Wednesday, July 31, 2019


I've been going on for years about the problem of language as a vehicle for abstract thought - in particular the snares of prose, which seems to simplify but can end up destroying. R.S.Thomas has been here already; this is my take just now.


Myriad words pinned to paper
in the never-ending search
for truth that hovers through the ages
on the tantalising edge of faith -
so we struggle with expressing
that bright fire to which we give a face,
humanise, imagine friendship
through the realm of time and space.

But the prayer when it happens
comes in darkness and in heat,
still eludes our Babel-clamour,
needs our silence to defeat
the world God’s children have constructed
from complexity and rules
till we rise again, replenished,
filled with fire that nothing cools.

© C.M.M. 07/19

Tuesday, July 16, 2019


The burden of that sudden light
Overwhelms my shrinking self
As I step into the surge
Of life and what will come.
The holy dove, its wings outspread,
Hovers close. No comfort there.
I see the darkness pressing back
Around the edges of my world
Through eyes half closed,
Through lash and hair
That covers my defenceless face.
The water swirls. I feel the tug
Of forces far beyond my reach.
I will obey. God, I accept
- will lift this burden that is Light.

© Back, Lewis. June 19.

(Inspired by a painting by Daniel Bonnel, The Baptism of the Christ)


O, be silent when the God speaks -
do not blurt your blunted vision
to distort or seek to bend
the flow of love and pain.
Listen. Open. Feel the keenness
of the shaft that wounds the soul;
feel the way you change, but quiet
like a child that hears a call.

Only then, within that silence
can the music truly sing,
make the wordless song of heaven
sweep you up until your tongue
is freed from all the weight of language
 - free to wonder, free to cease -
and your soul can shed what has been,
free to wander heaven’s peace.

© C.M.M. Back, Lewis, June 2019

Wednesday, February 07, 2018

Springing thoughts

Two days after the last snow left
I saw the tiny hint of life
in colour, purple, on the mud
which rain had flooded winter-long,
and thought of Spring.
Encouraged by the silent sun
the lack of wind, the sudden song
- a blackbird sitting on a pole -
in air so silent I could hear
the rush of wings above my head 
as pigeons - should I call them doves?
 - set off briskly over roofs 
and gardens, sodden mossy lawns
and foodless shrubs where dunnocks live
I stopped, for long enough to feel.

But what I felt was not the joy
that children feel when freedom calls
but rather that nostalgic pain
more keen with every passing year
that tells me each Spring takes us up
the path towards that distant peak
where only faith says flowers will bloom.

© C.M.M 02/18

Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another Advent

Another Advent

for AM, who suggested possibilities

From the darkness that returns
each year we sing our plaintive song
and ask that God will come again
and fill our lives with what we know
and hardly know is all we need.
The fire burns low, the night is long,
and yet we feel in some way held
within the circle of this flame
that still we tend with anxious care
in some place hidden from the eyes
that mock and laugh and turn away
with restless ease towards their end.
The world too turns, and we await
the power that fills our life with light
and let our alleluias ring
within the darkness of the earth.

C.M.M. 12/17

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

Argyll Weather

A Sonnet for Jim

The rain drifts in grey curtains from the hills
and turns the loch’s black surface into lace
before a random wind takes up the chase
that now obliterates the day it kills.
The burn beside me gurgles as it fills
and overflows. There’s water on my face,
the path I followed gone without a trace,
enthusiasm drowned in sudden chills.

But as I turn to make my sodden way
to shelter, warmth …dry feet … a sudden gleam
appears. It’s like another day.
The wet rock all around me starts to steam
and birdsong cuts the air as if to say
This is Argyll. Things are not what they seem.

C.M.M. 12/17

Wednesday, October 12, 2016


Aonach Eagach, Glencoe

The path is steep and rocky
and my body’s growing tired.
I’m looking for the summit cairn,
the peak I hope to find - 
and at the top I’ll rest awhile
and take a look around, 
decide if I’ve the energy
for the track above the cloud.

For I know that there's more climbing, 
there are still flowers at my feet,
but weariness keeps nagging me - 
a voice I cannot cheat.
I’ve wandered far, I’ve sung my songs, 
the wind is still as sweet, 
but all of us are passing through
to where all pathways meet.

My track is strewn with metaphor
and words mean what you read.
We all of us hear different songs
along the roads we tread.
 But looming in the distance
 or rising at our feet
that final hill is where we go
and where all pathways meet.

© C.M.M. 10/16

Saturday, March 09, 2013

Eyes wide open

One pale, quiet morning, 
I open my soul’s eyes 
unarmed with faith or company, 
responsibility or joy, 
and see quite plain
the vastness of it all, the loneliness, 
the very impossibility of life.
A hand in the desert - 
will there be a hand? 
Someone who knows the way
to travel this grey distance
and find the distant hills?

The question hangs
in the still air. But 
in the birdless silence
is that the gentle ripple
not mocking or sardonic
but inviting, is that -
oh please, is that -
a companionable laugh?

© C.M. 03/13