Poems of Hope #hoperestored23 @restoreglasgow @foolproofcreative #poemsofhope #humantrafficking
I took part in a poetry writing challenge this last week – and despite the fact that my resultant poems are already in various locations on the internet, I wanted to repost them all here in the one place for handiness. So – apologies to my subscribers of this blog who have already had to wade through my efforts on fb and instagram.
The challenge was launched at an event in St George’s Tron, Glasgow. The purpose was to highlight the issue of human trafficking, particularly in Glasgow. The charities Restore Glasgow and SOHTIS (Survivors of Human Trafficking in Scotland) were in attendance. The aim was to raise awareness of the signs of human trafficking in the hope that more can be rescued. In Scotland last year, 419 people were released from modern slavery in Scotland. This is the tip of the iceberg.
By writing poems, drawing pictures, talking about the issues, the idea was to raise awareness and bring hope to a difficult subject – to shine a light in the dark places. So, for a week, there was a daily prompt.
Annoyingly, I cannae work the formatting on the wordpress, so it keeps messing with my stanzas. I will put an asterix for a stanza break… bear with…
Day 1 CAPTURE
The word “capture” for me is a direct trigger for a childhood memory of a boy we overheard in 1981 in holiday in France. It always struck as as odd, the manner in which he used the word. I had to draw a wee picture too, which I enjoyed. While the link to human trafficking is clearly very very very tenuous on this occasion – my idea was to reflect on the mentality of someone who wants to “capture”.
“I’m going to capture a fish today!”
this wish for a fish
out of sight,
and we laughed.
He wasn’t for catch and release,
But to keep and store it,
Keep and store with pride –
in an airtight Tupperware,
or maybe he had a bowl
with fake stones
and fake river weed
– a glassy grassy prison.
Swim little fishies,
Swim, swim, swim!
Don’t be contained by Jeremy
and his uncontained, unconstrained
enthusiasm for storing you,
Storing you until he has need of you,
Or just until he wants to take a peek at you
Limp, at the bottom of his bucket.
Avoid the net and hook
In the baited brook
And go with the flow where you will!
So, Jeremy, did you capture a fish?
Did you get your wish?
I hope, as his small hand gripped the cane,
his net outstretched,
His feet wet
and his bucket at the ready,
that he was dazzled
by the summer sun,
the glittery river
and the freedom
of the passing
Day 2: REVEAL
In this poem I tried to depict a driver becoming aware that they were being served by someone who had been trafficked.
Day 3: UNCLEAN
This was a very tricky prompt and I struggled so much I had to go down the haiku route.
Day 4: RESCUE
This was a prompt that was a little easier to feel hopeful about. I always enjoy the challenge of a sonnet. I went for iambic pentameter and I am pretty happy with how this one worked out. For this one I illustrated it with a pic I took of a mural in Glasgow that I think is meant to be a Glaswegian take on St Francis – with that sense of care and nurture that one would hope the city would seek to emulate.
The rescue is waiting; prays for the day,
Ready for action in whatever way,
Rescue is sudden, a truth is revealed,
A climactic end, then time to be healed.
A moment of terror ends years of fear,
The rescue arrives, your saviour is here,
It’s over and yet that’s not how it seems
Reality falls short of captive dreams.
Know that the rescue we offer is real.
Trauma may well take a long time to heal.
The moment of rescue is only the start;
The city surrounds you with every heart.
Glasgow, in which you have suffered unseen
We pray, for you, will become both dear and green.
Day 5: Lament
Another difficult prompt for a “poem of hope” but again, a good challenge.
Long bows, low notes:
Discordant cellos sing from our souls.
Beauty and sorrow twist and bind,
Fuse and form our lament.
Lives, twisted and bound,
How long, O Lord?
And in the day and the night
All is activity.
How long, O Lord?
Our throats ache
Mourning the unknown,
The secret stories
Whispered in dark places.
How long, O Lord?
Suddenly hope slices the silence:
A whistle blown,
A dawn raid,
The right call made.
How long, O Lord,
Until we see
Lives, lifted and found?
Day 6: RENEW
I think this was my favourite prompt – as it is necessarily hopeful. I enjoyed thinking about creation and restoration – and how we only renew things that we have had before and want again – like we renew subscriptions or memberships or things that have been valuable in the past. And if you think about that show “The Repair Shop” – people bring in things they want renewed – the absolutely don’t want a new one – they want the one they love and value made new. Thinking about this made me reflect on the care that must be available to those escaping modern slavery and the trauma that requires healing. This leads to echoes of Revelation when God says “Behold I am making all things new”. So, I enjoyed the thought process behind this one.
New things become old things;
Time does that.
They are damaged and break:
splits, chips and missing bits.
They show wear from use:
stretched, creased and misshapen
They are faded, bleached by the sun
with grubbiness ground in.
They twist and unravel
The stitches come loose.
A life can be shattered,
Beauty can be defaced,
Freedom can be denied;
Cruelty does that.
Lives controlled and taken:
No choices, no voices.
Lives used and exploited:
Sapped, drained, contained.
Lives unwillingly redirected:
Losing the thread
Of their own story.
Can old be made new?
Can damage be mended?
I place you into the hands of the potter;
I place you into the hands of the carpenter;
I place you into the hands of the skilled craftsman;
I place you into the hands of the Creator.
I pray a prayer of echoes:
“Behold, I am making all things new!”
“A new creation: the old has gone the new has come!”
“Ransomed, healed, restored, forgiven!”
We renew things of value;
We restore precious things;
We renew what we had
and we lost
and we missed.
We missed you.
Then we found you.
It’s worth it; you’re worth it:
The careful restoration:
Keeps the character;
Celebrates the form;
Respects the past –
Now, made to last.
A thread, visible and invisible,
Holds all things together.
Day 7: RESTORE
I was initially out of ideas as I had gone for a “restore” angle on “renew” the day before. However the prompt made me think about the phrase “Restorer of Broken Walls” and so I found in in Isaiah and set about reworking that passage into rhyming stanzas with one eye on the theme of hope and human trafficking. The picture is one I took recently in Inverness, of a building that has been recently restored.
A reworking of (Isaiah 58 9b-12)
Lift up the weight that crushes down
And makes the worker weary.
Don’t blame them, don’t shame them.
Learn to see things clearly.
Spend yourself, now give your all.
Supply for others’ delight.
The light will break the darkness;
It will be noon instead of night.
The Lord will guide you always.
You will be satisfied.
You will be strong despite
The fact the sun your land has dried.
Restored, you are a garden
Where the water always flows,
And like a spring you refresh,
Around you things can grow.
It’s time. The people know it.
The ruins will be mended.
They raise up old foundations.
The broken walls are tended.
And you will be renamed:
Of the broken, the Repairer:
A title showing that you have
turned round and made things fairer.
You’ll be known as the Restorer
Of the places where we stay.
And now we claim this as our hope
It is for this we pray.
So, that was my week of poems. Friends on facebook and instagram were very encouraging and I found the week challenging in terms of writing but also in terms of thinking about the issue of human trafficking in my city. The whole thing is really based on awareness – people need to be aware in order to spot the signs, to alert the authorities and allow hope to be restored.
These are wonderful. The boy fishing is tremendous in its simplicity but also how profound. I enjoyed these greatly. I too took part. Yes, a daily challenge, quite a discipline. Thanks for these. Mine are on http://www.shortstaycarpark.wordpress.com
Thanks 😊 I’ll take a look!