Not like other people

Attending the temple,
two men, one upright and proud,
one without merit.

The Pharisee stands,
eyes raised, confident and proud,
boasting before God.

I’m such a good man,
honest, diligent, faithful,
I fast and I tithe.

Go right ahead, God,
pour out your many blessings;
I am deserving.

The tax collector
stands apart from prying eyes;
head bowed to the ground.

Lowers his sad eyes,
aware of his need for grace;
God, be merciful.

They each return home.
The first untouched. The second
justified by God.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Will he find faith on earth?

The Almighty,
according to this parable,
interpreted by one, Jesus,
who is also called God’s son,
grants justice to those who seek it.
Whatever that means.
We could do with a bit more justice.
For refugees and asylum seekers,
women who are beaten,
children who are abused;
innocent victims
of air attacks,
lax gun laws,
racial bigotry, misogeny, and religious fear;
not to mention capitalism’s excesses,
corrupt politicians
and dishonest jurists.
Like the judge in the parable.

We who seek justice, this story declares,
are encouraged to cry out day and night
to the aforesaid Almighty.
I might quietly suggest
that such crying out,
railing against such a raft of injustices,
loudly, persistently and annoyingly,
might in fact be the inconvenient duty
of all who follow Jesus.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Were not ten made clean?

Haiku of gratitude and surprise.

Ah, my friend, Jesus,
you travel to strange places,
sharing hope and love.

In the borderland
ten lepers cry to Jesus:
Have mercy on us!

Cleansing the lepers,
making real the reign of God,
revealing God’s truth.

Just this foreigner.
The other nine, where are they?
Were not ten made clean?

Foreigners surprise
when they have more faith than us.
How embarrassing.

A Samaritan
is made the hero once more.
Another strange choice.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Mulberry tree messiness

Haiku of insecure faith

Lord, increase our faith.
Why do you make this request?
You have all you need.

A mustard seed faith
would see you directing trees
and they would obey!

What a metaphor
for faith that is sufficient;
the uprooted tree!

Hail mulberry tree!
Generous red stickiness
and messy fingers.

You have faith enough
to tread discipleship’s path;
put it to good use.

Being uprooted,
with red mulberry tree faith
and sticky fingers.


© Ken Rookes 2016

Community gardens haiku

Vigorous broad bean
growing tall, towards the sky;
someone let Jack know.

Recycled fences
divide earnest allotments,
uniting people.

Weeds the enemy,
compost and mulch our friends;
here is abundance.

A break from the rain;
the bees are out and about.
Fertility’s kiss.

Delicate blossom
or coarse white broad bean flower;
the bee doesn’t care.

Humble silverbeet
claims its garden corner place
and shines from the sun.


© Ken Rookes 2016

They have Moses and the prophets

Haiku for closed eyes.

Poor man Lazarus,
by the gate, covered with sores;
we walk right past him.

The unnamed rich man,
dressed in purple, fine linen,
feasting ev’ry day.

Discarded food scraps
do not reach the rich man’s gate
or the beggar there.

Empathy fails us.
Please don’t disturb our comfort.
Make the beggars leave.

Death comes to us all.
Rich or poor, it matters not;
was your life worthwhile?

Where are your riches;
From where will your comfort come
when your life has passed?

Send me Lazarus,
or let him warn my brothers
that they might be saved.

That’s not how it works.
Let them listen to Moses,
and the prophets too

We’d rather not know.
Even when it’s God who speaks,
we do not listen.


© Ken Rookes 2016


Not strong enough to dig, too proud to beg.


Enthusiastically embracing capitalist principles
of wealth, greed, and maximum personal benefit,
together with the dodgy ethics that serve them;
the manager in the story was a little less than honest,
using his master’s money to fund his exorbitant lifestyle.
He heard that the day of accounting was due,
and realised that the caper was up.
He proved as cunning as he was corrupt,
dishing out favours at his master’s expense,
so that he might call them in later
when he no longer had a job.
Not strong enough to dig,
too proud to beg;
and very clever.
The master,
forced to acknowledge the shrewdness of the scheme,
was presumably rich enough to see the funny side.
With grudging admiration
he allows his shady steward to get away with it.
We also manage to get away with it,
whispering with relief beneath our breath:
That was close!


© Ken Rookes 2016