Wednesday, 3 October 2012

A Line becomes Alarmed

Who’s this sphere
Who’s bounced into our world of lines,
Pushing us around?

We don’t like round
And we don’t like pushed.

What’s this plane rushing by?
She says it’s a circle
But I don’t see the point.
Well actually I only see a point,
Being a line.

How can a point
Take up so much room?
I mean, what does she mean by curved space
When there’s only A to B

Why is she always slipping out of view
And round the bend?
Where will it end?
She says there’s even more than circles,
None of which I’ve seen,
But also ‘up’
A thing I can’t imagine.

I prefer my single point
Into which I push myself forward
And become a line

Aligned entirely with others
In parallel
Whom I need not touch

As we all rush forwards
Without her
Crashing in on the super highway
Of my own singular express.

I stress
I don’t need a ball
At all.

She’s out of limits
Does not fit
into my mind or into any world that I accept
And yet,
as I move, I sense the presence of a great expanse
Of empty space through which she moves
on every side.

Monday, 17 September 2012

Our Lady of Sorrows

Blessed Mother,

You knew

not only how to carry

your own deep sorrows with dignity

but to make room

to hold the sorrows of another.

You were not afraid

of annihilation

Not alarmed

by a fresh dismemberment.

You were the centrifugal force

of love

that holds the accelerating universe

in a wide offering

of ever-expanding joy

amidst the pain.

You are not destroyed.

Wholly identified

with the four directions of the Holy Cross

there is no place your passion does not reach

because you stand with Him.

And we who dare

in microscopic measures

to accept the task

desire to stand

in fresh alignment

with the one who chose

to receive


Feast of Our Lady of Sorrows, 15th September 2012

Sunday, 9 September 2012

On watching Marion and Renee dancing for Our Lady and on hearing Cheryl sing

Such perfect symmetry of the hearts' alliance

Fluid and freeing

And full of joy

The body is moving with the life of the Spirit

Blithely revealing the passions of the soul

Here on the running grass

In the open air


Between kenosis and fulfilment


Between loss and enlargement of the heart’s gift


Between daily dullness in the earth’s shadow

And the bliss of offering in heaven’s light

The dancers speak for us with their fragile limbs

Leap into ecstasy

Reach into kindness

Fall into sadness

Tenderly reminding us

That we in our strange wanderings

Are beautiful to Someone


Sarah de Nordwall, 8th September 2012, the Nativity of the Blessed Virgin 2012

Thursday, 6 September 2012

On Hearing of an Artist at the Celtic Festival of Acadia

The artist cut one Maple Tree

And made of it nine instruments

He will bring them once

Together again

For a single night to play.

And who would not wait with sacred longing

For the playing of the nine

From the broken tree?

Who would not hope from such a moment

A taste of the soul’s wild ecstasy?

The Maple Tree sings in many voices

A song cut from a single heart

And peace

And balance

And practicality

All are surpassed in this final


Sweetness of utter intoxication.


And open, surrendered and free.

The Maple divided is now resurrected.

The song of the nine

Is the Song of the Three.

Sarah de Nordwall September 6th 2012

Saturday, 18 August 2012

The Coastal Robot

or On looking out of the East Coast train from London to Edinburgh

Incredible how the sea dispels alarm

Arousing joy without a cause


A sight of inevitable bliss so inarticulate

and yet replete with messages and thrones.

Then suddenly a monstrous thing

a squat and hideous robot,

square and brute

Sits on the coast line like an ugly toy left out by troll children

Blind to the ravishing waves.

A factory made of concrete blocks.

A nuclear power station?

What exactly is it?

Could one possibly say
Without initiation into madness of the bluntest kind?

And there and here beside the railway tracks

Vast cylinders and wagons,

making grey a frightful thing

Whilst the veiling mist attempts a kind reminder of the truthful nature of this
Heavenly shade... so close to silver and to dawn.

But peace;
the breath returns and someone with a gentle eye has now laid out the land.

A green field
of a generous startling hue

gives us a barn
with a long bright roof of red.

a white house by a fallow field
and a crimson post van in a country lane,

Its speed commensurate with human dignity
And a sense of pace of life.

Oh Lord protect us from the paceless things

That sit enthroned in deathless tedium.

Rip out the horrors that can never breathe

And fill again our earth with life that dies

And naturally expires in rapturous gratitude.

How wonderful that things ephemeral

Lift up our fragile hopes into eternity.

Whilst stolid robots, stiff with glass eyed potency

Will, changeless, fall entire into the night.

Wednesday, 25 July 2012

For Sarah and John on their Wedding Day

Performed before their wonderful display of Sarah’s Poems and John’s Photographs

Under the Poet’s eye
All things reveal their inner gaze

Return a look of kind enquiry
With an opening of the heart

A glimpse of mystery
The moment of desire for knowledge comes

For love is knowledge
In its purest form

And spiritual life
Unveiling of the sight.

And here displayed
Is God’s adventure
Evermore and evermore.

Under the Poet’s eye, the pen, the camera lens,
The world is speaking of its hidden core
Where all is yet to be discovered

We stand before the sea-shore

The boat laps at the lake
We’re on the existential edge
We cut into the cake!

And that’s why folklore senses
We should wish as the knife goes in

But we rejoice and pray aloud
‘Let a newer life begin!’

And under our Creator’s eye
We share the gift of Thou and I

We raise a glass as angels pray
To bless you
On your Wedding Day..

Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Freak Show

The Ring Master:

Don’t be afraid of the freak show

It exists for your relief

At being safe

from this


This spell of madness and despair

Is spared you

Don’t be too assured

That horror will not come.

The freak, the freak is here on show

But your despair is hidden

And in the closet dungeon

It will only stir when bidden

Shhhhh the freak show

Shhh the freak

Do not let it ever


It must not call to you by name

Inside its cage it must remain

But you will pay the price to stare

And hurriedly flee in the cooling air.

Its chill is gone but the memory’s there

The freak still lives as you pass on.

Does one gaze linger when the day is done?

Off with the freak show

Off with its head

Only the perfect are raised from the dead.

Bring me the wonderful

Bring me a date

Bring me the freak on a spike from the gate

We must be beautiful

we must be free

Speak to me never of the freak in me.

Fear and loathing

Fear and pain

These are the items on the list of shame

Who will cross them one by one

Off the agenda

Till their day is done?

Who will look them in the eye

And feel their sorrow

As the world walks by

Come to me master

Come to my show

Only you can understand

How all the lines go.

You in the subtext

You in the stall

You in the balcony

You in the hall.

Come to the freak show

Come and hear me speak

All of me is up for view

But only you will weep.

June 6th 2012

Thursday, 12 April 2012

Taking Back the River

There were dead children in the river

Whose they were
No one could tell

So long they had lain there,
Where salt water meets the fresh
But none prevails.

And the crabs and small minnows
Vie for entrance
Into the hollowed eyes.

There were dead children in the river
And where they put them
No one will say.

But they told the Mayor
That as the slim bones were lifted
From the grey-green sedge
They drew all eyes upwards
To their quite unrecognisable forms

And water drops
The light carriers
Bore their heavenly tears back into the
River like a healing storm

Like tears that flowed down repentant hair
Those green weeds of the weeping river
As she gave up reluctantly
and yet with deep relief
her hidden dead.

And saw with blind eyes how the unseen hand
Was bearing them away.

There were dead children in the river
No one can say
Whose they were
But we hear them play

Tinkling laughter like the wilderness bells
of young sheep on the hills
For they live free again in the spirit world

And the meadows are their
natural home

part two

The sunshine reminds me of 1945
Of times gone by
And the birds could be singing in any century

Only the announcement “the train now approaching is to High Barnet
Dispels the illusion of time travel.

This bench could be an ancient thing
The coming of spring the most primeval awakening
In the consciousness of early man;
‘Oh joy, the birds are here again!’

the train now approaching is for Morden via Bank

The chimney pots of clay and terracotta
Could be smoky fresh from Mary Poppins

The picket fence so white and prettily trimmed,
From the Railway Children.

Why this nostalgia for a time unseen
The could-have-been of a life lived out
In a distant century

Yet as close as the sun on my skin
The veil so thin

Between them
On the further platform

catching a train to a world released so recently from war

And us
Whose train goes where

We do not know.

The next stop
Totteridge & Whetstone
For the sharpening of knives.

Part three

We are waiting on the platform
For a war to begin
Shall we go to it
Or will it come to us?

There was no announcement given
No notification of a signal failure
To produce the atmosphere necessary for peace.

We knew about justice
Wrote about Human Rights
Closed shop for the engineering works
Necessary to keep the tracks straight
for the commercial wagons
To roll on by

But we forgot about the red light
that we could have used

To signal our displeasure at the widespread
Use of the human person for commercial gain

It was the reign instead
Of the profitable imperative
And China and her contract allies
Kept the standard high

They kept the red flag flying in the face of human needs
And knotted to our blue and yellow
made a
Primary palette in which
every colour
spoke of Human Greed.

We are waiting on the platform for a war to begin
Shall we wave our soldiers off
Or simply welcome their ones in?

Tell me there’s a moment left
When we can close the gate
And redefine what’s more our line
What’s service and what ain’t

I fear the bell is ringing
And the level crossing’s down
And all the human circuses
Are pouring into town.

The title and first part was inspired after reading Clarissa Pinkola Estes' description of the famous tale of La Llorona, the Weeping one, who dredges the river for her lost children, whom she herself has thrown in there, having been poisoned by the agony of betrayal. The archetypal tale finds continually new forms. One that Clarissa relates, describes the river as having been polluted by a factory upstream, and La Llorona faces the double betrayal of her children being born deformed by the chemicals in the environment and then being abondoned by the father of the children, who leaves her for the fancy lady who likes to wear the fine things made in the factory!

I think this tale surfaced in my imagination after I was asked to speak for '40 Days for Life' on Woman's Hour (radio 4) last week, in defence of the unborn, who form one of many "ethnicities" who suffer from the injustices of the contemporary blindness to the inalienable rights of every human person to exist for their own sake, and not as the instrument of another, or merely at the whim of the convenience of others.