Drifted

I was alone when it happened.

But I felt a calm around me.

As if taking this pain without feeling a thing

I was in the East that day, in the middle of the world.

It was sunny, on a river, and I was standing in my paddle boat.

There I was chased by unknown bodies, vaguely resembling figures,

They had a shape,

But no form

The arrows they shot at me flew by and I laid low.

And paddled my boat to a bamboo dwelling, where I hid.

A thatched house.

Those accusers would not find me there, my thoughts.

I paused for a moment as the figures went away.

Around the corner, they vanished.

Some arrows got me.

I felt long arrow shafts moving down my chest,

At the same time, I saw arrowheads protruding.

And the arrows I saw were removed, almost supernaturally, as if the wind blew them away.

I felt no pain.

Regaining strength, I saw yet again my pursuers who were waiting for me, my thoughts.

And the river looked kind as I watched it appear before my eyes, thanking providence.

A man I recognized as he came beside me. He was my friend.

An older man, wearing a robe, and with beard.

Light in spirit,

Lighter than anyone I knew.

As if he could be carried,

But he carried me by his spirit,

As we travelled by boat to an unknown destination.

To get away from those thoughts,

Which brought me no pain,

But only worry.

My friend gave me great comfort in the days ahead.

I forgot about my attackers and neither did they come.

The days came and went, and I drifted away down the river, with my friend by my side.

I was glad. For we disappeared into the mist, and I was at rest from those thoughts.

Guilt

The sky turned on me,

I looked, and saw

Arrows shooting down, piercing me one by one

My soul bent over, crippling me.

I screamed in the silence, but even I could not hear myself.

The deadly arrows had no archer.

Was the Devil to blame?

Did God do it?

Or was I dreaming?

The air screamed, was deceived with lies and evil,

Haunting me in my failure.

I was to blame for the arrows shot down.

I brought them on myself.

For I had failed

And the guilt almost killed me.

No, it was remorse.

Am I Poor, am I Rich?

I see the rugged hill

Where my saviour was

Once crucified

Blessed are the poor in spirit, Jesus said

On the Mount of Olives.

Now we live in poverty.

And now we are spiritually poor.

Our redeemer, rescuer has gone,

And he would be Messiah.

We are now poor

For Jesus has gone.

But we are rich

Yes we are rich

For having walked with him and talked

With Jesus.

Yes we are rich.

And although I do not understand this crucifixion

Of an innocent man, I will understand this crucifixion.

And I saw the man next to Jesus at the Skull call

Jesus, asking forgiveness. Today you will be with me in

Paradise, Jesus replied. The other man insulted him.

And yes, a rich young man amidst the riches…

Of a slum? Amidst the riches of disease? Amidst the

Riches of not knowing God?

He rose again on the third day! Yes

And is coming back to take me to Paradise.

Jesus’ agony. Am I poor, am I rich? Do I know this God?

Do I know that he cares for me?

–Written in 1992

In safe hands

My first published poem was in a church newsletter and it should have been left for the back page as the matters of church life would be of more importance rather than a mere poem. This rather negative estimation in view of ecclesiastical concerns which would take up much weight in the minds and hearts of many older middle-class members.

As one of the youth I expected a rejection of the poem I submitted to the church newsletter (can’t recall precisely how I got around to submitting to a church newsletter, but I did have a affinity for the people) I expected a flat out rejection, but I was pleasantly surprised by the forward thinking pastor who gave my poem the whole of the front page! It was a poem about Jesus and especially the cross he died on and the mountain he was on…the poem came straight from my heart, out of my relationship with Christ. The words just flowed.

I wrote the poem and thought it was kind of a napkin type of thing. There was no real attempt to submit professionally to a real publisher—I guess I did not consider a church newsletter the real thing. But I was graced by the pastor who saw something good in it and decided against better ecclesial judgment to have put it on page two. Page one will do, though.

All right

He held the card and read it,

“Not her again” and threw it in the neighbour’s garden patch.

She was Deborah.

Who loved him,

And sent him a Christmas card, hoping to be his girl.

They were young.

He was fine, she was lovely,

Yet his silence. Yes, his silence was ripping her apart.

And the hurt went deep down inside.

She had a choice, in how she would reply,

To react or respond.

The way she goes could shape her entire life.

Wondering how she would be later on.

And if the same thoughts would still be there.

And if she would be free?

But Deborah stopped by the pavement

And her eyes brightened up.

Singers were there.

For her?

A bit of beauty.

The crisp, fresh, silent night spoke to her senses,

The song on their lips filled her soul,

The people who listened with an ear for hope.

This she knew, would stay, with her, inside her heart.

And the rhymes and rhythms of the night would remind her:

Life goes on.

She clung tightly to the thought that everything is all right.