This gallery contains 4 photos.
Meysey Hampton church (Cotswolds) has stained
glass fragments pertaining to the crucifixion. I believe they
were discovered in a barn, sold to the Paul Getty museum,
but have been returned home.
Who the hell is that? you ask.
And where’s the other rogue – the one who mocked?
If I say I’m The Penitent Good Thief,
does that give you a clue? Through gritted teeth,
I am trying to process a promise
that I’ll be translated to Paradise.
I’d get there sooner if they’d break my legs.
I can hardly breathe for my fractured ribs.
At the cusp of salvation/ damnation,
I turned my face, to see He’d gone ahead.
Some think my pardon was an act of grace,
bestowed because I showed a flash of faith,
but others say it was a just reward,
because I stopped those bandits – and Gestas
(no longer with us) from nicking gold,
frankincense, myrrh from that Man’s family,
aeons ago, when they were fugitives.
I asked then that He should remember me,
should our paths cross again – one day they did.
Well, some say Christ Himself was a Good Thief,
since He stole us back from Satan’s kingdom.
Do two wrongs make a right? I do not know,
but I am warming to the paradox.
Salvabitur vix justus in die
judicii/ ergo salvabitur.*
I’m a glimpse of your hope of glory.
Hey, you malefactors – just look and live!
Everything else is a heap of smithereens.
I joined Him in Sheol and freed captives,
but, for the life of me, I do not know
what happened to Gestas; nor where he is.
I was found, restored and here I hang now –
unbaptised, but, oddly, beatified,
waiting for my promised resurrection.
Uncertain of what was meant by ‘today,’
but first in the queue to meet St Peter.
Meanwhile, give me a sip of that wormwood
and, since He didn’t want His, I’ll have it.
For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die, but God commendeth His love towards us in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.
2010, alembic, basalt, Canberra, cochlea, gnomic, James Turrell, labyrinth, maharajah tomb, materiality, National Gallery Australia, oculus, operculum, portal, Skyspace, stupa, Victorian basalt, Within without
Based on the James Turrell artwork at The National Gallery
of Australia in Canberra…
We have chanced to wonder at the Skyspace
and find ourselves drawn down the sloping path
to the Victorian basalt stupa.
We enter through a portal, so smoothly,
as if flies had followed the labyrinth
of a cochlea, or had gained entrance
to the gentle spiral of a snail shell,
only to hear a quiet ululation.
The universe is made immanent and
we sit on a concrete bench, out of time,
searching for a cloud like a camel, or
a shape like a whale, but all is cloudless.
We are alone and yet we are connected,
within; without – experience distilled –
interior and exterior are
like the two vessels of an alembic.
Are we in a maharajah’s tomb, or
Pharoanic chamber? We are infused
by a laser beam of cosmic insight.
The world tilts on its axis and we see
segments of reality as they change,
until the sun adjusts its slanting beams,
casting a gnomic shadow on us,
branding us with a present awareness.
No clutter of materiality:
there’s only an uncanny sense of peace.
At some point the operculum descends.
Either our eyes, or the oculus blinked.
Robert- gassed at Ypres. Lived to 90s
Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders
Photo- Stephen Sweeney. Titan crane
The trench gaped to receive him at last,
over seventy years since he’d escaped its maw
at Ypres. Other bombshells had been cast:
his daughter’s death at four; her hair as straw-
hued as bales bedded in Picardy barns.
She’d waited for him in the nether tier,
between the pewter Clyde; Kilpatrick tarns –
close to where he’d toiled as an engineer,
in ruts of rusty shipyards, hail or thaw.
I stroked Wilfred, Pip, Squeak in childish awe;
loved the sepia photo of Five Bobs;
marvelled that only one of them came back
to supplement the King’s shilling with jobs,
where the main goal was to avoid ‘the sack.’
It was little better than digging graves.
I used to ask him how he’d survived the gas.
He said he’d run away from its green waves.
I asked him to recount how lads would burn, en masse,
lice from their tunic seams with candle flame,
until they heard shells crack. Then and I unrolled
his trouser leg, amazed he was not lame,
with that lump of shrapnel, which was pure gold,
as a Blighty wound, taking him away
from the Front line, to Palestine.
The cranes, his guard of honour, now gone too.