Phillip Medhurst

Wisdom from a Gnostic Sage

Fetherhoma, or, The Poet’s Cloak

This sark, so fierce, in a trice can shift

To down, cloud-white, that glides above

The sorry squats of thought-bound men.

The wrinkled coast and furrowed lea

Frown as I fare on the road of the swan,

And sing the spells of a soul outgone.


On Reading Psalms and Holy Verses

Proverbs 1:31; 9:5 

If I could grasp at Truth at all,

In a fine feast of hymnody,

I’d eat my fill; but my own fall

Has made of it a parody.

Beyond my reach, it’s only ash

I savour now, from Dead Sea fruit.

My lot bewailed, my teeth I gnash,

As I grub up fell’s shrieking root:

My birthright sold, my mess it makes.

Sin’s fruitage taught what Adam knows:

With swine the prodigal partakes.

I’ll go, then – glean where Wisdom sows.

Sophia’s fare – her wind-doled meat –

Her manna won’t to poison turn.

With new-washed hands I’ll take, I’ll eat,

Refresh my soul, and lesson learn.

Spiced with sagacity Faith’s songs

Will whet anew my appetite:

Then grown upright and done with wrongs

I’ll taste a fresh and chaste delight.

On Mary’s Assumption


Our Lady’s body suffered not decay,

Exempt from the determined consequence

Of carnal lust and fell concupiscence,

The penalty which Adam’s kind all pay.

Do I then rave if I speak of a Day

When an archangel’s shout will call me thence,

Embodied soul, to get my recompense

For what I said, did, did not do, or say;

Or speculate that I will then be changed

Into a wholesome, holy entity

In which the atoms have been re-arranged

By my Redeemer, who I then shall see

In this my flesh? I am, perhaps, deranged

While hope defies impossibility.

Death’s Sentence

The clop of the horse at the hearse,

The thump of the clod on the lid,

The snap of the book as it closes

Dispense with, dispose of the dead.


How quickly the living disperse,

And corpses appallingly gather!

Each rattling breath sighs the sentence

We hope will condemn Death to death.

Azazel’s Takeaway

Your order is for presentation

Of tasty titbits hung up in my mind

Like kippers in a shed replete with smoke.

Each morsel swam once in your stream alive,

A brief encounter, pickled, mummified,

And racked as ruined hope which I now cure

As parcelled portion of my history,

A dish that’s had its day. So take and eat,

For this my body is, my flesh, my blood.

Declaim my death to all when I have gone.


Avert your gaze from last night’s takeaway,

Dropped by this drunk unsteady on the way

By habit trod when, thus inebriate,

He made a mess of rhyme, then went to bed.

If you do not, you are a nosy hound

That sniffs the random snack to see if there

Some thing your fancy takes, before the wind

Blows paper, polystyrene, bones and all

On to Gehenna, trash’s second death,

Or a recycled resurrection.


Few are the things I know that I did well.

I got some grudging praise from time to time;

I valued these encomia far too much.

When tempted, all too easily I fell,

And ev’rything concocted burned to ash.

I erred and strayed to famished wilderness.

So like Tobias with his unstitched fish

I grill these in’ards, exorcise Self-Doubt –

Although that demon dogs my footsteps still,

And all roads seem to lead to Azazel.