2016 was quite a freaky year wasn’t it? We lost Bowie, Prince, Cohen, Wilder, and finally (hopefully) Fisher. After such a crummy year I feel the only option is humour. So, I checked out all the classic songs which extolled the praises of being sixteen. In the end, I went with good old Neil Sedaka. So here goes…

Tra la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Good riddance, 2016!
Tra la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Good riddance, 2016!

Tonight’s the night I’ve waited for
It’s New Year’s Eve and 2016 is nearly no more
That was by far the freakiest year I’ve ever seen!
Good riddance, 2016!

What happened to those famous faves?
My teenage idols are now all resting in their graves
The last 12 months have been like some bloody awful dream
Good riddance, 2016!

When I was only five, Bowie was the Mister
When I was only ten, Leia was like a sister
When I was thirteen, George Michael rocked the mic
A new year has started, though they have departed
They’ll never be forgotten, and so…

If I should loathe, their early demise
It’s just that Wilder and Cohen, disappeared from our very eyes
You’ve turned into the most depressing year I’ve ever seen
Good riddance, 2016!

Tra la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Good riddance, 2016!
Tra la-la-la-la, la-la-la-la
Good riddance, 2016!

St John of the Cross poked me in the ribs one day and said ‘To come to a knowledge of what you are not, you must go by a way you are not.’

Who am I not?
I am not the homeless man outside my chapel
I am not the man telling me off because he wants to pray,
I am not the wood holding my altar together
I am not the man with compassion and endless time
I am not the generous giver with endless riches
I am not the man who can make a difference.

But St John sits on my shoulder
Strumming his cross of lead and singing
‘This is the way of Not, death becomes you.’

What I can’t control, becomes me.
What I can’t understand emboldens me.
What I can’t pigeonhole, deconstructs me.
What I can’t complete in my name, destruct in my name,
Is God to me.

I need you stinking person who frightens me.
I need you atheist, agnostic, man, woman and child
I need you bricks and mortar, inorganic matter that matters to me,
I need you philistine who deplores art
I need you blood bother, blood sister, (though not of my blood)
I need you wind and rain, (though I secretly curse you under foot)
I need you despotic leader,
Who I am tempted to hate, (and perhaps actually do hate)
I need you people who are not me

People I don’t like
Can’t relate to
Don’t want to embrace
Can’t be bothered with.
You are not me,
But you beget God to me
Through difference Jesus embraced humanity
Through indifference they nail him to the tree
Through difference he revealed himself,
Embracing those who were ‘not’
Not allowed to be themselves, not allowed to ‘be’ at all
Not allowed to be embraced, not allowed to be loved
Murdered with religious chatter
Hurled into pits of stinking woe
Hated for being wrong
Wrong colour, wrong shape, wrong sexuality
And hated still.

But I need you
Gay man, straight man
Gay woman, straight woman
Gay priest, no priest,
No religion, any religion!
Conservative, liberal, general, specific,
Figures of ridicule, figures of hate,
People who I am ‘not’
You bring me to a place I am ‘not’
You draw God out of me
Drawing him out of every pore
Turning every stone into bread
And every water into wine.

Come unto me you opposites!
I need you so bad.
Come unto me you agnostics!
I rejoice in your unknowing
Come unto me you colossal failures!
Your brokenness allows the light to seep through
and illuminate my God-becoming self.
Come all ye roving minstrels
And lead me to my deathbed
So that I can be born again
Not once
But every day I must die to self
And rise again
to embrace another day
To embrace another human being
To embrace another pariah
To embrace my inner Christ.

Love this!

rachelwritesagarden

Streamlines of intersecting chatter & banter

A million microblogs pulsing and buzzing with novelty or eccentricity

Incandescent by day, idly juggling work to follow the bird

still bright by night when foreigners and insomniacs keep it surging restlessly onwards

This is the sound of voices intertwining, combining, coinciding and diverging

discussing the deepest issues of the day

or maybe just the funniest

#

A virtual street corner in the palm of my hand, at the click of a key

The instant Roman forum in your phone.

Tribes and strains and creeds all clamouring to be seen

Practising and developing the art of concise communication

the slick soundbyte, quick quips and wit

#

Welcome to the Twittersphere

a bustling biome in a chatty corner of cyberspace

All of life lurks here.

A democratic microcosm

like a tiny parliament of 140 MPs

desperate to get themselves trending

#

Hashtag games, breaking news,

Twisted trolls, media dolls…

View original post 12 more words

Some of you will know that I came second in a Poetry Slam this week – my first everpoetry slam! The event was organised by Science Gallery London, a fab new initiative based at Guy’s Campus, King’s College London. The point of the Science Gallery is to bring together scientists and artists in surprising and innovative ways. Anyhow, here’s the poem.

My words are my weapons 
My speech frames my feelings-
Buttressing my mouth
With cathedral-like ceilings.
My tongue is my bishop
Carving diagonal paths –
That get direct to the problem
Go on, do the maths!
My throat is a moat where ideas start to flow
Then I retreat to my keep
To prepare the next blow
Then it’s pistols at dawn, 
High Noon at Dodge City!
Where apathy is shot down 
With lines that are witty!

My mouth is a cemetery of chalky chess pieces
Which corner the King 
With a thousand and one theses,
Check mate is my end game 
My words wield the blows,
That slay all my enemies
From their heads to their toes.
From my oropharynx to my larynx
my teeth don’t look pretty 
But my tongue is amazing!
(Disclosing diseases doctors can’t see
Until spotted by those who study dentistry)

My castle-like words 
They move in straight lines
Through crenellated teeth 
Cutting through thickset vines.
With man-made monoliths
I plunder my depths
Conquering my demons 
By cashing in my debts
Cut out my tongue
And six more will grow back 
Hydra-like voices will spring from my mouth
The wanderer returns! 
Drop the drawbridge, head south!

Like the knight on the chess board 
my speech skips and leaps
3 steps forward, 1 to the side 
They march to the beat
Of my heart and my words and my guile
My mouthy momentum 
Is settled in style.
The sideways stance of a cantering mouth
Sells stories like a wandering bard
Knight time is right time 
For telling tales that are shards
Of pure glass that will pierce your heart 
Until it surrenders and sunders apart.

My pawns I send out ad hoc 
A sentence at a time 
(Somehow two, as per the pawn’s rubric)
I’m a judicious director, 
Just ask Stanley Kubric!
Phonetics and genetics collide in my speech  
And pawns must be sacrificed before rhetoric is reached 
Talk is cheap before new ground is taken
When battles seems lost and all is forsaken
Then I bring out the big guns –
Parable (pow), metaphor (boom) and story
Where heroes are made and revealed in their glory.

I wield words like chess moves 
Working several steps ahead.
Weaving an oral tapestry
On the loom in my head
Don’t preach me to reach me
Before you can teach me
My mouthy, I beg thee 
Is me through and through
My pawns and my bishops, 
knights, castle and king
Will defend my cause
Until the fat lady sings 
And finally I’ll… pause.

I tear open the glistening foil
And greedily devour the first couple of chunks
A third tumbles out of my grasp
And like a hapless clown
It juggles from hand to hand
Before cascading to the street.
I forlornly gaze at my treat errant,
Paradise lost among dirt and clay.
Oh chocolate thou hast undone me!
I am made child again
Sobbing before an abandoned cone
On a shameful pavement

If shame is the guilt of greed revealed
Then joyous am I!
For it is not greed that confirms my claim
But my faith in the ultimate creed –
For I believe in the 5 second rule
The ultimate elegy to forlorn food
Which cannot be wasted
Like a bountiful crop in time of famine.

With childlike grin
And agility rarely seen in sabbatical sloth
I gleefully retrieve my prize
From its shingled shrine.

God bless the 5 second rule!
Praise be to the God who has organised his universe so
That bacteria can only invade
After 6 whole seconds have passed.
I believe in the 5 Second rule
It’s my right
If it’s good enough for children it’s good enough for me
A child of God smothered in caramel greasepaint.

I fold up the palatinate foil
And check for scraps in the bottom crease.
I think to myself
Does God belief in the 5 second rule?
Are we the treasure
which he is all too ready to rescue
when we fall from a shrink-wrapped world?

Does God’s will allow for 5 seconds of grace
Before the law is pronounced and
He condemns us to the bin
With the flick of a hand?

Surely God’s grace is bigger than 5 seconds;
He believes in the 5 billion second rule!
31.36 years or 11,574 days
If God cherishes me more than I cherish my treats,
Then praise be!
His grace is sufficient for me,
So give that God a drink!

We are like sticky sweets
Waiting to be rescued from sofa or seat,
Entombed in an oozing grave
Like Lazarus inside the rock.
For life is messy
We become wrapper-less treats
When life’s sweetness is lost.

But his love reclaims us and brings us home
Wrapping us not in foil
But in a blanket of YES
YES I love you
YES you have purpose
YES you are mine.

I believe in the 5 billion second rule
Which turns shattered glass
Into liquid gold
And lumpen colour
Into lamps of light that
Illuminates the darkest night.

All hail the King of Glory!
Who loves smarties and not-so-smarties alike,
(Whether they be past their sell by date or not)
We, like Elvis, have left the building
But Christ will not leave his church.
He believes in the 5 billion second rule.
The one who toiled on the cross sees us
and waits.
From the vantage of crucifixion
he longs to wrap us in 31 years of grace.

I believe in the 5 billion second rule,
In his love we are swathed, not swallowed.
His sweetness gives flight to our fancy.
Chocs away!

Wounds aren’t the usual spoils of war
But I’ve earned mine
and I’ll cherish them.
Thery’re part of the Jim package
Take me, wounds and all!

Don’t force me to bury them,
To hide them away.
I need them
They’re me.

Jesus came to me through my eczema
through hair-line cracks
in the armoury of my skin.

He came and he stayed.
If I allow myself to heal he will tear me apart
Not with punishment
but with the joy of purpose
Fidgeting and fermenting under my skin.

Let me remember
I must remember

Wounds exposed to acid air 
fresh every morning
Preserved in flesh, not cling-film wrapped 
But in blood stained bandages embalmed in ointment.
The pain of morning, 
The scream of exposure to a world that shuns every blemish
Every leprous sore 

I learned to ring my bell, announcing ‘unclean!’
Quasimodo with a rash instead of a hump
A rash the size of a rampant growth
Too tall to hide and too obstinate to be silenced.

I find myself in cracked landscapes
Scorched grids of honeycombed grief
Places too distant to be mine
And yet brought close by a desert-like drought.
This land is my land
This land is my body
We are connected through a crumpled image 
An iridescent halftone in a Sunday paper
A dot to dot which fools the eye

But not my itchy, scratchy self
There’s no fooling my itchy scratchy self.
I fidget therefore I am.
Mine be the glory,
Risen conquering son of a gun!

Scratch the surface
And you’ll find no lottery win hiding behind a crumbling foil
That promises so much yet always disappoints
Scratch the surface and the husk falls to the ground
And people cry ‘yuck’ at the big reveal 
at the shedding routine.

I shed, therefore I am
This shedding is my allotment
I am allocated this daily routine
This is mine
Scratch the surface and I am here
Scratch the surface and I am free
to bleed
To heal
To grow
To relate

Bingo! My numbers have come up
a motley crew of random digits that 
unlock the combination to my inner safe

In tonight’s lucky draw
In tonight’s lucky drawer
I have space for a lifetime supply of skin
So come and have a go if you think you’re hard enough
Come and have a go if you think you’re shard enough
To wear me out

There’s no ‘out’ left, it’s all ‘in’!
All in day’s work for a drought-ravaged soul.
Here is my treasure
Made to measure.
Eczema marks the spot!

  

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