Kyrie Eleison

Lamentations 1:1-6

Painting a forlorn landscape

with hopeless dirty greys, weeping browns

and shadows so persistent

that lamenting inhabitants are seen barely,

merely wide-eyes faintly visible in darkness,

fearful, indistinguishable from animals

cowering bewildered, not comprehending

what they might have done

to deserve such desolation.

So the painter prophet called Jeremiah

pours upon his parchment canvas

the bleak and bloody fulfilment

of the sins of a people.

Were he a contemporary artist

two and a half millennia later,

Jeremiah might use a similar palette

of dust and blood

to portray peoples

who share dark pain and bitterness.

In Afghanistan, North Africa, Iraq, Syria,*

and any of a score of nations

we find them,

reaping the cruel costs of fear

and the sins of the world.

In Australia, too, having sold compassion

for the price of cheap comfort,

we join Jeremiah’s pitiful queue,

desperately hoping for refuge

and a glimmer of grace.

Kyrie eleison.

*Insert your own current places of fear and terror.

© Ken Rookes
Other poems for next Sunday can be found here and here.


You say you want a revolution,
well you know,
we all want to change the world.

Revolution #1, John Lennon, 1968.

The revolution failed in 1968.
The students of Prague, Chicago, West Berlin,
Paris, Mexico City, Madrid and other such places,
yearning, as they were, for a more just and true society,
gave it a fair shake,
but they were up against an indescribable behemoth.
In Luke’s gospel, the child-woman Mary
was the unlikely harbinger of a revolution
in which the powerful
were to be brought down from their thrones
and the lowly lifted up:
Vive la revolution!
It was left to her son and his assorted crew
of fishermen and stirrers to make the running,
to protest the injustice of power, greed and wealth,
among other things, in his own day.
His revolution failed, too,
but it gave rise to a movement that never quite died.
These insurgents achieved the occasional small victory,
but have not yet realised their lofty goals,
even after two millennia.
The demons continue mighty, powerful and fierce;
having added to their toolbox
of cunning and treacherous devices,
these fearsome powers go undetected and unnamed.
Still there remain a defiant few
who have not bent the knee before the gods
of capital, greed and comfort;
a vestigial company, marked by love,
that sees beyond the shining lights
and the glistening lies.
They form a tenacious remnant,
and hold tightly to outrageous dreams,
determined to maintain their revolutionary fervour.
They refuse to surrender to despair;
they will not abandon hope.

© Ken Rookes 2012