Athanasius’ Third Arrest, 356 A.D.

athanasius the great

Holy Coptic chants solemnly resonate,

somnambulant Eastern liturgical drone:

heaven’s hope echoing off stone church walls.

Cassocks, candelabras and kiot*, gold-tinted.

Altar and icons by incense clouded,

praying priests half-hidden by holy haze,

God’s grace spice-suffusing the sanctuary.


At midnight mass, Caesar’s dark legions came

smashed the sacred, bolted doors,

slashed with indiscriminate swords,

pagan fury spat with blood-drunk blasphemies;

sacrilege in St. Theonas’ sanctuary,

dozing pigeons scatter in frenzied flight.


Virgin Christians stripped by sadistic soldiers,

raped, vainly shielding votive bodies

with mere tatters of white garments;

men murdered, javelin pierced, intestines

spill from sliced stomachs, slithering like snakes,

screams intermingle with the recited Psalm:

Give thanks to the LORD, for he is good.

His love endures forever…


Failed arrest of the antagonist, Athanasius:

dogmatic theologian, belligerent Egyptian,

iconoclast, midget bodied bishop –

escape managed amid murderous affray.


Fifteen years of desert exile followed,

then that triumphal procession to Alexandria,

seated on an ass, the beast of burden.

Thousands hosanna-proclaim,

palm-branches uplifted in an arc

welcoming their holy hero,

imitating another man’s entry:

Christ, compelled to complete salvation story.


‘Jesus is God!’ –  his divisive doctrine declared,

life and death statement, spoken and sung,

crucible-crafted by prophetic priest, Athanasius,

biblically patented from antiquity to eternity…


Athanasius – Christian theologian, Church Father, chief defender of Trinitarianism (against Arianism). Noted Egyptian leader of the fourth century.

*Kiot –  a special wooden box with a hinged, framed glass door in the front, usually a case for an icon.

Horse Show Scenes

Poem and photos based on experiences of the Royal Dublin Society Annual Horse Show

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Slight the scent of wax-polished leather,

boxed-in royalty, equines stand tethered;

sweet scent wafts from dark passage of stalls,

echoing announcements over speaker calls.

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Girls command horses, fifteen hands high,

tight jodhpurs, high boots makes this male sigh:

blond-hair, blush cheeks, so snug their jackets;

wild-eyed horses rear-up, hear that whinny racket!

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Pony club teens, reckless their riding

driving their colts on, close to colliding,

passing game baton, daring their mounts:

adrenaline overdose, every second counts.

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Clock tower toll, Big Ben counterfeit

bowler-hatted judges, pompous as their weight

clear rounds cause clapping from horsey crowds,

jockeys widely smile, proprietors stand proud.

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Hand lifted hats arresting equine attention,

hooves tamp turf, horseshit spoils pretension,

impatient tails wave, picture perfect snap,

small talk exchanged, tweed jackets and caps.


Bored horses peek over barred half-doors,

wordless eyes surmise, large primal teeth gnaw;

dark cobbled corridors, strawed dung splatter,

hooves angrily stamp amid the clip-clop clatter…

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This is Where I first Believed

south hill


Architecture in Victorian style,

gallant hymns, strained smiles:

few assembled believers,

old-fashioned and ever eager;

Sabbath spirit static,

prayer sincere, pragmatic.


Scripture texts in Gothic script,

pilgrim people gripped

by heavenly hope proposed,

platform preacher posed

queries: idols and curses

refuted by bible verses.


Lone brethren, battle besieged:

message mocked, unbelieved

by secular modern minds –

“How can they be so blind?”

Truth’s tiger timid and caged,

hearts not minds engaged…


This is where I first believed,

bent stubborn knee, received

release after sinner’s prayer,

hope replaced despair:

Christ died for our misdeeds,

pity those not fully freed…

Why am I hated by Hindu high caste?

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Why am I hated by Hindu high caste?

Why throat choked, sharp blade-slashed?

Why my skull summarily smashed?


Why the invective, why the insult?

Sectarian sentences from Vedic cult:

sadistic smirks, tragic end result…


Lynchings, rapes, and acid attacks,

hear hyena howl, murderous pack –

bullied untouchables daren’t fight back.


I’m Brahma-damned Dalit,

my sandals sink in putrid pits,

I  purify streets of “high status” shit.


Garland Modi with fragrant flowers,

encourage Aryan political powers,

hunt low caste – then cleanse in showers…


Many Dalit deaths: justice long-denied,

Jesus also despised, flayed, crucified;

but on white horses the righteous will ride.

I’m not saying bikes are better


Let’s swap our seated places,

quit honking horns and pulling faces,

let’s all extend some kinder graces.


Lets both not break red stop lights,

let’s not trump wrongs against rights,

let’s pray none have to say last rites.


Let’s both apply our brakes and gears,

let all admit their faults and fears,

let’s show appreciation: say “cheers”.


Four wheels good but two wheels best

your left hand turns make me stressed:

cycling should be required for test.


We cyclists have no windows, nor roof,

ride tall in saddle but not aloof:

cyclists skulls aren’t shatterproof.


I’m not saying bikes are better,

I’m not condemning the carburettor –

we’re neither road royalty, nor beggar!

Lawrence Coster: The Apostle of Printing (c. 1420)

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With willow wood you wooed your beau,

setting her heart and mind aglow:

solitary-seated by canals you etched,

then slowly the sharp blade sketched

lovers initials intertwined, sharp incisions

on branch birthed blessings: Eden’s vision.


This lover’s present then parchment-wrapped,

carved cyphers secretly sang, summoned sap:

overnight it oozed from peeled willow wood,

catechist-craftsman created an imprint good;

then came Gutenberg-bible, God’s story told,

later breaking papal spiritual stranglehold….


Laurens Janszoon Coster (c. 1370, Haarlem, the Netherlands – c. 1440), or Laurens Jansz Koster, is the name of a purported inventor of a printing press from Haarlem. He allegedly invented printing simultaneously with Johannes Gutenberg and is regarded by some in the Netherlands as having invented printing first.

Hope Drunk Hearts

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Easter Springtide – Vitali Linitsky (Russian painter, mid 70s)



Ancient terror prophecies, torture proven true:

brow mock-crowned, blood-barbed thorns,

carpenter’s palms, nail-pinioned, chiselled through –

legs smashed, ankles anchored on cruel cruciform.


Eerie sun eclipse, dread-dark that slaughter scene,

Christ’s carcass buried in a borrowed tomb;

male followers fled, female friends stayed to keen

habeas corpus – but no body left to exhume.


Mistaken for mad, miracle-maker, water walker;

all our arrogant assumptions turned inside out:

prodigals restored, resurrection of dead daughters,

our sin-smudged slates wiped clean of doubt.


Hope-drunk hearts bow, hymn in gratitude:

free entry offered into kingdom come,

God’s oratorio without longitude or latitude –

blow loud the trumpet, strike hard the drum!



habeas corpus Literally, the phrase means “[we command] that you should have the [detainee’s] body [brought to court]”

April First Fools?

My wife wanted a Spring-born baby. Holly Hemmings was announced stillborn by the maternity hospital, ten days before her birth….We had prayed for a miracle. Holly was initially delivered by me, at 1 am in an isolated room, on April 1st, April Fools Day.

Her little brother,  aged almost four asked: “Isn’t it true when Jesus returns the baby will be alive?” We taught him bible stories but never taught that particular one. That was our miracle……And I know, that one new morning I will be able to give her an “overdue, long and loving embrace”. …

“He’ll wipe every tear from their eyes. Death is gone for good—tears gone, crying gone, pain gone—all the first order of things gone.” – Revelation 21: 4

ibi 3 (2)

petitionary prayer. heavenly hope.

resurrection stories recalled.

oil-anointed. tear-baptised.

ballooned belly. birth pangs.


faith fools?


nurse absence. semi-abandoned.

sepia sheet stain spreads.

pained postnatal scream.

expected stillbirth begins.

all quiet. dead quiet.


faith fools?


flat floppy face. abstract gaze.

inert body quickly cooling.

lifeless love. breathless baby.

limbs floppy. mouth mute.

offered embrace useless.


faith fools?


cardboard box coffin. doll dimensions.

stencil stamped black cross.

harsh edge. skin sliver souvenir.

limbs petal peeling. raw ripped.

refrigerated. not resurrected…


April first fools?


descent into dark. hope eclipsed.

pinioned palms. body splinter stabbed.

only son broken. mercy mocked.

heaven howled. holy curtain ripped.

barrier broken. death abolished.


Father forsaken?


unwound sheets. perfumed pile.

cool cavern. hesitant angels.

whispered words: risen indeed…

no more tears. the old has passed.

reunion promise when He returns.


overdue, my long and loving embrace!

ibi (1)

Shaftesbury, the Poor Man’s Earl


You shrewdly observed the pathetic poor

that begged, brawled and slyly swindled;

compelled by command to unlock doors:

jubilee justice and anger slowly kindled.


Children slept under weaving looms,

tugged wagons in deep coal caverns,

choked in chimney stack soot and fumes;

parents wages wasted in gin taverns.


Your proxy mother was mindful maid

who whispered nightly maternal prayers;

your despotic father’s petty rules obeyed

until inherited title named you heir.


With statesmen you sat in House of Lords

giving many mill children hopeful starts;

on dull committees struck common chord

softened hard parliamentarian hearts.


Paternal debt damaged your family estate,

sullied that seat, tarnished proud crest:

you sold off paintings and silver plate

to ensure justice for tenants, late-blessed.


Much energy expended after many years

on penniless workers freed from slavery;

your state funeral caused farewell tears:

even critics saluted such biblical bravery…

Bless us Big Brass Bells!


                                                                                                                                                         Grigory Sysoyev/TASS


Bless us, big brass bells:

toll between our earth and clouds,

bless the solitary in busy crowds;

sing thy song, long and loud!


Bless us. softer sibling sounds:

descant downfall, sensual peals,

bless ringers fingers, feet and heels:

hope pulled rope much mercy reveals.


Bless us spirit-sparked icon song:

holy harmonies, slowly accelerating,

bless towered music  – saving, creating:

satiate hearts, no hesitating!


O aural icons, O sonic saints,

haul down hope for land and nation,

full circle chimes the best creation

cleanse stale hearts with God’s incarnation.


Why many Russians freeze when they hear bells…