Steam Highwayman at 200%!

With three more backers overnight, we reached exactly 200% early this morning!  This is a real celebration moment: I always felt £2000 and 100 backers was a small target, but I had to admit that I really wasn’t sure that we could double that.

Jane on the left here, with the tray of knitted Cthulus at the Crossness Engines Steampunk Convivial

But here we are!  Generous pledges have boosted us up towards the milestone, but three more backers have each ordered their book bringing the total to exactly £4000 pledged towards the project.

Our Double Funding Backer is Jane Darnbrough of Bromley!

If you are in need of a decapod
Of a stripy or spotty or a checkered god
Then ask smiling Jane
Who remains cheerfully sane
While secretly celebrating all that’s odd.

Haven 90|60

I’ll be worshipping at Haven 90|60 in Milton Keynes this Saturday and leading a Workshop called Speak Out in Praise, helping believers learn how their passion for spoken word, rap and poetry can be put to the King’s service.

You can access my workshop handout here.

Long Live the Poetry of Geology!

wpid-img_20151114_114949.jpgYesterday’s review is now live on the London Grip.

Two poets I’ve discovered from the anthology:

Jonathan Davidson, whose ‘William Smith’s Poem’ was one of my favourites;

Maura Dooley, whose ‘Treasure Island’ begins the collection with a nostalgia-tweaking love-of-my-land reflection on the purposes of poetry and geology – and why not all human pursuits?  Aren’t all our disciplines another ‘translation of Truth’s imagination’?

A Life Purpose

image

The words of John Milton, Book XII of Paradise Lost, written in the 1660s-70s and still the best answer I can find to Rick Warren’s challenge to formulate a life purpose statement.

When I read or recite this, I feel intensely glad to be who I am, in this age and in this place, yet so appreciative of my forebears. I know that the things I love best about being English are Gospel things – ‘by small | Accomplishing great things’ – and that a life lived ‘as in His presence’ is a life of significance and purpose whether joyful, sad, achieving or resting.

And I know this because I have His example – the same Redeemer a blind Puritan Poet four hundred years my senior knew.

The Garden, Gone and Remaining

It’s dangerous, returning where

You left your living herbs to root.

A trip to re-taste friendship’s fruit

Was bittered by a chilly air.

 

The trees that stood between brick walls

That hid along the alleyway,

Perpendicular and grey

Behind the street thick with footfalls –

 

Those trees that softened up waste ground,

Beloved by none who owned them, no,

Beloved by one who knew them so,

Can no longer there be found.

 

Eight sycamores, wind-strewn and wild,

A faded, fallen apple, broke

Beneath the ivy’s unfair yoke,

And hazel and its hopeful child,

 

The ashes, birches, and tangled low

Odd-limbed gooseberries, all leaf

Their chance to fruit far too brief,

My chance to help them years ago.

 

If anybody knew or cared,

I did – who slept beneath the branch

And dreamt that plot my mind’s wide ranch

And ate the berries birds had shared.

 

Returning down that concrete path

Something airy worried me –

Then bare sky lay, no branch, no tree,

And sorrow mingled up with wrath.

 

For all these deeds and rights to build

What value has the love of soil?

For profit pulled from a rebar broil

Who counts the trees the clearers killed?

 

Small pain, oh yes, for all fall, trees.

What sentimental rot – what pose!

But gloved hands felled and counted those,

That last were climbed and held by these.

 

I know the width of limbs, the give

And sway of outstretched arms that reach,

From letting slower creatures teach

And show me how to be and live.

 

God speaks in rocks and fruits and trees,

So shouldn’t I be sad and cry

That disregarded saplings die

That I regarded, gave me ease?

 

From bed – this bed – beneath this spread

I’d wake and see them greet the day

Or sleeping, hear the wind at play

To test them, twitch them, shoulders spread,

 

Roots wild-set but gripping close,

Joying, fighting with the gale,

Ducking rain and flicking hail,

And then in sun, remain, repose.

 

I left a lot there in that ground,

A sage-bush brought and cropped and strong,

The trunk split-twisted, leaves grey and long,

Potatoes not yet dug or found.

 

Nothing’s lost.  I hope – it must be.

I know that God permits no waste,

And where our minds dash on in haste

He plays a longer game than we.

 

How many times a root re-springs,

How many times a spring re-flows,

Oh, every time you prune a rose

You prove the loveliness of dead things.

Silence

Unwounded by words, the body of quiet swells,

Absorbs my breathed-out thought and inwardly tells

Me to ‘Recall that past promise.’  Distance

From what I once said begets a silence.

 

Now I am stilled by the weight of rest,

My free spirit mentions matters unconfessed

And in clarity born of sore conscience,

See how sorrow always begets a silence.

 

But with no clamour, remedy speaks next,

That offered hand, to give me when perplexed

A release from the curse of self-reliance

And thankfulness too begets a silence.

 

Take me into this quiet, where heart touches heart

And my words and my working all fall apart

And I know the true truth of the Spirit’s alliance

And awe, rediscovered, begets a silence.