April 26, 2011

Man Friday: 25% Extra Large Easter Triptych

1. A Jolly Good Friday

Jesus was an Englishman,
The Son of Grace (W.G.)
Cured 99 limbs on the village green
And a leper before the Last Tea.

Jesus remained a gentleman
Though the crowd’s game wasn’t cricket,
Carried His cross with stiff upper lip
And was only politely anti-Semitic.

2. Easter Saturday: 0-1, 2-1, 2-2.

The team I follow is full of Jesses who think they’re God’s gift, diving Christians
and Daniels up against Lions

A voice in the faithless crowd calls “Judas”
As our transferred ex-Saviour applauds ex-fans.

Nil-one, man down, the game as dead
As a frozen church, the comeback beckons.

On thawing cold feet, we are glory glory singing
It’s all worth it, after all, and then it isn’t.

3. Sunday: Petering Out

Nailed upside down at dawn,
The cockerel crowing with the crowd,
I tried to speak up for You,
"Love Can Turn The World Around."

Gravel-voiced but choked
Out of a throat of clay
I threw my word of rock
Too hard, too hard, away.

Now across this sheer water,
A crystal light
Turns and returns
Upon memory's tide.

My father is fishing
Still waters at sunrise.
He turns and winks:
I fear no evil when he is with me.

What voice sounding sure
In the depths of my heart
Drowns the distant breaking
Of a shell's lost cry?

4. Easter Mundane

Nothing happens.
I don't feel a thing.
The rock doesn't roll.
The angels don't sing.

Good Friday isn't bad.
Saturday hangs on
A Sunday that rises
But not for long.

The hiker at the crossroads
Asks for directions
Down unbridled Ways
To non-consummations.

The cyclist’s windy map
Winds in endless rotation
Of his pre-booked, pre-cooked

The City get hammered.
I don't feel a thing.
The cock can't crow
And no angels sing.

Notes: This little sequence came out of the Unsunny Easter of 2003 originally. The only consistency with 2011 - and now 2013 - is my team's Easter form. It's an effort to do a modern version of the Renaissance Easter painting in which all the Jewish characters looked Italian, here a triptych. The impulse of 'Easter Mundane' is that post holiday void which is also the post-Christian void. I read an Easter Saturday 1972 poem (by Tom Leech, pictured) many years ago in which a crowd of pub-punters talk about a 'transferred' player who, the reader gradually twigs, is Jesus. The picture shows Tom earlier this year in India, one of the few holy lands I got to before him. 'Petering Out' fuses St Peter's story - he asked to be crucified upside down as contrition for that legendary denial - with a rare and precious memory of fishing with my father at Shearwater Lake near Longleat, Wilts, one Sunday morning about a hundred years ago.

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