Keep yourself nice

Haiku for a polite and ordered world

Is righteous living
about keeping yourself nice?
Jesus says there’s more.

The holy people
observe the old tradition:
wash before you eat.

Always wash your hands
before you eat. Good practice,
enshrined in the law.

Other rules as well;
the washing of cups and pots
and kettles of bronze.

Pharisees object
to the careless disciples
and their defiled hands.

Isaiah knew it;
the faithless hypocrisy
behind your worship.

You care about rules
much more than you care about
what God is wanting.

It’s time to get real!
It’s the things you do and say
that make you defiled.

Always there is more
than the narrow, centred fears
of the self-righteous.

© Ken Rookes 2018

It was on the Sabbath Day

Haiku for those who would see.

Jesus was working;
it was on the Sabbath Day
that he healed the man.

The Pharisees freaked,
the thing was most improper;
called an inquiry.

What have you to say?
He can’t heal and break the law;
must be a sinner.

A sinner, you say?
He opened my eyes. I choose
to call him Prophet.

Yes, this is our son.
Yes, he was born without sight,
and yes, now he sees.

How did it happen?
Why are you questioning us?
Ask him, he will know!

They inquire once more:
His power must be from God,
says the seeing man.

The crowd was aroused,
the leaders were embarrassed.
So they threw him out.

Jesus found the man.
Now that you can see, he says,
keep your eyes open.

Some with eyes to see
choose the darkness over light;
they make themselves blind.


© Ken Rookes 2017

Burdens hard to bear

I worry and I fear,
I need and I want.
I am anxious;
I could lose everything.
I am free;
I am burdened.

Some burdens are my own creation;
I tell myself that I am dealing with them.
Others I have received,
unwelcome gifts weighing heavily
upon shrinking shoulders,
from Scribes and from Pharisees,
who, in every age,
know with certainty what is best for me

I am burdened;
I am free.

To feel, decide
to do, to don’t.
To open wide;
to will, to won’t
To bleed, to weep;
to give, to keep.
To rage, to rail;
to struggle, fail.

Listening to the silence
with eyes half-opened,
mind half-closed.

Seeing the ugly,
reaching after beauty,
coveting truth,

I am free,
I am burdened.

Holding on to freedom,
letting go the burdens.
Holding on to burdens,
letting go the freedom.

© Ken Rookes 2014

They drove him out

They drove him out
of the Temple; the unnamed man,
who, according to John,
had been born blind.
Now, with the wondrous gift of sight,
he could not be less concerned;
he has no desire to ever go back,
and he won’t.
The Temple no longer has what he needs;
he will manage without it.
In turn, the Temple
will have to get on without him;
and all the others, who, over the millennia,
have been dismissed from its hallowed courts.
The Temple has been adept
at expelling embarrassments;
those who no longer recite the creeds,
who ask their awkward questions
and dare to give shape to their doubts.
Preferring the elusive uncertainty of truth,
whatever its unexpected contours,
they despise the Temple’s promise
of security and comfort.
They would rather die outside the walls
than live the delusions within.
Do your worst, Temple;
drive them all out. Nobody cares

© Ken Rookes 2014


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.