Painter, poet, printmaker, performer
© All works on this website are protected under copyright laws. Permission for their reproduction should be sought from Ken Rookes, contact details below.
Ken Rookes, Willowra School, PMB 102, Via Alice Springs, NT 0872 Australia email@example.com
They opened a souvenir stand
at the scene of the execution.
An enterprising soldier, having
embraced the government's
gambling-led economic policies,
declares: "Everyone's a winner!"
as he cuts the king's robe
into five-centimetre squares,
mounts them on pieces of parchment,
and, numbering each one,
offers them for sale to the public.
Business is slow, however,
and the soldier is forced
to offer them as a job lot
to some passing merchants.
"They'll be worth a fortune one day,"
he assures them.
The merchants raise their eyes,
but see no king;
only three criminals dying in the sun.
Unconvinced, they pass up
Blessed are the peacemakers
What shall we call them,
these little ones cutting in cardboard
the shape of doves,
and daubing on white sheets
the colourful slogans of peace?
Ignorant of international complexities,
they dwell in picture-book stories
with simple innocent assurances
that love will prevail over hatred,
and that the righteous will live happily ever.
I blame the parents,
sharing their offspring’s naivety,
with sad smiles.
You’ll have to sing louder than that
if you want to stop the war.
What shall we call them, these little ones,
and those who encourage them?
We, who dwell also in picture-book stories,
know that they shall be called
children of God.
Late at night we become emboldened
and allow deep-within doubts
to glimpse, as it were,
the light of day.
So the teacher of Israel comes
in darkness to talk with the man
whose words glimmer
like a lake beneath a full moon.
A staccato celebration of questions,
a shimmer of provocations,
and glistening affirmations;
of sparkling water, rushing wind,
In the world of ever-thrusting images,
of throbbing colour, pulsing light
and fifteen-minute fame
icons come cheap.
There they are: bleached-haired,
lip-synching song crafters,
stripped and shaven sports idols,
tyrants, thieves, animated drawings,
and creatures generated from deep within
the lattice-like mind of the semi-conductor chip.
We are not fussy. The famous, the infamous,
the exceptional and the notorious;
they flicker in boxes, peer down from walls,
grin at us from tee-shirts
and populate the covers of magazines.
With drab butterfly wings, we flit
from one garish luminary to another,
before they merge into each other and fade;
dying flowers, photographs left in the sun.
These icons are short lived.
Still we consume them, and search,
still hungry, for the next icon to devour.
They do not satisfy.
Hanging among others, almost lost, one alone
fills the belly of the soul.
This is no popular hero
to tantalise and enthral fickle hearts.
he disappoints those who seek
a comfortable passage and happy ending,
he angers those who claim the right
to shape lives and to order their world.
This icon steps from the frame to call to himself
the members of his race.
Bloodied and real, he hangs,
confronting with flesh-torn love.
Disturbing love, refusing to be broken by death.
Unfashionable life, abandoning itself
that others may live.
There he is, lifted from the earth;
with his out-of-date message of costly service.
Look up, if you dare.
In the breaking of bread
In the breaking of bread
the Lord is known.
The human-shaped God
takes the hospitality of heaven in his hands
and distributes it to his friends.
“This is for you,” he says
looking into the eyes of the hungry.
“This food is me. Take me deep inside
your eyes, your head, your heart and your belly.
Take me into your dreams and your struggles,
your fears and your waking thoughts.
Take me deep into your cryings
and your rejoicings. Take me as you journey
towards the wonder of love
and the mystery of grace.
Find me deep within your sharings,
your yearnings, your laughings,
and the fullness of your life together.
See me with you in the loneliness of dark night
and when you close your eyes
against the blinding light.
See me; even when I disappear.
This is for you,”
I shall dig deep the hole
in which I hide my heart.
There it shall lie,
On the day that the master returns
I shall retrieve my heart
and present it before him,
The Bonsai Man
Zacchaeus the bonsai man,
growing stunted and gnarled;
his roots bound and starved
of human respect and affection.
Until the gardener looks up
into the twisted branches
of another tree, sees him,
calls him friend,
uproots him from the cruel pot
of judgement and derision
and offers him a plot
in the field of God's kingdom.
There he can grow as God intends;
with space to send roots deep
into love, to stretch out his limbs,
and to be made fruitful.