To all the late and wavering poets


Your fledgling faith is beginning to paint lines,
extruding mute colours,
flickering images.

But the light in you is brittle,
it quavers like crystal,
threatens to shatter,
in the night,
in the empty square,
where no lantern swings.

Now I see how you’ve been scarred by silence,
told it was golden
and good for you.

It should have come,
exploding out,
in the crowded market,
at the self-immolated mothers,
at the fathers in vestments.

But it’s not too late.
Bones are stirring,
rattling down in the Rift Valley.

Go join them.
Make a Bedouin life.
Make raids by camel,
never water down your wine,
be happy with your goats,
be happy with pauses between poems,
silence within poems,
but never again with that imposed silence.


  1. I know you didn’t write this for me, but it’s a good fit… okay if I piggy-back and come along? Thank you!

  2. A rich and provocative combination of hope in the possibilities of life and anger at what oppresses – found tears in my eyes at the biblical imagery of the bones, joy at the invitation to Bedouin life,

  3. Stephen,
    Your words transported me back to times when I saw places where Bedouins and camels roamed, walked in crowded markets in Jerusalem with its four quarters of different ethnicities/religious groups, looking down the Rift Valley in Africa…always reflecting on how — no matter how many miles divide us, we have more in common than we admit. The violence and hate that predominates in many of these places now sadden me beyond words. Your words, however, are a comfort.

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