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One had to lose a lot to start this journey.

(The moment unannounced
and before "Who me?" was spelled

A ticket unbought,
an unclear day to start -
some fear, the hardest part,
not start the worst.
The driver's face turned,
and that passing strange
played rearrange with thoughts,
retorts were stilled,
then caught, returned.

A voice speaks, giving vision for a moment,
a time to last through many times to come.
Time seconds, comprehends that brief shown intent,
but never finds the words to put to tongue.

The question dies unasked,
The heart there stands unmasked,
pulsing gently,
one and two,
one and two,
and driving



I used to enjoy blowing bubbles.
I could sit for hours at a time
scanning rainbow-crystal-ball worlds
awhirl in a tear-thin soap brine.

Now spinning a dream, now a chance -
my creations would drift on a laugh,
Or catch on a breath of a cause,
Or sighing sink through their birth-path.

But I somehow forgot to count bubbles,
And the mixture ran out yesterday.
Sunset glittered gold on the last,
And winked, and then flickered away.


Cathedral Square

life does
a slow-motion dance
on summer
footpaths have
their own beat
that lifts in waves
of shimmer-simmer.

traffic pounds
the green-wave,
circles in curious motion
this citadel,
slant-eyes this cool fortress
amidst the quick ocean
of to-and-fro.

dead square
of wilted geraniums
and sun-burnt craniums,
clamour --
a sterile glamour
of surface show.

protesting summer heat,
old -lady church
lifts her skirts
just a beat --
displays a cool brow
and plays to the crowd
their Tuesday night treat.

those within
don't pay much attention --
just kneel to their prayers
and beg intervention.
if God hears
what is it to those
who pass by?

who knows
what was saved?
but who cares?



Do you feel a pulse throughout the world?
A beat, that surges through your ears and blood?
That wraps you in its effervescent mood,
and leaves you tingling with a dream unfurled?
(The breezes whisper in a hidden rhythm,
Compound a listener fastly to their cause,
Then leave him without question or a pause,
Half-laughing, half-acry at fickle whims.)

Don't cry - the beat is yours, you are the beat.
(God-manifest, hold to the 'pointed task.)
And listen to the words it claims within,
Now loud, now soft, now cool, now haste in heat.

The why is yours; the when (beyond your grasp)
Is still responding to this touch of Him.


From day to day I work

From day to day I work,
as one works
who doesn't want to think too hard -

I wash the clothes
and sweep the yard
and busy myself in a mob
of motley

But it doesn't stop the itch at nights
as I toss on my bed,
or the wanderlust that runs a-riot
all round my head.

Night here
is not a time for mundane things -
night here is a soft warm scent
on murmured wings,
and how can walls so carefully built
withstand such scent.

I can stop my mind in daylight's air,
but no bed's a fortress against ideas.


Even when low

Even when low can I sing, even I
  what He's done,
          bent, and
            given -

a lie: that was life,
with no living
and the days slipping by
like the wind.

A put-it-off day
was my life, was my way,
and support non-existent.

We are the men, the hollow men
who cry through our dust
"take my trust,
    and my help,
      and my word,
        and my hand,
          and my and,
            and . . . ."

my God!

The buck stops here,
little-sung, little-honoured
in a dead-end street where deadheads meet
and the mountain has come to mahommed.
And in vain do we rise,
unless it's goodbyes
to the old,
and like dogs flee our vomit.


What He's done is give life;
what He took, sin and strife;
what He rent was His body;
what He hated:
our gods, and our folly -
and He cleansed me from sin;
bent me His way again,
and gave the great gift of His love -

Love's peace,
Love's joy . . .
Love's love.


l o v i n g    y o u

loving you
is my reference point
for all other love,
the centre
around which i turn,
the lighthouse
through whom i shine
for others



On the Avenue

I've often smiled at those
who sleep in sweet repose;
or the couples who resort
to such subterfuge to court;
or the girl in brief bikini
that grows every year more teenie;
or the bevy of good sorts
in the pub bar downing quarts;
or the small, hard core of purists
who don't like the asian tourists;
or the general human view
of life on the Avenue -


The Poet

he wrote little bits of meaning
on scraps of paper

and the people said
it's very pretty
and very good
(and very witty)
and they hoped he would
write some more

but he laid down his pen
and looked at them
with the eyes
of a great, sad dalmatian

and wrote no more



We who are down
among the pigs,
who have squandered
our inheritance
to wallow
in the excrement of
our own progress --

Prodigal Son,
we salute you!

And should you pass a thought
for your former days,
remember us who did not turn.



Lord, let me look into hearts, not faces;
First let me act, then ask for graces;
Let me count more dear a loving smile
Than honour bought with time and guile.

And above all, Lord, let me count it true
Not for myself, but for love of you.


Shadows only come out in the sunshine

When I was a child
I dwelt in halo-ringed days,
till at child's-end we parted ways
with the wakening that
a halo is the rim-remains
of brightness
blotted out.
My days
got in the way
of seeing full the true sun.
(And here was me thinking
those days shone from brightness within.)

When I put away childish things
I reached outstretched for the sun.
A dancing sunbeam passed,
I grasped,
but we parted ways
with the wakening that
a sunbeam is the thin remains
of the sun's
expended rays.

To cure seeing through a glass darkly,
one must step to the other side.
Citizens of a world of darkly-glass
think shadows are the day,
not know them as the go-befores
of being face-to-face.

Everything I ever did
only finds its real meaning now.
Thank you for your real sun
that showed my shadows up for what they were.


teaching eye




They also serve who stand and wait......

You said,
"Come and take a walk round my mind,"
and I did.
What you didn't tell me
was that it would not be as simple as that;
not the simple stroll through a child's picture garden
you led me to believe.

Gaily stepped I,
into not a land
but a life -
(like looking back through
a mirror
at the mirror's image
of the world from which I have just jumped,
and come face to face
with myself coming in,

I would call it being reborn,
but that is not an adequate word.
I can't deny all that ever made me,
as to say "reborn" would imply.
What word means
take a life
and reshape through the mind
of another?

I suppose
sort of like a giant cocktail shaker-
The ingredients were all there,
and you were life's waiter.


Shadow world

Shall I say what moves me?
Where the mirror tells its tale
A thousand, flitting expressions
Are briefly shadow impaled.
But the written word must speak for
My hard-to-comprehend mind,
And the warm hand of a friendship
Midst letters bend to find.
A hundred conversations
From a dozen words must show,
Withal warm confirmation
That strengthens, says: "'tis so".



The Spinner weaves his living thread,
design within its tale;
the rest is speculation by
us on a wide-spread scale.
And though we change the weft of it
the general pattern stays.
We run our yarn into the web,
each one unto his ways.



Somewhere a door closed.
A cat, ejected, sqawling, wailing
ran hailing to her mate.
Streets, glistening black with former rain,
reflected lights above, mingled them with the stars.
From a lighted, shaded window
came a woman's tinkling laugh,
telling of the party
gathered round the 4-1/2.

Mist drifts, wafted, from the river,
dances round the neon signs,
joins in frolic with the steaming
from the nearby railway lines.
Railway tower reached to the moon
like an omnipotent eye,
watches, exalted from the sky
till expunged by dawn.

Out in the park
where shades of dark
grow deeper than the blacks of night
a rustling leaf reminds in whisper
it is merely taking rest.
It sleeps on,
drawing in its fellows,
waiting for the morn.
A bird, startled,
flutters and is gone, wonders what is wrong,
then returns.
In distant bush a morepork calls,
his plaintive cry
is answered by a grurking frog
which runs a ripple in the pond.
A silken sigh
ruffles through the stalky rye
and merges with the dark.

Stream chuckles its way to the sea,
myriads the stars.
Along the shore the night is clear,
gold moon a crown
that caps this queen of all nature's trysting spots.
Wavelets lap their way to shore,
gleeful in eternal game,
bobbing at the fishing trawl,
bubbling at the dinghy's name.
A rabbit scurries on the sand,
scuffing clouds behind his feet,
toitoi grass in jaunty stand
sways before the singing breeze.
All is quiet save the wind,
talking to the sand and sea.
Then a car starts,
swings its lights.
Peace returns.



(c) Copyright John McNeil, all rights reserved. Apart from the purposes of fair review, this work may not be reproduced in whole or in part in any form, physical or electronic, without the express permission in writing of the author. He may be contacted at jandhmcneil<a>