For four years we took pleasure

in the rose bush growing near the front porch

of the white painted house

planted next to the church

in northern Tasmania.

A dark and velvety red,

its perfume was as deep

and as beautiful as its colour.

We tended it with care,

and, though it had been planted

long before our residency,

we took much pride in it, and joy.

We thought of those

who had also experienced its blessing

in years long past, some of whom we knew;

and we enjoyed our connection of delight.

Some years later we walked past that house,

and, being that time of the year,

we paused to look down the driveway

to see if our rose was in bloom.

Yes, there it was,

covered in the small white flowers

of the all-conquering rootstock.


Every three years we read the story

of the true vine,

and of us branches

who have been grafted into the vine;

and I am reminded of the importance

of the pruning, the pain,

and the sap that is spilled

in the process of being made fruitful.


© Ken Rookes 2012

Black and White

They would call it an outrageous slander,

but politicians seem to delight

in sending young people off

to fight in foreign lands.

Suitably solemn

when they make their grave announcements,

they are inclined to ignore the desires

of the people they pretend to represent.

The voters, at least for a while,

out of loyalty to ‘our boys,’

(and, these days, our girls),

will place their trust in their leaders

and support their war.

Only after some years have passed,

more troops have died,

and the end seems no closer,

do they become emboldened to ask questions,

and they begin to doubt.

The politicians never do;

and they never admit

that they might have been wrong.

(An impossible thing – it would mean

that all the dying and the maiming

and the mental trauma

had been a waste.)

They must yearn for the days

when the newspaper pictures

were all black and white,

the television screens also;

when declarations of war were made

with black ink on white paper;

and the colour red

was left on the battlefield.

© Ken Rookes 2012

Posted on Anzac Day.

The good shepherd

Gospel writer John

loved a good agricultural metaphor;

(were there many other kinds

in a pre-industrial age?)

Jesus, lover of people,

welcomer of ratbags

and friend of troubled souls;

likens himself to a shepherd

who cares only for the welfare of his sheep.

Animal rights proponents would love him

because he reckons the life of the human shepherd

to be more expendable

than those of his ovine flock.

But we all know that it’s not about sheep.

It is about people,

individuals like you and me,

who, we are assured,

are loved and valued,

watched over and cared for

by the one he calls Father.

Furthermore, the metaphor implies,

we are all part of something bigger,

joined into one huge flock

of disparate humankind;

each member of which

is also loved and respected,

cared for and wept over

by that same Father;

and expected to do the same

© 2012 Ken Rookes

Peace be with you

Peace be with you.


The resurrection greeting

on the lips of the risen one,

brings, at best, a disturbing reassurance

to a lost people.

These confused ones thought

that they had known where they were headed.

They had been followers of one

destined for greatness;

accepted wisdom held that they would

share in at least a small corner

of his glorious destiny.

It was not to be;

the master’s great journey

was cruelly cut short,

after having been diverted

down a Jerusalem cul-de-sac..

His followers had been left to find

their own sad way home

to pick up what remained of their lives.

They had not got far.

Fear and bewilderment

had achieved what hope could not

and held them together grieving;

long enough, at least, for the surprise

reappearance of their master

who outrageously suggested

that the journey must continue.

Peace be with you.


© Ken Rookes

An older poem that might be useful