Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Dark December

It is always mid-December
Moonlight on snow
Birds in bare bushes

The dark is urging us
To forget the summer sun
To let the ice freeze over
To let our hope fall
From numb fingers

How can we wait
For springtime
When the nights stretch out and eat the day?
How can we wait
For morning
When the dark spreads out over the glittering snow?

It is always mid-December
Brittle scraps of icy clouds
Shrouding the wan moon

Wednesday, January 9, 2013


And here
In this secret centre of the world
The hidden meaning of it all
Drifting through the blossomheavy orchards
Shimmering up from blue depths
Of dark lakes
And then here
In the late sunrise cresting
Fir fringed mountain
Setting snow sparkling
The secret centre of it all
The hidden understanding
Buried in golden maple leafdrifts
Pushing up from cold spring earth
With the first dainty daffodils
Here, and here
The secret meaning of the world
The hidden centre of it all
Slowly turns herself to me
Touching my eyes
And here, now
I see

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Life or Death

No, no, we’re doing it wrong;
It is Death that should part us, not
The living of life. But perhaps,
This dull limp simulacrum of life
Is not life at all, perhaps
It is stealthy Death, sliding in,
Stealing life, sucking the love
From our bones, leaving us dry,
Hollowly hobbling through this
Gaunt shadow of life. But now
We are here in this wilderness,
Lost in the dusty wasteland,
Where we foolishly followed
That phony phantom of fake life;
Where can we go?
How do we escape?
I dread heading into the deep snow
Trying to find help, leaving you behind
Fearing they’ll find my lonely corpse
Curled forgotten in the roots of a tree.
We should stay where we are;
Stay with our twisted wreckage,
Stay together, huddle for warmth,
Wait for rescue, someone will miss us.

Won’t they?

Monday, November 1, 2010


Yes, Death, we know you're there.
We know you all too well.
You're a greedy bastard,
All taking and no giving.
You take everyone away from us,
Leaving only sorrow,
Until you take us too.

We cannot satiate you,
We cannot placate you,
What can we do?

We can laugh. (At you, not with you.)
We can throw a party in your honour,
We can decorate with darkness,
Mock you to your gaunt, hungry face.

We can teach our children
(who are still farthest
from you, yet still have
the most to lose) that yes,
we all die, and you will
take everything from us,
and so, and so, we must
celebrate, we must light
candles against the
darkness, we must laugh
at the horror of it all...

The cold wind blows down the
Mountainsides, and the clouds
Hide the chill moon.

Down here, in Death's Domain,
We laugh, we shout, we share,
We smile in a warm imitation
Of your lipless grin.

Monday, March 29, 2010


(For two female voices)

We meet in the early morning, in the darkness.
Before the sunrise has returned colour to the world.

There is no colour in our dark world.

We walk through the grey streets to the dark garden.

For two days, all has seemed grey.
Yesterday, it seemed the sun didn't rise.
We simply sat limply.

We walk through the shadows under the grey trees.
We come to the corner before the cold stone tomb.

We brace ourselves to face the stern, burly stonefaced men.

"Let us pass," We will say, "We have come to tend to our fallen king."

All that is left now is the arrangement of the dead,
like making a bouquet from dry lifeless flowers.

The Earth moves sideways under our feet and we stumble,

And ahead there is a light in the darkness.

Unsure, we walk forward ...

And we see astonishing strangeness!

There is the tomb, but all changed!
A man, all aglow, as if the sun lit him from within,
Sits smiling atop the heavy entrance stone,
And the stone, strangely, sits beside the dark empty entrance!

The soldiers sit silently slumped, their grey faces slack.

Then the sun rises.
The rays reach through the branches
And they fall through the hole in the rock

Light spills into the hole that holds our Lord.

The shining man,

The flashing angel,

Yes, he is clearly an angel,
He smiles and speaks to us.

To us!

We stand transfixed, our mouths open, our feet frozen.
"You're looking for the crucified Jesus, but he's gone!"

"He said he would rise, and he has!"

"The tomb is empty! Go look!"

We can't move but we see, through the empty hole,

We see the sun's yellow rays falling across the vacancy,

The sunlight warming the empty yellow sandstone,
The place where our Lord lay, now with only empty white linen.

"Now go!" That strange voice shocks us again,
"Go and tell his fearful followers, cowering in their dark hole,
Tell them to shake off their sadness and get to Galilee,
And he will meet them there! Now go!"

And with that, we turn, our heads spinning, and run.

We are terrified, but alive, alive and awake like never before!

The garden glows and shimmers with rich colours,
And the news fills us to bursting.

We run!

And then we stumble to a stop as if the earth had moved again.
There stands, smiling, all impossibly,
The man that minutes ago we wept for!

"Good morning, ladies!" He says.

We fall forward, each grabbing an ankle as if drowning.

"Lord, you're alive!"


"How is this possible?"

"You're everything you said you were!""

We gush embarrassingly, weeping, this time for joy, but still,

Still, we are also filled with fear.

"Relax," He smiles, touching our shoulders, "Loosen your grip; don't be upset.
Go and tell my brothers to get to Galilee and I'll meet you there."

Next thing we know, we're on our feet and running again,

Running through the glowing garden,

Grins splitting our faces, tears streaking our cheeks.

And glancing over our shoulders we see only an empty shadow-streaked path.

Onwards we rush, our skirts flapping around us, to find the followers
Hiding fearfully in the shadowy rooms.

We're running now to them with our news,

To chase away the dusty shadows,

To throw open the shutters,

To let the sun's light stream in.

Matt 28:1-10
CC-BY-SA license, attribute to "Alan Bruce"

Saturday, December 12, 2009

A Familiar Story, Retold

The sun sets over the rough rooftops, the dirty crowded streets. The weary couple push through milling multitudes, past patrolling soldiers. The pregnant girl is pushed by passers-by. She grimaces as another contraction wracks her small body. But still, she thinks, the journey was worth it. This distant city is the perfect place to escape the shame of small-town gossip.

The innkeeper can smell the scandal, but he softens, wipes his hands on his apron, and takes them out back, to the straw-strewn stables. He sends a boy running for the midwife and lights a lamp. You can use this pile of hay. No forget it, you don't have to pay.

The place hangs heavy with the thick earthy smell of animals. A damp chill rises from the stone floor. The lamps sputter in the random drafts from the open doorway.

The father stands helplessly by, listening to her cries, her tears, her animal-like sounds, watching her face clenched and furrowed by pain. I don’t understand, this can’t be right, he thinks, why did we have to hide here? Maybe that angel was just a dream. Well, I’ll know for sure if it’s a girl, or if he has a Roman nose, or if he looks like Eli from down the street.

Push, the old midwife says, push.

The mother barely thinks beyond the next contraction; they come so quickly now, she is barely coherent. I don’t understand, this can’t be right, she thinks, I was highly favoured, I was blessed – why does it hurt so much? And it hurts – so – much! Where is Gabriel now? My God, why have you abandoned me?

But no angels appear to her, and she is not comforted.

There, in the pungent dimness, a squalling baby boy spills into the world and history hinges, the universe upends, a donkey defecates and a horse kicks the door of its stall.

A group of ragged men lie around a tiny flickering fire. One, without even a blanket, looks into the fire and says, my uncle has land up north, he's going to send for me one of these days, and I'll be sleeping in a real bed. Another man, lying on his back, scorns, yeah and my sheep shit gold denarii. The men all laugh. The fire dies down. And then, the sky opens like a white rose blooming, and these scarred, ragged men with their yellowed broken teeth become heaven's only audience, lonely witnesses to the immense glory of God's paternal rejoicing. Their cold journey to the dingy stable is the only pilgrimage this chilly night.

Who understands the mind of God? Who comprehends the willful humiliation of his beloved Son? Why hide His Glory in dirty obscurity? Who knows? But he still does it. His Spirit still chooses the most unlikely places to take up residence. Now, he comes to dwell in the muddy messes of our lives.

(Copyright 2009, Creative Commons Attribution Only licensed, Alan Bruce. Please link to this post in attribution)

Thursday, October 12, 2006


What a strange time is this.
Now, in these dark days,
We wait. We celebrate.

Down through the dark centuries,
Through the sadness and sickness,
Through the wars and rumours of wars,
Through the mists, darkly,
We wait. We celebrate.

As the darkness pushes in,
Creeping up the clockface,
The cold monster eating the daylight;

We wonder, in our deep cores,
If each day will even dawn.

Into this dark season of despair
We plant a small seed of hope.
We celebrate the turning of the tide,
Which is both the lowest ebb and
The beginning of the return of
The sun into his daylight kingdom.

At first, nothing seems to have changed;
It is still, seemingly, the darkest hour,
The lowest, hopeless moments.

After all, it is only a tiny seed,
An obscure, rural birth.

And yet, and yet, AH! And yet!
The tide HAS turned, the clock is ticking,
The darkness slowly driven back
By the kingdom of daylight,
Dark's defeat made inevitable though
Still invisible in this dismal chill.

So we wait,
And we celebrate,
Rejoicing in the beginning
Of the end;
We celebrate, we anticipate
The soon-sprouting seed
Beneath the bare soil.

December 2006