The Slum Priest

He is the slum priest,
you will have seen him.
Cassock, short
to prevent dragging
on the pavements.
Worn at the cuff
from how often
those sleeves are rolled up.
Shoes, sturdy, lacking polish
scuffed and weather beaten,
the heel, disappearing.
He is the slum priest,
you will have seen him.
With a kind word,
with Rosary beads,
with time,
freely given.
To greet those society shuns,
or ignores,
or simply forgets.
He is the slum priest,
you will have seen him.
His altar is the park bench,
his confessional, the pub
his pulpit, the corner shop.
He is the slum priest,
you will have seen him,
but in truth, he would rather you
looked upon Christ instead…


(Writes: 14.II.19)


Father’s face, etched with years,
set in a wistful look as he sinks back
into rich Oxblood chair
behind the deep mahogany, leather topped desk.
Hands curled, weather worn and frail
clutching at papers from the Bishop.
No longer ‘My Lord’ but simply John, or Jim or Jill,
the informality of friendship extended to all,
but to Father, a reminder,
they don’t know him.

Glossy documents and bright young things
draw attention
and diocesan strategies in language unfathomable,
no matter how hard he might try.
When he does muster the resolve, to ask,
to seek counsel, it is returned.
A wry smile, a hand on his shoulder;
“I don’t need to explain to YOU Father,
with your many years.’
And he feels a fool,
not for Christ,
just a fool.

Parish boundary erosion, relief of the ‘burden’,
new Bishops Mission Order
‘to reach those not in church.’
He reads the words again,
so cold in black and white.
Isn’t that what he’s been doing
for forty years…

Father rises, as he always has
stepping from study to sacristy,
heaving open heavy oak to let sunlight in.
And that is where they find him,
kneeling, before the altar, when they come.
Knelt in prayer, as he always has,
knelt in prayer for his people.
Now no longer his.

Keys placed in outstretched palm.
Once his, given in full ritual,
retuned without ceremony.
Father arrived in a flurry of bright colour,
swelling organ, joyful voices.
Quietly he slips away, as the architect,
finds space for another new flat.

(Written: 7.XII.18)

The Autumn Walk

The front door closes,
the lock twists shut with
a certain sense of finality,
as the journey begins.
Stepping out into Autumn.
Feet falling on rain-spotted flagstone
as though in mourning
the sky has shed a tear, or three.
There is a bite in the air
A chill,
that creeps into even the thickest coat,
a piercing reminder the sun is setting…
Browned leaves crack
under shoe leather.
Those jettisoned early, falling soundlessly
to earth,
whilst others, yellowing, curling, cling
desperately to branch, to life.
Then, without word, the light is gone.
Winter comes. All is still.
Only the cross, atop the church spire,
dares to puncture ever greying sky,
to proclaim in sacred dignity
‘It shall soon be Spring’

(Written: 19.X.18)

For St. Paul’s

Atop the sprawling mass,
perforating gloomy skies,
reaching, ever reaching
to the heavens from beneath,
That He might smile upon
that cavernous dome
and bestow great blessings
upon the city below.

(Written: 17.X.18)

Accusations of the faithless

A life restricted.
Some shallow daily grind
of subservience to a being
in the far beyond
who deigns to allow evil
to infect creation
and deems to remain silent
despite the tortured distress.
Black clad and collared,
they are horrified
by the willing submission
to this monster, to this ‘god’.
They resist all pleas, all appeals,
all explanation,
for fear they may encounter
He would would, and did
lay down His life
and breath His last
only to gasp again,
spluttering back into existence.
That this cosmic event,
played out in our human limitation
will command them
to meet Him
and refine themselves.
And we, who have seen,
have heard his call through
Scripture and Sacrament
still dodge his gaze
and shy away from
His Will
to see us saved,
and truly free
from self, and,
the potent illusion
of a manufactured freedom.

(Written: 10.X.18)


Her eyes close.
Those beautiful, trusting eyes,
once so filled with visions,
of glory, of promises realised.
And also,
so obscured by tears.
that fell so heavily,
and masked their hue.
They close,
one last earthly time,
too heavy, overwhelmed
by the fragility
of mortality.
Her face,
cracked with time,
each moment etched upon
once unblemished skin,
of innocence, of youth.
Her fingers curl,
one final time,
around his hand.
Her son, her John,
the one He loved,
the one He gave her.
Their tears mingle, and drop,
upon that tell-tale blue
that seems to fade with her.
She slips away.
Taken by another hand,
of Him, whom she once held,
in birth, in death,
now calls her home.

(Written 16.VIII.18)

A Prayer

Why are you so distant?
What have I done to offend?

I have loved you, I do love you,
I’ve never done anything but express that
as fully as humanly possible…
I have pursued you, walked beside you
but in return you shun me, side step me,
or worse, shower me with silent indignation..
Why do you not speak?
Do you not hear my cry?
Can you be so cold as to ignore me?

Do you even love me?

Says the LORD.

by SJMC+
(Written: 25.VI.18)

Our Monk

For fifty years
the arm has rested
that grasped the pen
once so prolific
but now,
with ink stagnant.
No new thoughts are born
that once tumbled so freely
from gargantuan intellect.
The heart that swelled
so large
to embrace the world
beyond the cloister, beyond the border
beats no more.
And yet,
the truth echoes
down the ages
attracting seeking souls,
drawing them in.
They meet
in recognition that this man
this contradictory,
rebellious spirt,
still speaks
not through dusty tomes
or time aged papers
but through simple truth
of prayer, of love, of God.
The poet, the prophet,
the universal monk.

(Written: 13.VI.18)



Crude cavern,
stone worn smooth
by a million pilgrim fingers,
groping in the dark,
reaching for the divine.
Illuminated lady
shines forth
from pitch black,
hands clasped in prayer
that innocent eyes,
eagerly seeking Him,
may emulate her.
Her piety,
her devotion.
May we, with
the thousands of beating hearts,
racing to reach eternity,
be endowed
with even a fraction
of the love she has
for Him,
for her Son, her Saviour.
When words fail
through pain or complacency,
her whispered prayers
for the banished children of Eve
reach His ear
and warm His heart.

(Written: 22.V.18)

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