Messiah musings

The news I heard was guaranteed
To thrill and to inspire
Bradford’s choral outfit
Singing Handel’s great ‘Messiah’

Each Wednesday night, I walked through rain
Autumnal chill and dark
To master quavers, trills and scales
And warble like a lark

Through crotchet clusters, nests of notes
I wandered like a maze
But practised hard, so by the night
I’d warble quite unfazed

I love the light and airy parts
Those trills that flutter high
‘His yoke is easy, burden light’
‘And he shall purify’

On the evening, wide the doors
Flung open, what a night
The choir rang out, the solos soared
The music bubbled bright

A choir in full and hearty voice
Is like a bird in flight;
A joy to sing a work so filled
With grace and power and light

Image: Bradford Festival Choral Society performing ‘Messiah’, 19th November 2022

Audio:

Rethinking Remembrance

We may find a multitude of ways to remember
Sacrifices made, this day each November
And whether we wear poppy red, poppy white
In the square, in a churchyard, in the soft autumn light
Or at home, or even if we don’t mark it at all
Conflicts, some present, exert still a call
On our minds and our hearts to give pause and reflection
Consider, is there some substantial connection
Between those who struggle, and our more comfortable lives
Far from child soldiers under African skies
Or those in Ukraine, or Iran, where they fight
Against varying tyrannical forms, out of sight…
When part of you hurts, the whole body feels pain
It’s how we should be, when one person is maimed
So let us be conscious, seek out and discern
Where conflict is happening, to direct our concern
And find out the cause – resources, or land –
Which ignited the flame, let it get out of hand
Put ourselves in their shoes, empathise, and yeah, pray
Take some action perhaps – and though it doesn’t go away
We can lift up the hurting, joining hands, joining hearts
And imagine a future – where war finally departs

Image by Annette Jones from Pixabay

For BBC local, and community radio

A fair COP?

It might not have slipped your attention or sight:
The COP conference – straight after Bonfire Night
The occasion of gunpowder, treason and plot
Coincides with a push – to stop Earth getting hot
The gig is in Egypt (famously dry
Like the powder lined up to blow Parliament high)
But while these events enjoy similar fame
I don’t for one moment pretend they’re the same
While Guy and his gang tried a massive explosion
The Earth’s plight is more like a drawn out implosion
And though we light fireworks to remember Guy Fawkes
It’s less likely COP will see popping of corks
Let’s hope the steps there are not sticking plaster
It’d be nice if we stave off a slow burn disaster

Image by David Garry from Pixabay

Guy Fawkes and grace

On a leaf-golden evening in early November
We take up the call to ‘remember, remember’
Trio of gunpowder, treason and plot
(If you’re worried I’ll say the whole poem, worry not)
Still, it’s amazing how we annually show up
To remember a man who tried parliament – to blow up
With twelve other plotters, Guy Fawkes was in league
‘Twas a veritable hotbed of vice and intrigue
Makes sense to be thankful their bad scheme was foiled
(If nowt else it meant Bonfire night isn’t spoiled)
Two short reflections, this happening ignites
A duo of thoughts from this noisiest of nights
The first: far from harming folk who get in your way
I’m reminded of Jesus’ words: ‘for your enemies, pray’
There are sackfuls of peace, and a decrease in stress
When those who ill-treat us – we promise to bless
Second, in the fireworks that light up the sky
I see something of the beauty of God, by and by
As across inky black, phoenix patterns they trace
In my mind’s eye they mirror the beauties of grace
And like a love message, in letters of fire
Their shapes in the darkness astound and inspire

Audio poem for BBC local, Premier Christian and community radio

Image by free stock photos from www.picjumbo.com from Pixabay

Harvest ‘homily’

Do you ever give much thought about Harvest, that fulsome and foodie time of year
It sounds quite old-fashioned I grant you, and not often talked about, I fear
You may have your own particular memories, going to church, wondering, why all this food?
Seeing piles of pineapples, truckloads of tins, and something the dog maybe chewed
We live very differently from how our ancestors did, frugal and close to the land
When they sowed their own seed, and milked their own cows, and picked their own apples by hand
Now we get our food internet-ordered, packaged and boxed up and sealed,
Today’s kids, like us, are less connected to farming, some are lucky if they’ve ever seen a field
I wonder if there’s something we’ve lost in all this, (feel free to differ of course)
I wonder if we’ve lost a kind of sense of the big picture, creation, what’s behind it, the Source
I’m out on a limb here, freewheeling I know, so forgive me if this idea tanks
But I wonder if we’ve lost the old ‘attitude of gratitude’, the God-given desire to give thanks
So my challenge today is, look closer at your food shop, spend quality time with a pear!
And think about what and who grew it, I promise you’ll find something to give thanks for right there.

Best listened to! For BBC local radio & beyond…

Image by Pete Linforth from Pixabay

Haven-seeking

Something strange has happened, something unforetold
Now the tide of grief withdraws, time the thing enfolds
Though our lives move briskly on, and memories fade away
Still I wonder, what of worth, in hearts and minds will stay?

Something deep in us was tapped, an inner wall was breached
Feelings hard to plumb were stirred, often out of reach
Dark and hidden reservoirs, deep within us welled
Grief for passing permanence, bubbled, rose and swelled.

For many in these isles, a rock was lost, that felt secure
In a changing world, for some, their footing feels less sure
Spirit of a nation feels, abruptly, more alone
Now those restless feelings, must find another home.

In a life so dedicated, might we find a clue
A hint to guide, a glint of light, to show us what to do?
In a hurting world, where hearts, like bobbing boats adrift
Seek safe haven, is there something here, which hearts may lift?

In these strange and shifting times, mournful tears have welled
Might it be a time to weigh afresh the hope she held?
Ponder where was rooted, that servant spirit poor
Humbly think again, upon that beckoning, welcome shore?

Image by Franck Barske from Pixabay

Audio. For BBC local & other radio stations

Putin poem

Putin you seem rattled, Putin you seem mad
Do you feel this gig has, on reflection, turned out bad?
Putin did you bite off, more than you could chew
When you thought “I want that country; think I’ll have it too”.

Had a big backyard already, should have made you proud
Spoke of it in glowing terms, in speeches long and loud
When you hatched your mayhem, with your cronies few
Did it cross your mind Ukraine might be a proud place too?

When you thought “not big enough, I need a bit more land”
Did you for a moment think, things might get out of hand?
When you sent your tanks to put a country on the wrack
Did you think, that country might just want its country back?

Mister Putin, though you huff and puff and stare and pout
Mister Putin I’m not sure you’ve got this thing worked out
But before you hit the buffers, and you lose the plot
Stop and think, “you know what, I’ve already got a lot.”

Come on Mister Putin, it’s time to cut your losses
Face it Mister Putin, you’ve not been the best of bosses
We’ll all feel much happier, if you stop seeing red
That would help us all sleep much more peaceful in our beds.

Image by Дмитрий Осипенко from Pixabay

September Soliloquy

It’s early September, the turn of the year, and summer is waning, and we’re back into gear
The high days and holidays have all but departed, and there in their place, well, school has just started
Or is about to, and days running barefoot on grass, give way now to days sitting book-bored in class
For some there’s commuting, and back to the grind, irked by the colleague who doesn’t seem to mind
Clubs and societies start up again, ‘back to normal’ can be quite invigorating, but then
While you may like the changes, you might just feel dread; (the ‘cost o’ living’ malarkey isn’t going back to bed)
But whatever your thoughts, and whatever your feelings, whether raring to go, or actually just reeling
The start of this month can be a time to take stock, reflect just a little, take a break from TikTok
Ask deeper questions, what am I living for, is it really just the house and the kids, two point four?
Am I happy with life, is it going just right, or is there something I’m missing, maybe just out of sight?
Some kind of grounding, some spiritual light, that might make life richer, more hopeful and bright?
In the late summer period, when green leaves are turning, why not make it a season of wisdom and learning
In routine, find adventure, and rediscover awe; you might find some beauty that you’d not seen before.

Image by Petra from Pixabay

Commonwealth Games poem

It gives me great pleasure, it thrills me to report
It’s turning out to be such a fine summer of sport
Not just the lionesses’ footballing win
We’ve the Commonwealth games too, to sink our teeth in
Been a while since we’ve seen so much zest and such fun
In the buzzin’ and groovin’ ol’ city of Brum,
These games have a magic, quite all of their own
You can’t bottle it up, in a pic, on a smartphone
A compelling amalgam of the strange and the elite
Is what we see in this festival of cool sporting feats
I like that in a Games where the top draws excel
There’s a place for the home grown and quirky as well
When I look at these Games, you know they put me in mind
Of another phenomenon, of a different kind
There’s something about the whole quest to excel
That reminds me of the spiritual call to do our best as well
And the thing that distinguishes that bold inner ‘race’
Is God blesses it with some of his stardust, called grace
And the best thing of all is, we’re not on our own
In that spiritual gymnasium, we don’t go it alone
And so as these games reach their joyous conclusion
I pray that we’ll all have, a big grace infusion.

Broadcast on BBC Radio Jersey and Guernsey

Image by Pexels from Pixabay

Putin & Paddington poem

I wonder what makes you get right hopping mad
What stirs up a bee in your bonnet
What tempts you to use certain words that are bad
Not easily put in a sonnet.

Well I’ll tell you mine, though it’s hardly great fun
Not naturally conducive to laughter
So, if that bothers you, well wait till I’m done
And huff and harangue me, well, after.

I read Mr Putin is moved to compare
Himself to one Peter the Great
Inclines me to give him a Paddington stare
And kindly suggest, “Not you, mate”.

You may think you’re hard, Mr Poots, like ol’ Clint
Who looked good in shades and short stubble
But I think by now you need more than a hint:
It’s not cool sinking countries to rubble.

Not clever your delicate ego to stroke
To big up the ‘great Russian nation’
If that means another place goes up in smoke
And faces a dire decimation.

You might want to ponder one greater than you
Who didn’t with crime share a bed
Nor cook such a foul toxic odious stew
But gave up his own life instead.

Image by Andrew Martin from Pixabay