Where Do You Go?

Where Do You Go?

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 27:1-15 in which the Lord, through Jeremiah, commands his people to submit themselves to the yoke of his servant, Nebuchadnezzar, the king of Babylon. If the Lord can use the king of Babylon to accomplish his purpose for his people, what might happen if we submit ourselves to the yoke of the King of Love?

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

What do you do when you lose it all?
Where do you go when there is nothing left?
Where do you run, to whom do you call
When fortune steals, leaves you empty, bereft?

How do you find your way ‘round and through
When all ways return, lead back into night?
When there’s no other…nothing to do
But press forward just because it is right?

What can one do? Where can one go?
Except to receive the sorrow and loss,
Do the work, sow again fields left fallow
Heft the weight, shoulder your yoke and your cross?

Paired with another, yoked, stripped of all pride
Love has found me here, ever to abide.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

It Never Entered My Mind

It Never Entered My Mind

This sonnet is based on Jeremiah 19:4, 5 in which the Lord through Jeremiah says,

 4 Because the people have forsaken me and have profaned this place by making offerings in it to other gods whom neither they nor their fathers nor the kings of Judah have known; and because they have filled this place with the blood of innocents, 5 and have built the high places of Baal to burn their sons in the fire as burnt offerings to Baal, which I did not command or decree, nor did it come into my mind—

Jeremiah 19:4, 5

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.


I never thought, did not enter my mind
That you’d take your own, one of your kind,
And offer their life as a gift to fire—
It never entered my mind.

I never thought that you’d ever admire
Those who for blessing would think to require
The life of their child as one of the rules—
How could you ever admire?

I never thought that you could be such fools,
Think it wise to wield wickednesses tools,
That the strong may make the weak pay it all—
How could you be such fools?

Who, for this sin pay, drink its bitter gall?
What Son bear the curse, be wrapped in death’s pall?

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

artwork: By Charles Foster [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

Nothing Will Be the Same

Nothing Will Be the Same

This poem is based on Jeremiah 19:1-13.

If it is helpful, you may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

The prophet takes the elders through the gate
Where lie the ruins of rubble and trash,
Where the stench of dung and smoldering ash
Serves to speak, educate.

Nothing you see here will stay the same
Not one stone will be left on another;
Every child will be torn from their mother;
Nothing will be the same.

He draws them out; shows them a long-necked flask–
A potter’s handiwork, which he has bought;
He throws the flask down, to dash on the rocks
Blind, they’re the stiff-necked flask.

Don’t you see? Nothing will stay the same;
Break a clay flask, it’s no use at all;
Gather the pieces to Topheth haul,
Ruined, never the same.

The time has come, never to be the same,
Not one stone will be left on another;
The daughter will be torn from her mother;
Nothing will be the same.

And it all happened just as he said;
There weren’t enough tombs to bury the dead;
The living were yoked, to Babylon led
It happened just as he said.

Many kings later the Son of Man spoke,
Though you tear this temple down, yet I say
I shall surely raise it up in three days!
Thus the Son of Man spoke.

But the potter who had entered the clay
Was dashed on the rocks, his dwelling torn down,
Given a wreath of thorns for a crown,
A potter buried in clay.

Another dawn it seemed just the same;
Then earth broke, no stone left on another;
Returned is the Son torn from his mother;
Nothing will ever be the same.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: James Tissot

What Do You See?

What Do You See?

This week, I begin a new series on the book of Jeremiah. This first poem takes its inspiration from Jeremiah 1:1-19.

I must acknowledge my debt to Eugene Peterson’s translation in The Message of this passage wherein he seeks to make the pun found in the Hebrew between the words “watching” and “almond” more clear. Peterson translates Jeremiah 1:11,12 this way,

God’s Message came to me: “What do you see, Jeremiah?”
I said, “A walking stick—that’s all.”
And God said, “Good eyes! I’m sticking with you.
I’ll make every word I give you come true.”

Eugene Peterson, The Message

Here rather than trying to make “almond” and “watching” fit, he employs the double entendre of the meaning of “stick” as in a “stick of almond” and “sticking with you” (watching). I think he’s done a pretty good job. In fact, so good that I have borrowed his word play and employed it below. To him, I gladly give any credit, though he deserves none of the blame.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

I loved you before I made you in love
In the hidden place of your begetting;
Your life’s mission, appointed from above,
Is to speak my words, my word spreading.

“Ah, but Lord God, don’t you know, can’t you see?
I am only a youth; I cannot speak.
No one will heed or listen to me;
I don’t know how, I’m not strong, only weak.”

Ah? Indeed, ‘Ah,’ do not say, do you hear?
Into your mouth I place my words of pow’r;
You shall say what I say. Go. Do not fear;
Though they buffet, you’ll remain my strong tower.

“How will I know that you are with me?”
I thought to myself as I walked along.
Jeremiah, tell me, what do you see?
I replied, “I see a stick of almond.”

You see well, son! I’ll be sticking all ‘round —
Watch you work, watch my word, for years to come.
You watch each spring when this stick of almond
Reminds with its blooms the sticking I’ve done.

Remember this stick; with you, I’m sticking ‘round
Whether you work to plant, pull up, or tear down.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

Artwork: Marc Chagall (1887 – 1985). Calling of Jeremiah, 1957. Hand-colored etching. Gift of Patrick and Beatrice Haggerty. Collection of the Haggerty Museum of Art, Marquette University.

What Prince?

What Prince?

This poem finds its inspiration in Psalm 119:161-176 and is the last in a series on Psalm 119.

One of psalmist’s antagonists throughout Psalm 119 are the “princes”. Rather than take “prince” as merely one who is a member of the king’s household, I have imagined them as those who, because of material resources and proximity to power, seek to exert controlling influence wherever they find themselves and use what power they have not to influence for justice but for their own benefit. The “princes” of Psalm 119 have their mirrors in today’s middle managers and corporate vice-presidents.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

The princes who hide behind smiles, a glower—
Who greedy and gorging, the weak devour—
The schemers with nothing better to do
Than plot to get more, the vulnerable screw;
These are the princes of power.

I hate and abhor their falsehood and lies
Who fawn and cower in noble disguise;
Their hearts are foul; their love and delight
Are the deeds done under cover of night;
Their lord is lord of the flies.

But in their buzzing I hear my own voice—
Full of fear, proud, a damnable noise;
Cursing in anger, their fall fuels my hate
Crushes my life ‘neath the burdensome weight;
What prince deliver, bring peace?

One Prince suits up, girds himself for the fight
Sets out before dawn, on the road at first light
Leaves ninety-nine to seek one who is lost
With a princely sum, he pays the full cost
To buy me back, one who in sin took flight
Makes me a child, makes a prince, makes me right.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
artwork: James Tissot [No restrictions or Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

With My Whole Heart

With My Whole Heart

This poem finds its inspiration in Psalm 119:145-160

With my whole heart, I cry. With all of me
I call out when in my own company
Before the morn, when I in mourning be.
Alone I wait and wait to see
You rescue from the grave
As promised in your testimony.
With my whole heart I cry, “Save!
Oh Lord, please save me!”

With your heart, will you, do you love me?
May I trust, believe you love beyond degree?
Are just, judge with impartiality?
Love to the end though the end bitter be?
No matter the cost?
Though denied, yet love faithfully?
With your whole heart, seek the lost?
Oh Lord, do you love me?

“Nearer my God,” I sing, “Nearer to Thee”
When my enemies draw close, threaten me
Who are far from your law, who act wickedly
Who are blind, yet deny, claim they can see
Claim they alone are right?
Will you my deliverer be?
Will you rescue, enter my night
To draw me near’r to Thee?

Why? My God, why has thou forsaken me?
My enemies heap contempt scoffingly
My friends deny they know, abandon me
Leave me to hang on this tree
This I do for love.
That blessing may rain more fully
Descend in fire, alight as a dove,
Give them you, Hide them in me.

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.
Artwork: Gustave Doré [Public domain], via Project Gutenberg.

Your Word Unlocks

Your Word Unlocks

This sonnet is loosely based on Psalm 119:129-144. Much of my meditating has come from the line in verse 129 which reads, “Your testimonies are wonderful”. The “wonderful” is akin to the meaning of supernatural. When received, good news is wonderful. It is this amazement that I attempt to contrast with the troubles the psalmist expresses and my own.

If it’s helpful, you may listen to me read the sonnet via the player below.

Your word unlocks, runs straight, is just and right;
It cuts to the heart and pierces the night.
Strong and stable, firmness to rest upon
Is your word, the promise I depend on.

I am small and despised; my enemy knows
I am but a breath, can be felled with blows:
A roll of the eye, a sigh, fuels the shame
Of my thirst for the draughts of praise and fame.

But you redeem the fear-of-failure’s slave,
Steal sin’s sting and the victory of the grave;
Your light beckons, draws me into the day
Sets me to walk in the steps of your way.

I wonder is that word too good? Can it be?
The Word cries, “It is finished!” Bids, “Follow me.”

© Randall Edwards 2018.
This poem is for Christ’s church. If it is helpful, please feel free to copy or reprint in church bulletins, read aloud, or repost. I only ask that an attribution be cited to myself (Randall Edwards) and this blog (backwardmutters.com). Thanks.

Artwork: James Tissot (French, 1836-1902). The Woman with an Issue of Blood (L’hémoroïsse), 1886-1896. Opaque watercolor over graphite on gray wove paper, Image: 11 x 7 1/16 in. (27.9 x 17.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchased by public subscription, 00.159.111 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 00.159.111_PS2.jpg). No copyright restrictions.