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

Not Use

Not Use

A roundel regarding a rejection letter received from a journal for a recent poetry submission.

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

“Not use”, your note, written back to me
On my poem by which I deduce
That your statement of merit, impartial decree
Means my words are unwanted, no use.

This, my rejection; you mean no abuse.
You’re being efficient not crappy,
Not poetic, just clear, not abstruse.

But these words keep coming, won’t let me be—
Whisper in rhymes, with phrases seduce
To turn the lock, use imagination’s key,
I try to resist, but it’s no use.

© Randall Edwards 2017

Does a Man Gain?

Does a Man Gain?

In the congregation where I pastor, we are working through Luke’s gospel on Sunday mornings and walking with Jesus to Jerusalem. This week we are looking at Peter’s confession and Jesus’ call to discipleship in Luke 9.

Last night the question which Jesus asks in Luke 9.25 “For what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world and loses or forfeits himself?” struck me as a wisdom question, and mirrors the question of the teacher in Ecclesiastes who asked, “What does man gain by all the toil at which he toils under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:3).

Both the question of profit and and gain ask what is worth spending your life on. In this roundel I imagine one wrestling with the diminishing returns which always accompany idolatry and the question of whether the secondary goods which we pursue can become the primary means of our satisfaction and fulfillment.

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

By all the toil with which I pour
Myself into work tending this soil,
Spending life weeding, doing these chores,
What does man gain by all his toil?

Make the most, I promised, let nothing spoil.
“Over my dead body, I’ll not fail,” I swore,
Yet what I seek, my work seems to foil.

I’ll not let it stand. I’ll settle the score;
This irony of work makes my blood boil.
Why do I get less, even though giving more?
What does man gain by all his toil?

© Randy 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.

artwork: Gustave Dore

Not Significant

Not Significant

I really enjoy roundels, which is a poetic form that is concise and allows the writer to turn a phrase several ways.

In this roundel, I am working out my sadness and surprise at a review which a friend received on an e-commerce site from a book of poetry he’d written. “Not significant” as a review is just so…, wow. I was also greatly convicted about the times I’ve critiqued other’s creativity in ways that have shut them down rather than encourage and build them up. Here’s to repentance.

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

“Not significant”, two words typed clear and plain,
So austere and simple, not very clarificant
Is it odd that I can’t get it out of my brain?
Is one’s anything “Not significant”?

This critique, unengaged, is hardly edificant
Rather than help or try to explain
I imagine they stung, and were not, “not significant.”

But the spell you weave in your poetic quatrain
Is bread cast on waters, is gold, so mundificant!
For your words bless, make my crazy, sane
When the world says, you’re not significant.

A Human Doing

A Human Doing

Here’s a roundel of sorts that came to me this morning. It’s a confession and call to be less about the list and more about the life.

A human doing, gettin’ ‘er done
Tasks and emails, each morning reviewing
Knocking it out, not by any outdone.
I have become a human doing.

Reputation overtakes, my morning overruns
The dear duty and office which brings me renewing
Straight from sleep into work, my day is begun
As a human doing.

And round in circles the workflow pursuing;
Running past Your gifts, missing loved ones.
My being by performance is tied up and undone
I have become a human doing.

© Randall Edwards, 2016.
Artwork: Gustav Dore.

Do I Wanna Become a Soundcloud Superstar?

I’ve created a new sub-genre of poetry, I think, and I’m calling it a rage roundel. This rage roundel has to do with the spam bot issue over at soundcloud. (Bless their hearts, I know they’re trying).

A Soundcloud Superstar is all I want to be!
It doesn’t matter whether I sing or play guitar,
If you’ll increase my listens and likes I may even like me!
Do I wanna become a Soundcloud Superstar?

I create, to say something of things as they are,
And you pour this looking-for-like whiskey
Trying to string out with your bot baiting jar.

Pay for it? No! Take your phony people plea
To make us blessed but really mark and mar
The creative landscape of artful sounding beauty.
Do I wanna become a Soundcloud Superstar??

© Randy Edwards
artwork: some spam bot who’s stolen some model’s picture. Or maybe Miranda Kerr has a side job.

And it didn’t even take long….Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 1.35.56 PM.png

and…

Screen Shot 2016-05-28 at 1.38.44 PM.png

The Beginning Abides in You

This roundel is based on 1John 2:23-24 which reads,

Whoever confesses the Son has the Father also.  24 Let what you heard from the beginning abide in you. If what you heard from the beginning abides in you, then you too will abide in the Son and in the Father.

I was particularly taken with the twist of the phrase, “the beginning abides in you” which takes on a double meaning as St John is talking about what was first heard, but the new beginning in new creation.

The beginning abides in you. Do not doubt and fear
When the father of lies seeks your heart to hew
With disappointed looks, the aren’t-you-ashamed sneer.
What you heard from the beginning abides in you.

For in eternity past long before you knew
There was a Judge who sat above the world’s sphere,
He donned our humanity making one from us two.

Continue confessing, Christ who makes God’s love clear
Though the world makes ugly what is beautiful and true.
Abide in His love; his holiness draws near.
What you heard from the beginning abides in you.

© Randy Edwards 2016
artwork: Gustav Dore, The Creation of Light