God, I feel flat.
The scintillations have all shimmered off,
the fibrillations have decelerated,
the fabulations gone to spin and drivel.
My plain is sandy, desert-brown —
goannas lie in shade of boulders;
do they live or die? Do I?
I feel God is flat.
He craves our jubilation — but we miss his:
celestial festivities have lost their funding,
concelebrations only at committee stage.
Heaven's up for lease or purchase,
the sales pitch unconvincing,
why bother moving in?
God feels I am flat.
He knows I've tried his energising programs,
his wordy Word, still in black and white,
saw me merely startled by the trumpet voice.
He can spot apathy a mile off —
trouble is, he shares it,
and empathy's no comfort.
God and I are on the couch.
The finest counsellors have offered help,
comforters brought rugs and camomile;
spilling all has left us vacant.
But if God has lost his touch
who on earth can counsel him?
We might as well get used to feeling flat.
Counting my blessings
I count my blessings at the end of day,
and if I'm short, or void, I do the negatives:
Lord, I thank you that you held back rain
for Sammy's picnic, and we did not feud —
it's the best that can be said for it.
No suicidal bombings featured in the news;
no scandal rocked the city, not today.
I did not surrender to vainglory, envy, pride,
nothing in that line need be confessed;
I did not pig out on muesli or warm salad,
there was no malice in my talk, or very little —
I may have slipped, in speaking of that dinner
when infidelities were breathlessly revealed —
need I confess, or merely ask indulgence?
No earthquake shook the Philippines,
nor Japan, New Zealand, Mexico;
bushfires did not roar through our brown land,
the sea devoured no beachside mansions.
The nations did not rage together
any more than usual, at least,
whales and rhinos had an easy day.
And you, Lord, did not cast us out
in any obvious way. From your silence
we assume your love and fatherly concern.
At number 12, nothing in fact happened
to disrupt our comfortable ways.
We praise you, Lord, for quiet nights
and days of limited enthusiasm.
No sex please, we're praying
In prayer, our minds are sex-free, let us hope;
our thoughts of God do not include the body,
his or ours, svelte or chunky,
erotic perfume should be undetectable,
ditto the sense of orgiastic writhing
sent down to us from digital porn heaven.
That's hell, in fact — I've been there;
Hieronymus would have drawn it well,
the actors having extra sex organs.
They would not know the gentle joy of prayer,
eyes closed against assault by video game,
ears deaf to aircraft noise and chainsaws.
Should your inner eye pick out an angel,
beautiful, and fixing eyes on you,
or Jesus wearing little but a wisp of cloth
across a gym-toned body streaked with blood,
contact your counsellor, ring that number —
you've wandered to the opposition site.
The best backdrop for prayer is pale blue
with dreamy clouds adrift, to music;
our spiritual lives can be enacted here.
First we adore, prostrate, or say we do —
we remain a little vague about the object,
know it's in the sky, spelt G-o-d.
We Christians say God came to earth
embodied as a village tradesman —
was his magnetism wholly spiritual?
I doubt it, yet I also doubt
he had those college-boy good looks
enshrined in calendars and Sunday schools.
The artisan man-god has long departed
into fantale realms of gallery kitsch.
In prayer, even that goes west,
dissolving into vast infinity.
An image graven or ungraven has no hope —
no need to ban them, we're with God.
When we descend, we'll put on flesh again,
give shape and breath to messengers of God,
flick through a mag that's all page three,
but after we gorge ourselves on meat,
and spirit pines for spirit, we will say
'No sex please, we're praying'.
Rodney Wetherell worked for ABC Radio Drama for many years, and is now a freelance writer. He worships in an Anglican parish in Melbourne.