Jeremiah

Grey church humped in dusk

We huddle, linked

Wispy rain-curled fringes

Cold fingers

Avoid the avid glances

Of the neighbours

Here is the hearse

The priest in white, hand aloft

Accustomed to the rites

Calls him Gerard – but

His name was Jeremiah

Strange cousins

Twice and thrice removed

Clamour to shake hands

And kiss

Anticipating whiskey

He’d have hated this.

A SOAP-BOX and A POEM

God. It’s all so one-sided. Generally, we are careful not to offend those who believe in a religion, but shouldn’t that work both ways? I get very annoyed when someone asks me if I believe in god – as if god was a given, and you either believed in “him” or not. For me, there is no god or goddess or godhead to be believed in or otherwise and when I give this answer I get two different reactions:

Some people become defensive and really angry and begin to harangue you with arguments to prove the fact of a god; they tell you that one day you will know the truth and that they feel sorry for you. They tell you to look around you, at the wonders of nature, the intricacies of the human body etc.  

Or, they pretend to be amused; they wag a finger at you and laugh and say that god has not forgotten you; worst of all – they promise to pray for you. Their arrogance and complaisance and condescension, their bigotry and utter stupidity is incredible. and it never occurs to them that they might give offence. As my father used to say about these people – they’re as well raving there as in bed.

All the same, when I was a child I did have faith and here is my nostalgic poem:

THERE WAS A TIME 

In the dim, silent church

A glow of votive lamps

Fluttering blue and gold and red

Whispered prayers in corner shrines

Beneath the outstretched hands

Of painted saints

Beads clicking, slowly told

Sundays burst in glory

Sweet choir lifting voice

The Truth sang in my mouth

I filled my eyes with bright

And lustrous threads

The golden flame of candles

Veiling mysteries at the altar

The heavy scent of flowers

Inhaled security

And a weightless peace

In certain knowledge of hereafter

Our hearts were warm, absolved

Beloved of our maker

And safe in the house of God.