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Category Archives: Poems

Two sonnets on healing

Two sonnets on healing

I wrote two sonnets recently which were both, in different ways, to do with healing.

The first, “For Wendy”, was written for a friend who has recently been re-diagnosed with breast cancer and it draws on a comment she made about valuing days differently now that she doesn’t have as many left.

The second was written for a service at which we offered prayer for healing and raised funds for Age UK by participating in “wear it woolly”. It was inspired by Psalm 139.

For Wendy
Some days the sunlight sparkles off the sea,
scattering its jewels through rising mist
then, safely gathered, like the memory
of summer or a child’s cheek newly kissed,
It lodges in the eye and in the heart,
A glint of hope when worlds are torn apart.
Yet days like these are rare, most days will not
be quite so fine or filled with fire. Most days
prefer to temper “what could be” with “what
is now”, cloaking life’s gold with winter greys.
A shadow falls. A smile fades. A friend,
through tears, marks the beginning of an end.
But endings are like evenings. Even night
Is pregnant with dawn’s promise of new light.

© Rich Clarkson 2017


In my mother’s womb you knitted me
My fabric fashioned from your own design.
As weft and warp were woven, even then
You knew what this frail form would one day be.
Each stitch, with love and care, was intertwined
And tied off with a heavenly “Amen!”.
But some threads are no longer firmly tied,
and edges, over time, have become frayed,
causing                                       gaps to appear
revealing the unravelling inside.
We may indeed be “wonderfully made”,
but “fearfully” at times gives way to fear
yet one day God will take this threadbare frame
and weave it into beauty once again.

© Rich Clarkson 2017


Unusual words

I wrote a couple of impromptu poems on Facebook this evening inspired by some unusual words.

The first was inspired by the word  coddiwomple (which means “to travel purposefully an as-yet-unknown destination”)

It was dark outside but with one pull

Of the bell the train slid to a stop

I leapt out and began to coddiwomple

In search of a hoped-for shop

I knew there was one near the station

So set of with a purposeful stride

To my as-yet-unknown destination

And the treasures awaiting inside.

The second was inspired by the word pusillanimous (which means “showing a lack of courage or determination, timid”)

The votes are in, they are unanimous

On the question: “are you a man or mouse?”

Thankfully they were magnanimous

Saying I’m not pusillanimous

Crib Service poem

For this evening’s Crib Services (1,000 people across 2 services) I wrote a poem with responses for everyone to join in with.  I looked up rhymes for “amazing” and 4 of the suggestions were “grazing”, “stargazing”, “praising” and “self-raising”, after that the poem pretty much wrote itself!


Mary – “Mamma-mia!” (Women)

Joseph – “Knock knock” (Men)

Jesus/baby – “shh…” (Children)

Angel – “hallelujah!” (balcony + choir)

Shepherds – “come-bye” (Left hand side)

Wise men – “wow!” (right hand side)

I want You – “who, me?” (Everyone)


Part 1. Journey to Bethlehem

A long time ago an ordinary girl called Mary (Mamma Mia!) was asleep

when God sent an angel (hallelujah) to wake her with a message that nearly made her weep:

He said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

I’m going to do something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you for you see

that bun in your oven is self-raising!

Mary (Mamma Mia) woke Joseph (knock knock) who’d heard the same thing so, with a yawn,

They headed to Bethlehem where, in a crowded room, Jesus (shhh…) “God with us” was born.


Part 2. Shepherds and angels

Later that night some shepherds (come bye) were out on the hills with their sheep

when God sent some angels (hallelujah!) with a message that woke them right up from their sleep:

They said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

In Bethlehem there’s something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you, come and see:

God is with us! leave your sheep to their grazing.

So the Shepherds (come bye) went down into town and found Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joe (knock knock)

Then when they saw the Lord Jesus (shh…) fast asleep they praised God before heading back home.


Part 3. Wise Men
A long way away some wise men (wow!) watched the skies in a far off land

So God sent a comet to blaze night and day. A message that they could understand:

It said I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

over there there’s something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you, and you’ll see

the king prophesied by your stargazing

So the wise men (wow!) packed and got on their way, and found the baby (shh…) who was also a kkin

Gave Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joseph (knock knock) the gifts they’d remembered to bring!


Part 4. Talk

In this church, in this town, on this Christmas Eve God is speaking to his people again

through Mary (Mamma Mia) and Joseph (knock knock) and Jesus (shh…) and Shepherds (come bye) and Wise men (wow!)

God says I want you (who, me?)

Yes you to follow me

This Christmas do something amazing

I want you (who, me?)

Yes you come and be

like the angels (hallelujah!) with your whole life God praising.

So in this season of peace and goodwill there’s a choice that each one of us here ought to ponder

God is not just for Christmas, he’s for our whole lives. God is with us, are you with him, I wonder?


This poem was written for tonight’s sermon at evensong.  It is based on these words from Isaiah 30

For thus said the Lord God, the Holy One of Israel:
In returning and rest you shall be saved;
in quietness and in trust shall be your strength.
But you refused and said,
‘No! We will flee upon horses’—
therefore you shall flee!

And when you turn to the right or when you turn to the left, your ears shall hear a word behind you, saying,
‘This is the way; walk in it.’


It is hidden
like a current beneath the waves
not thrashing and crashing and making a scene
not tossing and turning and clamouring for attention
but quietly, steadily, irresistably there.

It is hidden
like the trunk of a willow
As branches whip around in the wind
and leaves fly, and catkins cry out for fear of falling
In the turmoil it stands unmoved.

It is not found
in the stampede of the horse
or the silver words of the powerful
in the flashing diversions of billboards
or the honeyed lure of the bank balance

It is hidden
from all but those who seek it
those who are not turned
by the distractions that swirl
to the left and to the right

Those who know the still small voice
The word whispered close into the ear
“This is the way, walk in it”

© Rich Clarkson 2016

Praise God for Humble Moss

This poem was written in response to an article in the Guardian entitled ‘All Hail the Humble Moss‘, with a measure of inspiration from Gerald Manley Hopkins’ poem ‘Pied Beauty‘.

moss sonnet

Praise God for humble moss, without whom we,
Who live and breathe and leap and laugh and praise,
Could no more do such things. Praise God for days
Long past when mosses spread from sea to sea
A continental carpet breathing fresh
New life into the oxygen starved air.
Praise God for lungs which found that they could bear
To breathe this atmosphere. Praise God for flesh
Which crept and crawled and leapt and breathed and moved
Among the lichens, liverworts and ferns.
Praise God for life’s tenacity across
The ages as it gradually improved,
Evolved, developed hopes, dreams and concerns.
For all of this, praise God for humble moss.

(c) Rich Clarkson 2016

“Why we have so many leftovers”

My friend Josh suggested writing a poem about leftovers, today’s poem (which is more or less a transcript of most of our mealtimes) is entitled “why we have so many leftovers!”


“Not ’til you’ve finished your dinner”
Is the constant refrain on our lips
“Can I watch something?” “Can I get down?” “Can I play?”
“Not ’til you’ve finished your chips!”

“Can we go outside?” “Can we have a bath?”
“Can we put on our superman clothes?”
“when you’ve eaten what’s left on your plate first!”
“Oh, but that will take ages” “I KNOW!”

“Fine, just have four more then you can stop”
“Just have three more and then you are done”
“Just have two more big mouthfuls and then you can go”
“Come on open wide, here’s the last one…”

© Rich Clarkson 2016

Natural History Museum

Inspired by a trip to the natural history museum, a foray into the world of blank verse.

The queue is long, the sun is shining down
upon the gathered hoards.  With cameras primed
and guidebooks open ready for the day
they wait, though some more patiently than others.
Then, urged on by the bells, the great beast moves,
slithering its way towards the doors
like some vast prehistoric serpentine.

Transitioning from warm to cool, from light
to dark they make their way into the hall –
presided over by that well known frame,
which once inspired great fear, but now brings joy,
delight upon the faces of both young
and old, as Dippy watches over all.

Then from the central chamber’s beating heart
the crowds, like blood, are pumped around the whole:
through corridors, round galleries, up stairs.
And as its hushed tones rise towards a roar
the dormant building slowly comes to life.

This ancient silver-speckled behemoth
stands proudly as a creature in its prime
Sharing its age-old wisdom with the world
Revealing the secrets of another time.

© Rich Clarkson 2016