Archives For My Poetry

Seventeen craters and counting,

Shells fall, there’s no moving a train running hard.

Sulfur, smoke and coal,

Whistle blows; splinters and wood

There’s no dodging this incendiary hail storm

The only way through, is through.

.

The crashing of oversized bullets fired from miles away

Vengeful gifts from an invisible enemy

Land unpredictably,

 One there, a few here,

*Sigh.*

A close call, I don’t know if I can take it all.

(Technology, war, me and these parallel tracks

This iron horse, heaving forward, as if jumping over cracks)

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I thought my nerves could take the shock, but I’m worn in every muscle

It’s hard to stay awake.

My mind and heart is racing, the Doc says my nerves are shot.

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The extremes of heat, cold and smell,

Vast empty wastelands; civilization all blown to hell

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If the shrapnel stays away,

And the train keeps its tracks,

If the boiler temp. is kept at bay

We’re sure to remain attached.

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Our biggest fear is derailment,

From that, there’s no coming back.

So, we do our best to work & pray,

To ask Jesus Christ for a miracle,

For Him to work alongside us, as we drip in sweat,

As we roll back and forth with each, and every tilt, of this beast’s rough sway.

The noise is growing quieter now,

It’s profane and peculiar,

Our train may have never left its tracks,

But hearts and minds have derailed,

Deranged metal has deranged men;

Lives gone off the rails;

All because a train cannot dodge the screaming descent of metal hail

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Though those years are far from me,

I still jump when there’s nothing there,

When a train whistles, I hold my breath;

Look to the right, left,

and then up in the air.

Awaiting the inevitable fusion,

Of locomotives, war and their violent union

Of metal meteors; fear of not making it back,

Of bombs and broken men, who gave their all, riding iron horses over broken tracks.

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Corporal Frederick William Petrie served in France with the A.I.F as an engineman (fireman) on locomotives, from 22nd Dec. 1916 to 7th Nov. 1918. He was 36 years old. On the 17th July 1917, Frederick was diagnosed with Neurasthenia (depression and emotional distress), which was commonly used as a diagnosis for “shell shock”. After meeting with British Commander of the Australian Imperial Forces in Europe, General William Birdwood, Frederick was placed on lighter duties.

According to reports, locomotive engineers during the war, were faced with rough conditions:

‘we were not fighting troops, but I may say that the whole of our sphere of operations was within range of the enemy’s artillery, and he paid particular attention to the railways, both with his heavy guns and aeroplane bombs. Even…the furthest back station of the 4th company was under fire from the 15in guns…With both planes and guns the enemy paid systematic attention to our main lines of rail, so you can realise that life in a railway unit was not altogether a picnic. The 5th Coy…had the worst of it…their section of line was continually exposed to bomb raids and gunfire, night and day, and their casualties were heavy…the amount of work behind a great army is tremendous. Despite the network of lines, I have seen 280 trains per day pass over a single section of line, and trains carry 1000-ton loads…the difficulties and odds against which they had to contend are seldom realised.’
(Lt. R.J Burchell 5th coy, The West Australian, June 1919)

Source:


(©RL2018)

Photo credit:  Samuel Zeller on Unsplash 

Windmills & Giants!

June 19, 2018 — 1 Comment

As a father, who happens to homeschool his five kids, I also have the distinct honour of managing the general household paradigm.  Here’s a retelling of an event involving one of those responsibilities.

 

 

Chores are not like a small kitten’s purr,

No. Chores are torture.

Run the linen up the flag poles,

Stoke the spinning bucket with garments,

And it’s still hungry.

Such is this monster, which I have,

    daily, gallantly met.

It makes me Don Quixote against

Windmills and giants!

With the same checklist,

 gusto and loyalty,

  as that of D’Artagnan’s servant, Planchet.

Into the chilling wind I stride,

Weighty basket in hand,

Like an explorer in wet clothes, traversing unexplored Antarctic land.

The south winds blow in from hills covered in Australian snow,

My uncovered hands are no match for the cold.

My destination is only ten steps from the back door,

but the wind is like a frozen invisible wall.

My climb against it has become a solitary fight

Like the one faced by an imprisoned, Edmond Dantès

stuck inside a cell with no light.

the minutes drag on, the seconds slow down.

Like the resuscitated Dantès, become Count,

fighting back against all that was unfair;

Where is my Prisoner Priest, like Abbe Faria?

Where is my Island of Cristo,

with its hidden treasure made ready for me to bare?

the wind chill hitting my hands,

it’s a solitary stand.

This, these darkened minutes are testing my resolve,

It’s a saga even Dumas would have, with bravado, retold.

All because I went out into the cold

To hang up on a line, a bunch of wet clothes.


©RL2018

Photo credit: Jessica Fadel on Unsplash

 

Broken trails and winded sails.

Sold for a pittance;

Auditioning for your pity.

Hearts to open,

White paper to be wrote upon,

Black ink and three red soaked nails.

Dirt and dust.

Words covered in rust.

The us in trust.

Negotiate whimsical notions of melancholy;

Walk alongside this precipice.

Fasten all hope.

Anchor it.

Take hold, grab onto my wrists.

Don’t abandon the shattered heart,

Before grace rescues it completely from the abyss.

(RL2018)

 

Jaded.

Silence and emergency,

In bludgeoning contrast, clang in discordant unity.

The murderous, winsome sin of vain words

Like a hammer into a child’s birthday cake,

Crushes the crisp dew.

Fresh condensation from heaven

Poluted by shattering humiliation,

Breathes hopelessness.

The abyss yawns;

And with the crushing of this child,

its monstrous smile,

Gets ready to feed off of this child’s broken heart.

Silenced, yet emerging,

God responds,

Hope breathes, and pain retreats,

At light breaking through broken glass.

Inner screams, through sigh and powerless frustration,

Answered by prayer and Spirit-filled consolation.

Though there,

I was unaware,

That the shadows of angels were always obscured by the dark.


©RL2018

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Schoolyard popularity
Social media celebrities
Armchair activists ignoring reality

News feed narcotics
Narcissist neurotics
Status anxiety?

A “like” is not endorsement
Endorsement is not a comment
Silence betrays arrogance?

Fearing opinions
Impression management
Feeds perceptions

Poses vs. tags
Covering and uncovering
Wrinkles and rags

The calm update hides a post-atomic sky
Words are lost in the smoke & desolation
Blind mirrors reflect no light

 


©RL2014

‘Sin is mainly located not in political and economic structures, but in the human heart; good and evil are not political categories’ 

(J.Ratzinger, cited by O’Sullivan, J. 2006 in The President, the Pope, and The Prime Minister, p.194)

 

On Prayer

September 21, 2017 — 1 Comment

 

 

Christian. Ignite Hope.

Christian. Write.

Christian. Shine.

Christian. Unchain.

Christian. Gather.

Christian. Sever.

Christian. Bind.

Christian. Empower.

Christian. Sacrifice.

Christian. Love.

Christian. Say ”No”

Christian. Say “Yes”

Christian. Breathe.

Christian. Live.

Christian. Comment.

Christian. Eat.

Christian. Be Content.

Christian. Exercise.

Christian. Rest.

Christian. Obey.

Christian. Grow.

Christian. Go.

Christian. Listen.

Christian. Question.

Christian. Discern.

Christian. Fight.

Christian. Serve.

Christian. Repent.

Christian. Pray.

Christian. Learn.

Christian. Translate.

Christian. Interpret.

Christian. Apply.

Christian. See.

Christian. Encourage.

Christian. Challenge.

Christian. Walk.

Christian. Follow.

Christian. Seek.

Christi n . Be found.

Christian. Bless.

Christian. Hear.

Christian. Heal.

Christian. Forgive.

Christ     . Victorious.

….

 ‘The focal point of the Church’s action is the decisive activity of prayer…Because prayer is the decisive activity, prayer must take precedence…, and in no circumstances must it be suspended.’[1]

….

Christian.

Don’t forget.


References:

[1] Barth,K. 1938 Freedom Under the Word, C.D 1.2 Hendrickson Publishers 2010 p.695

{inspired by St.Patrick’s Breastplate}

Tell Me

August 29, 2017 — Leave a comment

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Ask me what I see, and I’ll show you battle scars.

Tell me what I’m not
and I’ll show you my old home, and its prison bars

Tell me how I’ve failed,
and I’ll show you my bible,
its well-worn corners, impressed with the mark of a child’s hopeful embrace,
and how, though, lost in a sea of loneliness
that child broke through the bitter dark.

Tell me to prove this
and I’ll show you healed marks,
of how they illustrate a trophy of grace;
the miracle that is this mended heart.

Tell me why I’m not enough
and I’ll tell you of teen intoxication,
of long midnight footsteps away from temptation,
and the gut wrenching sound of the devil’s bark.

Tell me how none of this ever happened,
and I’ll take you right back to the start,
then speak of father wounds,
and in minute detail, roll out the saga of abuse
and the many cruel people who joyfully played their part.

Scream at me that I’m wrong,
and I’ll have to walk away,
for I was there in that moment,
you abandoned your right to have a say.


(©RL2017)

Create in me a clean heart, O God,and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me from your presence     or take your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of your salvation and grant me a willing spirit, to sustain me.My sacrifice, O God, is a broken spirit; a broken and contrite heart you, God, will not despise.”

– Psalm 51:17