A churchyard paints a picture grim,
With trees and bushes in need of trim;
A church with graves all strewn around,
And no true Christian soul to be found.
The forlorn church bell is mossy green,
Hung in the tower high but hardly seen;
Its peal sends out a plaintive call,
The dead below will surely stir and recall.
The vicar’s house is first to pass,
Neatly trimmed and green is his grass;
The church comes up next in view,
With the poor box by the first pew.
No drumming rain can drown the organ tune,
But hidden from view God’s given moon;
The church sits like a cloistered widow,
Who sits pensively in eternal shadow.
A towering ceiling seeking the heavens,
High risen altar and pulpit, the vicar’s haven;
Almighty is his presence felt,
Amongst a multitude bereft.
All that glitters is not gold,
But everywhere is shiny brass to behold;
The incense pot, candle stands and collection plate,
All sparkle like the flickering flame from a grate.
*Kings do seek a trove of gold,
And so does Kong as the story is told;
Stealing brass instead of solid gold,
A king he is if the booty could be sold.
*Another story is of a woman’s derangement,
She removes the pipes from the organ’s arrangement;
Next she seeks the vicar for recompense.
Claiming her work is nothing less than heaven sent.
*Kong was an individual of unsound mind who had stolen the brass items from the church and hidden them in a trench. All were recovered after he took the vicar and the catechist to his hiding place.
*Another individual of unsound mind had entered the church and removed the pipes from the organ, after which she went to the vicarage to demand her wages, claiming that she worked very hard.
A wise man did carry a lamp in hand,
In search he is for an honest man;
The streets he walks in the noonday light,
Everyone knows of Diogenes and his plight
In the churchyard walks a similar kind,
A lamp he carries all the time;
Samuel we are told is his name,
A grey beard loon all the same.
He speaks to none this curious sight,
His walk is slow, celestial light;
The children part to give him way,
When darkness comes he does not stay.
Just like the children gone after school,
He lingers not, perhaps his golden rule;
To what abode no words can say,
He returns to the sound of the children’s play.
“Samuel, are you real or elusive spirit?
Are you returned for a purposeful visit?
Though we have seen thy manly form,
None has touched thee to confirm”
St. Joseph’s church is no Kirk- Alloway,
Where warlocks and witches dance the night away;
While Tam O’Shanter ogles in the dark,
A winsome wench and roars, “Weel done, Cutty-sark.”
The church is dismally dead at night,
When all to home do take their flight;
Not a glimmer from a single candle burns,
But a thousand whispers too low to discern.
The owl will dance and fitfully play,
Bats and mice constitute a large array;
The show is limited to the darkness hour,
The morning light will cease all power.
The school building sits next in line,
A large edifice mostly made of pine;
Many smart minds do find the time,
To ever labour which brings out their prime.
Drawn to the school like bees to a flower,
Children come to learn, for knowledge is power;
Proud are the parents whose children excel,
Parents most likely who cannot spell.
St. Joseph’s school is welcoming to all,
And many are there who stand tall;
No barrier to find in religious beliefs,
But a greeting to all and that’s a relief.
Many are the amorous after school affairs,
Of playful teachers drawn to their lair;
Caution they freely throw to the wind,
“The wind cannot read” their shared maxim.
But the mind of the child is curious no doubt,
The many things he sees are not confirmed by shout;
Scrawled are the names of the teachers in play,
On chalkboards and school walls, most likely a repay.
Though sometimes referred to as jail,
The school for many serves as their bail;
Many work hard and burn the midnight oil,
Rewarded they are for their pursuit and toil.
Canes are kings and help bring control,
Virtues are instilled for all to extol;
But wielding the cane is mostly excessive,
Compelling the young mind to be vindictive.
Sitting in the shade of the towering Sweetie Tree,
The mind knows no boundary being entirely free;
No echoing walls to confuse the mind,
But a boundless expanse of knowledge to find.
Literature is life, a teacher did write,
Intended it was for everyone’s sight;
Smart teacher he was, for he said no more,
But let the young mind ponder the score.
Life indeed does literature portray,
But wherein lies the soul, I pray?
No deep secret hidden in eternity,
But found in simple verses of poetry.
Plainly hidden from view the catechist’s house,
Here lives a good soul, five children and spouse;
Each child to help in which way he can,
Each to contribute with a helping hand.
The church bell to ring is a daily devotion,
Three times a day to set in motion;
Strong hands in need to pull the rope,
The poor man’s music and rekindled hope.
The bell knows each ringer by their special pull,
But never complains or is even disdainful;
Only man’s heart is capable of such snobbery;
Thus he separates himself from those viewed as lowly.
The goodly earth ever provident to her children,
Fruitful she is even at the moment one’s taken;
The sod’s still soft and wet from the digging
The church bell is silent, no voices are singing.
The first light of dawn finds peace in the vale,
Things great and small are yet to prevail;
Strewn on the topsoil new life has begun,
Moldy white clumps dotting the wet ground.
Playing in the graveyard the children do find,
Care free excitement and objects divine;
Jumbee umbrellas for crapaud to shade,
Or pelted at someone if round they are made.
Eating green mangoes on top of someone’s grave,
Done without thought not because we are brave;
Dealing the cards must have scared the dead below,
Wondering which of the two he really belongs to.
Saturdays are busiest with full participation,
The church to clean for the Sunday congregation;
Or the occasional sweeping where the rice has fallen,
After the marriage and the bride has been given.
No mistake for a funeral in passing,
Slow is the bell, solemnly tolling;
Respects to show for the one who has fallen,
Everyone’s in agreement it is God’s calling.
Bunyan trench at the side invites the best,
This is the place for the ultimate test;
Big boys compete in swim, dive and fight;
And claim as champions their coveted right.
Small chaps do watch with eager eyes,
In shallower water confined to try;
But often times in sport like glee,
Carried off far deeper for all to see.
Here he gets his first great leap,
To show his mettle from the deep;
All eyes are glued as he seeks his prize,
Time to prove he is worthy for his size.
Time ever ticking brings change in the air,
Along with the parting which we all must bear;
The small chaps have grown but they too must depart,
To a far off clime and make a brand new start.
The trench and churchyard are now overrun with vines,
And the once towering Sweetie Tree has lost its incline;
No more are the fiery red flamboyant flowers,
That canopied the pathway to the church in bowers.
Razed to the ground the long years of labour,
An entire garden to grant a priest a favour?
Hauled from its perch the catechist’s hidden house,
No priest will live there and more so his spouse.
No welcome awaits one at St. Joseph’s church door,
Locked and barred the church stands trembling cold;
No guiding lamp to bring the weary to God’s grace,
Where does the wandering soul turn to find solace?
- Herman J. Prashad