Begone Before We Weep, Young Vicar, Go

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On the occasion of the Reverend Ben Rundell-Evans’ last Holy Communion service at St. John the Baptist, Devizes, before his departure to Upper Stour

We’ll miss you in the vestry, little priest
And in the choir where we hear you sing
And at the altar where you share the feast
On Sunday mornings.  Nineteen bells to ring
In Stourton, Bourton, Kilmington, and Zeals
Three sets of six, and one for chiming hung
And practices on Mondays – silent peals
Unspoken hymns of glory softly sung
We’ll miss you, little priest.  You tidy up
The vestry, and are humorous and kind
The reverence with which you hold the cup
Is absolute.  And oh, your lively mind –
So wise for one so young, so good to know
Begone before we weep, young vicar, go

© Gail Foster 6th December 2019

Many Mansions; for Sister David Lewis

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Photograph of Sister David Lewis reproduced by kind permission of Scott Coleman

Sister David Lewis taught for many years at St. Joseph’s Catholic Primary School in Devizes in Wiltshire, and will be remembered by many with affection and gratitude. 

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I’m crying for a Catholic nun

Who once was kind to me

As I sat there in my miniskirt

Bad mother, C of E

“Sister David, the police came round

And battered down the door”

“Well, do you know, my dear,” she said

“I’ve heard that one before”

And she blessed me, without blinking

With a smile on her face

And I knew I was forgiven

Hail Mary, full of grace

And I can hear as clear as day

The words she said to me

“In my father’s house, my dear,

There many mansions be”

*

© Gail Foster 29th December 2016

 

Phoenix Rose; for Lisa Lewis

 

Lisa Lewis is the CEO of Doorway in Chippenham

She’s a legend.  Just don’t mess with her, right…

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Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s a scary

Far out full on punky fairy

Crowned with violent flowers and sage

And riding on her harnessed rage

Through tangled wood and thorny bower

To speak unsubtle truth to power

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

Wise be wise and fools be wary

For she will tread where no man goes

To seek those things that no one knows

Expect no mercy if you cross her

Best be right and not a tosser

Don’t mess with Lisa, she’s so scary

Medusa crossed with Virgin Mary

Bottle, balls, and Occam’s razor

Prosecco, throttle up, and tazer

Wild light to make a diamond shy

And tears forbidden from her eye

Don’t mess with Lisa, man, she’s scary

That’s one well effective fairy

Pierced with wisdom to the bone

Dark metal angel stood alone

Feared and loved by all she knows

A phoenix, from the darkness rose

*

© Gail Foster 2016

 

On the death of Mohammed Ali; three clerihews

The man was a legend.  Respect.

I hope he would have enjoyed my use of the clerihew in this context.

If not then it’s not like he can hit me, now, is it?

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So farewell, Cassius Clay, Ali

You knocked out a bit of poetry

That butterfly one sure packed a sting

And well done on the boxing thing

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Mohammed, man, you’re counted out

You gave the boxing thing a shout

Wrote rhyme to make a grown man cry

And dodged the draft like a butterfly

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Ali, you’ve packed your final punch

Man, you took boxing out to lunch

Men say that you are God today

Who made Mohammed out of Clay

*

© Gail Foster

 

Rosemary’s Funeral

Mother’s Day is an emotional time, especially for folk who no longer have their Mums around. My mother is long gone, bless her. She died at this time of year, in 1990. I wrote this last year for Mother’s Day, and the coming of Spring. It’s actually a celebration of her so no need for tears.

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My mother’s coffin on the bier, up the cobbled steps to St. Mary’s church. My babe folded warm to my breast. Green turf on the hill and the early cry of lambs upon the Plain. Warm breath, warm wind, the knell of an ancient bell, solemn steps up to the sacred temple, dedicated to His mother, The Mother, all mothers, my mother.

For Spring is a dying in itself. My child stirs. She waited for him before her passing. I pressed him to her breast as she lay dying, her window open, bright gifted daffodils a-stirring on the sill. I took a photograph and have it still. My mother, blessed in her helplessness, still fierce in her humility, with a twinkle in her eye, a warm smile and her only grandchild in her arms.

Funeral over and back in the light my son and I await new life.

*

by Gail

Farewell Father Jack; a clerihew

Father Jack is a character in an English/Irish sitcom called Father Ted, which is about Catholic priests living on an island. The joke of Father Jack is that he is always drunk and, when he is not being hidden from visiting clergy, just sits in his chair spitting expletives. Today Frank Kelly, the actor who played him so brilliantly, died. The English clerihew is a good form with which to pay him tribute.

So, farewell then, Father Jack
Let this be writ upon a plaque
“All things pass;
Drink, feck, arse…”

by Gail

Blossom Rising

On the deaths of Major John Cairns Bartholomew, of Wadworthshire,

and a much loved Devizes tree…

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Beneath a grey and monumental sky

In wild confetti clouds that dance in air

The blossom falls, all trees and men will die

However good, or beautiful, or rare

For years beneath the branches of that tree

Have lovers kissed and lonely mourners waited

All men and trees shall die, he, thee, and me

By that same force destroyed and yet created

The clattering of horses’ hooves, the sound

Of yeoman passing, ghosts that haunt the ears

All trees and men be gone into the ground

Till from the light new word of life appears

In red Victorian brick and petal glow

Are strength and beauty blended for our eyes

Good men and trees in season come and go

Such knowledge is the glory of the wise

Drink with your eyes each bright delight you see

And savour every moment of creation

For man will pass, and wind will fell the tree

And wine will fall on coffins in libation

If blood still flows like sap, then drain your glass

Enjoy the fleeting sunbeam in your ale

All trees and men will die, for all things pass

All moonlight fade, and colours turn to pale

Let hops be gathered, make of sunshine, hay

Add rosebuds, and ferment a heady brew

For trees and men shall certain pass away

As dark of midnight shadows summer’s blue

And soon enough, last orders will be rung

Sad flags will flutter half way up the mast

And dark laments for men and trees be sung

And rest be found for dear old souls at last

Learn wisdom, child, from ale and wood and bone

Brew love in barrels down in cellars deep

And find it there when you return, alone

To watch the man in blossom rise from sleep

*

by Gail