Upstream

The mighty salmon swims upstream to die and to give birth;
We, too, must resist the flow and climb for all our worth.
The world spews out debauchery and every kind of sin
In waves to surely knock us down the moment we give in.

And yet we stand on solid rock with strength that’s from on high;
Just stay upon the narrow path, that way your feet stay dry.
He promises to bring us back should we ever stray
From His footsteps up the hill along the narrow way.

Don’t dip your toe in that awful flow, it’ll soak you to your skin;
Worse yet, drag your foot away until you topple in
And tumble hard against the rocks that pulverise your soul
‘Til purity and sanity are futile, foolish goals.

That’s when a feeble plea to Him is answered at a run;
He dives in, pulls us to the shore, but still His work’s not done,
Gives us the pure white robes He left behind as He dove in,
Then sets off with divine resolve to break the power of sin,

Swims up that putrid torrent to block it at its source,
By soaking up its vileness with His own disfigured corpse.
He made himself a horror that no holy eye can stand
To open up a way for us to reach the Promised Land.

His humbling sacrifice complete, He rose again in power,
Now sits upon His throne and at His own appointed hour
Will judge the living and the dead with justice, but with grace
To welcome those for whom He has prepared a special place.

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Such As These

Trudging through a wintry plain
As toes begin to freeze;
Kind eyes look down from heaven
To watch over such as these.

Disfigured outcasts stumble on,
All ravaged with disease;
Holy hands don’t fear to touch
And make whole such as these.

Abandoned by their former friends,
Despite their desperate pleas;
A well-lined back in heaven knows
The pain of such as these.

Souls wracked with guilt that won’t wash out
And wearying unease;
Scarred hands and feet in heaven show
He died for such as these.

Slandered, beaten for His sake
And forced onto their knees;
A special place in heaven
Is prepared for such as these.

Their race full run, their strength all spent,
Their breath a painful wheeze;
Arms in heaven are stretched out
To welcome such as these.

A loving smile, a sick friend healed,
A fragrant summer breeze;
Foretastes of His heaven are found
In moments such as these.

A child’s unflinching openness,
Trustful and keen to please,
The kingdom of our God must be
Approached as such as these.

Stranded

This is the first poem I wrote specifically to submit for publication in a poetry journal. It was refused, so you all get to enjoy it instead, as well as the good people at superversiveSF.

Stranded

Stranded on a pinnacle, surrounded by a throng
Of the vilest creatures known from story, myth or song.
He led them on a merry dance when things got out of hand,
Out here to this lonely peak, amidst this barren land.

His radio is long-since smashed, his ammo’s running low,
His jetpack is all out of charge, discarded in the snow.
He’s improvised and struggled hard to keep the hordes at bay;
With no rocks left, it looks as if he won’t survive the day.

Hiding has proved futile, they smell his sweat and fear,
Their bony claws pierced through his armour, slashing his right ear.
His arms are getting heavy, his eyelids won’t stay up,
He sees bug reinforcements and his head begins to drop.

They cover the horizon, the ground squirms as they swarm,
The only thing that held them back was a great ice storm.
But now the winds are calming, they start their new ascent,
The screech of claws upon bare slate is homing on his scent.

He shivers as he stands again to face the warrior drones,
Debilitating cold and dread both pierce his weary bones.
He pictures all those he bought time to reach a safer place,
From where they could at last find peace and meet a friendly face.

He smiles to think of Sylvia enjoying motherhood,
Raising four kids and a dog beside a sleepy wood.
Jason, Mick and Frank will all be standing in salute,
As his beloved plays a mournful song on her old flute.

They’ll join their voices with the choir that sings a solemn hymn
Beside the lasting monument with which they’ll honour him.
They’ll talk about the good old times, the laughs, the games, the pranks,
Then raise their glasses in a toast to show their debt of thanks.

Then go on to enjoy the lives that he has won for them,
Each moment of sweet liberty more precious than a gem.
Just metres now and one clip left, he adds to the great heap
Of insectoid carcasses that fill the chasm deep.

With no regard for brotherhood, they trample on their own,
Fearlessly and ravenously scale that pile of bone.
His rifle clicks dead one last time, they do not pause or slow,
He catches one last glimpse of sunset’s amber afterglow,

Then all around him falls a flood of piercing metal rain,
Roaring jets and blinding searchlights drive them back again.
Pistons hiss and cargo bay doors open to his right;
Half-thinking this is all a dream, he steps into the light.

They wrap him in a blanket, and soar into the sky,
For the first time in a month his hands and head are dry.
“They’ll nuke the site from orbit as soon as we are clear,
And turn that vicious army to a sterile glassy smear.”

“How did you find me way out here? My radio was gone.”
“This was the seventh mountain range that we’ve explored since dawn.
We’ve scoured half the planetoid, all looking for your heat;
We couldn’t just leave you behind, there’s someone you should meet.”

The lovely face of Sylvia appears on a small screen,
She looks to him as if she’s just been crowned a beauty queen.
“Thank God you’re out, I couldn’t bear the thought that you were lost,
After all you did for us, and what your courage cost.

“I found the letter that you left, I really didn’t know
How much our friendship meant to you, you let so little show.”
“You weren’t supposed to read that, it was only if I didn’t—“
She puts a finger to her lips, he meekly takes the hint.

“You said you hoped I’d find a man that’s faithful, honest, good;
With whom to raise a family, who’d treat me as he should.
I know of one,” She beams a smile so full of joy and life,
Then says the words he’s longed to hear: “I’d love to be your wife!”

Different Eyes

This is one of the first songs I ever wrote, with a very simple haunting guitar accompaniment (stretching my very poor guitar skills to the limit). I was sure I had it written down somewhere but couldn’t find it, so have reconstructed it from what I remember. It is about Good Friday, which is today. If I can get them finished in time, I hope to have a poem about Easter Saturday up tomorrow, and one about Easter Sunday the day after, we’ll see how that goes. Continue reading

The Joy (and Terror) of Judgement Day – Part One

So, following on from last week’s entry, your life on earth is borrowed, your possessions are borrowed, the atoms in your body are all borrowed, your every waking (and sleeping) moment is borrowed, entrusted to you.

This reminded me of the words of the Inquisitor from Red Dwarf:

“You have been granted the greatest gift of all, the gift of life. Tell me, what have you done to deserve this superlative good fortune?”

It is a sobering question, because the honest answer is nothing. Life has been granted to us not out of obligation to us for something we have done, not a reward or wages, but as a gift, the greatest of gifts, perhaps even something, dare I say it, that is worth being grateful for in of itself.

In context however, that is not really the question that the Inquisitor was asking. What he was asking was far more serious, even terrifying:

You have been given this astounding gift, this incredible range of opportunities. What have you done with them to justify this enormous investment in you? What reasons will you give to dissuade me from erasing you from history and giving your opportunities to someone else? Continue reading