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A small selection of my poetry. If you’d like to read more pieces, have a look at my book Treasure in Dark Places: Stories and Poems of Hope in the Hurting.

Jubilee 2022 – Resident Poet

A journey of seventy years
A million cheers and a million fears
a lifetime of living your life out loud
And your courage out proud.

All through our lives,
Our comforting constant,
Our always consistent
The distance of royalty
Wrapped up in valiant persistence.

You lived through our history and made it your own
Through the jaws of war that tore and poured
with mud and tears in waterfalls
You followed your weighty call
Holding scarred hands as you
Traversed weary lands.

As we crown our town with history’s lore
As bunting tumbles and banners soar
As we cheer you on with all of Wellington’s roar
As we clothe our streets with colours of day
And our midsummer fayre with rituals of May

We remember you, all alone in your stall
Courageous in a cold embrace of wood-carved walls
Your mask a memorial of grief’s wounded fall
Lost in an Abbey of remembrance.
Did you bite back the tears as you
pondered the years
Did you cling to the sides as you
fractured to pieces inside?

We remember you, in 1952
The day when you heard your life-changing news
Did you cry your grief out loud,
Or did you drown it in duty,
Frown it down under a cloud of doing?

You stood in that Abbey, in ‘53,
Solemnity’s crown-weight so heavy
A tidal wave flooding the streets
Showering you in flowers
Wishing you all the hours in the world

You took the reins and then you reigned
Your voice like a thousand sun-sparkled days
You took the royal throne of kings,
You walked this sceptred isle
You took the burden of royal ring
And hid your inner royal child.

Did you wish for a sabbath,
A rest from your service?
Did you yearn for the waves of the sea?
Did you long for nature’s soothing peace?
Did you sigh for the dream of a life
With no gaze of a billion eyes?
Did you groan at systems you longed to fight,
at murky histories of wrongs you wished you could right,
at politics and statecraft that squirmed against the light?

You’re a British institution,
A life-long resolution
Of giving and profusion
You’re a long-lived consolation
A multi-layered constellation
A declaration of restoration
to our steadfast, weary, beautiful nation.

We will light a beacon for you
Join the chain as we remember your reign
As we look to each other and share our stories
We remember the glory of kindness’s measure
So we dig for treasure in Wellington’s streets
And sing the song of a year of Jubilee.

My winning poem for the place of Resident Poet, Wellington 2022

Wellington – Then and Now

A town shaped through mists of time
Bathed in long shadows of sublime inclines
And sometimes, sighs of golden chimes
Then.

Weola was his name, they say,
He was the dawn of all our todays,
Our town founder, our ancient grounder
His legacy lives on in lives that revive
And breathless archives
Of a town that keeps trying and
Sometimes flying
Now.

They said we would flounder through Covid’s touch
We’d wither away, dust into dust,
And lose our way in its perilous clutch
But we sang songs of freedom and
Dreamed of what could be
We zoomed in our rooms with hearts wide open
And carried the broken
With actions unspoken and
Warm words outspoken
Then.

We stood on the strength of all those who cared;
Who gave of themselves when their edges were bared
And their work dragged them down
Into shards of despair,
Who reeled and lurched through
Pandemic murk
I’d fly them to the top of the world
And cascade them in flowers
In all their hours
Then and now.

They said we would flounder through Covid’s touch
We’d wither away, dust into dust,
And lose our way in its perilous clutch
But we railed at destruction because
Hope springs eternal
We staged a reversal and
came back with zeal
All gathered under a walnut tree.
Now.

Our orbit transformed
As we weather the storms
And warm up our streets
Treading the path of ancient feet
Soaked through with gratitude,
We fling out our platitudes and
Stand tall and proud
Shouting aloud of joy-filled festivals and
Colour-drenched market halls
Where compassion calls and
Hope starts to fall.
Now.

From white-blossomed splendour in All Saints’ front yard
Infinity streaming through time’s aching scars
To snowdrops of newness in glory abounding,
In new life’s elation all nature resounding
Waking the iron-clad cages of winter
Where splinters of grief transform into crowns
And echo fresh joy through Apley’s timeless grounds
Now.

Wellington town is a beacon, again,
In fragile now and weary then
Its song is triumph, its poem is hope
Rising tall through the plunder of time’s restless flow
Its people united on sun-bloomed Wrekin slopes.

DO YOU KNOW HIM?

In the beginning was the Word
And the word crafted worlds
Spinning galaxies and weaving stars
Through skies of explosive light
An echo through eons of nights

The Word became flesh,
Wading into our mess
Exploding into history
Wrapped in sacred mystery
The eternal unknown in a temporal home
Do you know him?

They say he’s the way, the truth and the life,
They say he is human all meshed with divine,
Do you know this love that blazes through time,
And traces our pain
With drops of holy rain?

Have you met him before,
this unlikely Lord,
This God-man who stands and knocks at your door
Who made the first last and made the last first
And quenches your thirst
With rivers that burst
Through desolate earth?

Do you know that he loves you like cascades of rain
And the sound of his name sings through your veins
And his love-drenched power shatters your chains?

Hear the whispers of hope as he draws you higher,
And unlock the secrets of your heart’s desire
Come and know him, this Jesus, this dazzling Messiah.
#doyouknowHim#doyouknowhimtelford

SATURDAY

Hope seems lost today
wrenched into swirling mist and
lost in the in-between
shadows too deep and
mountains too steep.

I sit in a lonely garden
and wait.
Signs of life dot the earth,
but they chime discordant,
on this day they should hide their faces
and leave their spaces
empty and void.

I cannot look
at where he is,
shrouded in darkness
like my soul.

Yet something stirs in my wild deeps
a spring of water,
a gush of colour.
I look again,
enticed by a place of death
yet shivering with divine breath

Hope is here, after all,
Streaming through a lonely garden and
weaving its mystery
through all of history;
breathing glimmers of glory
through all our ragged stories

So I will wait.

#eastersaturday#HolySaturday#thegreatinbetween

SHIELDING FINALE

They say it’s the end
time to celebrate and
grab life by both hands and
forget all that’s gone before.

But locusts ate the year away and
fear crowds into all our days
the world is too big now;
the streets are shifting and the sky is too high
shops are monsters and
crowds press into our dreams

We are safe now, they say,
when inside we are still afraid
One day is no time
to find ourselves in life
to tether ourselves to the great unknown
to cross through shadows and fly from our homes

Shielding is yielding,
but we are lurching, reeling
joy and sadness
all mixed up
in waiting for the healing

WORLD POETRY DAY

Sometimes words
are not enough
when we are frozen and
days are too tough
when laughter has faded and
life leaves us jaded and
words must carry us
through time’s aching caverns

Groans too deep for words
interceding;
for us.

Sometimes words
dance with life and
sparkle like rivers with joy and
wide-open skies
where ribbons of light
shatter dark nights
where anthems of day
resound in your pain

Eternity’s poetry streaming through history
interceding;
for us

Words about worlds and worlds about words
skipping through ages and surging in twirls
of uncontainable hope
through life’s trembling flow

#WorldPoetryDay

THE END IN SIGHT

Are you reeling at the feeling
Waiting in sorrow for the healing
Are you alive with news of hope
Or lost in bonds of lockdown lows
Dancing to horizons of light
Or curling into remains of the night

Are you mourning at all the loss
Staggering at the heavy cost
Are you broken and weary inside
Or running to the hills to hide
Where shadows cloak the day
Where things are not okay

Are you locked into cages of fear
Where locusts stole away your year
Where every hour was drowned in tears
And devastation stings and sears?

Do you want to shout with gladness
Yet your heart is sore with sadness
All mixed up in bittersweet mess
Seething with unquiet unrest

This is going to end, they say,
But will the world stay locked in grey
Will joy and healing find a way
I walk the valley and there I pray

I pray for those who’ve lost too much
For those who’ve lurched through covid’s touch
For all who stumble in pain or deflation
May your winter yield to exultation.

A LAMENT

You didn’t choose this walk
didn’t choose to wear these shoes
and walk through aching doors
to fuse your head with weary floors
to lose your breath at heartless walls
to lose yourself to desolate shores
where your feet are sore
and you can’t take more
how long how long how long o Lord

How many days til the sun finds its rays
til the night is delayed and mourning erased
til morning blazes through skies of grey
how many days o God
how many days

I sink to my knees and
rage at the dawn
I sink to my knees and
praise in the storm

How many days must they try to do
the Unimaginable

You didn’t choose this song
we will walk with you through days that are long
and nights that are wrong
we will hold your hands
as you traverse defiant lands
walk through aching doors
be found in desolate shores

We will cry the words for you
and join the Lion’s roar
we will hold the torch for you
and say, how long O Lord

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