Poetry by Lothar Luken

Lothar Luken, a poet and writer from Bantry, spoke eloquently at our Cork meeting about the impact of blasphemy laws on freedom of artistic expression. Lothar, who is a member of the Humanist Association of Ireland, also recited from his poetry, some of which is reproduced here.

Psalm 151
1 The Lord is my shepherd:
He’ll cage me in His pen,
and He’ll shear off my fleece.
2  He’ll take away my lambs,
He’ll have them slaughtered,
and He’ll have them devoured.
3  When He reckons my day has come,
He’ll render me unto the butcher, too.
4 Yea, verily, the Lord is my shepherd.

Rock of Ages

Forever the wind,
sometimes rain and snow
and for a few millennia
occasional covers of ice.

Then, recently, moulds,
slime, lichens and moss,
the poking of roots
and shadows of trees.

Then the thud of dinosaurs,
whiff of bugs and butterflies,
the patter of lizards and birds
and the hushing of mice.

Then grinding hooves
and scratching claws,
the stomping of monkeys,
the machinations of man.

They evolved while I am.
Ever-present stone age,
rock solid sameness.
And forever the wind. 



Just marvel, milling molecules,
at what you’ve given rise to:
A living being – for a while –
is what you’ve all combined to!
How unlikely, how intriguing,
this transient little lump of life
amidst a swirling universe
and awesome vast eternity.
To grow from dust and water
to finally feel the ancient winds,
to hear the surf and watch horizons
sure that the sun will rise again!
So, brain, don’t worry, don’t despair,
you’ve just evolved to be aware.
What other life-form knows
that it’s alive and mortal!
Enjoy this and don’t ask for more:
from particle to pain and wisdom
there is no purpose other than
to be and grow and marvel.


black olives

deep tracks in dry soil
dust forever unsettled
olive branches not offered
but splintered and crushed

shadow of concrete wall
casts darkness on old man
they bulldozed his trees
his grandpa’s olive trees

not much I can do there but
buying this beautiful bowl
crafted by robbed refugees
from tank ravaged wood

here, friend, take some olives
from my exiled bowl
they’re black and I wish
they could be from Gaza


A Simple Death

no grim reaper scything towards you
no black-wingéd angel beckoning
no shrieking valkyries zooming in

no ancient grey beard guide
softly closing your eyes
gently taken your hand
whispering ‘follow me’
leading you solemnly
to the beyond

were you a failure
a mediocrity
a star?
whatever your ratings
it is accomplished now
and no longer matters

your breathing has stopped.
your heart’s no more ticking
your eyes are blind
your limbs are lame
and all your pain has vanished,
and all your longing finished
and nothing remains to enjoy
this ultimate liberation

it’s really simple
this is your end
and that’s final


Rainy Flag Day Grafton Street

Man opens umbrella -

will it ever change?

Fat woman begging:

Mister, some change!

Athletics Club collect – moist

Friends of the Earth collect – damp

Multiple Sclerosis Trust collect – wet

Student recites poems

on utopia and change.

Busker breaks string, 

does a quick change.

Romanian Orphans Fund collect – soaked

Irish Wheelchair Society collect – dripping

Famine Relief collect – a drop in the ocean

Man opens wallet for me,

shivering girl barges in,

holds out paper cup:

Mister, some change!

But his coins clatter

into my official can,

I got the better cause,

I win, I bleedin’ win.

I’ve had it,

can’t take anymore,

drenched to the bone,

desperate for a change.

1 Comment

  1. Avatar
    F OB December 29, 2009

    It is in the best interests of humanity that religion ends. So no humanists aren’t “supposed” to be neutral.


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