CONVERSION EXPERIENCE: A poem for the Feast of the Conversion of St. Paul


Voice and light that left him blinded,
     Lashed him like a cattle prod.
“That you do for me is evil!
     That you thought the devil, God!”
‘Did I really intrigue murder?’ –
     Pride that led to such a fall!
Sin in haste, shed tears at leisure,
     O such sorrow, poor St. Paul.

North wind gusts from the Cathedral,
     Through the ring road traffic queue.
Thronging crowds for Sunday shopping,
     Those who cross the church door, few.
Why on earth am I so stupid?
     How could this be true at all?
Do I really think the same as
     Stupid bigots like St. Paul?

Poisoned planet filled with violence,
     While we, yawning, watch TV.
Do we really call this ‘progress’,
     As we laud on bended knee
Self-improvement, home improvements,
     Mammon, iPods and the mall.
Blanking out the hungry billion*,
     Who are we to judge St. Paul?

“As you did it for the lowest!”
     Says the maker of the spheres;
“When you let her die, you kill me!”
     Is it that our era fears?
God the execution victim,
     Refugee born in a stall –
Then, like now, it seemed too silly.
     Follow Christ, still, like St Paul.

* According to the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organisation, 870 million people are chronically undernourished. This is almost exactly the same as the total population of the European Union, the United States, Canada and Australia combined.

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