Extract from the diary of Joseph of Arimathaea (Thursday, 16th May, 33 AD)

… Birds fly
flap wings to rise high.
No human being can lift off
under their own steam.

A dream of a mountaintop,
clouds handong off,
sun lying low in a fountain of shadows,
we’ve come to witness the ascension into Heaven.

The sect gathering  for the send-off:
Jesus is going home
under his own steam
– handy transport, transmigration of matter.

But what if it all goes wrong?
He blows up on take-off?
Remember the teacher
Whatshername – Christa blew up after 73 seconds.

No one’s considered the consequences
of debris falling to Earth
Heavenly waste.

Everyone’s standing round waiting for something to ignite
the proceedings. The final farewells.
A lifetime of teaching
generates a multitude of pupils.

I’m the Health and Safety Officer,
the sod who had to make a Risk Assessment,
had to  make out COSSH sheets on water jars
– all because there’s a chance he  might turn water into petroleum spirit.

I’m in change of safety – hah hah,
in charge of “innovative flight events”,
single man assents without a net,
here to ensure no one’s hurt in the slipstream.

Who’s thought to commission a recce of the landing-zone?
Who’s been looking ahead and asking “how safe is it to land in Heaven?”
Typical – so long as the integrity of the risk management system is vindicated.
What do we care if Acts of God intervene!

The Council’s insurance doesn’t cover Almighty interventions.
The ‘best value’ analysis doesn’t call  for consultations on ascensions.
There’s no best practice notes governing what you do on a Thursday
with a small crowd on a remote hillside.

Not one person believes this could open the floodgates.
Who expects trips to Heaven to become fashionable?
Who is thinking ahead?
Why should one tired, approaching-retirement official carry the can?

Jesus, I can’t even get to the man,
he keeps disappearing,
Ah – hah – enter the dragon, eleven henchmen and mother.

Looks like we’re going to see some action,
countdown to eternity.
I admire the way he’s going first, putting himself on the line,
leadership in action.

Wish I’d thought of bringing the video.
Nothing like being a witness
at the first ever manned flight into Heaven.
Christ, it’s one small step for man.

One giant leap for Mankind…

Walt Whitman on Thanksgiving Day

Note:  I found this (via Google) published on Every Writer (1 November 2010)



by Walt Whitman

From the Philadelphia Press, Nov. 27, 1884, (Thanksgiving number)

whitmanScene.—A large family supper party, a night or two ago, with voices and laughter of the young, mellow faces of the old, and a by-and-by pause in the general joviality. “Now, Mr. Whitman,” spoke up one of the girls, “what have you to say about Thanksgiving? Won’t you give us a sermon in advance, to sober us down?” The sage nodded smilingly, look’d a moment at the blaze of the great wood fire, ran his forefinger right and left through the heavy white mustache that might have otherwise impeded his voice, and began: “Thanksgiving goes probably far deeper than you folks suppose. I am not sure but it is the source of the highest poetry—as in parts of the Bible. Ruskin, indeed, makes the central source of all great art to be praise (gratitude) to the Almighty for life, and the universe with its objects and play of action.

“We Americans devote an official day to it every year; yet I sometimes fear the real article is almost dead or dying in our self-sufficient, independent Republic. Gratitude, anyhow, has never been made half enough of by the moralists; it is indispensable to a complete character, man’s or woman’s—the disposition to be appreciative, thankful. That is the main matter, the element, inclination—what geologists call the trend. Of my own life and writings I estimate the giving thanks part, with what it infers, as essentially the best item. I should say the quality of gratitude rounds the whole emotional nature; I should say love and faith would quite lack vitality without it. There are people— shall I call them even religious people, as things go?— who have no such trend to their disposition.”

A poem about writing a poem

To write a poem now

To write a poem now
forgotten how,
fingers all too stale,
grown pale.
Unused soul went to sleep,
troubled deep.

Christ rose from the dead,
threw off sheets drenched in blood,
woke up, pushed the stone –
back –
so light and birdsong dawned,
his dream made flesh,

Fear revisited,
traces linger instead,
as if painted over.
Whitewashed over…

Jesus wrote his poem
on the road to Emmaus,
recovered from Gethsemane.
The words even ascended into Heaven
and were repeated.

To write a poem now…
the least I could do.


“To write a poem now” – read by the poet – my first effort since depression lifted (mp3)

First published 10 November 2011 in “From Bath to Cork with baby Grace (1)”. This was my first effort to write a poem since the lifting of depression. I began it in Ely, near Cambridge UK, & finished the first draft in Cafe Beva, Glanmire, Co Cork.