Poem: The Olive Pressed

We have some more guest poetry from Cameron Wood who blog at Cultural Rumbles

The Olive Pressed

I.

The Olive Tree that would my wild branch tame
Stood meekly by the pure spring drinking life
Unblemished, until false accusers came
With biting nails and hammers forged for strife,
And broke the mighty branches of that tree
Then razed it to Golgotha, drawing blood
While harsh ropes bound the tree in cutting tether.
The Pure Olive prayed: this I do for thee,
And – pressed – wept oil upon the blood-stained wood,
Which oil would sanctify all pure endeavor.

Thus issued forth the stream no sin could still,
To flood the thirsty cup of absolution.
And as accusers raged upon that hill
The Tree did weep the tears of purification
For sin-stained folk who would clean garments show.
For on the Olive Tree mixed blood and oil
Within the crushing press of our deepest pains;
And from such bitter drink the Tree does know
Our every leaf and root, and won’t recoil
From washing us until no dross remains.

II.

When, fasting, I came to the Olive Cross–
My wild branch in hand and heavily borne–
I thought that sacrifice was naught but loss,
And that such loss would end in bitter mourn,
Because I loved my sins. While the old wants laughed,
I tended to my branch as best I could,
But all that graced my branch when I was done
Was one weak blossom, so I took to graft
Onto my branch a Tree-grown shoot that would
Abet my own, for loneness grieved my one.

With two tame blossoms on my branch I knelt
And gave humble prayer upon that hill,
And wept for pain that all my years I’d felt;
Then I took symbols which I hoped would fill
My soul, and with hands still moist with oil
I poured a sacral drink and broke my bread,
And blessed them, reverencing the Olive torn.
Then succor came, abating my heart’s toil;
And saw I that which cast away my dread:
Pure olives from my blossoms had been born.

III.

That day the Olive Tree to me did say:
Canst thou be joyful even in duress?
Then came to me deep trials through which the only way
To pass did lay my fruits upon the Press.
My heart did sorrow, but in life’s stone crush
Sweet oil flowed out; then heard I through my rue:
Dost now though understand my love for thee?
And so again my verdant branch grew lush.
Heard I: As by thy pressed fruit I know you,
So by that very fruit dost thou know me.

And then upon the hill the Tree became
An Altar made of polished olive wood,
Enquiring me if all my fruit I’d tame,
Enquiring if I’d bind there all I could.
I wondered, could I sacrifice my all?
How could I not? The olives in my hand
Did show how trials had purged away the dross.
Thus, grafted to the Altar, straight and tall,
My branch became a tree that burst its band.
Heard I: True sacrifice is never loss.

IV.

In time I grew to ancient age as well;
My branches and my roots entwined complete
The Altar where upon my knees I fell
And where by grafting I did live replete.
My child, it said to me the day I died,
The Husbandman awaits, art though afraid?
Ah, dearest Lord, I smiled, I have no fears,
For it was Thee who blessed me when I cried,
And it is at Thy Altar I am laid,
And so beyond death’s veil you’ll kiss my tears.

For thou art Husbandman and Olive Tree,
And thou art Olive pure and Olive pressed,
So, too, Thou art the Altar at my knee,
Where spilled the blood and oil with which I’m blessed.
Well said, my child, well said! Thou hast been true;
‘Twere in my Press you overcame thy gall,
My blood and oil I gave as Olive Tree,
As Altar Pure thy best-grown fruits I knew,
As Husbandman I wash and dress thy all;
Now come, dear friend, and know Eternity!

by Cameron C. Wood
copyright 2017

Mood and Meter for Pulpy Poets

This is a guest post from a reader. Could he please get in contact with us so I can find out if he wants credit for the post and whether he would be interested in joining us on a more regular basis.

Need help getting the ol’ pulp vibe kickstarted? Do some poetry! No, wait! Come back! I’m serious!

All this recent talk here and there about the old role-playing games got me to feeling rather keen on the old, pre-CGI days of my mostly misspent youth. So today I whipped a neat couple and then after church quickly blew out a bunch of images.

The rules are simple:
1. Six lines, the last two being a repeating couplet. Or not!
2. Four solid beats per line, like a war chant. A must! None of that faux Greek 5 beats per line nonsense. This ain’t for your classics professor.
3. They don’t have to rhyme at all. Unless you want them to!
4. They don’t even require complete images. See 3., above!

Just let your imagination fly, and have fun. Here’s the stuff I just finished:

Dark clouds part on ivory sand,
Jungles wreath deep canyons walls,
Shadowed giants-stone in mist,
Deep and deeper floats a light
Far beyond an unknown sea:
That is where I wish to be.

Bright corona, circle gate,
Pinpoints flashing in and out,
Wheel and turn, bright field of stars
Frontiers beckon near the rim
Far beyond the Terran sea:
That is where I wish to be.

Six-armed goddess, carven jade,
Green swords flail, death she brings,
Slice and parry, weave and kick,
Closer toward the pit we dance
Far beyond an unknown sea:
That is where I wish to be.

Eldritch head and golden eye,
Teeth like swords that promise blood,
Scale and sinew, neck raised high.
Heft my lance and spur my horse–
Far beyond an unknown sea:
That is where I wish to be.

Goblins gibber, bold knights yell,
Broken bodies on the plain
Armies pause, the Hunter sounds,
Armies charge beneath his horn
Far beyond the unknown sea:
That is where I wish to be.

Ship in spacedock, soldiers chase,
Be alert now; let them pass
Seven letters in my pouch,
Seven planets, seven kings
Far beyond my galaxy:
That is where I wish to be.

Down the hallway toward the gold
Mouth on pillar sings a tale;
Riddles warn and pillar shakes,
Thrumming echoes, distant drums
Far beyond the unknown sea:
That is where I wish to be.

–Knock yourselves, guys!

When truth is viewed as treachery

When truth is viewed as treachery,
Integrity as vice,
And beauty as debauchery,
That’s when a nation dies.

When mercy is a hateful thing,
And power is all they crave,
The paradise they hope to bring
Is but an open grave.

And so we strive in our small works
To furnish, among other perks,
Young minds with beauty, wit and charm,
The faithful in this way to arm

Against the waves of hellish thoughts
Proclaimed in foul corrupted courts
That seek to undermine all hope
And glamourize the hangman’s rope.

So strengthened, they will dare to stand
And build great things upon the land,
Inspire others to the cause
That’s guided by such higher laws.

Thus day by day and heart by heart
We all must play our little part
In the greatest of all symphonies,
Most glorious of mysteries,

Whose notes are holy purity,
Resounding to eternity;
Uplift, inspire, make whole and strong,
And join in the Creator’s song.

I have known…

Listening to music can be therapeutic, soothing, invigorating, inspiring, heartbreaking, or depressing, much like reading or listening to a story. In fact Hans Zimmer once said that in all the music he composes his primary purpose is to tell a story, despite using no words. Listening to one of his most famous pieces (that accompanies one of the great movie endings of all time) inspired this little effort of mine below. In Zimmer’s piece, and the film, the hero is faced with a situation where all seems lost. He did everything he could, but all he has worked for has crumbled to dust before his eyes. He sees the situation for what it is, absorbs this devastating news, and yet he still finds the strength to keep going, even to sacrifice himself and his reputation to save people he will never meet, who will almost certainly never even know, let alone appreciate, what he did for them. He is able to do it quickly this time, because he’s done it before. In these respects, these few minutes are a microcosm of his entire heroic journey.

As the piece played I was struck by the ways in which it mirrored some of my own experiences (except it took me far longer to gather up the strength to keep going, and my behaviour has been far less heroic). It encourages me to keep going, to do better, to come closer to the good example set.

This is the power of story, of archetypes, of strong heroic characters, of good examples. Let us make more of them.

My piece set to Zimmer’s music can be found here, with the lyrics below that

I have known…

I have known despair, and I will not promote it.
I have known pain, and I will not glorify it.
I have known false hope, and I will not encourage it.
I have known cowardice, and I will understand, but not praise it.
I have known self-loathing, and I will not romanticize it.
I have known brokenness, defeat, lostness, and yet emerged on the other side, not unscathed, but grown.
I have known failure, and I will learn from it.
I will defend the truth.
I will not abandon my allies.
I will keep learning, and admit when I am wrong.
I will advocate for genuine hope.
I will praise and strive to create beauty.
I will call for courage in matters great and small.
I will seek to repair the damage I have caused.
I will seek to restore friendships.
I will console those who suffer.
I will encourage those who feel they can’t go on, for I have walked that path.

The Greatest of These

As we approach the end of an eventful year, and the start of a new that promises a number of big things in the near future, I could make the standard wish to you all of success, health and comfort, but I thought I’d post a little reminder of what is most important of all:

The Greatest of These

There is no force upon the earth
That can outweigh the gift of love;
No wealth or situation
That can outbid its worth;

No jewel in all its glory
No title, honour, place
That can outshine the smile that spreads
Across your loved one’s face.

While victories are powerful joys
And justice plays its part
None can match devotion
From an honest human heart.

So dance and laugh and celebrate,
Savour and appreciate,
Stand, salute, commemorate
Console and commiserate
With those you choose to love.

Priceless Sunday

On this day of days, we reach the culmination of our Advent Series, with the day that all Advent Sundays look towards, what could be better than Gold Sunday?

Priceless Sunday

Beyond all hopes, beyond all dreams,
Beyond all human plots and schemes
To cure the ills that plague mankind,
The bonds that hold the weak unbind,

The wisdom of the world surpass,
To show the lost the way at last.
To shame the mighty and the strong
And show the proud where they went wrong.

To open up the narrow door
That leads to love for evermore;
All this through a baby’s birth
To reclaim corrupted Earth.

The fullness of divinity
Combined with full humanity
To be the Way, the price to pay
With unforeseen humility.

No eye had seen, no ear had heard
The mighty and incarnate Word
That cried our tears, that felt our pain,
So we could all be whole again.

The greatest enemy of all
Saw this would lead to his great fall;
He tried to tempt, to spoil, destroy,
But could not taint our source of joy.

At last That Day had come.

 


For more of my poetry, there are two of my collections available on Amazon:

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Gold Sunday

Continuing on from last week, Silver Sunday, we now move on to the final Advent Sunday:

Gold Sunday

From mighty Babylon of old
Through furnaces and statues gold
Endured a voice that prophesied
Great future empires’ fall and rise

And then a rock to dwarf them all
Arising from a land so small,
Its people cling to trembling hope
In more than just a horoscope.

The age is nigh, the world expects
A noble, mighty architect
Of change unique in history,
An end to Israel’s misery,

And soon That Day will come.


For more of my poetry, there are two of my collections available on Amazon:

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