Cloudburst

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Elegy for a Departed Missionary

by J. Randal Matheny © 2011

Remembering missionariesThe fallen of God none mourn;
But for a moment's thought
Might some consider and learn
What God in man hath wrought.

Flung abroad and thrown
To save the far domain,
Unheard, unheralded, unknown,
Shone truth in splendor plain.

In years of faith and doubt,
He served the Word with prayer,
With much or little, without,
Or burdened with many a care.

Just as he quietly served,
So too he died, ignored;
To heaven by God removed
To gain his just reward.

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Tears of a soldierby J. Randal Matheny © 2011

The Battle of Unnumbered Tears
Was fiercely fought upon a field,
Where neither side would give or yield,
And neither heard the victors' cheers.

Hard against the Whitened Downs,
Struck man and beast his match and pair;
Horses' hooves cleaved heavy air,
From royal heads fell regal crowns.

The greening slopes were ground and churned,
As armies' met to mete their worst;
Soldiers, downed, on dying cursed,
Ambitions bled and hopes were burned.

_oO¥Oo_

The title and first line come from J.R.R. Tolkein's book, The Silmarillion. My poem has nothing to do with his book or the battle mentioned therein. It was suggestive of an idea, which I ran with.

People have their forbidden subjects. Depending on place, person, and epoch, some things can't be talked about. Sex, money, politics, and other topics have been considered taboo at some point. In the church, politics was off limits, but no more it seems. Sex and money are still considered bad topics, or, at least, sensitive, and to be treated with kid gloves.

But the Lord has no such list of forbidden subjects. We can talk to him about anything. Temptations. Sorrows. Struggles. Conflicts.

While we may wish that we could be upfront with people like that, we can be certain that the Lord will not frown or chide us for putting it all before him. That's what he wants. And that's the gist of today's Cloudburst poem.

Once again, Cloudburst poems are available only to the list subscribers. Here's why.

The form is one of my favorites, a seven-line stanza. The rhyme scheme is A-B-C-B-C-B-A.

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Where people think that truth is relative, all coordinates are lost on the moral and religious compass. I've been working with a few items lately, around the topics of postmoderism and new age religion. Perhaps those caused this poem to bubble up from the depths. That, and watching some swirling fog seemed to suggest the idea for the poem, "Upon the Fickle Tide."

The rhyme scheme and meter are different from what I usually do, but it seemed to work for me here. Here's the first stanza, the whole poem shared only on the closed email list.

Lost in the formless world of turning mist,
Where none go north and muddied waters twist,
No leading lines exist.

Only subscribers to the Cloudburst Poetry email list get the whole pot of beans. If you want today's poem, let me know below, and I'll email it to you.

And here's a freebie in the same style, but different approach, with no title, but if I had to give it one, would be something like, "Any Ill but Mine." ...continue reading

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Flycatcher in Brazil called Bem-te-vi.I was sitting in the padaria, having my usual toast and coffee, in my usual spot next to an open wall, when I heard a strong and clear cry of a bird, "Bem-te-vi, bem-te-vi." I looked up and, on a roof across the street, sat a colorful bird well known here for its plumage and distinctive cry, which gives it its name as well.

It hopped to a couple of different perches, an awning, a high-line wire, before it disappeared, always crying, always warning. But nobody paid it any mind. ...continue reading

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New style for me, that is. No punctuation, which I normally hate. Shorter stanza. Variable meter. Still a rhyme, but not every line. I wrote one in this new style last week, now another, with, "No Foundation."

Are my Cloudburst Poetry list readers confused, mad, stressed, unconcerned, oblivious?

OK, I confess: I've been reading Emily Dickinson.

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Hypocrites like others to see them doing their religious acts. Solomon, however, was motivated by a different desire: the first prayer at the temple was his, and he wanted to show the people that God must be approached humbly in repentance. He'd thought ahead: he had a bronze platform built so all could hear and see him as he knelt before the Lord in prayer.

Solomon's prayer at the temple dedication, in 1 Chronicles 6, was the text of our reading last Wednesday night. It still rings in my ears, as this sinful man needs daily to humble himself before the Lord. For that, preparation must be made, the bronze platform to show our penitence when the moment of ultimate glory arrives.

The Cloudburst poem, "The Bronze Platform," uses my favorite seven-line structure, with the rhyming scheme A-B-A-B-A-C-C, in iambic pentameter. The seven lines are a favorite, because they allow a full thought without losing the modern's short attention span.

The poem has been sent to the email list, which you may receive through a free subscription. As for the Platform poem already sent to the list, ask in the comments with your email address, and I'll forward it to you.

Had you accompanied us during our trek through nine US states over the past seven weeks, you'd have been impressed with how my wife keeps things (i.e., me) together, and that with good spirits.

So, as we pick Cloudburst Poetry back up, here is a tribute to my wife, enititled, from the first line, "Had I Been Given:"

Had I been given years without end,
To search the globe from east to west;
Were Solomon's treasures mine to spend
To find among women the purest and best;
None, though like Sheba's queen, dressed
In finery and fashion, could compare
To my beloved -- none so fair!

Usually, I don't post Cloudburst material online, but in the resumption of this feature, and as an incentive for you to subscribe to the email list, it's been added here.

And remember: you can reprint only with express permission. Online, just link to the post, please.

Today's Cloudburst poem, first in a long time (I'm afraid to look at the archives), started as a prayer on United Prayer, this morning:

Lord of life, when at the start or end, or in the midst, of living, we hail you as the Giver of breath, who animates the beating heart.

As I wrote the prayer, the iambic meter just kept rolling and seemed to be asking for a poetic form. I left it for a while, but kept getting drawn back to it. So over the next few hours, I sketched out a sonnet, the form suggested by having read earlier this morning Wordsworth's "The World Is Too Much with Us," published in 1807.

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• The last painter that Sr. Joao brought was a disaster; he's back now to fix what the guy mucked up. The Missus will be off to an appointment at 3:30, so I'm headed back to house shortly before that, so she can leave.

• Remember that Brazilian flag flying from the top of the apartment building under construction? The day after Brazil lost in the World Cup, the flag came down. Patriotism didn't outlast the disappointment.

• Learned that Tyndale House commissioned a special typefont for the NLT, called Lucerna. I've never enjoyed a Bible so easy to read, easy on the eyes, as my NLT. (The edition I have is a pleasure to handle in every way.) I wish I had the NET Bible in this font. I wish I had this font in my collection.

• Wallpaper that greets me when I boot up: "Time." The maxim: "How we spend our days is how we spend our lives." -- Annie Dillard

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First time for rhyme and meter since my trip to the U.S., this Cloudburst poem turns to the universal theme of romantic love, but more than that, wedded bliss and commitment love. The seven-line iambic pentameter uses an A-B-A-B-A-C-C rhyme scheme.

The idea and some lines of the poem was taken from a pay-for-hire gig I did for a guy in Thailand. I revamped it entirely, removing his personal references and information, and adapted it to my own situation, though not so specific that other married couples can't use it to express theirs as well. It would make, say, a nice wedding anniversary poem. ...continue reading