Every Tear

A Villanelle
based on Revelation 21:2-4 “And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God. He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning, nor crying, nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away.”

When the holy city descends from the skies
And the dingy blanches before brilliant white,
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

The tears of sadness, regret, shame, and lies
Wet no longer those standing upon Zion’s height
When the holy city descends from the skies.

In the heavy crush of holy, death now dies;
Preserved through the shadow of that dark night
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

In consummated glory, every creature cries,
“Worthy is the Lamb! Irresistible His might!”
When the holy city descends from the skies.

And for those who in weakness did not despise
But bore graciously every wounding and slight
He will wipe every tear from their eyes.

And beholding in joy where time no longer flies,
Our earth-born blindness shall give way to sight
When the holy city descends from the skies
And He wipes every tear from our eyes.

(c) Randy Edwards
Artwork: detail of the revelation of the heavenly Jerusalem to St John, Add MS 42555, f. 79v

The Feast

Revelation 19:17 Then I saw an angel standing in the sun, and with a loud voice he called to all the birds that fly directly overhead, “Come, gather for the great supper of God, 18 to eat the flesh of kings, the flesh of captains, the flesh of mighty men, the flesh of horses and their riders, and the flesh of all men, both free and slave, both small and great.”

Veiled in coronal aura the sun-angel calls
Down the circling arc of the carrion feast—
Consumers consumed by their own human thrall
From restraint given over, wretchedness now released.
Upon what do we feed when discomforted or pained?
Do we numb our realities, medicate our fears?
Do we jealously eye where blessing has rained—
Wishing deprivation in envy leaving others only tears?
But One came who did not take the analgesic relief;
Did not take the wine and myrrh but received faithfully
The meal set before him: the cup of wrath and grief
And fed upon affliction, drank the dregs — and patiently.
For our strength and comfort in this world of pain and sin
The Lamb gives us bread and wine to feed ourselves on him.

(c) Randy Edwards

artwork from moliero.com

Any Length

Based On
Revelation 18:4 “Then I heard another voice from heaven saying, “Come out of her, my people, lest you take part in her sins, lest you share in her plagues”;
and
Hebrews 11:8-10 By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance. And he went out, not knowing where he was going. By faith he went to live in the land of promise, as in a foreign land, living in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs with him of the same promise. For he was looking forward to the city that has foundations, whose designer and builder is God.

At a word Abraham uprooted and left
Not knowing whither he was taking his wife
Who when told of the promise sneeringly laughed
As if they in twilight could beget a new life.
Yet by faith in His calling he did forsake
Obediently got out, went to any length
In search of a city which trouble could not shake
But rested on God’s plan, provision, and strength.
And The Seed of Abraham got out too —
Wandering the world’s wilderness healing its woes,
Calling others away from boats, booths, and tombs
To leave their own homes, to follow where he goes.
And what shall I do when he calls out to me,
Promising to bless if I follow where he lead?

(c) Randy Edwards

Artwork: Abram Journeying into the Land of Canaan (engraving by Gustave Doré from the 1865 La Sainte Bible)

The Sea of Glass Mingled with Fire

based on Revelation 15.2, 3a “ And I saw what appeared to be a sea of glass mingled with fire—and also those who had conquered the beast and its image and the number of its name, standing beside the sea of glass with harps of God in their hands. 3 And they sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb,

In primordial time in the timeless wait,
The Spirit hovers over the darkening deep,
God sings in command, light bursts through the gate
Bringing dayspring and beauty and glory’s bright heat.
In hatred and spite Pharaoh sets Israel free,
And though sheltered in glory ‘neath fire and cloud,
They despair and are pinned ‘tween army and sea,
And find rescue through trial where others had drowned.
Old and new Baptizers on Jordan’s banks meet;
John washing with water beholds Fire’s face;
The Righteous submits all just fullness to keep;
Heaven sings out in song of His exalted grace.
And there on His shore, we’ll sing by stilled seas
Washed in New Creation, at peace eternally.

(c) Randy Edwards

The Dragon’s Flood

Based on Revelation 12:15 “The serpent poured water like a river out of his mouth after the woman, to sweep her away with a flood.

From the Dragon’s mouth words pour out
In a river in which truth seems to shout:
The shameful curse and accusation
The judges legalistic condemnation
The victims raging imprecations
To drown and make you his prize.

In desperate deceit we lie and make
Excuses for self-preservation’s sake
We deflect with condescending over-simplification
To manipulate another’s expectations
Managing with half-truths our own reputation
Denying there could be any association
Between our actions and the Father of Lies.

And in these moments when we double-speak
Fearing the loss of the fame we seek
And terrified of the cost of the implication
We deny the very insinuation
Of any merit of the accusation
We call down curses and condemnations
That we have any association
With this teacher condemned to die.

It is then and there, at dawn’s first light
When the rooster’s cry breaks the silence of night
We remember our confident exaggeration
Defiant against any prognostication
That we could be tempted to any prevarication
Or withhold sincerely offered oblation
Denying our love, our chosen vocation
Merely to protect our own reputation
And we see through another’s knowing eyes.

And from this horrified, humiliated heap
A flood of tears pours out in words we weep.
Of the hasty vows we swore in the commotion
Of the sting of exposure and anger at the notion
That one could be guilty of such insincere devotion
Drowning in shame and regret and resentful emotion
No more words, no excuses, no alibis.

(c) Randy Edwards

a debt of influence owed to Malcolm Guite’s poem, “What If?” You should check it out here.
artwork: Detail of the woman and the beast spewing water into the earth, from the Welles Apocalypse, England, c. 1310, Royal MS 15 D II, f. 156r

The Seventh Trumpet, A Roundel

A roundel based on Revelation 11:15-19

At the trumpet’s call, all creatures cry,
And before their King the people fall
Living to praise nevermore to die
At the trumpet’s call.
With thanks and praise to the Lord of All:
The Almighty reigns from earth to sky–
Lifts up the meek, brings low the tall.
Before his wrath the destroyers fly.
Removing at last the veiled wall,
We behold the Holy with our eye.
At the trumpet’s call.

(c) Randy Edwards
artwork: La lumiere as lais; Apocalypse (the ‘Welles Apocalypse’)

The Seven Trumpets: The Last

The Seven Trumpets: Revelation 10:3-11-19

Part Three: The Last

The leonine roar sounds seven secret thunders
Before the world’s city shines the angel of Day
His thundering plan is shrouded in wonders
But it comes now, nothing waiting, no delay
He sends to the world his witnesses to unlock
The gospel’s great weal and woe
The city hangs these two on crosses and mocks
Till they’re raised to ascend from below
The Seventh and last sounds midst shouts and cries
The silence of rage is now stilled
The Destroyer of nations — destruction has died
Earth and heaven are ruled by one will.
The mercy seat is open to both great and small
The Holy of Holies is unveiled for all.

(c) Randy Edwards
artwork: La lumiere as lais; Apocalypse (the ‘Welles Apocalypse’)