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Poem: Earthenware

earthenware

Words hit the wheel

Slapped down soil

Grounded centre

Quality tested

Strained as

Spinning out

To impress

But will these mud walls

Hold all

I want to say

 

Kiln dried and glazed

Hues to please

Consenting eye

But all too brittle

Too small

To contain

Truth’s edge

Baked out earth losing

The voice

Entrusted me

 

Yet arching forms

Draw me in

To living clay

Beyond the vessel

For love

For freedom

Brokenness

Binds shards in gold

Our tears

Will mould

 

Our story

 

 

 

 

 

 

First published in The Voices Project: http://www.thevoicesproject.org/poetry-library/earthenware-by-ann-van-wijgerden

poem: Re-entry Commute

commute

circle of friends shrunk to a

cavernous zero

digital chatter

silenced

washed up on the shore

of independence

ejected from the sea

of circumstance

 

ripple of dark over green

velvet shimmering

ruffle of time caught

in a vision of fields

skimming the tracks between cities

of purpose

glorified limbo

 

melts

 

sweeping down stairways

surfing through tunnels

the magnificence

of this animal

humanity

 

 

First published in ‘Voice of Eve’:

https://issuu.com/richardholleman/docs/voiceofeve_issue16

 

 

 

 

Poem: Fatherless

july72019 copy

In memory of all those being killed in the Philippines’ ongoing ‘War on Drugs’

 

I died last night

though death and sickness

were connected

(those all too familiar signs)

it was not my sickness

killing me

not my madness

sending five

masked men

 

Audience

cruelest of masters

you find entertainment

elsewhere

your backs the accuser:

I am

to blame

 

Eyes on my body

no politicking here

kumpadre

dampening hope’s dreams

with tears

unfulfillment laced

with life

not

for you

 

perhaps my children’s children

 

Remember my new friend

earthbound judge

her name

is

History

 

 

 

First published in ‘Voice of Eve’:

https://issuu.com/richardholleman/docs/voiceofeve_issue16

 

I WAS – AND YOU

dec29-2015-copy

Jesus so identifies Himself with

the poor

the hungry

the sick

the prisoner

 

(the poor hungry sick imprisoned child)

 

the degree to which we love

or

abandon

them

 

we love

or

abandon

Him

 

 

Matthew 25:35,36:

I was hungry and you fed me,

I was thirsty and you gave me a drink,

I was homeless and you gave me a room,

I was shivering and you gave me clothes,

I was sick and you stopped to visit,

I was in prison and you came to me.

 

 

 

 

From a sermon given at Church Simplified, Manila on June 30, 2019:https://www.facebook.com/churchsimplified/videos/463688831098896/(starts around 39 min mark)

Snapshot Decision

photo snapshot 2

Of course it has more to do with my clumsiness, but I sometimes catch myself wondering if my phone has a mind of its own. Why? Random pictures, I’ve apparently taken without knowing it, turn up in my photo collection on a regular basis.

As with all the other arbitrary oddities, I’m about to delete my phone’s latest contribution when – I just can’t.  “This is for keeps!” is the sudden conviction. 

It’s the typical angle: downwards, one foot, a lower leg. But the ground is what needs to be recorded for posterity: that all too familiar mosaic of mud and garbage.

The location is one of Manila’s largest squatter areas, somewhat euphemistically known as Temporary Housing. Thousands of people live here, crammed together in barracks, built for ‘only’ hundreds, over 20 years ago. The original residents were families being relocated from the city’s infamous Smokey Mountain garbage dump, just a mile up the road.

Whatever its history, what matters utterly when you’re walking there for the first time is how all the senses are overwhelmed instantaneously; the heat, the stench, the noise, the visual chaos.

The overcrowding and extreme poverty are bad enough, but there’s also an invisible layer of disturbing intensity: The atmosphere is thick with the exhaust fumes of trucks on the main port road, and the reek of rotting refuse – the recycling of Manila’s garbage.

This recycling has nothing to do with environmental care. It has everything to do with human survival. Young and old scavenge through the waste dumped nearby, collecting recyclable items such as plastic, wood, and metal. These are sorted, cleaned and sold to local junk shops, which in turn sell the materials to the recycling factories. Labouring hard as a scavenger means enough pesos at the end of the day to feed a family. Barely enough.

Working with an NGO providing education, so future generations will have careers other than as scavenger, I’ve trodden here countless times the last decade. Sensory overload is

very unhandy, and thankfully humankind is very adept at adapting. You get used to it. But sometimes you don’t. You can’t. You won’t.

Several months ago, after carrying some personal tension due to unrelated issues, walking through this area, felt much like when I’d first set foot in the place.

Overwhelming.

The aching anger: This is totally unacceptable! That they have to live like this!?

Their smiles, resilience, gracious welcome, only fueled my fury. Why do we allow fellow human beings to stay trapped in this existence?!

As a Filipino friend lamented, “How is this not a national emergency?!”

God forbid, but have we got used to poverty on our doorstep? We don’t see it, we don’t hear it, we don’t smell it, we don’t feel it anymore?

Thanks cellular device. This photo is for me.

A reminder to be

outraged.

 

 

First published in Lemon Theory: https://www.lemontheory.com

 

 

 

 

Short story: ‘Belonging Here’

Maniladumpsite

Chaos. Wrenching at her. It will sweep her away if it can. Clari’s left hand grips the gummy steering wheel, her right the stubborn gear stick. Catapulting her way through Manila traffic, she jostles for position within this gargantuan herd of metallic water buffalo. The old SUV’s air-conditioning battles the fume-ridden oven heat. Clari’s brow drips liquid salt into her eyes. She wipes away the worst, then swipes hard at the car horn…

 

Read more here: https://www.spadinaliteraryreview.com/SR31-Fic-16.html

Love’s Cautionary Tale

pub.blog april 2019

Discerning fellow human beings means truly seeing The Other:

The Poor 

The Young 

The Old 

The Homeless

The Sick 

The Prisoner 

But: 

To the degree we see each other simply as needy target groups, we utterly miss the mark; the mark of love.

Do I get it, do I really get it: that God loves The Other NO LESS than He loves me?

Jesus says, 

I was hungry

I was in homeless

I was sick

I was in prison 

(Matthew 25)

Because God identifies Himself precisely with that poor brother, that stricken sister, 

that malnourished child. 

How about this thought: He is better able to associate with the above-mentioned than with those of us who think we have it all.

Lack of truly seeing The Other can mean an astounding lack of discernment. 

Some of us proclaim ourselves unwittingly as the extremists we are. 

Fooled by our own advertising, we may be the only ones blind to our own blinkers.

Sleeper wake up!

Blind man see!

How revolutionary is

this love.