Bible Memory Poem I (The Old Testament)

In the beginning God made it all
Then Abraham and Sarah followed God’s call
But their family was messy – Jacob tricked Esau
And Joseph went to Egypt following dreams he saw.
The Egyptians enslaved them but God called out Moses
Who led them to freedom from under their noses.
God gave them commandments to show right from wrong
And judges – like Deborah – to help them along.
Ruth was a foreigner but God called her in
And her great-grandson David became their best king.
But some kings forgot God so to exile they went
Then God called Isaiah, and a message he sent:
“I’m coming myself to show you the way”
And so God became a baby on the first Christmas day.

(c) Rich Clarkson 2016

Blessing

May the God of beginnings,
fresh starts and clean slates
be with you wherever you go.
May the God of kind strangers
and not-yet-met friends
greet you as you walk this new road

May the God of remembering,
of sadness and loss,
hold your hand as you say your goodbyes.
May the God of the unknown,
the uncertain, the unsure,
guide your steps under unfamiliar skies.

May you know you are called,
May you know you are loved,
and – whether or not it feels true –
may you know beyond knowing
and trust beyond words
In God’s promises and purposes for you.

(c) Rich Clarkson, 2016

St Anthony

I’m sure I had a thought but now it’s gone
Before my mind could let it take full shape,
It will forever stay a thing half formed
Unwilling or unable to escape.

I’m sure I had my keys right in my hand,
I picked them up before I left the house!
Now I’m locked out – I just don’t understand!
I’d better get my phone and ring my spouse…

I’m sure I put my shoes back in that box
When I got home from work this afternoon,
But now I’m in the garden in my socks
hanging washing out beneath the moon.

I’m sure I left my diary over there –
I had it out while I was on the phone,
But now it’s disappeared, I don’t know where.
My pencil’s there still, pointedly alone.

I’ve tried mnemonics, post-it notes and rhymes,
But all those tricks were never quite enough
To counterbalance my forgetful mind
So I expect I’ll keep on losing stuff!

(c) Rich Clarkson, 2016

Abergele

The train is crowded with people and bags.
Some off on holiday, some off to work,
Some are just wearily journeying home.
3 hours of travelling, hot stuffy trains,
And stations, and benches, and no room for knees.
I’d give anything for a breeze.

Shotton, Flint, Prestatyn, Rhyl,
All doing nothing to ease the congestion
As more and more bodies and cases and bikes
Optimistically seek just the hint of a space.
Then, gripping my bag, I head for the door.
A traveller no more.

I’d hoped for a breeze.
A breath of fresh air.
And for a moment on the platform it was there.

Then stepping out from the station’s shelter into the helter-skelter of a howling gale I see clouds, pale with fright, taking flight and even the sand tries to flee from the land and I wonder what danger lies over the hills…

Shoulders. hunched. Pressing. On.
Every. step. hard. won.

As I make my way along the shore,
Steadily gaining ground against the wind
In the distance caravans lie, pinned
Like specimens in some museum drawer,
Neatly lined and labeled. That is where
I’m heading, if the air allows me through.
A sanctuary. A haven. Overdue
Respite from the burdens of elsewhere.

Into the sea the sun quietly slides
And, for a moment, I see its treasure glinting on the tide.

(c) Rich Clarkson 2016

For Wendy

Some days the sunlight sparkles off the sea,
scattering its jewels through rising mist
then, safely gathered, like the memory
of summer or a child’s cheek newly kissed,
It lodges in the eye and in the heart,
A glint of hope when worlds are torn apart.
Yet days like these are rare, most days will not
be quite so fine or filled with fire. Most days
prefer to temper “what could be” with “what
is now”, cloaking life’s gold with winter greys.
A shadow falls. A smile fades. A friend,
through tears, marks the beginning of an end.
But endings are like evenings. Even night
Is pregnant with dawn’s promise of new light.

© Rich Clarkson 2017

Knitted

In my mother’s womb you knitted me
My fabric fashioned from your own design.
As weft and warp were woven, even then
You knew what this frail form would one day be.
Each stitch, with love and care, was intertwined
And tied off with a heavenly “Amen!”.
But some threads are no longer firmly tied,
and edges, over time, have become frayed,
causing                   gaps to appear
revealing the unravelling inside.
We may indeed be “wonderfully made”,
but “fearfully” at times gives way to fear
yet one day God will take this threadbare frame
and weave it into beauty once again.

© Rich Clarkson 2017

Coddiwomple

It was dark outside but with one pull
Of the bell the train slid to a stop
I leapt out and began to coddiwomple
In search of a hoped-for shop
I knew there was one near the station
So set of with a purposeful stride
To my as-yet-unknown destination
And the treasures awaiting inside.

(c) Rich Clarkson 2017

Hidden

It is hidden
like a current beneath the waves
not thrashing and crashing and making a scene
not tossing and turning and clamouring for attention
but quietly, steadily, irresistably there.

It is hidden
like the trunk of a willow
As branches whip around in the wind
and leaves fly, and catkins cry out for fear of falling
In the turmoil it stands unmoved.

It is not found
in the stampede of the horse
or the silver words of the powerful
in the flashing diversions of billboards
or the honeyed lure of the bank balance

It is hidden
from all but those who seek it
those who are not turned
by the distractions that swirl
to the left and to the right

Those who know the still small voice
The word whispered close into the ear
“This is the way, walk in it”

© Rich Clarkson 2016

Praise God for Humble Moss

Praise God for humble moss, without whom we,
Who live and breathe and leap and laugh and praise,
Could no more do such things. Praise God for days
Long past when mosses spread from sea to sea
A continental carpet breathing fresh
New life into the oxygen starved air.
Praise God for lungs which found that they could bear
To breathe this atmosphere. Praise God for flesh
Which crept and crawled and leapt and breathed and moved
Among the lichens, liverworts and ferns.
Praise God for life’s tenacity across
The ages as it gradually improved,
Evolved, developed hopes, dreams and concerns.
For all of this, praise God for humble moss.

(c) Rich Clarkson 2016

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