps slowly,
Him once more to love.


Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Love & Roar

What is love?
Love? We think of roses and dinner for two,
But I’m not sure right now that this picture will do,
It’s not just nice feelings with a sweetheart or stunner,
The love we need now is a marathon runner,
A care for each other that lasts and has grit,
Be there for each other long term, and not quit,
The love we need now – and maybe a while,
Is one that keeps slogging, for mile after mile.

It’s a difficult time, and you may feel afraid,
Don’t stay there, but climb, take courage, you’re made
To face down your fear, not cling to the shore,
But draw strength right here – yes rise up and roar,
Like the king of the beasts, we’re called to be bold,
From ‘greatest’ to least, whether you’re young or old,
& if you start to slide, at the end of your tether,
Like a strong lion pride, know we’re in it together.

‘Roar’ was broadcast on BBC Radio Leeds Sunday Breakfast, 26th April.


Image by Ajay Lalu from Pixabay