(Jeremiah 20)
Lord of Hosts, 
let me see your vengeance upon them, 
let me see it. 

This is the trick God played upon me—
I sought to be reason and thought,
inspiration, the man of the generation;
the voice of comfort and tower of strength,
a trumpet rousing the people to believe—
I sought to be that man, but I was tricked.

When I open my mouth to speak,
The word of the Lord is a burden to me,
a source for my disgrace and ruin.

The coldness of that priest, Pashur,
angry eyes measuring me, freezing in anger;
He said to the crowd,
“Denounce him.
Humiliate him.
Stop his mouth.
Make him fear to speak.
Lower him to the dust,
so he will say no more.”

Now, in the stocks, in the square,
wrists bruised, back bleeding
(friends conceal their faces,
pass away on the far side,)
hands gather splinters,
face gathers spit and refuse,
eyes blink against dust and sun,
cracked lips purse to blow at flies,
my back inventories every blow;
every time I shift a newly forgotten pain
shouts its name, I shift again
and the pain I quieted shouts louder
and then they are a mob of accusers,
one chained to another.

The word of the Lord is violent as the warrior
crueller than the Assyrian, harsher than the Chaldean,
covering my steps, shielding me from enemies;
the many blows of my countrymen cannot take me down.
I have been overwhelmed a thousand times;
the Lord of Hosts rescues me and hears me and preserves me.

But why was I born? 
Why did I leave the womb? 
For what purpose did I come into this world alive? 

The Lord is a mighty warrior;
I am ground down to powder,
a fire burning in the midst of the people,
a cry that cannot be silenced,
tears that cannot be stanched.

rogerRoger Biehn is a corporate controller and part-time poet.

Photography by Kenneth Godoy

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