I Am Not What I Was

I Am Not What I Was

This is a roundel based on Jeremiah 18:1-12.
In the poem I make use of two Bible illustrations: Jeremiah at the potter’s house and Jesus raising Lazarus. In the same manner that God formed man from the dust, Jesus announces the coming of new creation by raising one given over to the dust.

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

Said the clay to the hand who cut him out,
To the Potter who pulled him from decay
Smelling of earth from death wrapped about,
“I am not what I was,” said the clay.

Healing never came, for the Potter’s delay
Let me lie, untouched, harden, dry out;
Shaping without hands was his preferred way.

Time’s wheel spun four days when the mouth
Of the Potter spoke into where I lay
In my cold kiln cried, “Come forth!” with a shout.
And “I am, not what I was” said the clay.

© 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 Michelangelo Merisi da Caravaggio [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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.