Certainty knows so loudly
A fighter-jet 
Carving the world
Into soundbites
Mass-produced in bright keys
Belched from its rear end
Filling all space for thought
With static

What if we fell
Through a crack in the noise
Into silence?
No echo of ourselves
To tell us we’re the best
Only the sound
Of God breathing

Would the barking dogs 
That guard our interests
At the gate of our souls
Slope away?

Would we return
To our lives, less sure?
Or would we still
Dressed in suits
Walk unseeing like ghosts
Past the broken displaced
Make our neighbour drink mud
Since he has no shares
In the water we trade
Or the doctor we own

Build our villas on hills
Filled with migrant graves
With cash earned from arms
All this while we cry
‘Jesus saves’
Would we still 
Slit throats in the sun 
Of a Libyan beach
While the surf rolls in
To the sound of a shout 
‘Allahu Akbar?’

We? That was ‘them’!
There is no them
In the hush that descends
After the tumbling 
Question mark

A minute of silence
Face to face with nothing
But the whisper of God 
‘You thought that I was like you?’



Fairy tales
Predictable pleasing
Happy end delivered
Folded and pressed
To the good, never ugly
Vistas of rolled lawns
Patchwork fields
Forests grown on request
Ready-clipped to measured height
Protecting those who dwell
In the blessed land of 
Sunny Disposition
On which God beams
Cheshire cat-like
From a safe distance
In his azure sky

Meanwhile, elsewhere

The heart of the world is flawed
Its bedrock grinds and works
Against itself in rage
Earth hits sky
Sea bruises rock
Carves cliffs with sharp blades
Rain drives and pounds the shore
To grains of sand
The earth’s crust folds and buckles
In spikes and crags
That no-one can ride
Forged through the ages
In conflict and passion

These are the rocks
Which rob us of breath
Make us weep as they take us
Beyond ourselves
With their song of constant renewal

Here, God stands 
At the core of contradiction
Molten rock in bare hands
Holding the pain
Energy in chaos
Work without end 
Keeping void from matter 
Heaven alive
At the heart of the earth
Extracts from its depths
Forms of violent beauty
Monuments to exorbitant
Patience and grace



Words ride on sound-waves 
Across smoky rooms and satellites 
They carve out keys
That unlock underground rivers
And spark dry flints
Into fires that buzz
Hum and ignite ideas
Through towns and continents
We must use them well

Words that are lightweight skitter 
Over the surface of a lake
Skimming the depths that carry them
Or tumble from the jar
Convention requires us to keep
Like sweets 
Wrapped in bright colours

Words heavy with overuse
Deaden the hymn to
What matters to us most
And make it a thing 
Purchased on special offer
Bulk buy at the chainstore
Vitality crushed
By their limp weight

Words that are barbs 
From which weapons hang
Well-oiled and ready
For the unthinkable
Adorn word palaces 
Made of chicken wire
Listen to the wind whisper
The lie through empty holes
As the edifice slinks and bends 
With the tide 

Cling to words as you cling to life
When they lose their essence
We no longer feel
The world dislocates 
And falls out of joint
With itself

Line them up, slow and deliberate
Lay a path we can walk on
Stones, carefully chosen on a shingle beach
Layered and shaped by the tide
Drawn from the bedrock of history
Where word and being are one



Can we choose where we sit
At the eternal church lunch
In that great house of heaven?
Do we have to share a room? 
Could it be … dormitories!

What music will there be?
What if it’s country
With a worship leader.
Shall we wear fixed smiles
Through eternal centuries
Playing games to pass the time?

What happens if you are
A private person?

Will there be queues
To meet our heroes
While others stand in lonely corners
Whistling a quiet tune 
Looking at their shoes?

Shall I sit on the dunce’s chair 
As befits my dotted line of faith
While passers-by 
With hooded eyes and doubtful lips
Assess my long-stay permit application

Wait. This is hell.
Or else a church weekend away.

In heaven, 
The lines of weak and strong
Break in confusion at the thought of God
Before a limitless horizon.


THE CRY – Christmas poem

We struggle through life
Dragging carrier bags
Heavy with what we know 
But once a year we dream
That the world stops running
Its habitual course
Just long enough 
For God to put in
An appearance

But in our city streets
Everpresent neons bling and hoot
As the wind blows
Newspaper around our ankles
Weighted with words of 
All we can’t put right
With our clinical knives and surgical gloves
Under the lamp of our 
Great belief in ourselves 

Hate hisses and swells across the world
Meanwhile, hot air escapes 
From bankers and wise men
While love is just a heart 
Scratched between two names 
On a toilet door

God, in all this ?
We look for him
In some sweet imagined silent night
Snow dulling the world’s noise
Angel voices ever singing
Peace in a plastic 
Snowstorm bubble 
Village church scene

But the cry of the newborn child
Deep gasp fighting for life
Shout of protest on entering this world
And at the status quo
Of what we think we know
Doesn’t wait for the dream
But cuts across time

The cry that guides us
Never leaves us
Calls, through the real
Of the then, the now
And the will be
Bullshits the fiction
And fills our lungs in turn
With clean air


LE CRI – poème de Noël

La vie nous encombre de
Sacs de courses
Chargés de notre sagesse acquise
Or une fois par an nous rêvons
Que le monde arrête 
Son cours habituel
Juste le temps que Dieu 
Fasse son entrée 

Mais dans nos villes
Sous l’éternel néon, clinquant, criard 
Le vent envoie contre nos jambes
Du papier journal
Lourd de paroles annonçant
Les maux que nous ne pouvons soulager
Avec scalpel et gants chirurgicaux
Sous la lampe de notre grande
Confiance en nous-mêmes

La haine siffle, gonfle à travers le monde
Alors que banquiers et sages
Ne brassent que du vent
Et l’amour se cantonne en un cœur 
Tagué entre deux noms
Sur la porte des chiottes (pc WC)

Dieu dans tout ça ?
Nous l’attendons ailleurs
Dans une quelconque nuit 
Douce, silencieuse, imaginaire
Où la neige atténue le bruit terrestre
Et les anges dans nos campagnes 
Chantent la paix au village
Dans une boule à neige en plastique

Mais le cri du nouveau-né
Qui se bat pour respirer 
Lance sa protestation
Dès son entrée dans ce monde
Contre le statut quo
De ce que nous croyons savoir
Et n’attend pas le rêve
Pour transpercer le temps

Ce cri qui nous guide
Ne nous quitte plus
Appelle, au cœur du vrai
Dans ce qui était, qui est, et qui sera
Fait taire le pipeau
Et remplit enfin nos poumons
D’un air pur


VIdeo – Noémie Daval – reader John Featherstone

Vertical line wafer-cotton-thin
Top to bottom, heaven to earth
Perfection drawing down to gravity

Pure line cuts through messed-up years
Soul-tearing conflicts, each side’s tug of war
Pulling to displace it, transform it, own it
Thread-bare it out of all recognition
In order to occupy the centre ground

But this plumbline across which the pendulum swings
The pivotal point of Every Thing
Continues its course
Through every nightmare of human emotion

The scream, the fury, the nourished resentment
Of the woman whose mind has got lost in her life
Soiling herself as she hits out at cars
The power-crazed, feeding on the hearts of others
Children’s voices silenced by a real gun
Or made adult too soon, souls sold for cash

The homeless washing t-shirts in a Paris drain
Pride strutting down the sidewalk in smoked-glass shades
The complacent me-dom of righteous indifference
Its scrapheaps of privilege
Paradise to the scavenger
The misplaced hope in fairy tales
The disappointment in reality

Pinned out on a slab with nails between this point and that
Left to be picked at by crows
This divine line takes the electric charge
Of the death-row chair
Full on
Racked by the voltage from our killing fields

3 days of nothing

Before the line resumes where it left off
Regains its purity of form and becomes
The heartbeat underpinning the world, for ever

Vidéo – Noémie Daval – lecteur John Featherstone

Verticale, ténue, filament
Haut en bas, ciel à terre
Perfection rencontre gravité

La ligne pure traverse les années ratées
Les conflits ravageurs qui fendent l’âme
Chacun tirant à la corde pour s’emparer du fil
Le transformer, dénaturer, élimer
Jusqu’à le rendre méconnaissable
Afin d’occuper la place centrale
Et la balance oscille d’un côté, de l’autre
De ce fil à plomb
Pivot de Toutes Choses
Qui suit son cours
A travers chaque cauchemar de l’émotion humaine
Le cri, la fureur, l’amertume nourrie,
De la femme dont la vie a détruit la raison
Qui se souille alors qu’elle tabasse les voitures
L’affamé de pouvoir, qui se goinfre de cœurs
Les voix d’enfants tues par un vrai fusil
Adultes précoces, âmes vendues pour le fric

Les sans-abris qui lavent leur linge dans un égout parisien
L’orgueil qui se pavane sur les Boulevards derrière ses verres tintés
Le moi-roi qui se suffit à lui-même dans son indifférence vertueuse
Les ordures du privilège, paradis de l’affamé
L’espérance mal placée dans les comptes de fée
La déception du réel …
Tendue sur une planche, clous ça et là
Abandonnée aux rapaces
Cette ligne divine reçoit la charge électrique
De la chaise du couloir de la mort
de plein fouet
Tenaillée par le voltage de nos charniers
Trois jours sans rien

… or la ligne reprend
Retrouve sa pureté de forme et devient
Le battement de cœur qui soutient le monde, à jamais