• Treatment Room Irony

    Treatment Room Irony

    Dreams do come true if you only wish hard enough. (Peter Pan)


    The picture-perfect vista on the wall

    was captioned in the style of Peter Pan –

    that limits only cow the cowardly

    while those who challenge and defy, will win.


    Beneath the vista in the treatment room,

    the therapist who knows the harsh terrain

    of injury and coaches those compelled

    to trek its weary paths, applies her skills

    to mitigate; at best perhaps restore

    the stricken limb to function as before.


    Since pixie dust and robust self-belief

    can never bring reality to heel,

    her practice shows the caption is a sham:

    the cosmos will not budge for Peter Pan.

    © the Revd Jim McPherson
    Image Pinterest

  • Sometime



    every living cell in and of its self

    frets and chafes for Life, connecting to

    and nurturing other life, just as

    sometime in the time outside all time

    God had begun beginning by beginning,

    forsaking the lonely splendour of aseity

    for a creation born of Love, with Life

    its Maker’s signature: bold, vibrant,

    bursting out, urgent for God’s sometime

    eighth day of the seven follow-through


    © the Revd Jim McPherson
    ©Image Energy Painting: Burst of Life, Joshua Esparza

  • The Auburn-Haired Virgin

    The Auburn-Haired Virgin


    mortally imperilling herself

    for love of God, her courage

    far surpassing our conceiving;


    the Sinai flame transfiguring

    her hair identifies the newest

    and most singular of human cells


    © the Revd Jim McPherson
    Image The Auburn-Haired Virgin, William Bustard 1933


  • Any Where and The Beloved Disciple

    Any Where and The Beloved Disciple

    Any Where

    the bonnet of a car in Mount Ginini’s mist, a cathedral or

    a homestead, or beside a hospice bed when time and breath

    are short; even inside cinder block and razor wire; any where

    is where enough for us well-meaning clumsies hungering

    after more than scroggin for The Track, who gathering brave

    his Triduum to feast upon the fullness of his empty tomb;

    and feasting find ourselves – each one – as the Beloved Disciple

    gathered and in-folded to the hem of his eighth day


    The Beloved Disciple

    John’s Gospel is famously unique for its seemingly ‘loose’ treatment of history.[1] I suggest this seemingly cavalier approach to history is to make some strong theological points connected with the driving theological purpose articulated in his opening sentence: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God”.

    This has allowed the evangelist to ‘invent’ an enigmatic character: ‘the Beloved Disciple’. From the viewpoint of strict historical analysis, the Beloved Disciple is apparently guilty of criminal negligence: when Jesus tells him unmistakably who the betrayer is (‘the one to whom I give this bread…’ 13:26). The Beloved Disciple does nothing at all to change the course of events.

    It is necessary to look through another lens.

    There is a venerable Hebrew tradition that goes at least as far back as the Book of Deuteronomy, that all the future generations of Israel were already present as witnesses to the Exodus/Passover and God’s definitive revelation on Mount Sinai, the core events of Israel’s collective memory. Each generation is thereby invited to see, with the eyes of faith, what their predecessors saw – and so enter into it for themselves. While clearly not historically possible, the effect is nevertheless dramatically compelling.

    Again and again, the audience of the national assembly is reminded that they have seen…the portentous events that Moses is rehearsing. At one remove, the members of the historical audience of the Book of Deuteronomy  are implicitly invited to imagine what their forebears actually saw, to see it vicariously. The midrashic notion that all future generations of Israel were already present as witnesses at Sinai is adumbrated, perhaps actually generated, by this rhetorical strategy of the evocation of witnessing in Deuteronomy.[2]

    This added depth to an article about the Beloved Disciple, published in 1983 by Margaret Pamment.[3] Her article enabled me to view John’s ‘Beloved Disciple’ as a rhetorical creation, part of the Johannine ‘evocation of witnessing’. The Beloved Disciple becomes our entry point, our ancestor in the faith, the one in whom we were actually present and experienced these things.

    My poem suggests, first, that every Eucharist is a participation in Jesus’ historic Triduum (a different sort of ‘track’). Further, that my twenty-first century participation in a Eucharist transports me into the historic Last Supper, as the Beloved Disciple in whom I am historically present but unable to change the course of events that night because historically they have already run their course.

    My poem suggests, secondly, through the imagery of ‘the eighth day’ that every Eucharist transports me and all faithful participants eschatologically into the Messianic Banquet.[4]

    Any where is where enough.

    ©The Revd. Jim McPherson

    Image Parishioners of St. Stephen’s Kambah: Eucharist, Mount Ginini, 23rd April 1989: David Rainey and Jim McPherson on their sponsored bushwalk around the Australian Capital Territory.




    [1] Jesus is frequently in Jerusalem, whereas in Matthew and Mark, he arrives there from Galilee for the first time on Palm Sunday, after extensive ministry in the north of Galilee. Luke records one single visit before Palm Sunday, when Jesus was twelve years old.

    [2] Robert Alter, The Five Books of Moses (2004), pp 869 - 873

    [3] Margaret Pamment, The Fourth Gospel’s Beloved Disciple, The Expository Times, September 1983, vol. 94 #12:363-367

    [4] The ‘eighth day of the week’ refers to an ancient Christian liturgical practice, inextricably related to Christian identity, which yearned for ‘the eighth day’ which ‘opens toward what cannot be reached simply by more days like those of the seven day weeks we have known…opening toward the day beyond days, toward the last day of God.’ (Gordon W. Lathrop, Holy Things (1993), pp 36 – 43.  

  • Eclipse



    The Moon


    the Sun;

    a chill





    light and

    holds us


    the Sun’s




    as proud





    For information and pictures of the Sun’s corona:



    3 December 2012

    © the Revd James M McPherson





    This poem was inspired by the total eclipse at Cairns, it began at 5.45am (Queensland time), with the full eclipse coming at 6.38am and lasting for two minutes before returning to partiality for another hour.


  • Acuity



    two wonders of

    acuity, a third

    surpassing both:

    in an instant judge

    the diver’s acrobatic

    plunge; or catch

    the colours in

    the darting flight and

    know the bird; or

    catch the Paraclete

    19 November 2012

    © the Revd James McPherson

    Maryborough Q


  • Annunciation


    The profound logic of God's symphony
    requires a new theme come to voice
    so Mary
    totally unsuspecting
    is ambushed by an archangel
    of polished speech and manner
    Gabriel's message
    a chord
    God and creation stilled
    in one eternal breathless moment
    when all could founder
    until Mary's 'Yes'
    when God breathes
    the first enigmatic notes
    of a supernal melisma
    on the creative word
    Eden hopes for fruit again
    and beauty
    and squadrons of ever-hopeful angels
    venture forth
    soliciting grace notes
    © the Revd James McPherson


  • The Order Of Things


     Jack, eighteen

    died on his motorbike


    the Ugly Sister

    expert in camouflage

    and ambuscade


    after the funeral

    Lenny in the corner

    absent in his grief

    chain-smoking with his beer

    Joyce and the girls

    on the veranda

    with Chateau Cardboard

    watching the earth-shadow

    deepen into the velvet outback night

    and timeless stars


    it breaks the order of things

    for parent to bury child


    the order:

    grandmother die

    mother die

    daughter die





    another fifteen years:

    Lenny’s “accident”


    when Joyce rallied

    she summoned the girls to plan

    how to hold the hectares together

    and divide them after she died


    death sweeps the old away

    to make room for the new


    running the property single-handed

    in the Big Dry

    for pity taking the rifle


    to the gaunt and hopeless stock


    it’s the order of things

    droughts come and go

    if you break first

    you lose





    she was ready, her bags packed

    long before

    protesting fiercely

    ambulanced into the town’s “hospital”


    where the girls gathered powerless

    at the palliative bedside


    only my enemies should suffer like this


    praying for her release

    as if to break the Big Dry


    but the Ugly Sister

    owes no favours

    and kept her




    © 2010

    the Revd James M McPherson


    Maryborough Qld


    St Francis famously (and rightly) refered to Death as "Sister Death". Experience shows she can be an ugly sister sometimes, or welcome, or beautiful, which I have explored in several poems. This one dates from 2010.


  • Shelling Prawns


    The random scoop of raw prawns

    from the seafood counter all fearfully

    and wonderfully made; wrenching

    off their heads a posthumous violation

    as nothing to the trawler’s random

    scoop and hoist into the murderous air.

    The solemn truth that life survives

    by killing demands I honour those

    slain for my plate with heedful eating.

    And will you not, O God ‑ for solemn

    justice –when all things to their

    consummation come, specially honour

    those wild-caught or farmed then

    wrenched away for others’ food?


    My random scoop of raw prawns included some beautifully marked in a delicate coral pink, which triggered my initial reflection ‑ which subsequently began to question the justice implications of using Psalm 104.29-30 as a Grace:

    All things look to you: to give them their food in due season.

    When you give it to them, they gather it: when you open your hand

    they are satisfied with good things.                      Psalm 104.29-30


    St Francis’ Day 2012.


    © the Revd James M McPherson

    Maryborough Qld


  • Centurion


         They fret and chafe and set us all on edge

    as their religious festivals approach.

    But this week, men, the gods have smiled on us ‑

    a stroke of genius, the Governor’s plan

    to set an execution just before.

    The northern rebel caught last night ‑ a gift

    to show how weak their worn-out “Lord of Hosts”

    who has no answer to our power of Death,

    our army or our Empire’s mighty gods.

    So clear the site, men, send the stragglers home.

    I’ll certify to Pilate all is done.

    Pax Romana sit semper eis.



    This exercise in irony explores the historical realities of that “Good” Friday, stripped of the wisdom of Christian hindsight. The Latin Pax Romana sit semper eis is deliberately modelled on the Latin liturgical greeting (Pax Domini sit semper vobiscum ‑ meaning “The peace of the Lord be always with you”). The phrase Pax Romana describes the two centuries of relative peace (from Augustus, 27 BCE, to the death of Marcus Aurelius 180 CE) which was sustained by Rome’s military might in its occupied territories such as Israel/Palestine.


    10 September 2012


    © Revd James M McPherson

    Maryborough Qld

  • Seam Opal

                                    SEAM OPAL

                                     Entering alone the silent

    otherness of the tunnelled

    world; with close intent


    exploring folds and lines

    of promise by practised eye

    perceived; picking away with


    guile honed by experience ‑

    then to surface brandishing

    my completed Sudoku


    4 June 2012


    © the Revd James M McPherson

    Maryborough Q


  • At Bethany

                                    John 12.1-8

                                   Jealous of her authority

    bruised by her loss

    the Ugly Sister sat




    through Martha’s

    busying and bustling

    and Lazarus’s


    grave jokes

    about keeping

    dead quiet




    Mary’s entombment

    perfume filled the air

    and Judas spoke,




    the Ugly Sister rejoiced:

    The hour is coming soon

    when I will nail him.




    This continues the “Ugly Sister” theme (as introduced in “The Order of Things”).


    31 March 2010


    © the Revd James M McPherson


    Maryborough Qld


  • Napping


                           Easter Day 2012

                                   stretched out

    full length

    upon the pavers

    breathing her

    relaxed kelpie

    breathing, content

    to live with

    the doggy mysteries

    of door and window;

    dreaming perhaps

    of the world

    beyond the gate

    she’s visited

    often enough

    to yearn for more

    but lies so far

    beyond her doggy

    reach – unless

    the Daddy

    lift the latch




    6 August 2012


    © the Revd James M McPherson

    Maryborough, Q

  • Mr Wistful

                 Mr Wistful

    Mr Wistful? No
    not one of our
    comes in often
    enough though
    sits there, shy
    easy not to notice
    between the lines
    deep in thought
    always looking
    a bit moonstruck
    as if he'd rather
    be somewhere
    © the Revd James M McPherson
    Maryborough Q
    Written at Vaughan Park 19 September 2008
    Wistfulness is a melancholy born of displacement: either nostalgia, or loss of previous joy (the present has displaced the past); or melancholy born of hopefulness (the future will displace the past). In my VP Scholar's Lecture in 2008 (titled “A Wistfulness in Worship”), I explored a Eucharistic wistfulness. This poem was written at Vaughan Park at that time – a tentative resumption of my poetry-writing after a lapse of many years.


  • Sacred Kingfisher

    Sacred Kingfisher

    to kill
    silent, still

    intent upon
    the watercourse

    to see
    to swoop
    to seize

    and bring
    the prey
    up to eat:


    The Sacred Kingfisher (Todiramphus sanctus, fam Halcyonidae) is found in Australia and New Zealand and other areas of the southwest Pacific. I had never seen one until staying at Vaughan Park, when I occasionally saw one on a power line over the creek near the old homestead. Returning to Maryborough where I had moved as Rector in 2008, I have been delighted to see them occasionally in the surrounding bushland and wetland.

    Because of its quiet and solitary nature (although I once saw three or four of them skylarking in a tree), I feel quite an affinity to this particular kingfisher and am always delighted to see one. Hence this poem.

    Alan Fear (http://www.fluffyfeathers.com/index.php?showimage=926) has a delightful photograph of a Sacred Kingfisher on an electric wire – appropriate, since one of my parishioners calls them “electric wire birds” because that’s the only place she ever sees them.

    © the Revd James M McPherson

    Maryborough Q

  • Moments: Grimy Windows

    Moments: Grimy Windows

    not guilt; not fear; but instead the gentle wonderment

    of sensing in myself that my own very being has a sense

    beyond my self; outside; in some vast frame

    which gradually drew me toward the grimy windows

    in the vast and granite keep of the Asylum for the Sane

    where a silent gentle harmony holds me. Still. Unto itself.


    inside, the stuff of conjecture, rumour, ridicule, rebuff;

    yet so compelling. Its eloquent harmony

    of silence brings a sweet order to the swirling

    non-sense of the fatuous self-serving racket

    here inside, and soothes my being into a peace and joy

    the Asylum may sometimes dampen. But not quench.



    the winsome charm of Wisdom, Love and Grace

    sustain me for my living in this space

    and make me yearn to join them face to face


    © the Revd Jim McPherson

    Image Christopher Sardegna, unsplash.com