Grapes

Grapes

This is an ekphrastic poem drawing its inspiration from the art of artist, Adah Freeman, who is a member of the congregation in which I minister . She is such a gifted artist and has taken up the theme of grapes from Numbers 13 in which spies are sent into the land of Canaan to explore and report back on the people, cities, and fruitfulness of the land.

When we returned from the land of flowing
Milk and honey — full and green and growing,
We carried the abundance, the grapes bursting
With the fruit-full promise: no more thirsting.

But then doubt set in, underneath a mumbling
That welled up into a fount of grumbling:
The people, giants; their cities tow’ring
And the land full of enemies devouring.

Have we come this far only to die?
To be cursed? Skins left out under the sky?
How will the death of a generation
Bear the fruit: a promised, holy nation?

What pressing and crushing will remove the sin?
What life poured and trod, that we enter in?

© Randall Edwards 2019.
 This sonnet 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). Thank you.
Artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “Grapes” acrylic on canvas.

Slingshot

Slingshot

Through the Advent season, I am working with a local artist who is painting abstract pieces which correspond to the sermon series I am preaching on. The first of that series was on the young shepherd David’s defeat of Goliath as found in 1 Samuel 17. In the project, I am writing poems which refer not only to the passages but also to the artwork which is being created. This genre of poetry is called “ekphrastic poetry“.

The painting is the work of an exceptional young artist named Adah Freeman. Her piece is entitled, Slingshot.

IMG_3881

Here is my poem, entitled the same.

Once the world was shining-new, golden-bright,
Untouched by shade or stain but brilliant-white;
Then an enemy came
To steal by dark deeds, claim.

The menacing darkness blurred, broke, and scarred—
Tore with violence, crossed, mangled, marred
The field of shimmering gold
Whence all was lost or sold.

The darkness continued to blur and streak,
Sent giants: Despair, Dementor, Defeat
Who laughed at our fear, scoffed,
Defied our Lord, and mocked.

But God’s Shepherd descended in between,
Went outside the camp where he was last seen—
For our glory-sealing,
Bearing stripes for healing.

He flung himself at death, and slew the Night
And with his arms he slings us up in life.

© Randall Edwards 2019. 
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). Thank you.
Artwork: © Adah Freeman 2019, “Slingshot” acrylic on canvas.

Listen

Listen

Some words which came while sitting in the garage before a fall rain.

You listen, and you know it means something,
But just what it means has not yet formed or
Settled; You’re tempted to think it’s nothing,
But you linger a moment at the door.

And there in that moment, midst the noise of
Your day, you stop on this threshold and knock;
The door swings wide, opens broad, high, above,
Where glory descends, and wonder unlocks.

I pause outside, hear the mockingbird call,
The squirrels scowl-screech, the chirping chickadee–
This monochrome cherub who flits midst fall
Colors while a thrush thrashes ochre leaves.

And the fall breeze blows in refrain
Sings the turn in weather, the coming of rain.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
Photo by C. Edwards.

All You Can Do

All You Can Do

In her talk about her documentary on Wendell Berry entitled, Look and See, Laura Dunn records Wendell Berry who says, “We all come from divorce. This is an age of divorce. Things that belong together have been taken apart. And you can’t put it all back together again. What you can do, is the only thing that you can do. You take two things that ought to be together and you put them together. Two things! Not all things.”

Here’s an attempt to internalize and express his words and sentiments with my own thoughts. All the credit goes to him; all the blame, to me.

A poem about all you can do. In sonnet form, of course.

We all come from divorce:
One is torn from the arms of their mother
Another steals their share from the father
The elder hates the younger brother,
We are cursed, cursing, coarse.

We live in an age of divorce:
When that which was once united together
Is now bisected, cut, ripped asunder—
With greed we grab beauty and wonder
No waiting, just taking by force.

You cannot put it all right;
All you can do, the only thing
You can do, is take in hand what you bring
And put it with what you think is missing.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet 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). Thank you.
artwork: original linoleum print by © Randall Edwards 2019.

Success

Success

Sometimes poems come quickly, and you don’t know from where or sometimes fully comprehend what they even meaning. (This sounds like a disclaimer). All the same, here it is.

It must be that people are called to succeed
By the way that they pull up and leave,
Run from sadness, do anything but grieve
Rather than stay, hold forth hope, love, believe.
We must be called to succeed.

For if people aren’t called to success
How on earth could they live their best
Life now? Excel? Rise above the rest?
How be envied in how they’ve been blessed?
The happy are called to success.

By the measure of most, the Son was outside
The blessings promised. No doubt someone lied—
That if you’re faithful, if you love your bride,
It ends happy. But him? He died.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet 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: “Love” abstract weaving by © Jennifer Edwards 2017, (jenniferedwards.com) Photo by Hazel Kuehn. Used with permission.

More

More

“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, “Do it again”; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, “Do it again” to the sun; and every evening, “Do it again” to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
― G. K. Chesterton, Orthodoxy

The making and creating continue;
The abundance seems prodigal,
Why wild flowers on an unseen alpine meadow,
Or the bizarre creatures of the Laurentian abyss
That go unseen for no one to pic,
Monetize, harvest, or like?
Who sees? Who receives the delight
And claps their hands?
Waving, cheering, More! More! More! Again! Again!
Why all this waste?

And yet there is more.

And you who in the pressing smallness
Of either meagerness or the famine of misfortune,
You, make–
Put this and that together, join and
Connect the pieces and parts
Into something new,
Saying something more about
The yearly yearning for fullness.

The Maker sees and claps.
And cries More! More! More!
Like children running circles in the sanctuary
Thrilled with the space and eager to fill it all,
Eager with chasing one another.

© Randall Edwards 2019.
This sonnet 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: Original linoleum print by Randall Edwards.

Heavy Emptiness

Heavy Emptiness

The heavy emptiness:
One’s lightness of being,
The loss of substance and purpose,
The clarity of vision for the day and week.

And then one’s lost
Which is an eternity of loss or at least
An indefinite hole in the future.
The empty arms that held and hugged
Now holding this urn–
This heavy square,
This dense packet of person.

Then the tears I feel and cry,
The regret of so much
Lost.
Lost words and ones too hastily spoken,
Unsaid, or unrepented.
The sadness over how much
And how easily I resented
The trouble and time.

© Randall Edwards 2019.