Thirty-third Anniversary

A poem in honor of my wife who has endured so much.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

Last January scientists from the
Laser Interferometer Gravitational-Wave Observatory
Detected that a neutron star 
One and a half times the mass of our sun
Had crashed into a black hole.
Sixteen days later
And some billion light years away
It happened again
Sending gravity ripples
Along the warp and weft of space-time
Till it found us.

On June 9, you passed
Beyond the ER’s event horizon
Into another universe behind closed doors
Where COVID protocols would not let me enter.
You were charted and mapped,
Broken open by quantum complications
Which seemed to leave
The teams of physicists
Who tended you
Curious but
Unsurprised.

But I was stunned
As I came to orbit
The surgical waiting room
Where I circled with relative disbelief
The grave matters 
Of life and death, 
Children and parents,
Fear and the unknown.

You became a portal
To the cosmic reality that life
Which can seem to run so well
Is imperceptibly good
And fragile.

Sixteen days later, we emerged from
Your room’s capsule
On our Thirty-third Anniversary
Warped tight by trial
And weft arm in arm
To weave our way
Through the hospital hall.
And as we moved through that universe
No instruments detected the gratitude
Emitted in waves of thanksgiving
Nor perceived the prayer and praise.

© Randall Edwards 2021.

Love Is Not Strength

This poem is based on 1 Corinthians 13 and in honor and memory of a friend and friends.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

Love is not strength
Though it is patient and kind.
Not that it doesn’t desire
Or burn hot as fire,
Yet it does not quit.
It takes a seat to the side, and there it will sit
Through time’s tides and troubles. It
Does what it can
And with you stands
Ready to help, paying no mind
To impatient demands.

Love does not shine.
It does not put me first or over other’s climb
Or grab with greed, yelling,
Mine. Mine. 
Mine!

Love cannot keep you from grief
But only makes sadness more certain
Only makes the inevitable hurting
Of goodbye sure.

Love cannot keep others from leaving.
It cannot make them stay.
Love is not enough
To keep any from going away.
It cannot keep.
But of those wrongs, the slights,
The thoughtless words said in jest, 
The deeds that were nothing near the best
One could be?
Love keeps no record of the wrong
Whether they happened today or time long
Since gone.

Love cannot heal. It cannot make anyone well.
If they are sick and dying,
It’s not like some spell
That can magically make them right.
Though if you love, love just may keep you awake
Night after night,
After night.

Love makes no demand.
It does not have to have its say
Which means that things may not go your way.
And so love oftentimes weeps
Or grieves what it may not keep.

Love takes no delight in the cruel
Or wicked things which others say or do,
But love rejoices in the true.
And when seeing the truth
Love bears all things,
And in so doing
Carries the weight of waiting
For the other to come ‘round
Or for the time when what was lost
Is at last found.

Love cannot keep, make, or do,
Yet it believes all things which means
He still believes in you.
Yes, love may be blind.
It cannot see the hope.
(Who hopes in what they can see?)
But with hope in faith
Love looks down the drive,
Expecting any moment to see you.
You, who were thought to be dead, alive
Walking up to the house.

Love is not strength
Though it endures all things:
Whether fearing the grave
Or the pain of death’s sting.
Love never fails,
Is on time, never late.
For it always hopes, always trusts,
And waits and waits
And waits…

© Randall Edwards 2021.
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).

All Leave

A poem about being left and leaving.

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

They all leave. Every single, last thing, leaves 
And goes away til there is nothing left;
All are consigned to one life and then, death.

All of us, all of them, from the first cry,
Are counting down till their last, labored breath
When they shall stop breathing and die.

And every leaving leaves me feeling left—
Leaves me burning with the sting of death
Empties my hands, leaves me bereft.

And to whom shall I leave what I have left—
The things for which I have paid for in sweat?
Who shall take it after my own death?

They all go; it all goes over time;
Whether they leave in trickles or at once
Leaving won’t stop till it has the last dime.

And here Truth shines for me to see
The fleetingness of my mortality:
That day by day the one leaving is me.

© Randall Edwards 2021

Your Hand

This poem draws its inspiration from Psalm 139. You may listen to me read the poem via the

player below.

 Even there your hand,
 The hand which you stretched out to deliver me,
 The hand by which you led your people through the sea
 And with which you take our hand
 And as a shepherd lead,
 That hand is the same hand 
 With which you took hers
 As she lay upon her bed
 Even though her father’s friends had said,
 ‘It’s no use, she’s already dead.’
 But you clasped her hand in yours,
 And without an audience, behind closed doors,
 You tenderly tugged and said,
 ‘Sweetie, time to get up’
 As if it were just another morning.

 Those hands are the hands with which
 You wiped your own tears as you wept 
 At your friend’s tomb 
 Though you said he only slept.

 And with those hands, you took the beam
 And with them carried it through the din
 Of Jerusalem’s cries and shouts
 And bore with it the weight of my sin;
 To that wood, they nailed
 Your hand even as they mocked and hailed
 You King of the Jews,
 And in your exaltation
 Said your kingdom had failed.

 And with your hand which you raised to you mouth
 You called the disciples from the shore
 You hailed them with a shout
 To cast our nets on the other side
 Of the boat.

 That hand beckoned Peter again from the sea
 And asked again whether of fish or men
 Would he rather a fisher be,
 Entreating three times,
 And through Peter ask me,
 Do you love me?
 Do you love me?
 Do you love me?
 More than these?

 That hand is the hand by which 
 You take mine in hand
 Whether I ascend to heaven, 
 Mount on wings,
 Or make my bed in the grave 
 With those who have died;
 Whether I dwell in the utmost part of the sea
 Even there your hand shall guide,
 Your hand shall take,
 Your right hand lead
 And hold 
 Me.
 

 © Randall Edwards 2021

Just So

This month is Pastor Appreciation Month. This was written a couple of years ago after I heard someone talk about leaders and how they liked them ‘just so’. The line caught my attention and rolled around in my head for a few days.
Oftentimes there is an attempt to position ourselves in terms of us and them: us pastors and them parishioners or us who appreciate pastors and them who don’t. But when it all boils down there is really only us and Him. And well, He’s really just so…

You may listen to me read the poem via the player below.

We like our leaders just so–
Not too brash, not too bold.
We like them humble, but not so much so.
We like our leaders just so.

We like them selfless,
Who serve without putting on a show.
Not pretentious, ostentatious,
Modest and humble,
Not too high but not too low.
That’s how we like our leaders.

Just so,
You know from the start,
From the get go, we have no issue
With receiving, following, heeding,
We hope you got the memo.
And we like you too,
(We thought you’d like to know),
We like our leaders.

Just so we’re clear
(And although no one’s perfect)
We’d like you
To be the closest to perfect
Of anyone we know—
Who’ll play their part
In our well-conceived dreams,
Lead us in fulfilling all our schemes,
Who is authentic down to their bones,
Who really is, not merely seems,
Someone we can trust more than anything.
We like our leaders.

We like our leaders just. So
You’ll need to measure up,
Exude perfection,
Reflect our fronting, our righteous reflection,
Our confident, prosperous, self-projection.
We like our leaders just.

So, why are you wearing that towel?
Why disrobed? Down on your knee?
Why touch my feet as a slave?
Why wash me?

Why don’t you speak, live up to the hype?
Do the deeds which brought you fame?
Are we to follow one so derided, disdained?

Defend yourself, why scorn the shame?
Why bear the cursing, take all the blame?
We like our leaders just.

So, you’ll have to do better;
You’ll have to rise higher;
You’ll have to break out
Of this lamb of God game.
You’ll need to make a better name
If we’re to follow you into your dominion;
You may not like it, but that’s our opinion.
There’s just no glory for a lion laid low
Because we like our leaders just so.

© Randall Edwards 2017
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.