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An A4 sized linocut that I printed down the street with the kids at Willowra until too much sand got into the ink! (Sand is the sworn enemy of relief printmaking)

The big complaint

The big complaint

This was the big complaint,
the one that had them all grumbling:
He has gone to be the guest
of one who is a sinner.
He’s hanging out with the ratbags,
the worthless ones;
the dodgy people that nobody cares about.
Taking seriously his message,
(he says it comes from God),
of life-changing love
and grace without limit;
he takes it beyond the mere words
of earlier stories
and moves confidently
into disreputable reality.
Apparently unconcerned
by the great offence he has caused
to those who practise polite religion,
he claps his hands,
laughs in celebration
of the unexpected new beginning;
and calls it ‘salvation’.

© Ken Rookes 2013
More poems about Zacchaeus can be found here, here, and here.


Grumbling, mumbling,
and fearing the crumbling
of respectable walls,
the righteous are offended
by bumbling sinners
who fall, stumbling,
into the kingdom.

Particularly offensive is
the humbling teacher, who
heeding the deep
rumblings of grace,
jumbles the rules,
embraces the fumbling
and makes them welcome.

© Ken Rookes.
More poems about Zacchaeus can be found here, here, and here.

Come down, Zacchaeus.

The crowd offered no help
to the short-in-stature man, whose face
confirmed their initial impression
that this was one Zacchaeus, chief
among the ratbag tax collectors.

The tree was a sycamore;
its gnarled and twisted branches
offering a convenient means of elevation,
enabling the man to rise above his dilemma
and successfully view the teacher,
whose reputation had travelled ahead of him,
all the way to Jericho.

Perhaps the Zac-man’s reputation
had also preceded him. Who can say?
When the teacher looked through the shadowed
leaves and branches he saw the face
of the climbing man, and called him down
with an unexpected invitation.

Hospitality is extended and accepted,
much to the grumbling derision
of the good religious people,
who could offer only sneering observations
about who one should choose as friends.
The teacher laughs them off, captive
to a larger vision of divine friendship.

Unsettled by such disturbing grace,
sinner Zacchaeus offers compensation
and justice to any he has defrauded; a sure sign
that the gospel has been truly proclaimed
and the kingdom has indeed come near.

© Ken Rookes 2010
More poems about Zacchaeus can be found here, here, and here.

The Bonsai Man

The Bonsai Man

Zacchaeus the bonsai man,
growing stunted and gnarled;
his roots bound and starved
of human respect and affection.

Until the gardener looks up
into the twisted branches
of another tree, sees him,
calls him friend,

uproots him from the cruel pot
of judgement and derision
and offers him a plot
in the field of God’s kingdom.

There he can grow as God intends;
with space to send roots deep
into love, to stretch out his limbs,
and to be made fruitful.

© Ken Rookes
More poems about Zacchaeus can be found here, here, and here.

I am flawed

I am flawed;
not what I could be,
not what I should be.
I need your grace, Lord,
to paint me a picture
to see what I might become.
Let me look into your mirror,
and let me be brave and strong
and filled with enough love
to go at least part of the way.
God, be merciful to me,
a sinner.

© Ken Rookes 2013
Another poem for this coming Sunday can be found here.

Standing far off

Standing alone
while the good people pray out loud;
aching with the deep sadness
of one whose life lacks the easy handles
of the uncomplicated
and comfortably righteous.
Standing separate
in the unfashionable garb of the outsider,
with head scarf and turban
as the indelible red stamp
inviting the special treatment
of those who are different.
Standing in isolation
in the designated space
in the appointed queue,
watching as doors are opened for a moment
and shut again, tightly.
Standing apart,
yearning to belong,
waiting for the word, crying:
Lord, have mercy!

© Ken Rookes
Another poem for this coming Sunday can be found here.