POEMS/LYRICS

SURMISES ON GRIEF - UNPACKED

Grief 10

I’m the reed by the lough shore

That suddenly swishes and sways

The deep fibres ripped from root

And all that I know gives way.

 

Culture shock silently creeping

I’m trying to track where’s next

It’s not that I don’t understand

But I cannot cue the context.

 

I know your mouth is moving

And I am here, I’m listening

It’s not that I cannot hear you

It’s the relevance that I’m missing

 

Being still to know that God is God

Working out, who now I am

Surmising where this wouldn't sting 

Crazy dreams of lions and lambs

 

Melancholy melodies salve a soul

Piano strings of redemption ring

That beautiful piece of heartache

As Karin like an angel sings

 

Be gentle on yourself, my soul

Walk the valley right on through

Stretch your hand in the loving direction

To the hand reaching out for you.

Let me take the poem one verse at a time..

 

I’m the reed by the lough shore

That suddenly swishes and sways

The deep fibres ripped from root

And all that I know gives way.

 

My friend Heather Carey shared this one. The fibres of the reed ripped out. It is the best description of the loss of a parent or I imagine a spouse. It is like your world shakes. Head, heart, soul and body sway. You keel over. You are blown over. 

 

Culture shock silently creeping

I’m trying to track where’s next

It’s not that I don’t understand

But I cannot cue the context.

 

I have experience culture shock in different places. I have lived for months in Africa and North America. It is always one of disorientation. It is like the compass you take for granted is broken. Your next move is blurred.

 

I know your mouth is moving

And I am here, I’m listening

It’s not that I cannot hear you

It’s the relevance that I’m missing

 

There is a lot of chatter around funerals. There are so many kind words. So many stories, some remembered and many never heard before. It is a helpful part of grieving. BUT there are times that people are chattering, filling the uncomfortable silences and it all seems so irrelevant. 

 

Being still to know that God is God

Working out, who now I am

Surmising where this wouldn't sting 

Crazy dreams of lions and lambs

 

God… and hope… psalm 46 encourages us to know God in the midst. Emmanuel (along with grace) is my favourite word - God with us. In Psalm 46 God is the solid ground as everything else shifts and quakes. 

But also… who I am? When mum died I was a motherless child. With dad’s passing an orphan. It stings but the audacious hope of eternity soothes.

 

Melancholy melodies salve a soul

Piano strings of redemption ring

That beautiful piece of heartache

As Karin like an angel sings

 

As everyone know knows me knows. Music is a conduit of the Spirit… of healing… of making sense. With my mum it was my friend Karin Bergquist (and Linford!) from Over The Rhine who whispered into my soul. With dad it has been Doug Gay’s suite of songs about his dad’s passing, Life After Death. Catharsis in songs - powerful.

 

Be gentle on yourself, my soul

Walk the valley right on through

Stretch your hand in the loving direction

To the hand reaching out for you.

 

So many people shared those “Be gentle with yourself” words when mum died. I think that I have spent five years trying to work out what they mean… and then how to do it. They are such wise words. Essential words. Grief is heavy and exhausting. Hiding away and resting is so helpful as we come to terms with loss.

And Janice’s hand is still the place where I find sense and some kind of healing… 


GRIEF IS... A LABOURER

Coffin

Grief is disguised as a trickster

Conjuring weariness from the invisible

 

But look again

Grief has you digging

Deep into sacred spaces

For precious memories long buried

Grief has you pushing and pulling

The love lost in the void

Bereft of a heart to embrace

Grief has you carrying

The hod filled with sorrow not seen

Pressing heavily on your soul’s shoulders

 

Grief is actually a labourer

Tilling the rugged ground of hardest parting 

 

Grief is exhausting

Be gentle with yourself.


BE GENTLE MY HEART

Tender heart

Be gentle my heart

Be tender

It’s mental my heart

Remember

There has never been days

Like these

So, please

Be gentle my heart, be tender.

 

Be defiant my soul

Be open

Be reliant my soul

Ever hopin’

That everybody is heading

To a place

Of grace

So be defiant my soul, be open.

 

Don’t lie

Or deny

It’s tough

Fix your eye

And rely

On love. 


HOPE IS...

Stockies Hope

In Bethel Royal School in the Nakasongola District of Uganda I heard the phrase HOPELESS IS A BIG ILLNESS. Today's Television news... War in Ukraine... floods in Australia... and Covid still all around...  could lead us into such sickness. So I thought I would send out a little bit of hope...

 

Hope is a known starling falling

Hope is the shade of an apricot tree

Hope is a dove with a leaf in its mouth

Hope is a star in the sky named for me

 

Hope is a greeting in the silence

Hope is a hand held tight in grief

Hope is a song sung in darkness

Hope is a fragile and robust belief

 

Hope is the promise you remember

Hope is the substance of a mystery

Hope is a veil that’s torn asunder

Hope is a stone that’s rolled away.

 

Hope is a decision for love and joy

And that we're going to get out of this minute

Hope is belief in tomorrow ahead

And that today we’re going to live in it.

 


LOVE IS...

Stocki and Jani Wind in our Hair

 

Is love a decision of the will

Or succumbing to rampant desire

Is love a snug warm winter coat

Or a raging forest fire

Is love an ecstatic carefree bubble

Or does the bubble first need to burst

Is love a crazy hazy dream

Or do I need to wake up first?

 

Because…

Love is patient

Love is gentle and kind

Love is always saying sorry

Love is leaving the hurt behind

Love is always having your back

Love is a hand held tight in grief

Love is a champion of deep respect

Love is unflinching belief 


SUNKEN TREASURES (4 CORNERS FESTIVAL)

Sunken treasures

A piece of art by Paul Hutchison at this year's 4 Corners Festival had me thinking of Sunken Treasures. Valuable things among wreckage. That is what reconciliation needs to find. Other ideas by Jonny McEwan and Pope Francis also sneak in. 

 

Sunken Treasures

 

Sunken

Going deep deep soul

In the old old wrecks 

Of conflict or storm

Where the seas of time

Grind down to dust

Or rust

Hear the frightening creaking

Of boughs now breaking

Like our past is speaking

About our lazy repeating tides.

 

 

Hope filled divers

Their hearts a tingle

Deep deep down

Where buried treasures mingle

Redemptive torches shining

Mining in different corners

Where precious pearls might be found

By the light of grace

In a tragic place

To make new 

From old 

Histories told

Given space between bridges

A Holy place not yet finished

For stories and songs and art

To blend and blur

And end the slur

We hurl too shallow

That carelessly unhallowed

The gift giving creator

Of one another

And the abundance of here 

Dearly given to all

Who dare to share

Common

Ground 

Good 

Home

 

So

We dive 

Deeper

For treasures 

Sunken. 


DARK DARK WORLD (for Aisling Murphy)

Aisling

 

It’s a dark dark world

When will we scream “Enough”

The snuffing out the light

The ripping out of love

In strange days of isolation

Missing loved ones last breath

Evil throws us another punch

In her meaningless death

 

It’s a dark dark world

Too often it seems to be her

Wolf whistles, cat calls

Ending up in murder

Peeling her eyes up ahead

Fear of who is behind her

She was always vulnerable

Just because of her gender

 

It’s a dark dark world

The sun is going to rise

From a small glimmer caught

To finally blind our eyes

And I pray that just a ray

Will seep in underneath

To flicker in their night

A gleam of comfort on their grief.


AUNTS - NOT ALWAYS THERE, BUT THEY ARE

Aunts

my Aunt Elizabeth, my mum, my Aunt Marie and my Aunt Mavis

 

Janice and I have lost three aunts this year. I lost my Aunt Elizabeth in April, Janice lost her Aunt Olive in September and my Aunt Mavis died suddenly this week. They were all sisters of our mothers. We are both so thankful to those aunts for their places in our lives.

I was surmising the influence of aunts and I jotted this down.

 

Aunts

Not always there

But they are

 

Aunts

Not like cousins 

Who are always in the forefront of photos

On the surface of the memory

Aunties are harder to find

Often on the edges or behind

Not always there

But they are.

 

Aunts

Not in every room 

Or in every minute

Like mothers and fathers

But they add different angles, 

Hues and eccentricities of who we are

Not always there

But they are

 

Aunts

Not as intimate

Or as intense in their love

But still as deep and wide

When they leave us we miss them

More than we appreciated

They were not always there

But they were.

 

Aunts 2

Janice's Aunt Beattie, Aunt Olive and her mum


THE NARROW VOICE CALLING

Stockman bearded

Turning 60 has me reflecting and revisiting old poems. These were the diaries of my life for decades. The first two lines of this one refer to coming back from a trip to China and The Philippines in 1990 but I think the talking back to the pharisaical begrudgers might have been from early summer 1992 , the first time that all I believed in was questioned at some committee. 

Thirty years later and I am still committed...

 

Yesterday with me it was summer

Today my autumn leaves are falling

Yesterday was all open conversation 

Today I hear the narrow voice calling

Back on this island that I longed for

That I love with all my heart

Forcing me to be somebody else

From the one who has been apart

Telling me I’m saved by grace

So long as I become like them

But I wouldn’t be a follower of Jesus

If I sought the approval of men

They want me to come to maturity

But I will not be conformed

They want me to calm and settle down

But I love the eye of the storm

They want to put a ring on my finger

But I will stick it in my ear

They want me to say it as it is

But I don’t see it as they want to hear

So reject me like you did with Vincent

The truth will always set me free

To live life and life in all its fulness

Through every God given uniqueness in me.


EVEN THE FRINGES ARE SACRED

DB Live

Guitar comes crashing riffs of life

I read between the strings

Drums keeping beat to my imagination

As Ricky and Lorraine sing

To do what we should’ve did

Vocations being honed out loud

It could be me on that stage

And you in this crowd

Lights are flicking prophetic

Glimpsing the freedoms of rock n roll

The darkness screaming back at me

In the recesses of my soul

Song making me want to fall in love

Songs making me want to cry

Making me want to put the world to rhyme

And never ever die

Conjuring up salvations day

Substantial chords of inspiration

Filled with life in all its fulness

Feet dancing in the revelation

I sense the Creator smiling down

On humanity and everything created

Even the fringes of life are sacred

To be lived and celebrated.