Father, Forgive Them

'Two others also, who were criminals, were led away to be put to death with him.'

Calendar's rhythm thuds.
The kick drum rattles your rib cage
As collective memories and communal routines
Plume like dust from that undulating skin.
.....You must wrap gifts in superfluous paper,
.....That's tradition.
.....Yet repeating acts to underline thankfulness,
.....That's superstition.
Calendar's rhythm thuds
And we bellow through that dust cloud,
Clearing our throats and averting our eyes.
THUD For the drum announces the sales
THUD The rhythm is the anthem of vacation gifts.
So discard the old and ugly,
To find the beauty,
To spend and to own. 

'They came to the place that is called The Skull'

Excited skin bristles.
Chill shivers the spine in want
For purpose and ergonomics dim in contrast
To the lights, and the efficacious movement of the crowd.
.....So much spectacle,
.....All these plate glass doors,
.....Are diamond pimples covering the 
.....Universal symbol of death.
Excited skin bristles
Embodying Hirst's sculpture of excess,
Yet it's the bargains that muscle skeletal lusts into action.
So the chill will seep from spine to capillaries
Leaving us cold blooded with distraction,
To discard the old and ugly,
To find the beauty
To display as identity.

'They crucified Jesus there with the criminals, 
one on his right and one on his left'

Rumbling crowd behind us,
Rolling through the aisles like time itself.
This is the quiet of consumption; bated breath 
Before three cruciform clothing racks,
.....Where necessity meets indulgence,
.....The popular prescription of retail therapy
.....Patronises our problems
.....With sedative.
Rumbling crowd behind us,
We reach to plunge fingers into our copious options,
Grasping at the linen which calls us
Without noticing the silhouettes of life becoming carcass, 
Indiscriminately projecting death onto both 
The old and the ugly, to be discarded
And the beauty,
To be bought and owned. 

'Then Jesus said "Father, forgive them 
for they do not know what they are doing" 
and they cast lots to divide his clothing.'

Simultaneous silence and roaring
Glare from the obscenity of this moment
As gaining clothing from murder
Has nothing to do with forgiveness.
.....Yet a parched voice 
.....Rattles in the silence
.....With significance that slices through the noise
.....If you listen for it.
Simultaneous silence and roaring.
In the act of blind bargain hunting
Grace is drowned out by the sounds
Of buying and bartering.
In the silhouette of the cross,
On the skull shaped hill,
In obedience to the calendar's call, 
We look at the glitter to ignore the blood.

Will we turn from the noise 
To tune into the silence and hear
An outrageous request from the righteous sufferer?
Will we discard the old and ugly want for more,
And let that forgiveness beat the beautiful rhythm
Of true change?

This Easter, Fairfield, my home church in the U.K, are putting on an arts project entitled 'Easter Joy and Justice'. It's 'an amazing opportunity engage with various art pieces, created by 13 local artists, and see the Easter narrative in a new light. The project combines the Easter narrative with issues of justice (e.g. homelessness, poverty, climate change, drought) and brings together these concepts through various pieces of reflective and transformative light.' For more info click here.

Each contributor was assigned a bible verse from an Easter passage, an issue of justice, and a charity or organisation that the work will be linked to. 

This piece 'Father, forgive them' is my contribution to the arts project, and response the Luke 23:34: 'The Jesus said "Father, forgive them for they do not know what they are doing" and they cast lots to divide his clothing'. The verse was linked to the issue of ethical shopping, especially for clothing, and the ethical clothing company Know the Origin.

It has been such a privilege to be involved in this project. Not least because it enabled me to become immersed in this verse of the bible, and the image of Jesus' outrageous request of forgiveness for his executioners, being drowned by the noise of them wanting to get his clothing. The immediacy and of these two actions struck me, and the poem is an attempt to walk towards that moment through the preceding phrases in Luke, as one walking towards a shopping centre. Yes, it's a critique of materialism and consumerism, but most of all it's a reaction to a powerful biblical image, a confession of being one of those needing forgiveness, an encouragement that forgiveness from Jesus can lead to change, and a celebration of the audacious grace and gritty beauty of Jesus in the very act of forgiveness.


  1. ;I'm glad you are writing, Peter! I'm enjoying discovering your poetry. I hope there will be more and more to come.

    1. Hi Jody, thanks so much that's very encouraging! I'm always writing but don't always have time to update the blog... but I will whenever I can :-)


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