Ken Rookes

Painter, poet, printmaker, performer


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Ken Rookes, Willowra School, PMB 102, Via Alice Springs, NT 0872 Australia  





Some SES poems

While living in Victoria Ken was volunteer Chaplain with the North-West Region of the Victoria State Emergency Service (VICSES)

A blessing and two poems from the inside of some Christmas cards.


An SES Blessing


May your equipment always be ready,

may your lashings always be tight.

May your crews be aware of the dangers,

may your lighting plants shine through the night.


May you master the skills that are needed,

may you always work safe and secure.

May your comms be clear and effective,

may your management always be sure.


May your ropes pack away free of tangles,

may your chainsaws start at first pull.

May you learn something new ev’ry training,

may your welfare box always be full.


May both gloves be found where you left them;

whoever you seek, may you find.

May your overalls gleam in the darkness,

may your tools never be left behind.


May you rise to great heights in your teamwork,

may your knots always look as they should.

May you take pride in all your achievements,

may you accept the bad with the good.


May God bless you with trusted companions,

worthy comrades on whom you rely.

May you know that your work’s deeply valued,

may your standard be always flown high.


Ken Rookes 2007






The metaphorical star sits

in the sky above Bethlehem;

whilst over the nearby hills

a bright and shining à capella choir

sings its divine refrain

to mark the coming of light

into the dark corners of a troubled world.


At a time and place far distant

another light shines from a slender tower

to wipe some darkness

from one of earth’s troubled corners.

Humming engines drone their insistent chorus

whilst determined voices speak of release and freedom.

No angelic beings, these, robed in glowing white,

but human, helmeted, garbed boldly in humble orange;

fulfilling their own divine calling

and doing what they can.


Ken Rookes 2008






The way Luke tells the story, Mary

was unknown and unknowing.

The girl, on the verge of marriage,

was confronted one day

by a light-filled spirit angel creature

with a message from somewhere

beyond this dust-filled ground mortal place

that she and the rest of us patiently inhabit.

Fear not! The creature assures her.

Having found favour, apparently,

in the all-seeing eyes

of the One Who Calls the Shots,

she is, it seems, to be offered that amazing gift

called Pregnancy.

Like all volunteers she had few inklings

of the ultimate outcome of raising her hand;

of where the call might take her,

or of the sorrows, joys,

and disappointments that awaited.

Being the first to be asked, as best she knew,

the young daughter of Nazareth

laid aside her many misgivings

and agreed to take it on.


Ken Rookes, 2009.


Training exercise


They were on a training exercise

when the man flagged them down

in the fading December light.

Assessing the situation,

a couple of the crew, both women,

grabbed a first-aid kit and followed the man

called Joe into the humble shed.

Observing that the place was illuminated

only by a few dimly glowing oil lamps,

the others set up the lighting plant.

They grabbed some blankets from the truck,

and, noting that there would probably

be need for some boiled water,

they plugged a jug into the generator.

Making themselves useful,

they prepared to direct the traffic

and control any bystanders who might come by;

placing some witches’ hats and flashing lights

around the old stable door.

They remembered to call headquarters,

reporting that their return would be delayed;

then, doing what they did best,

they stood around and waited.


Hearing the cry of the newly-delivered child,

followed by the shout, “It’s a boy, Maria!”

they allowed a respectful minute or three to pass

before poking their heads inside, offering

their congratulations, and taking a closer look.

They were joined by some curious shepherds,

who, noticing the sky flooded with light, and

picking up the echo of some distant angel chorus,

decided that they’d better check it out.


Ken Rookes 2010