About poemsinseason

Ken is a poet and an artist, among other things. He is also a Minister of the Uniting Church in Australia. In 2011 he self-published a book of poetry, Promptings and Provocations. Ken currently lives in California Gully, Victoria. He is working out how to use his time in retirement, mostly through poetry and art. From 2013 - 2015, he lived at Willowra, a remote Warlpiri community in the Northern Territory, where his wife, Jane was School Principal. Most of Ken's poems are responses to the three-year lectionary cycle of bible readings. An exploration of posts from three / six years earlier should reveal other poems responding to the same readings.

Days of Darkness

Eschatological Haiku

The days of darkness
are coming upon us all;
the sun will be hid.

The moon will not shine,
and the ever faithful stars
will absent themselves.

We might all be lost,
unable to navigate,
or to find the way.

Will he be coming,
the sky-sweeping Son of Man,
to bring us all home​?

Read the signs, he told
his friends. The fig tree’s lessons
are long forgotten.

The generation
did, in fact, pass away; He
must have got it wrong.

My words will remain
when all else is gone, he said.
Ah, Lord, but which ones?

When not expected
the Master will return. Be
about his business.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Not yet enough

Days of darkness,
days of fear.
The sun is hidden,
Even the moon directs its light elsewhere,
bending its rays away from planet earth.
The stars absent themselves,
as if there is not yet enough darkness.
The shadows expand and creep to embrace the forlorn landscape,
growing warmer every day.

The Son of Man, they say,
comes in the clouds to gather the elect.
Does he?

There are signs for those who can read,
but the good christian folk cannot see them,
having found more earthly distractions.
The fig tree’s lessons have been forgotten.

The generation did, in fact, pass away,
as have hundreds since
Must have got it wrong.

His words, Mark tells us, will remain for all time.
The good christians all concur,
but find it hard to agree on which ones.

The story tells us that the master will return
at an inconvenient hour.
The faithful servants will not be fazed.

© Ken Rookes 2020

A final kingdom image

Haiku for ruminants

Matthew delivers
a final kingdom image:
sheep, goats and judgement.

The sheep receive praise,
commendation for their acts
of love and service.

Hungry or thirsty,
naked, stranger, in prison;
so many need help!

So much injustice,
while those who pretend to care
only want power.

As you act with love
to the least of my fam’ly
you show love to me.

On the other hand,
the goats stand condemned, having
failed to practise love.

Jesus, Son of Man,
measures kingdom credentials
by love and service.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Buckets of Money

Haiku for having a go.

The journeying man,
in the story Jesus told,
left his slaves in charge.

Diff’rent sized buckets
of money according to
perceived competence.

Take what you’re given
and use it well, with wisdom,
grace and compassion.

Fear is enemy
to action. What if I fail;
what if I blow it?

The master returns
to inspect the estate. How
is your stewardship?

Days of accounting
wherein my efforts are judged.
I have judged myself.

Well done, companions,
you have loved, served and striven!
You are my true friends.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Ten Dancing Girls

Haiku of preparedness

He tells a story.
How to enter the kingdom:
make no assumptions!

They carried their lamps
these bridesmaids, ready to dance
the groom to the feast.

No invitations,
their danced welcome should suffice
to gain them entry.

Waiting in the street.
Where is the groom? He is late!
They sat down and slept.

Of the ten, five brought
spare oil, ready to deal with
any circumstance.

Five were unprepared.
While they were shopping for oil
the bridegroom arrived.

Five girls missed the dance
and also missed the party;
always be prepared.

Keep awake, therefore.
Wakefulness, preparedness,
unremitting love.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Would that we had the courage

A flashing, fleeting, sometimes disturbing
insight into mystery;
leaned towards, grasped after,
shared, delighted in
and meditated upon.
It becomes a source of joy and hope and healing;
yes, and then it is argued and debated,
memorised, written, codified, engraved,
painted, and sculpted in stone.

Thus religions begin,
take shape,
and transmute into sacred edifices.
In the normal course,
through the operation of time,
they are made tame, domesticated, polite.
Gaining respectability, they proceed
to participate in the intricate processes
of politics and power.

Thus the Teacher confronts
and warns against the Scribes
and the Pharisees who justify and defend
the religion of their day.
His own humble insights
will follow the same tragic trajectory
through two millennia,
to be perverted by power
and sad politics.

Would that we had the courage
and the determination to free them;
to paint coarsely, across pretending walls
of bluestone, brick, and glass,
his ancient but not quite forgotten message.
A word sprayed defiantly
for neighbour and for enemy,
or scrawled urgently in humble chalk;
four letters.


© Ken Rookes 2020



Haiku of entrapment

Questions to test him.
Two to cause him to stumble,
one that shuts them up.

Sadducees bowl up
marriage and resurrection.
He hits them for six!

He quotes the scriptures,
affirming resurrection:
God rules the living!

A lawyer enquires:
Which commandment is greatest?
The answer is Love.

For God and neighbour,
love is the first requirement.
All else is detail.

Asks his own question:
How is David’s son the Christ?
They have no answer.

Questions that challenge,
call, confuse and confound. We
ask, and we answer.


© Ken Rookes 2020

Soft and cloying

2000 years
into a religion of comfortable raised hands
and reassurance that I,
out of all humanity,
(you too, of course);
have a reserved place
in some imagined paradise.
Soft and cloying.

He spoke of sacrifice and love.
Painful, bleeding;
giving stuff away.
Of taking the rejection
and persecution.
And of dying.
Love for neighbour,
enemies, too.
With a ratbag foreigner
made the hero
of a story about love.
Baptism into death,
and the cup of suffering.
Families divided.

Not much that can be recognised
in this baptised into prosperity
fearful of strangers
it’s all about me
Sunday religion of happiness and satisfaction;
while the planet grows hotter,
the innocent are brutalised,
and the wealthy grow even fatter
and more obscene.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Shall we pay taxes …?

Haiku of entrapment

He is disturbing,
this teacher come from up north.
They try to trap him.

They flatter Jesus.
We know that you teach God’s way,
tell us what you think.

Should we pay taxes
to the emperor; is God
well served if we do?

Jesus shakes his head,
calls them hypocrites. Show me
the coin for the tax.

Whose head do you see
on the coin? he questioned them.
Why, the emperor’s!

Then give to Caesar
what belongs to him; and give
to God what is God’s.

Good answer, Jesus;
confounding your critics and
asserting God’s claims.

© Ken Rookes 2020

Royal Wedding

Haiku of failed RSVPs

Stories that provoke
and challenge entitlement,
making leaders squirm

A wedding banquet.
The invitations are sent.
No one wants to come.

Look, a second chance!
The servants go out again
to call in the guests.

It all turns ugly
with disturbing violence;

The king is enraged,
understandably. Sends troops
to exact justice.

Here’s the new order:
all sorts of common people
called to the banquet.

The good and the bad;
all are called, all invited
to this wedding feast.


A strange conclusion
to a strange story: make sure
you’re properly dressed.

© Ken Rookes 2020