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Redesign my soul


Todd Sampson

Redesign my Soul
In response to the two series of Redesign my Brain with Todd Sampson
(ABC TV, 2013 & 2015)
My soul's antennae are TV-tested
for searching power, speed, vibrations –
sluggishness is found, and some corrosion,
but not a power of deep delusion.
I pass, but barely – could do better.
Empathy is down, the next test finds,
neighbours more passed by than loved.
And do I love myself? It's not enough,
I'm told, to play Narcissus by the pool;
a mirror is no microscope.
The strength of my response to horrors
passes tests: I do not faint away.
I stay cool, call ambulances,
I can look tragedy in the face –
but do I view it like a B-grade movie?
I turn to Soul Intelligence for help;
a guru is assigned, the lovely Jai,
who shows me cards of many colours,
my choices are marked up with meanings –
she detects an open soul behind a wall.
I surrender to Jai's demolition skills:
tap and kick, repeat a hundred times.
Spirit flows in drips, then surges,
not quite holy and yet tinged with light,
faltering, glowing, searching.
If this is soul, it's not quite right,
trailing fogs of self-deception,
I'm tested for a seven-day retreat,
and fail. Dark nights could well destroy me,
so they judge, but I may strengthen yet.
I learn from Mary the escape artiste,
how to throw off chains of Satan,
six feet underwater, without gasping;
acquire the tricks of harrowing hell,
and by immersion cleanse the soul.
From low base I reach high percentages
for toughness, cleverness in losing shackles;
now I might apply to be an acolyte of God,
but which of many agencies is best?
The network offers thirty, I draw back.
They're frumpy church or fizzy chapel,
drop-in centres, laugh-ins, televangelism.
But with a svelte and gym-trim soul,
I'm armed against all flab and spread.
Move over Todd – I'm ready for my series.

In Quires and Places
A cherub soars to high A, nervelessly,
then picks his nose, flicking to starboard.
Within the Tallis he's a little monkey
climbing, swooping, falling – on the note.
Eighteen others go with him – no sweat,
no mucking up, no worries, all for God,
or to keep their choral scholarships.
The divine antique shop carries on;
red-robed choirboys sit on cedar,
peer by candlelight at polyphonic scores,
pipe their voices at a distant ceiling.
Outside, trams clang, crowds scurry,
blithely ignorant of Choral Evensong.
In here, the furniture is not for sale,
yet bliss and boredom are available,
the faithful remnant gets them gratis.
The choir men, left off the greeting cards,
grunt and bray on bottom lines,
they're the rock for skittering trebles,
and for gently mooing altos.
Not many centuries back, the monks
began it all, sheltering from mayhem
chorusing against the goths and Vikings,
who have come back, or never went away;
choir men still chant for reinforcement,
their wall of voices strong as stone.
Palestrina echoes into dizzy heights,
Darke in F confounds the dimness,
the Mags and Nuncs of centuries past
jostle with nervy settings of today –
will this stuff last? The question echoes
down the years, the vaults do not reply.
Midget singers claim their immortality,
their conductors boss their way to heaven,
mouthing vowels, wrinkling eyebrows.
Donations trickle in, never enough,
but steam builds, the train will roll and rattle.
We may yet be glad when they say to us
'We will go into the house of the Lord'.

Rodney Wetherell

Rodney Wetherell is a Melbourne writer who attends an Anglican church and formerly sang in a large secular choir.

Topic tags: Rodney Wetherell, Todd Sampson, Anglican, Australian poetry



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Existing comments

Fantastic (as in extraordinarily good).

Pam | 31 August 2015  

Gloriously joyful! Thank you for these pieces.

Barry G | 31 August 2015  

The divine antique shop! What a line. What a poem.

David B | 01 September 2015  

Two insightful poems with much to contemplate. Thank you!

Bill R | 01 September 2015  

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