Thursday, 13 February 2020

FaithWriters' contest entry wins First Prize! It's called "Viewed from Out There"


There was excitement among the green people of Planet Gog, as the scientists returned from their historic mission in space.

Emperor Bonapog was there in all his splendour to welcome them as their spaceship landed – such was the importance of the occasion. It was a huge, time-consuming and expensive undertaking. His dreams of interstellar conquest depended on it.

After the ceremonies were over, the leading scientists were summoned to his conference room, together with other interested scientists.
 
Both Drs. Einstog and Newtog looked a little conscious as they gave their report.

‘Your imperial Majesty, we did our best,’ said Einstog anxiously. ‘The distance to Planet Earth is more than fifty light years away. Even our first faster-than-light robot ships crashed into unexpected space-debris before getting anywhere near it. Hence the space station. Dodge Technology finally got our Surveillance Saucer through with little damage.’
 
‘Less excuses and more results! What have you discovered?’

Dr Newtog nervously fumbled with the hologram projector, and a magnificent 3D image of Earth and its moon appeared. He displayed some of the lovely geological features, zooming in and turning the image to and fro. The blue oceans shimmered and the snowy peaks flashed in the sunlight.

Gasps of admiration came from many multi-throats. Even Bonapog was impressed.
‘It is beautiful! A worthy prize! I see there are green people also. Tall and stately, many are. Are they intelligent? Are they strong and well-armed?’

‘Er… these are not the ruling peoples, your Majesty,’ answered Newtog apologetically. ‘These organisms are like our photosynthetic herds, but stationary with deep feeder-tendrils into the Earth’s crust.’

‘Then the people who control them must be powerful indeed!’

Newtog then focussed on the towns villages and cities. Mutters of contempt greeted the moving images of earth-folk going about their daily business.

‘They are pathetic! Small bipeds with big mouths!’
‘Only one head! No feelers!’
‘There is not one green one among them!’

‘Then they shall be easily conquered’, remarked the emperor, with satisfaction. ‘What is the state of their weaponry?’

In answer, Newtog showed them a battle in progress. He zoomed back a little to show starving children, acts of terrorism and masses of discarded refuse in the oceans.
Finally, with a grim expression, he revealed an atomic explosion.

The scientists were aghast. Some had to hang upside down to properly comprehend what they were seeing.

‘Do they fight among themselves? To destroy enemy species is understandable, but…. themselves??’
‘How have they survived? Atomic fission as … a weapon??’
‘Will they destroy their own planet??’

Even the emperor looked rather daunted at this.
‘Is it worth the effort and expense to enslave such horrible creatures?’

At that moment, the great Dr Freug, the psychiatrist of their mission, wriggled forward and was handed the controls.

‘Your imperial Majesty,’ he said in measured tones, ‘We have decoded much of their languages, and have examined the substance of their conversations. Amongst the huge quantities of worthless and inane subjects that they discuss – and fight over – we gathered the following.’

He showed first a gargoyle on a cathedral, then a gathering of dark figures at a coven, muttering strange mantras, then various paintings of Satan or his demons.

‘It appears that this species was conquered, or allowed itself to be ruled by a malevolent spirit-species, pictured here in various guises. These subtly and deceitfully persuade them into self-destructive behaviour. Hence the consequences that have nearly brought their peoples to extinction. It appears that self-centredness and self-worship is at the source of it all.’

The emperor was shocked. ‘How could anyone be like that?’

Dr Freug cleared his multiple throats, exchanging brief, ironic images with his colleagues’ light-receptor organs. Some multi-mouths smiled.

‘It seems, however, that there is a counter-revolution happening of a gentle, but powerful, nature. It begins with their concept of “Love”, “Self-Sacrifice” and “Faith”, beginning with an historical figure 2,000 earth-years ago. His name was Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the Creator.’

He showed a well-drawn painting of a crucifixion scene. A translated portion of the Bible described His disciples preaching with radiant faces, doing deeds of kindness, then dying for their faith.

You could have heard a small Magogian-made fastening device drop.

A few tear-ducts were activated in some light-receptor organs.

‘This counter-revolution has been happening ever since, little though it is displayed in their media. Is it not what we have been seeking ourselves?’

‘If that is the case, these people cannot be conquered!’ declared Bonapog. ‘We must send a mission to discover their secret.’

Tuesday, 11 February 2020

Latest BardSong: "The Revenge of the Vegies" and "The Fruit Fights Back."


 Whoever deplores
All of us omnivores,
And carniv’ry you cannot pardon,
But cheese and eggs, then, you
Remove from the menu,
And murder the plants in the garden??

To eat a veg-ettable
Is quite regrettable.
What if it’s turned on its head?
How it would astound
If the produce turned round
And started to eat us instead.

A warning to smarties
Who hold garden-parties
And raid the fresh stuff from the bed:
Beware, all you vegans
And other houl-ee-gans:
You eat all the mushrooms, you’re dead!

Beware of that fruit
You think looks “You beaut”
And the juice would be great with your stew.
Then don’t come and whine
If you find on the vine
The Grapes of Wrath souring on you.

Imperialist man,
His expansionist plan
Is to grow more and fill up his greed.
But some day, the lettuce
Will shake off his fetters
In a snap he will bolt straight to seed.


And do not presume
To pick a legume
And eat it without its permission,
For once it’s internal
The reaction’s infernal
Resembling nuclear fission.


The root vege-table
Is willing and able
To take on all humans and cattle.
The turnip and swede
They have taken the lead
They’re all dug in and ready for battle.


The activist ‘tato
Will often quote Plato:
“By silence I’m giving consent!”
No! That left-leaning spud
Is no stick-in-the-mud.
To fatten us he is hell-bent!


The apple and pear
They declare “It’s unfair!
These capitalists sell us for money!
So, let us arise
And squirt juice in their eyes!
Then they won’t think it’s so funny!”



There it lies, so defiant,
A great, sleeping giant –
That menacing, huge pumpkin patch.
The dozing cucurbit
Pray, do not disturb, it
Can squash you with fearsome despatch!

The Family Brassica,
Facing a massacre,
Took up the Hammer-and-Sickle.
The cabbage and cauli
Attacked poor Aunt Mollie
Who finds herself now in a pickle.


The odorous onion
Complains of a bunion.
(It’s a long walk from garden to pie.)
But when you are peeling,
Its white flesh revealing,
Ironic! It’s making you cry!

Tomatoes turn rotten
When they are forgotten.
So don’t forget! Water that bush!
And if you are fine
With a fallen-down vine
Then you’re sure to get one in the moosh.

And as for the orchard
Its trees have been tortured
By secateurs, saws, ev’ry winter.
And then we complain
When we get a sharp pain –
Cleaning up, we get stuck by a splinter!

The celery stalks
Like fierce hunting hawks.
The blueberry’s turning blood red.
The thorny ras-berry
Is getting quite scary –
A socialist, commo hot-bed!

Those moldy stone fruits
Are a bunch of bold brutes.
‘Gainst the grower they’re hatching a plot:
To drop stones on his shed,
Bring it down on his head,
His posterior stuck in a pot.

For many a veggie
Is getting quite edgy,
‘Specially at harvesting season.
The plot and the field
Are refusing to yield
And the trees are all guilty of treason.

So don’t be a vulture
When you do horticulture.
Those yummy things treat with respect!
Don’t impose your agenda
On tissue so tender.
To the Greens Party they may defect.


Copyright © 2020 Bardswell Creations



Sunday, 2 February 2020

First Bardsong for 2020: "They Labour in Vain"


Behold the mighty castle tall
That crowns that tow’ring hill.
A baron there once held in thrall
The lowly to his will.

He looked out from the battlements
With pride his realm surveyed,
Knowing not his peril, hence
His vain thoughts him betrayed.

For guns and war machines were sent
and battered down the wall.
His power was crushed, his wealth was spent
His foes possessed it all.

For though the hills may long endure
Yet kings shall rise and tumble.
The wayward hearts of men impure,
As founding stones, shall crumble.

Behold these ruins, caked in grime,
Their former strength is lost
To endless batt’ring rams of time,
Of rain and wind and frost.

How frail the fortresses of men!
Though very few will last,
We build on shifting sands – again!
Not learning from the past.

Yes. Man has ever refuge sought
‘Ere since we Eden lost.
For this we strove, for this we fought.
So tragic is the cost.

******

Behold these roofless walls forlorn,
‘Twas once a fool’s fair vision.
Wise fiscal counsel held in scorn,
He’s held, now, in derision.

Ambition towered beyond his purse,
To build himself a name.
His dream then stalled, and what was worse:
He built a name of shame.

In Nimrod’s tower this we saw.
He counted not the cost
Of disobedience to God’s law –
He all his people lost.

Yet, when we mock such hopeless dreams
By pride and folly killed,
Do we not start ambitious schemes
That cannot be fulfilled?

So many lives, on sand they rise
Then tumble to the ground,
Are built on greed or fear or lies.
Can solid rock be found?

******

Behold the towers of modern man
Built from our hearts of stone,
To raise his banner: “Yes, we can!”
To house his little throne.

He builds inside the halls of power,
Or on king Mammon’s floor.
On stage or screen, he has his hour,
But still he yearns for more.

Though riches, fame may be his strength,
His tower is undermined.
And it shall fail or fade at length
His mem’ry left behind.

*******

There is a tower that never falls
The Lord of Hosts is He.
The righteous find within His walls
Their true security.

He is not made from cold, hard stone
But everlasting love.
And righteous justice is His throne,
His saints His treasure trove.

The founding stone in blood was wrought.
He willingly laid down
Himself, for we are dearly bought
To call us all His own.

Within His walls we healing see.
Then, sent as warriors strong
We fight dark Satan’s tyranny,
Show love and right all wrong.

So come, shake off that dark king’s chains
Of crumbling dreams and strife!
Whoe’er will join King Jesus gains
True everlasting life.

“Unless the Lord builds the house, They labour in vain who build it…” (Psalm 127:1)

Sunday, 22 December 2019

Last Bardsong for 2019: "Visions upon the Sands"

(Received a "Highly Recommended" award in the FaithWriters Competition.)


I like to walk along the coast
To breathe fresh air, to walk, to pray.
Early morn you’ll see me most
Before the crowds come out to play.

The Spirit rose, just like a breeze,
Not from the sea but in my heart:
“Look well, my son, on all of these.
My works to thee shall truth impart.”

So then I looked with different eyes
Beyond the smells of kelp decayed
And dirty refuse, smoggy skies.
Enchanted worlds were then displayed.

I saw the sands like tiny sheep
That follow where the currents go.
Some grains may graze within the deep
Or high and dry above the flow.

The restless dunes forever drift
So driven by the gypsy wynd.
With shifting feet both slow and swift
New ground it claims, soon left behind.

But hardy grasses some confined
And held them fast with fibrous ropes.
Then laughing children played and mined
Or slid upon their sandy slopes.

Then said the Wind: “If thou wilt bear
The bonds of love and not rebel,
Then many a blessing thou shalt share,
Abundant more than thou canst tell.”

I found a pile of broken beams,
A grave, a shrine of wood, sun-bleached,
A memory of shattered dreams.
‘Twas here a mighty vessel beached.

Its proud mast once rose proud and tall
Above the waves it thought to rule.
But treach’rous shoals then caused its fall.
The heedless captain was a fool.

Then spake the whisp’ring Wind once more:
“If thou wouldst sail the seas of life,
My course will bring thee safe to shore
Avoiding shoals of sin and strife.”

I saw the sands as battle-grounds.
White-crested warrior-waves that roar,
Roused by deep ocean trumpet-sounds,
Make endless war upon the shore.

The waves lay siege upon the rocks
And sweep away the yielding sands.
The mighty wall it proudly mocks
“Nay! Ye shall never take our lands!”

Relentless white-helms struck again
Until the weaker tower crumbled.
Armour’d cliffs resist in vain,
The stubborn pillars’ pride it humbled.

Yet when the tides of war retreat,
Behold! Th’embattled sands remain!
Around the shattered rocky feet
Serenely spreads the golden plain.

“Thus,” said the Wind, “The hearts of men
Are troubled waters, anger-driven.
Their walls of pride will fall again
In brokenness to be forgiven.”

And so I knelt down in the sands
And bowed my head before the Wind.
“Thy Word, O Lord, forever stands.
O, wash us clean, for we have sinned.”

Friday, 29 November 2019

My latest BardSong won a 1st Prize. It's called "Six Jolly Church-Goers"



(With apologies to the “3 Jolly Welshmen.”)

There were six happy church-goers, a-churchin’ they did go,
Each one a dude with attitude, some good and some, not so.
There’s Gary Grump, Grizelda Gripe and Gordon Grouch there too,
Then Charley Cheer and Sally Smiles with Barney Bold, I knew.

Now Brother Grouch’s car got smashed, he had to share a lift
With Brother Grump and Sister Gripe, which made him rather miffed.
But Charley Cheer and Sally Smiles, they came to praise the Lord.
They picked up Barney Bold as well. They’re all in one Accord.

A well-known speaker came that day, the car-park it was chockers.
Detoured to distant, pot-holed streets – so lethal on one’s shockers*.

Bro Grump said, “It’s the Deacons’ fault!” Sis Gripe just gave a groan.
Bro Grouch complained both loud and long, he won’t leave it alone.
But Charles was glad for any spot, and Sally Smiles said “YAY!”
Bro Bold enjoyed the longer walk on such a sunny day.

When they arrived, the place was packed! “No room!” the ushers said.
They offered them the Crying Room with noisy kids instead.
Ol’ Grump, he huffed “Not good enough!” Grizelda gave a sob.
Bro Grouch he growled “Get more seats, or I’ll punch you in the gob!”

But Charles said “There’s still standing room!” and Sally Smiles said “Yeah!”
And Barney said: “If we get tired, soft carpet’s everywhere!”
The songs began both loud and glad. The church was really rockin’.
The congregation came alive. The neighbours they came flockin'.

“Too loud!” then grumbled Brother Grump. “Don’t like it!” said Sis Gripe.
Bro Grouch he carped: “Don’t know these songs! They’re just a load of tripe!”
But Charley’s hands were raised t’ward heav’n, and Sal swung from the rafter.
While Barney shouted “Glory!” then was struck with Holy Laughter.

Once all the people settled down, the speaker then addressed them.
His gentle, bold sincerity and love for Truth impressed them.
“I once demanded privilege,” he said “Now I am thankful.
Surrend’ring all our rights, our pride, there’s blessings by the tankful.”

The message was both strong and clear, much needed in this hour.
One felt the presence of the Lord, Who came in grace and power.
“It’s by God’s Grace,” the preacher said, “that we can be called ‘Saints’.
Repent, now from your selfishness, and cease all your complaints.”

“Repent from what?” demanded Grump. Grizelda was offended.
And as for Grouch, well, he stormed out before the message ended.
Bro Cheer and Sal together prayed, their tears were unrelenting,
As Brother Bold fell on his face while, from his heart, repenting.

When church was done, three glowing faces went to find their car.
“I just don’t get” mused Gary Grump “why they’re the way they are.”
Then Grizzie Gripe she stood and thought, for once, not so self-centred.
It seemed as though some Truth had changed her heart since she first entered.
“Perhaps they win their battles ‘cos they’ve had their battle training:
Their attitude of gratitude, while we’ve been just complaining.”


Thursday, 14 November 2019

Latest Bardsong: "The Bard's Quest."

This one rated 3rd in the last FaithWriters.com weekly challenge.


Northumbria’s might, their curs├Ęd lords,
King Ida and his pagan hordes
Would fain invade fair Cymru’s lands
And seize the wealth from Powys’ hands.

A gifted bard he went to war
And battle ‘gainst the Saxons saw.
His heart was high, his arm was strong,
Well skilled with harp, with sword and song.

Above the tumult rose his song.
He cleaved a pathway through the throng.
He stirred his comrades to the fray.
His valour helped to win the day.

Prince Owain to his father told
How bravely fought this bard so bold.
“To see him fall ‘twould shameful be
And hear his song no more,” said he.

King Urien he turned his thought
From matters of the war he fought.
“I therefore shall him show my thanks 
So bring him forth from ‘mongst our ranks.

In courts of kings his voice belongs
To us this bard shall sing his songs.”
The bard took up his harp once more
And put aside the tools of war.

He now had favour of the kings
Before them many a song he sings.
And courtiers, princes gathered ‘round
Whene’er his harp its chords would sound.

Yet fame and royal patronage
Became to him a gilded cage.
His restless spirit yearned to be
A-wandering, and roaming free,

The path to Wyddfa’s* peak to trace,
To feel the sea-breeze on his face.
The village folk to daily greet
To share with them his daily meat.

The king, reluctant, gave him leave.
“Return thou soon, or we shall grieve!”
So bidding farewell to his hosts,
His face turned t’ward the Western Coasts.

Through valleys green and wooded hill
And forests deep his voice would fill.
The villages through which he passed
They bade him come and break his fast.

Forsaking plough and milling stone
And cooking pot, they came as one,
Assembling at the village square
To hear his tales, his voice so fair.

The young ones came, with eager faces,
Crowding in at meeting places.
At jests they laughed, at sad tales wept.
Such precious mem’ries e’er he kept.

The good folk shared their dwindling meat
Though bread-pots rarely were replete.
Yet thankful and content were they
And freely gave, and brooked no “Nay.”

His heart it deeply grieved, for he
Once felt the lash of poverty.
So, oft aside his harp he laid
And for his bread in toil he paid.

“The rich may of their bounty give.
To serve them maybe I should live,
My friends, that I may wealthy be
That I may pour my wealth on thee!”

He came, one cold and stormy night,
Upon an ancient anchorite.
Though warm his cave, his pot was bare.
Good shelter, but no meat to share.

A frail, but gentle, kindly soul,
He bade him welcome to his hole.
“Though I have naught, I have no lack.
For what I give, God giveth back.”

An hungered waif with rags a-torn
Came begging here this very morn.
The last of all my meat he craved,
But when he left, his soul was saved.”

The bard his travel-bag he ope’d
But found not all that he had hoped.
A small dry loaf and crumbling cheese
Was all his hunger had to ease.

“Take this,” said he, “For I have supped
With former hosts I dined and cupped.
If God is good, then on the morrow
Much abundance I shall borrow.”

The good monk raised the gift up high
And prayed a blessing t’ward the sky.
He broke the bread and gave his guest
Not half, but thrice what he had blessed!

Likewise he blessed the crumbled cheese.
The bard then fell upon his knees.
“’Twas said Saint Dewi** dwelt herein.
Wilt thou resolve me of my sin?”

Saint Dewi shook his head. “My son,
I, too, am sinful. Only One
Can cleanse from sin, that by his blood,
Worth more than gold, for God is good.

God’s kingdom is not drink nor meat,
The whole world’s riches at thy feet.
The gift God giveth, give away,
And thou shalt find true peace this day.

Give Him thine heart, and sing His praise
And serve His kingdom all thy days.
Dost thou desire to bless the poor?
God’s heart now is thy treasure store.”

The bard went forth, his song renewed
With righteousness and power endued.
Enriched he now the rich and poor
With hymns of praise not heard before.

His best was for the poor reserved.
‘Twas said he once King Arthur served.
Called “Bard of Bards”, thus was his fame,
For Taliesin was his name.


* Mount Snowdon
** Saint David

Thursday, 24 October 2019

Latest BardSong: "Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall"

Another entry in the weekly FaithWriters.com competition. The theme was "Reflection," so I took them literally! I called it "Mirrors, Mirrors on the Wall."
Yes, it has a slight reference to Snow White's evil witch -- not that I identify as her at all. :)
It placed 7th overall with an "Editors Choice" award.




“The Hall of Mirrors” it was signed. “Enter if you’re so inclined,
But will you like what you will see? That remains a mystery.”
Now, such a challenge, such intrigue I thought was quite within my league.
I confidently sallied through – a reckless step I well may rue.

Mirrors! Mirrors ev’rywhere, staring back each way I stare.
And none the same, so it appeared, for every one looked kind of weird.
Some had magic, elf-like frames, while others bore the strangest names.
So was my courage strong enough to look into this eerie stuff?

Now Snow White in the fairy tale, to match her looks I’m sure I’d fail.
Nor the wicked witch-queen, me, with agonies of jealousy.
But I looked good when washed and shaved (except my mirror misbehaved.
And note: before the mirror broke, it showed a decent-looking bloke.)

The first few frames to me displayed some freaks that left me undismayed.
Some showed me fat, and others, thin. One made me look like Gungha Din.
In some, a super-hero stood, like Superman or Robin Hood,
Or evil dudes like Palpatine, the meanest baddies ever seen.

At most I laughed, at some I huffed. At one, I felt extremely chuffed.
A legendary champion – the kind fair ladies swoon upon.
An all-round nice guy. (Anyway, that’s what my employees say.)
Well, it was fun but somehow hollow. Was there something that would follow?

At length I found another room, whose name forbodes some kind of doom:
“The Mirrors of the Soul” it read, “Come through to face the things you dread!”
‘Why should I dread a piece of glass?’ scoffed I. ‘Me, I got too much class!’
With that, I strutted through the door to something I’d not seen before.

There was no roof -- just darkened sky. I saw no twinkling stars on high.
All lighting in that creepy hall came from the mirrors on the wall.
But as I turned in fright to flee, there was no entrance I could see!
So I began to sweat and swear just like a cornered grizzly bear.

In nightmares, I have found one tends to find strange objects are one’s friends.
The nearest screen began to speak: ‘How can I help? What do you seek?’
‘O mirror, mirror on the wall, I dunno why I’m here at all!
So, where’s the exit from this place? Please speak, or I’ll go off my face!’

The kind but glassy voice replied ‘It was your choice to come inside.
But never fear, give this a try. You’ll leave this place a better guy.
To find the exit is your goal? The real door is through your soul.’
So, rather puzzled and amazed, into its neighbour then I gazed.

Above it, fiery words were writ: “Your Ego’s here – beware of it!”
The flatt’ring image shown before was there again, but then no more,
He changed and aged before my eyes. The true Me threw off its disguise.
To my dismay it seems I saw that foolish fabled emper-or.

Without his clothes, his fame, his throne, and no true friends – he was alone!
Emaciated, weak and plain, he strutted like a peacock vain.
I shouted back: ‘This is not Me! Now this is not as it should be.
I’ve done my bit! I’ve paid my dues! A needy hand I don’t refuse!

Encouraging with words of cheer. I always shout my friends a beer.
You’ve shown me this distorted scene. Why can’t you show how good I’ve been?’
The screen went blank, so I moved on. My self-esteem was nearly gone.
The next one’s sign said, clear and brief: “Your Goodness” – much to my relief.

It showed me first as Santa Claus, dispensing presents without pause.
But when each gift they’d gratef’lly open, it was not what they were hopin’.
Just a note they found. One read: “You owe me one for what you said!”
Or: “Sorry! Strapped for cash this year. Instead you’ll get a can of beer.”

I thought the Santa thing was huge, but then he changed to look like Scrooge!
A harsh and calculating face – of my “Nice Guy” there was no trace.
The next was frighteningly bright, and I was blinded by its light!
This mirror showed God’s righteousness! Compared to Him, I was a mess!

But when I got up from the floor, at last! I saw an opened door.
Outside, a cross stood on a hill. The Man who died there calls me still.