Land of Milk and Honey

Sometimes things just need to be shared. This poem by Stewart Henderson is beautiful and sad. It’s worth pausing and reflecting on.

Land of Milk and Honey

Is this the land of milk and honey,
the one for which this city gave
conscripted youth to war’s dark waters,
woodbine battalions of the brave?

This city of abandoned vehicles,
bankrupt stock and playtime crack,
a promised land of little promise,
a gaunt consumer cul-de-sac.

When we were young Orwell, Priestley,
chastened us with postcards home,
writing of a TB kingdom,
a cloth-capped land of monochrome.

And as for their HP descendants,
cocooned in space with satellite,
not knowing of the word ‘redemption’,
owned by the loan shark’s knock at night.

Is this the land of milk and honey
where birdsong seldom cleans the air
and all around is glass confetti
and only strangers pause to stare?

Absorbed into the local spirits:
demons of despondency;
souls and bodies soaked in debt,
crying out for jubilee.

Yet heaven lingers in these side streets
amidst the metal shutter shops
where lethal games played with syringes
have long replaced kids’ spinning tops.

And heaven lodges in these side streets,
feeling each tormenting pain,
counting out each tranquilliser,
visiting the barely sane.

This is a land of milk and honey
and perpetual alarms,
full of light and sawn-off menace,
a daily paradox of psalms.

This is a land of milk and honey,
bereft of bud and bursting leaves;
though glory may not seem apparent,
a place where Jesus lives and breathes.

by Stewart Henderson

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