Tom Barwell is an English poet, psychotherapist and coach. He is recently published in Does It Have Pockets and Poetica Review. 

josephine and the kirk

storm josephine
blew in the circular stained glass
of the local clachan kirk –
it used to show a miracle,
but crashed to modern art –
a flying iris, tumbled onto the altar,
scattering its wealth
over the stone-flagged floor.

a parishioner phoned it in,
having witnessed on a walk,
cyclops roving where
a young god once stood,
and a collared, crooked man
clacked open the kirk with an
iron key, and stood,
arrested in the aisle.

not daring to approach,
the coloured shards, spread
like petals from another universe
over rumpled cloth, onto
two worn steps, and the sweet-tasting
space where the word of God was translated
to an absent congregation.

wedding confetti, showered from a dove.
a pagan pinata, split
by its assault upon the cross,
which lay reclined, sleek on
the altar, a wink of gold.

a creature of wonder, he
took out his iphone, turning it for once
to landscape mode, portrait being momentarily
philistine, given the breadth of what
confronted him: was chaos even
real?

if only he could illuminate the scene
from below, then every shard would
sing brilliance, exactly in the place
it had fallen.

perhaps an algorithm, created by a
spanish phd could map
the exact spray of these divine blood
drops, every gem’s glint, the
ruffles in the altar cloth, the lay of
the cross, the untouched waxen,
vigilant disciples.

a shrine, he realized, a pieta
open for doves to roost, and bats to
congregate in the rafters.
a nascent pilgrim site,
roped off in burgundy,
crumbling into time.

he dreamt that night in patches, of
clanking scaffold and ladders, the
screech of woodsaws and
agony, hammering nails, and
awoke to a text from the diocese:
sad face. sent the clean-up crew.

© Tom Barwell

the parrot and the submarine

  

on the god topic,

you believe in submarines, and i was talking about
…………………………………………………………………………………….parrots

it’s…do you know what i mean by parrot?
………………………………………………………….no                 not the grey one,
though i do like the colours.

 

i nod.  i have no idea. do you know what i mean by nod? 

 

………………………………………………….i’ve lost my feathers. 


i say i see hieroglyphics emanating out of their

 

……………………………………………………………………..faucets, their exhausts,

 

                   and i love them for that, but they’re echoes, not poets.

 

                            you move beneath, under ice-caps, smooth passage

 

                                                       …you mean you say, no

creature can survive a journey into the abstract intact, 

 

                                    definition sees to that. that’s why words trail fishhooks:
to catch reality.

 

the nuclear hull comes through sea ice

                                                   after a day targeting the first number. 

we see its snout and

 

                                     we have reached quantum settlement where

                                                               those thighs birth,

a ledge defying the maw, where our two beings

                            stand, tangible in paroxysms

                                                                                                              knowing there is no way,

 

no way at all, nothing sane about any of it, especially us: the

                                                 cacophony is a pretence of normalcy.

 

                                                                       overhead,

 

under a starscape, the silent mutterings of a passing submarine,

                   and deep below the crunch of our shuffling feet,

 

                                    a fleet of colourful birds submerges into ice and cloud…

 

© Tom Barwell