At the Gates

Oh yes, I was beguiled by churchy cliques –
complacent ease with humble privilege,
the arch presumption of black-suited men
and campness cloaking bitter buried truth.
Oh, there was joy in jargon’s jealous claims,
the coded in- and outness of it all,
the huddled boozy late night synod do,
and all the bored and bitchy meanness too.
I knew it then, but couldn’t quite resist –
for glowing through it all the passioned Christ
excused our earthen vessels’ obvious flaw,
his fractured host hard-won redemption’s gift
that shamed our pretty Pilate-patterned pomp.
The coal glows still – it warms me at the gates
as I observe the institution’s fall.
The managers now run the dismal end
with Stalin’s brutish dreary dullard’s hand,
and treacherous screen exposes what we hid.
And so, with wistful leaver’s greedy cling
I watch awhile, and fancy I’m awake.

Rupert Moreton

Kiss

Caravaggio, The Taking of Christ. National Gallery of Ireland

The absent touch is my obsession
as one who never touches much,
for what you don’t do much you miss
the more when it is but forbidden.
It fascinates, attracts, repulses –
the parried clutch, the friction seized.

And now the others’ urge to touch
denied in paschal preparation
is clatter-carried on the screen.
It really seems it’s come to this –
for yearned evasion’s dim projection
appears to me but Judas-kiss.

Rupert Moreton

Approaching Holy Week

Faith was a thing I used to do.
For priested craft allowed me to
be agent of belief’s conceit –
enacted passion was complete
expression of the ungrasped truth
of pious hopes of callow youth.
Indeed, it was. For it allowed
faith’s burden’s carriage by the crowd
for whom the acted words somehow
contrived to promise things that vow’s
vicarious task absolved me from.
The host in hand, the merest crumb,
I clasped until it fell apart.
It’s strange that as we reach the start
of Holy Week – the doer’s time –
the call still chants the faithless rhyme
of faithful desperation’s cry.
For godforsaken-caught am I,
and glimmer’s glimpse still draws me in
towards that hope, so stubborn-thin.

Rupert Moreton

Another Covid Lent


The one who flinches feels it most,
and yet he plunges doubter’s hand’s
fresh piercing sword in wounded side.
“Don’t touch me, Mary!” But to Thomas:
“Reach out your hand.”
And so we’re caught
between the woman’s yearning clutch
and so-called doubter’s probing finger.
But yet for both, denied and glued,
the touch or lack confirms the thing.
The mess and gore and gardener’s flit
are incarnation’s curse and blessing –
the truth that only here can we
begin to see beyond confession’s
controlling orthodoxy’s grip.
The separation’s false, beguiles.
The thought, once caught, betrays, defiles.
For now the flickering screen allures
and touch, it’s felt, can here be real.
The glass, once darkly apprehended,
exposes all for what it is –
the stark rebuke of hubris-snare,
the there-ness of what isn’t there.
We’re left with nothing –
but to flinch.

Rupert Moreton

Another Epiphany

The splendid others blunder, beat
a starstruck path to others forced
by others to be counted as
another’s pastoral pageant tells.
This other tale, by other told –
a publican, whom others feared –
reminds us others, even now,
that others othered by our sin,
who see the other in our face,
who’d other other if they could,
are sisters, fathers, mothers, brothers –
that at the end we all are others.

Rupert Moreton

In the End

Master of Vyšší Brod, a Bohemian master, c. 1350.

In the end the word was made
prevarication.
Flesh was too real,
too exposing.
So they tightened the swaddling bands,
stifled the bawl,
turned their backs on the sour beast-belched
scatological mystery
and presumed to speak of
eschatology.
And Pilate and the High Priest
breathed a sigh of relief

and the babe in the manger
continued to
weep.

Rupert Moreton

Advent 2020

The wait goes on. And yet we rush
to grasp the moment’s glib narration –
demand to pander to the hush-
denying tinselled glitzed evasion
of all we’d rather not address.
The scandal now not Incarnation
but self’s desire that no less
than Dickens-Cola-fizzed creation
will only ever really do.
And that’s what covid’s escalation
exposes now. It isn’t new
of course, but comes fresh invitation
to travel inward to the place
where God in bawling consummation
of human passion’s grim embrace
declines to meet our sorry station
as terrified, we up and run
to cosy Luke-wrought destination –
the easy seized in mystery-shun.

Rupert Moreton

The Postmodern Churchperson

I do not feel it – whatever it may be.
Unless I feel it, I’ll be off.
You’ll have to find a way to please me –
for I’m the one who matters now.
Unless the patter prompts sensation
and makes me better than the others,
you can’t expect me long to linger
and yet I will – don’t tell me how.
The truth is that I like your trappings –
for power seduces, and I can’t
quite bring myself to shake the dust
from feet that will not ever walk


the straitened path whose lure repels.

Rupert Moreton

Possession

Inspired by a gem of an interview from 1961 with Frank O’Connor about Cork.

Possession takes us unaware – we fight
Deflection’s other battles in our haste
To close our eyes to weary human plight
That sees us cloistered in our hubris-waste,
That tempts us grimly, blithely to embrace
The blandishments of self-denying gain,
The facile moment’s ease, the fleeting chase
Whose end is brought by pride’s evaded wane.
We love to think we love, yet we are but
Desirous of reflection’s warped conceit,
But through it all the timely truth will cut
The junction where our sad delusions meet.
For we must one day know our wretched fate –
We only really love the thing we hate.

Rupert Moreton

So Do We Sin(?)

So do we sin then, you and I?
Can we rebel against the notion
That our projection in the sky
Dismisses every craven motion
We make to counter happy fault?

And can we turn our gaze on us?
Persuade ourselves of love’s reflection,
That we may now reject the fuss
That causes so much grim dejection
And claim our place ’neath heaven’s vault?

And can we build a new salvation
That isn’t wrought in searing pain?
And are there grounds for a creation
That reassures us all again
That we are free of rot’s assault?

Or does postmodern idle chatter
Of old Pelagius draw us in?
And as we contemplate self’s matter
Then do we shy from mirrored sin?

Thus prophet dies at ego’s halt.
The victim shuns the Victim’s passion
But claims his faultless crown’s default,
Contrives with witless ease to fashion
Cheap grace’s selfish fancied win.

Rupert Moreton