Poem: To a refugee

As the media glare is shifting, as the headlines fade from view

Each of us will face the question, how we see and think of you

You have made a leap into the great unknown, and so I’ll try

To imagine just a little what it’s like, to see things through your eyes

From the moment of arrival, in this new and foreign place

A different struggle for survival waits, an unfamiliar space

It may feel at times confusing, word and gesture to decode

Encounters raw and sometimes bruising, on this long and winding road

You may find things hard to fathom, you may find us hard to read

You may feel an aching chasm, may I have eyes to see your need

Before all else, like me you’re human, clothed with strength and dignity

This thought I’ll hold in each encounter, through this lens I’ll seek to see.

(penned in response to the Afghanistan crisis. Addressing an imagined refugee).

Olympics & Justice

This radiant contest, this sparkling thing:

The Olympics, a spectacle to make the heart sing

Gathering of rare-gifted sporting elite

The strong and the skilled, the honed and the fleet;

And yet a pandemic asks us to stop

Revise our obsession with those at the top

Take a step back, embrace a collective

Overdue appraisal, a change of perspective;

Just a suggestion, a novel idea

For you now, immersed in the Olympics this year:

As you marvel at those at their physical peak

Can you also make space in your heart – for the weak?

For those indisposed and with no chance to shine

On such a big stage, no medal to mine;

As you praise the perfected, think too of the poor

Remember the values the Olympics stand for;

Excellence, friendship, equality, respect

Are just a selection of good ones, and yet

Why stop with those, why not increase

Our struggle for justice, our wrestling for peace;

Running for goodness, a deep dive for truth

Not minding if I look unhinged or uncouth

And let’s not go solo, into this fight

Team up and dream up, keep hope in sight

And when you are tempted to drop off the pace

Look up and be helped by that rare thing – called grace.

Broadcast on BBC Radio Solent & Premier Christian Radio

Image by Thomas Wolter at Pixabay.

Audio:

Poem for Mandela Day

We know in this world there’s a lot that’s unjust

You might sit there thinking, yeah I know that, but must

Must I really do something, do I have to act

Cos I’m actually quite comfy right here, that’s a fact

And you know what, I get that, I totally do

I find it pretty hard leaving my comfort zone too

But today and right now I wanna share a few tips

I’ll make it quite snappy, I’ll go at a clip:

First, find a problem that engages your heart

That thing you think’s wrong is a great way to start

Next up, get closer to what you care about

Get to know and research it, it’ll give you more clout

As you think about how you can get personally involved

In tackling this issue that needs to be solved

Maybe helping the homeless, or famine abroad

Volunteering at a food bank, giving what you can afford

Picking up litter, visiting someone in need

Helping your friend to get fitter, or planting a seed

And no matter how big or small is the scope

Of your action for justice, your ally is hope

It’s that wider horizon, big picture, long view

It has a quality divine and can help us here too

They say the arc of the universe bends towards the light;

So hold onto that thought, don’t let it slip out of sight.

Audio :

A more beautiful game?

I won’t soon forget, being with a crowd

In a pub, watching England, it was really quite loud

I’m no diehard fan, but it was difficult to frown

On so many jumping for joy up and down

They whooped and they shouted, then did so some more

I was shocked that more beer wasn’t knocked on the floor

It’s a remarkable thing, this national obsession

A lightning rod for so much delight – and aggression

So much devotion for these heroes adored

So much emotion when one of them’s scored

It’s an art, a kind of worship, it’s been called a religion

Overstatement? – you think so, but that’s for the pigeons

There’s simply nothing else that arouses such passion

I used to think there was, but that view’s out of fashion;

But the question that I really want to ask here today

Is where do we turn, when it’s all gone away

This grappling with overblown hope, or despair

What do we do when it’s no longer there?

Here’s a little insight, a hunch, just a feeling:

I’m not sure that football’s got a high enough ceiling

To let the human spirit fully flourish and soar

I suspect that we’ll always well, want something more

Is there a bigger purpose, where we’re called to take part

A more ‘beautiful game’, a kind of ‘life work of art’ 

When the stadiums clear and the shouts fade away

Is there something that can help you in the mere day to day?

There’s a beautiful word, do you know it, called ‘grace’

It’s from God, it’s for each of us, it can light up a face

And I hold out the hope that every person, each nation

Is invited, one day, to a bigger celebration.

Image by tookapic from Pixabay

Madagascar crisis

What’s the worst thing going on in the world right now? A glance at the paper might suggest something like, you can’t fly to your chosen holiday destination anymore. Disappointing, yes. A disaster? No.

Do we stop and think enough about situations of real need in the world? I heard from a charity that thousands of people in southern Madagascar are on the brink of famine. Almost nothing to eat – leaves, termites, tamarind and clay. People are dying. It’s the first I’d heard of it! Almost unreported – an invisible tragedy.

            And something else: it’s the result of four years of drought, driven by higher temperatures and climate change. Produced in no small part by our western consumer lifestyles. Do you see the disconnect? While we worry about where we can or can’t fly, there are people worrying about where they’ll find their next meal.

So what would Jesus say? He cared deeply about people in need, including the hungry. And he calls us to care too.  So let’s step up and stand out. Not turn away, but care, pray, help – and give. If we don’t – who will?

Image by andreas160578 from Pixabay

Father’s Day poem

Today’s Father’s Day, that day of the year

When we celebrate dads, some far and some near

For some, ‘father’ thoughts are both happy and bright

Others not so much, may be things to put right

Some things you can’t – so you learn how to cope

But precious or painful, on this day there’s hope

We can all find those father qualities we crave

Strong, aspirational, loving and brave

Caring, and helps you with loads of things like

The little stuff, the shoe laces, riding a bike

And adult equivalents, you know what I mean

Cos there’s nothing ambivalent about dads who are keen

Who encourage, and praise, and champion, and hold

Who do what they say, who are daring and bold

And whether, for you, ‘dad’ means brilliant or bad

We can all seek out folks who are like a good dad…

And what if there’s a Father with a love that’s so deep

He can love you, when push comes to shove, in his sleep

It’s the Almighty, him upstairs that I’m talking about

He’s a top pop for sure, and of that there’s no doubt

It might sound far-fetched, a bit bonkers, bizarre

That such love exists that takes you as you are

But I’m reliably informed it’s no quick passing fad

We can have every confidence – in our heavenly dad.

As played on BBC Radio Leeds, and BBC Solent – accompanied by live phone interview with my Dad!

The Auld Enemy

It mightn’t have escaped your attention

If it has then it frankly ain’t right

Either way it behoves me to mention

A footie game happening tonight.

There’s simply no rivalry longer

In the history & span of the sport

That rivalry’s never been stronger

Since brave Willie Wallace got caught.

Half a lifetime, it’s twenty-five years

Since these auld foes last had a clash

For one side, it must end in tears

Over beer, or some haggis n mash.

The last time they played, Sporty Spice

And her bandmates were up there, the tops

Oasis bashed Blur (never nice)

Well look at them now: moms n pops.

The ‘Auld Enemy’, it can get tribal

With face paint, aggressive songs too

And true Scots are often quite liable

To crack open cans of Irn Bru.

I hope that the atmosphere’s friendly,

And everyone has a good time

I’m watching with my good pal Wendy

(not true, but it’s tricky to rhyme).  

So charge up your glass, hold your breath

Steel your nerves and hold onto your hat

As Bill Shankly said: “Life n death?

Nah, it’s far more important than that.”

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: