The Tiger & Sophia

I stride out,
Padding softly,
Focus bright.

My keen eyes,
The obstacles of man
Blighting her hope.

If I need to, I roar.
If I need to, I snarl.
If I need to, I bite.

Mostly I pad
Along in love,
Sniffing out the mighty,

I hunt them.
Charge into
The back of their legs.

Together we kneel
Before poverty herself,
Offering healing hands.

Will we count
On our fingers
Reasons to smile?

Will we count
Hearts not bleeding,
But beating to rejoice?

Will we count
Clapping hands
Celebrating success?

This is my daily hunt,
A charging fight of love
For wisdom herself.

Jamie Coats
January 2020

See Songs of Sophia

Posted in Nature, Poems, Theme for 2020, Theme for the Year | 1 Response

The King of Kings

In a large bleak field
Stands a radiant man.

Announcing I am the King of Kings,
The only Son of God.

I approach the man,
The light is so strong

I have can hardly make out
Any human features.

Drawing near
I see he holds a long handled shovel.

He has just dug
A minuscule grave.

He says to me, “I am your King.
Kneel. Obey my every word.”

Then I notice in the grave
Is a dead dove.

I hear footsteps
And look round.

A woman, just as herself,
Walks swiftly towards us.

She kisses him on the lips.
He collapses into her arms,

Sobbing deeply,
His radiant light goes out.

I see him as fully human
For the first time.

The dove awakes.
Shakes herself off and takes flight.

Jamie Coats
February 2018

Posted in Poems | 2 Responses


Dedicated to the Co-Founders of OPHI

Oxford Poverty and Human Development Initiative:

Sabina Alkire & John Hammock


  1. Wisdom

Sophia, wisdom, she comes to us *
And gently holds our hands.

With your hands *
Count and number things,

Shake hands to make friends, *
Make things that create a better world.

She places her hand on our hearts *
Feeling the number that pulses our life.

Live in your hearts *
And see the lines

That make out the lives *
Of the rich and poor alike.

  1.  The Poor

Accompany me to be welcomed *
Into the home of the poor.

One room with a kitchen behind *
One seat, set aside for you.

You’re offered more food *
Than you can eat,

Wondering how to say “enough” *
Without being rude,

Wondering if you’ve been offered *
The family’s food for a week.

Sophia asks our host to tell her story *
A farmer’s daughter whose

Grandfather gave her *
Her dowry for her education.

She now supports the education *
Of a hundred young women.

How she can afford that? *
You wonder, and she in joy replies

It is the great happiness of her life *
To share what she has.

  1. The Rich

Come into the place of the rich *
Who are blessed

To live by a number *
The amount of money that they have.

They desire to make a difference *
And are measured in their response.

Asking,  “How can I know *
How to make a difference?”

  1. When We Are Blind

Know when you are blind *
And cannot see

You have your hands to count *
And ears to listen.

You don’t know what it is like *
So you are in the dark,

Like Justice you are blindfolded, *
So live like the blind,

Use your hands *
To count your surroundings.

Gently feel around. *
What do your fingers find?

  1. Know Your Poverty

Do you find walls in front of you *
Or are you living outside?

When you kneel and touch your floor, *
Do you touch dirt, concrete, planks or carpet?

What food are you preparing?  *
Do you have enough for the day?

For the week? For your family? *
Careful! Don’t burn your hands,

Are you cooking with dung? *
Or wood or fuel of another kind?

You eat a palmful, *
Are you still hungry?

Checking your child’s head for fever. *
How far is the hospital?

In your pocket you feel for your money. *
Can you pay the bill?

How much schooling do you have? *
Does your work speak of learning?

Can you fumble around to find some tools. *
Do you have any for earning?

Thirsty, feeling for a tap, *
Do you have running water?

Is it safe to drink? *
Or you are reaching for your kettle?

Do you boil the hottest tea *
Your mouth can bear?

You need to go so bad.
Do you have a latrine?

Or do you go outside? *
Or pay to go to the village loo?

Outside you stumble on something *
A piece of rubbish,

Rubbish that is never collected *
And is strewn everywhere.

Blind, you know you’ll trip *
Whichever way you turn.

  1. Know Your Un-Wellness

Even in places where more money grows *
Other forms of poverty emerge,

Is there sickness of the mind? *
Is there sickness of work?

Is there crippling over-indebtedness? *
Is there growing futility

Numbing the senses with despair? *
Is the rage doped up,

Or intermittently lashing out *
In growing cycles of violence?

And know that there are hands *
That measure this lack of wellness too.

  1. See and Make Progress

When you have counted all these things *
The blindfold will fall from your eyes.

Light will fill your vision *
You will see all the things

That count towards poverty. *
The number Sophia counts

That paints a vivid picture *
For the rich to see the poor,

That says that there is much to do *
And many ways to help.

Sophia returns again and again, *
Counting again and again

For all to see progress *
That delights rich and poor alike.

  1. Who Comes to Help?

Now the rich can see, *
They wonder how to help.

Sophia kneels in the dirt *
At the unshod feet of

The poorest of the poor *
And with her numbers

She holds the hands of the rich to be there too. *
The rich come as rulers,

People of trade, *
People of medicine,

People of learning, *
And people of building,

All united by Sophia’s number *
That captures the demons of poverty.

  1.  How Can We Help?

First remember, don’t even count *
Unless you plan to make a difference.

Find ways for poor and rich to sit together *
With the numbers as they sink in.

Ask how are our minds opened? *
Do we have space to play with new solutions?

Ask what does Sophia’s counting *
Say about our priorities?

Are we ready for her to come back in *
To measure the difference we’ve tried to make?

As leaders do we give weight *
To Sophia’s equal measure?

  1. An Alliance of Rich and Poor

Now there’s an alliance of rich and poor *
Who understand one another

To ensure that there is enough *
To make a difference.

This alliance knows that there are *
Three great measures of mankind,

A measure called your heartbeat, *
Counting how we are all equal.

A measure called money *
Counting how we go up in the world

And a measure of Sophia *
Counting how we go down into poverty.

With these three numbers *
We grow in compassion

Together counting *
What truly matters.

  1. The Balance Scale Breaks

People love to compete *
With one another

To tip the balance with money *
Up in their favour.

Does the other end of the balance *
Tip down?

Showing a decrease in poverty? *
If not what do we see?

A balance scale tipped up with money *
Just for the rich

And the other end that measures poverty *
Not tipped down for the poor.

We see the balance scale is broken *
And Justice weeps.

  1. The Balance Scale Pivots

Sophia asks those with money *
To set aside enough

To always be able to count poverty *
And ensure the balance scale measures

Increased wealth *
With decreased poverty.

So in the cathedrals of learning *
Sophia invites the rich

To sets aside money *
To keep the brightest minds

Finding counting ways *
To hold the poorest of the poor

In the minds of the richest of the rich *
And to create an alliance between them

To celebrate *
That we all have a heartbeat.

Theme for 2018

Jamie Coats

Posted in Grief & Wonder, Love, Poems, Prayer, Theme for 2018 | 3 Responses

The Candle Trilogy published in “Untamed Gospel”

Martyn Percy, Dean of Christ Church College, Oxford writes, “It is good to be able to welcome and introduce the poetry of Jamie Coats in this anthology. Jamie is a layperson working for the Society of St John the Evangelist (SSJE) in the United States − an Anglican religious order of brothers. Jamie writes on contemporary monastic wisdom, and his work draws on Buddhist, Hindu and Christian traditions of meditation and silence. We reproduce his ‘Candle Trilogy’ towards the close of this volume.” Kindle version of Untamed Gospel

The Candle Trilogy: Unlit Betrayal | Lit Faithfulness | Faithful Betrayal – Holy Fire

Posted in Horror & Terror, Love, Poems, Theme for 2017 | Leave a comment

The Dove

I fly and land where needed,
Where Justice finds her heart hurting,
And we hold the gods accountable,
Opening eyes to her love,
To the love of her,

A Prayer of Oblation

(c)  Jamie Coats

24th July 2017



Posted in Horror & Terror, Love, Poems, Prayer | Leave a comment

Faithful Betrayal – Holy Fire

First of the Trinity

God does not

If God had raped Mary
Do you think we’d have her joy
So magnificently described?

God sends Gabriel.
He appears as the most
Gorgeous of men.

She hugs him saying,
“You are so beautiful.”
Places her head on his chest,

Looks up
And tentatively
They kiss on the lips.

He moves to kiss her again.
“No,” she says,
“My betrothal is arranged.

My father is making me marry.
I cannot defy him,
My blood-line, my tribe.”

Gabriel steps back.
“You get to decide.
God’s love is consensual.

Any other story
Is a lie made up
By man.”

Mary tremors at the idea.
A woman freed to choose
Love over tribe,

A woman no longer
Property of man
With the right to decide.

Knowing that this right is
The centre of God’s love
For all mankind.

She chooses love.
She defies her dad,
She faithfully betrays her blood.

“Be it unto me
According to
Thy word…”

Gabriel, Mary
As man
As woman

Fully alive

Through each other

To be

To and from
Now one

With God
Now spiralling
In a greater orbit

Knowing they are
Saying yes to life,
To Jesus.

She gives birth to a boy,
Who grows to be a man
Who in time understands,

But before,
His tribe raises him
As their man.

Like all of us
He learns the normal
Basis of hate:

Who’s in?
Who’s out?
How is my blood superior?

I am a boy,
I am this belief and religion,
I am of my tribe.


Second of the Trinity
The Syrophoenician Woman

He grows into a prophet,
Limited at first,
He prays to the Father,

And says he is just a man for
The lost sheep of his tribe.
One day he meets a woman,

A woman who says, “No,
That is not good enough.”
She prays as a Mother,

The Mother who is
For her sick child.

She is foreign,
Annoying, cloying
And totally persistent.

She is not of his blood,
Gender, race, tribe
Caste, class or God.

He denies her,
He reviles her,
Finally calls her a dog.

She faithfully sees past
The hate he’s been taught
She knows his heart.

She stands her ground,
Tells him,
“Even dogs get scraps.”

Like flint
She strikes him,
Sparks his love.

She breaks the clasp that holds
His cultural coat of hate,
It falls away,

Revealing the loving heart
Given him
By his mother and God.

His mutual love flows,
He loves her daughter
As his own.

He heals
Into the Messiah.


Third of the Trinity
Mary Magdalene

He is now on the path
To be crucified
By those so superior.

Now he honours every woman,
Every foreigner,
Every other.

Now he’s got it,
Are you surprised
Why he is such a hit

With all the women
Of the Gospels

Are you surprised
That those of power,
Still dressed in hate,

Come after him
For such betrayal
With bloodshed in mind?

Betrayed by a kiss,
Led through the crowds,
They kill him on a tree.

Mary Magdalene
She watches him die.
His agony consumes her,

She struggles to stop
The terror
From petrifying her.

He dies. Is it over?
The light is fading fast
When his body is released.

She follows
As they take his body
To the tomb.

A new one carved into rock
With a circular stone
That rolls back into a slot.

They haul his body
Down into the antechamber
Onto the preparation table,

No time
To put him into
One of the burial slots.

It is Sabbath,
She’ll return when allowed.

On the third day
She comes early,
Still in darkness

With enough myrrh
To stop the retching
That celebrates

The victory of those
Who kill those who
Put love before blood.

The stone is sitting
In its slot
Rolled back.

No stench,
No body,
Another humiliating loss.

The rock-carved tomb,
The ultimate dead end,
Is emptiness.

Have the men of bloodshed
Desecrated his body
And hidden their evil deed?

“No!” she screams.
In the place of despair
She is faithful to love,

She feels it envelop her.
She turns, risen he is there,
Betraying death itself

Her love explodes,
It is that mutual love
It feels consensual

Beyond sexual,
Union with God.
No hatred to those who kill,

Compassion for all,
Resurrection love
From her pours forth.


Finally Holy Fire

Yes his act is sacred betrayal.
Yes his reward is death,
Yes he is going to ask you to

Stand with the poor,
Under the stars and
Light the candle of a little child.

You will light her candle
Regardless of who you are.
Free, you will not ask

Of gender
Of race
Of tribe

Of caste
Of class
Of God

You’ll faithfully betray
Your tribe if you answer
Yes to what Jesus and

The Trinity of women ask,
“Are you flint enough
To light Holy Fire?

Biblical References:: Luke 1, 23:26-24:12, Mark 7:24-30, Matthew 15:21-28, & John 20:1-18

The Candle Trilogy: Unlit Betrayal | Lit Faithfulness | Faithful Betrayal – Holy Fire

The Candle Trilogy was published in Untamed Gospel edited by Martyn Percy.

© Jamie Coats February 2017
Theme for the Year 2017

Posted in Horror & Terror, Love, Poems, Theme for 2017, Theme for the Year | 7 Responses

A Close Shave, O Jerusalem

Stories for my Father, Ivor Coats, 25 January 1923- 13 June 2016

When General Secretary Gorbachev emerged from his jet on his arrival irazorn Moscow after the 1991 August Coup, he was trapped in his holiday Dacha in the Crimea for two days, he was unshaved and looked disheveled. I was shocked, I had never seen a world leader, let alone a super-power world leader, looking so undignified. Seeing the Communist Leader’s loss of dignity, I was not surprised that the USSR collapsed in the following days. There must have been a lot people whose dignity had been denied for that empire to collapse.

For some reason Gorbachev’s unshaved image inspired me when I fly long distance to emerge from a plane shaved and wearing a bright floral tie. Maybe this is because I am my father’s son.

Now in his 90s, I find my father recovering from pneumonia in a London hospital and he is most upset, he has not shaved in two days. He is determined to regain his dignity and leave the hospital. He has his artificial leg on. Holding his stick in one hand and my arm with the other we walk up and down the corridor in the ward. He quizzes me, “Are you going to buy me a razor?”

I tell him that Dr. Rohini, the extremely friendly caring doctor, had asked me not to buy him one but instead ask the nurse, Mary, to supply one and watch him shave. She is on her break so we wait. We return to his bed and he sits down on it. The nurse returns, provides a wash basin, no mirror, not that one would have helped much as his eye sight has largely failed, and a cheap disposable razor and small packets of shaving cream. He takes off his sweater and shirt and shaves himself. The woman visiting the patient John opposite says to John “Isn’t he doing well” and they both smile.

Finally my father finishes shaving, with three small bloody nicks on his face. He puts on a clean shirt and smiles proudly.

He was discharged the next day. I bring him home.

At my parents’ flat in Clapham I am in the galley kitchen and he comes and asks “Did you buy new razors, do they have covers on.” “Yes they in the bathroom and there is one out with no cover.” He walks back to sitting room. Later I am sitting with him and he starts to unbutton his shirt. “Do you want to shave?” I ask. “Yes,” he says. He gets up with some difficulty and stick in hand heads to the bathroom. I follow, run hot water into the sink and spray shaving cream on his hand. He shaves with a new multi-blade razor, no nicks today. He returns to the sitting room and I help him on with his shirt. I clean the smeared shaving cream off his glasses.

He sits down and says, “Let’s have a drink.” I get us both a whisky and water. Then I wish him good bye, kiss him on the cheek.

I am heading to Jerusalem on the night flight. I arrive at the airport, shave and wait for the flight to be called.

Thinking of the God Jesus has us know, who loves the dignity of every person and ask us to use our dignity, if we still have it to help others gain and retain theirs, to always build the new Jerusalem.

Thinking of a father, who told stories to us as children, of how in Assisi, Italy in June 1944 after being hit by anti-tank shell in his armoured car, killing his driver and taking his right leg, he was captured, lost his clothes and then fought as a prisoner to regain his dignity and use his rank as a British officer to persuade his captors to help other prisoners. He helped many.

Thinking of a father still fighting to regain his dignity, inspired as his son, clean shaved boarding a plane to Jerusalem.

Originally a post on Facebook April 20th 2016

Postscript: My father died on 13 June 2016 held by my sister and me. The last thing I did for him was to give him a shave.

Posted in For my father Ivor Coats | Leave a comment

345 London Double Decker Bus

Stories for my Father, Ivor Coats, 25 January 1923- 13 June 2016

 IMG_9103I have been riding the 345 double decker bus today in London that goes from Peckham to the Natural History Museum. It runs past my parent’s home that is empty. It goes to Denmark Hill where my father is in hospital at King’s College Hospital, with pneumonia and too unstable to walk. I read to him his favourite Blake poem The Divine Image. Back on the bus to visit my mother in rehab in Battersea where they are meant to be helping her recover from bed sores but she has two more. Then on the bus to neighbours where I am staying and to see other neighbours up and down the street who are so caring. Blake’s final verse in the Divine Image reads:

“And all must love the human form,
In heathen, Turk, or Jew;
Where Mercy, Love, and Pity dwell
There God is dwelling too.”
I am so grateful to my brother and sister, for our all our neighbours and all the carers full of Mercy, Love and Pity. In wonder at them all and grateful that I got the top front upper deck seat a couple of times today and felt like a child of God dwelling in London.

Originally a post on Facebook 16 April 2016

Posted in For my father Ivor Coats | Leave a comment

Lit Faithfulness

It’s simpler
Than you think

No mountains
To climb

No epiphanies
To have

No words
To preach

Just buy a box of

It does not matter
Who you meet

Or what they

Each has a candle of
Cherished dreams

Invite everyone
Out of the rain

Out of the wind
Out of the sun

Just enough shelter
To pause

Most will not

They’ll just
Brush you by

Too busy
Too harried

Too ambitious
Too broken

If they give you
The time of day

Ask “Where’s
Your candle?”

Your ask will restore

Eaten by rats
Long hidden


Ask who
Rains on them

Blows out their light
Glares too bright

Then give them
The box of matches

Let them
Strike the light

If needed
Cup your hands

Protect the wick
As they

Light the candle
Of their dreams

Let the flickering
Grow to flame

Now listen to them in
Their sacred space

Hear the tales of their
Cherished dreams

“Is it lit?”

At “yes”
You leave behind

Not thinking

The Candle Trilogy: Unlit Betrayal | Lit Faithfulness | Faithful Betrayal – Holy Fire

Theme for the Year

(c) Jamie Coats         February 2016

Posted in Poems, Prayer, Theme for 2016, Theme for the Year | 5 Responses

Unlit Betrayal

At the top
Is the water source
So pure

The priest takes
A bottle full
Puts a stopper in

In the valley
The church of
Bottled water

Drop by drop
Meager blessings

Wondering why
The children
Are missing

Is it that they know
Water falls
In a cascade

A torrent
For everyone
In the valley

And the river’s
Been pissed in
By the Mayor?

Who reneged
The Pied Piper

The flute now
Lures the children
To be lost

Under a mountain of

Rats return
Gnawing the candle
Of their dreams

But every child
Dares to light
That candle

They do it
Behind their
Parents’ backs

Placing it in a holder
Wishing for flame

That the flickering light
Will make them sacred

They doubt it
Their snuffing fingers
Warm wax rubbing

Worried they’ll
Be revealed by
Tainting scent

The candle now unlit
Irresolute, they chance
No accidental fire

But will you
Give them
A match?

It is said that in 1284 the Pied Piper of Hamelin was retained to get rid of the rats and drowned them all. Then the Mayor reneged on the bill and the Pied Piper lured away all but three of the town’s children.


The Candle Trilogy: Unlit Betrayal | Lit Faithfulness | Faithful Betrayal – Holy Fire

(c) Jamie Coats         February 2016

Posted in Horror & Terror, Poems | 4 Responses
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