Poetry by Erik NelsonI am a Christian; I have spent the last ten years teaching English Composition and English Literature at the college level. My poetry is inspired by the Bible and a theological work by Jacques Ellul entitled The Meaning of the City.
The Scrolls Rolled Out from Heaven
By Erik Nelson
PrologueMake straight a way for the Lord,
God’s news or double-edged sword,
From underground and from the sky,
Whose shoes I’m not fit to untie.
From Heaven down to Earth He came,
Assumed even a human name.
From out of dry ground came a root;
He grew up like a tender shoot.
The yoke He bore of all our shame,
Though found in Him was no deceit.
From ground as dry as dust He came,
So righteousness and peace could meet.
Foxes have holes, and birds have nests,
But Christ had nowhere He could rest,
Longsuffering the curse of Cain,
Though without blemish, blot or stain.
Just as John of Patmos said,
Babylon will soon be dead,
But not a jot shall pass away
Of what Christ taught and had to say.
The mountain of Carmel will fall
And the blossoms of Lebanon fade,
But God’s Word will still stand tall,
Like a tree giving travelers shade.
Amidst the brightly burning wicks
Of seven golden candlesticks,
I saw the First and the Last stand,
Holding seven stars in hand;
I fell at His feet as though dead,
Told to repeat what He said.
My sisters and my brethren,
I saw New Earth and Heaven
And say “Godspeed” to who swallows
What you now read and what follows.
The First Scroll: Death Rides a HorseI’ll tear the sky from end to end,
Two pairs of horsemen promptly send,
Two mares, two stallions, doubly matched,
Their heavy hoof-beats soon dispatched.
The earth’s unsteady, hills sink low,
And the highest mountain reels;
All bared and ready is My bow,
And plague comes forth at My heels.
My way is in the hurricane,
In winds that howl and wail,
In armies of thunder and rain,
Before which floodgates fail.
Men hatch the eggs of vipers;
A spider’s web they spin.
Their hands are swift to shed blood;
Their feet rush into sin.
I’ll come just like a pent-up flood,
For man’s ways are marked by ruin.
I’ll make sure there’s no plant to bud
Or pasture for cows to moo in.
I trampled Jericho sans pity;
I flattened it out on the ground.
I tore down the walls of that city,
As quickly as air carries sound.
Mortals I’ll make more rare than gold;
The earth I’ll shake out of place.
I’ll ride in full stride, as foretold,
From whom man will hide his face.
I’ll come to awaken your shepherds.
I’ll appear to discard the husk.
My horsemen are swifter than leopards
And are fiercer than wolves at dusk.
My horsemen will be here before you can hide
In pores of the earth or holes in a hillside;
My horsemen are coming with frightening speed,
With Death close behind and with Blight in the lead.
The Second Scroll: The Four HorsemenMy revelator heard this cry
Of consternation from the sky:
“Night after night and day by day,
Upon my watchtower I stay;
When stationed at my guard, my post,
I saw a swiftly, charging host
Of horsemen riding in full stride,
Coming toward me in two pairs;
This, Lord God, is what I espied,
And so this news Your sentry bares.”
These words John heard My sentry cry,
Ere hearing My pensive reply:
“The fearsome, swift horsemen in pairs
Are here to sift good wheat from tares:
The great city must fall with force,
And so I’ve blown upon its course
Two stallions and two mares
With a warrior upon each horse;
Discard, therefore, your cares
Regarding their aim and their source.”
And then John heard a voice like thunder:
“Come!” and lo, a white thoroughbred;
The rider had power to plunder
With a bow, arrows and crown on his head.
Then, anon, John heard a second voice ring:
“Come!” and a red stallion appeared,
The rider of which had a sword to swing,
So John trembled the closer he neared.
John thereupon heard a third voice wail:
“Come!” and lo, a black mare;
The rider, in his hand, held a scale
To measure the depths of despair.
And then John heard a fourth creature yell:
“Arrive now horse that is pale!”
The driver was Death, followed by Hell:
The hammer to beat in each nail.
The Third Scroll: There the Vultures Will GatherMy hand will be stretched out upon
The land of wretched Babylon;
Where business bustled will be no sound,
No traffic, hustle or commerce found.
The desert creatures there will meet,
Where goats on wild oats will eat.
Murders of crows will congregate;
Birds of all kinds will find a mate.
Wild dogs will be on the prowl,
Demons dance, coyotes howl
And in her courtyards ascend briers,
Where no one buys, sells, lends or hires.
There the frogs will croak and leap;
There in fog will willows weep.
Where once was artificial light,
The cricket’s call will fill the night.
The sound of the sawmill will fade;
To a standstill will grind each blade.
With caterpillars’ bleats and with toads
I soon will fill her streets and her roads.
Carrion crows will find their food,
Rapacious Lilith breed and brood.
The mark man made will be deleted,
The pompous city soon defeated.
There will abide all that lay eggs
Under the shade of their somber wings,
As well as what walk on four legs,
Belly-crawling and shell-hauling things.
Inside her buildings, in winding halls,
Leopards will lodge and hedgehogs rest;
Upon her rooftops, behind her walls,
Vultures will gather, mate and nest.
The Fourth Scroll: Kingdom of NothingKings of Earth produce bad fruit
With the Serpent’s prostitute,
Making false promises for better times,
Becoming accomplices in her crimes,
Through which merchants wax rich with loot,
Up her ladder and in her chute,
Growing madder as they fall,
As they climb and as they crawl.
Filled with silver and gold are the lands;
People worship the works of their hands.
The show, therefore, must not go on:
The lowdown whore of Babylon.
The doors to her stores will be closed,
Her brickwork and cedars exposed,
Where birds and beasts will be well-fed,
Will daily feast and nightly bed.
Her pitchers will shatter at the spring,
Her wheels be broken at the well,
Her lands be sans leaders or a king,
Her merchants have nothing to sell.
To judgment every deed I’ll bring—
This story the stones now tell—
Including every hidden thing:
The skeletal bones of hell.
Her name shall be No Kingdom There,
And all her princes shall despair,
Where sheep will graze and lambs will feed
For all their days on grass and weed,
A place where nature blooms and thrives
And no trace of humans survives,
Where city roads and streets will be forsaken,
By My green earth completely overtaken.
The Fifth Scroll: O Wretched Queen, AdieuI’ll take away her wall and hedge
And break apart her gate,
Which guard and mark her kingdom’s edge
And house all that I hate.
I’ll break apart her bars of iron
And split in pieces her gates of brass;
To My earthen vessel, to My urn,
Her treasures of darkness I will pass.
I’ll make the mountains melt in heat
For how all men have sinned.
Clouds are just the dust of My feet;
My way is in the whirlwind.
Cities will become heaps of rocks
At the speed of sounding My words,
Dwelling places for sheep and hawks
And grave feeding grounds for buzzards.
The raven, owl, kite and crane,
Each one of My birds of prey,
Will fall like rain on Cain’s domain
To feast upon the buffet.
With open mouth and empty gut,
They’ll come from south, north, east and west,
Flapping their wings to feast and glut
On flesh of kings and all the rest.
Raptors will come and stay for good,
Where Satan had much clout;
They’ll stay long after all the wood
Has rotted inside out.
For naught man there made much ado,
So beasts will roam about,
Great Babylon an open zoo,
Where wilderness will sprout.
She’ll rear her head of pale-cast death
To swallow nature whole
But take instead one stale, last breath
And make her way to Sheol.
The Sixth Scroll: For All GenerationsEnchanted by commodities,
Lo, man has sawed down all the trees.
So—vanity of vanities!—
Naught will be left of man’s cities.
Rich men make their crooked pleas
To judges who judge for fees.
On life itself men place a bet;
One traps another in a net.
Hypocrites in charge conspire,
Dictating what they desire.
The powers that be make demands;
The pious vanish from the lands.
The crown of Babylon will fall,
Struck down who once stood up so tall.
As brown leaves on the stalk in autumn,
Her town walls will hit rock-hard bottom.
Great Babylon will be broken down,
The place of confusion a ghost town,
A hub where kings are unemployed,
Of subjects and armies devoid.
Nettles will grow in her courts,
Vultures lay eggs in her forts.
Animals, plants and birds will reign
The once-enchanting land of Cain.
The Seventh Scroll: Where Man Took Such Pointless PainsAll who cast line, sinker and hook
Into the sea and in the brook
And all who hem, spin, sew and weave
Precious and fine linen will grieve.
John saw the unbelieving stares
Of those left grieving for their wares:
The fruit of all their toils,
The loot, booty and spoils.
Within the centers of the harlot,
On the housetops, in the squares,
From wine and spice to silk and scarlet,
None will sell or ply his wares,
From merchandise of fine linen
To bodies of men and women.
Workers who earn their wages by
The land and sea, by the city
Will see their burning goods and cry:
“Woe is me!” and “What a pity!”
They’ll wail and choke upon her smoke
And say, “Alas, alas!
Those tales of folk we thought a joke
Today have come to pass.”
And then she will be brought down low,
As low as she could ever go:
A den for the wild ass,
Her walkways covered with grass,
A nest for birds like hawks,
Pelicans and crows,
A resting ground for flocks,
Where no man ever goes.
The Eighth Scroll: The Harvest of the EarthThe salt of Earth tastes bland,
And so the crow and gull
Will nest in the wasteland:
The hub reduced to null.
The place of confusion and rage,
The theater of the absurd,
Great Babylon will be a cage
For every preying bird.
I’ll sweep up cities with My broom
Of destruction that I wield,
Until again on Earth there’s room
For many a fertile field.
My comfort the weary will know;
To My foes My fury I’ll show:
The tares and weeds that grow around
The mustard seeds below the ground,
The worst that grow beside the best,
The curst accompanying the blest.
I’ll make the most hardhearted grieve
And heap upon them doom;
I’ll shake the nations in a sieve
And sweep them with My broom.
I’ll bake the seas till they up-heave
And leap onto the land
But take My children who believe
And keep them safe in hand.
The harvest of Earth is the end of the age;
My reapers are angels of doom,
Descending like falcons set free from a cage,
An army of Heavenly plume.
The hour to reap has come;
All this calls for deep wisdom.
Let him who has it understand:
The sharpened sickle’s in My hand.
The Ninth Scroll: The Lion and the LambFrom graves in the ground,
Where the mouth of death gapes,
Many seeds will sprout into fruits;
Much juice will be found
In new clusters of grapes,
As clouds above water their roots.
All creatures will be born anew,
The shrouds of nations torn in two.
For blood the lion will not lust;
The serpent’s meat will be the dust.
Lions will eat straw like the ox
And wolves eat worms like birds.
Sharon shall be for lazy flocks,
Achor’s Valley for grazing herds.
Who kills a cow, bird, snake or fox
Is guilty of murdering man.
Sharon shall be a fold for flocks,
Achor’s Valley for herds again.
Voracious predators will stop
Their killing and eat straw.
Rapacious man will cease to chop
Down forests with his saw.
Upon My holy mountaintop,
No blood will ever be shed,
Not even the tiniest drop,
Where sheep, by wolves, will bed.
No caution will girls and boys need to take
Over the hole of the poisonous snake;
Little children will lead the way,
Where beasts of prey shall feed on hay.
Atop the dens of the copperheads,
Little children will laugh and play;
The cow and the calf shall make their beds
In the Valley of Beasts of Prey.
For as the son of Amoz wrote,
Inspired by I AM:
The leopard will lie with the goat,
The lion with the lamb.
The Tenth Scroll: The Dune of LilithAs in the days of long ago,
My wondrous ways, again, I’ll show,
For up together I will roll
The heavens like an ancient scroll.
Knees that now give way will stand,
Strengthened then the feeble hand.
The tongues of the dumb will sing;
The desert will become a spring.
Fresh rain and snow from Heaven fall
And dry dirt becomes moist mud,
So seeds once small may grow up tall
And the earth may bring forth bud.
The mountains will sing praises
And grasshoppers spring to warbling wrens,
When the myrtle sap raises
Its branches to clap, so happy then.
The fatling beside bear shall feed,
For peace on Earth I have decreed.
The poor no more shall be ashamed.
The wild world will then be tamed.
The child will put his naked hand
Over the rattlesnake’s den,
For everywhere will be sacred land,
As on My holy mountain.
A refuge will each person be,
A shelter from a storm,
As soon as I prune My olive tree
And Earth itself transform.
The ears of the deaf will hear;
The lame will leap like a deer.
The spear shall be a pruning hook,
The Dune of Lilith soon a brook.
The Eleventh Scroll: O House of IsraelYou’ll drink the milk of nations,
Be nursed at royal breasts
And call your walls salvation,
Where wisdom makes its nest;
With wisdom your house I will build,
Through knowledge establish its floors:
With mercy your rooms will be filled,
Once hearts are like open doors.
By all men you’ve been hated,
With no one traveling through,
But you’ll be celebrated,
With righteousness My breast is plated;
The sword I yield is true.
With praise your kingdom will be gated,
When I come back for you.
Although you have blood on your hands
And your fingers are covered with shame,
I’ll meet your needs in sun-scorched lands
And strengthen the feeble frame.
I’ll blot your deeds and make you know
My ways and bear My name;
Well-watered seeds I’ll plant and grow,
Where beasts of prey are tame.
Freely will I give you water,
Water of eternal life,
Adopt as if a son or daughter
And wed as if a wife;
No more will ye weep or thirst,
As if born just for strife,
No more be a people curst,
Though now with woe you’re rife.
With joy each one of you will shout,
When Babylon is dead,
When everything is turned about
That’s turned upon its head,
And if you have one shred of doubt,
Concerning what I’ve said,
Go ahead and seek it out,
Where it has long been read.
The Twelfth Scroll: When I Put Violence to the SwordThe surface of Earth will get hotter,
The polar icecaps unfreeze,
All coastlands be covered with water,
All inlands with refugees.
But then the desert will blossom
Like a lily, like a rose;
All men will know I am awesome,
Without whom nothing grows.
Understanding and peace shall meet,
Righteousness and happiness greet,
Kissing each other on the lips,
Bliss and knowledge joined at the hips.
How blessed are the last in line,
For they will be the first to dine,
When the veils of nations are torn
And all awake from sleep reborn.
Blessed are those who weep and mourn,
Who, for My sake, suffereth scorn
Because they will inherit Earth
And repair it through their rebirth.
Righteousness, like a river, will flow;
Security, like a tree, will grow.
The smallest shall become a clan,
A mighty nation the least man.
For I have sworn, by My right hand,
By My almighty arm:
You’ll be reborn, as desert land
Becomes a fertile farm.
But first the city held high in esteem,
Must wilt like a lily in drought,
For ambition is the shadow of a dream
And guilt will find you out.
I’ll give peace like an endless river,
Wealth like an unspoiled stream;
Health I’ll freely grant and deliver,
Of which ye now can't even dream.
My winnowing fork is in My hand
To clear My threshing floor,
To garner surpluses from the land,
In barns to stock and store.
To ye who live for Me, the Lord,
I’ll freely give what I have stored,
When meekness gets its due reward
And I put violence to the sword.
EpilogueThough Christ, with God’s aid, raised the dead
And delivered good news of rebirth,
He had nowhere to lay his head,
A fugitive here on Earth.
For what Cain feared, a city he built;
Enoch he reared because of his guilt.
Christ had no place to lay His head
And left no trace of what He said.
By men He let himself be whipped,
Beaten and nailed to a cross,
The cornerstone of which we tripped,
When Mary wailed her loss.
But He’ll arrive with trumpet calls
And Babylon the strumpet fall;
He’ll cast her out and end her vast confusion,
Burying the bones of the temptress,
At last to rout and mend her past intrusion,
Covering her stones of emptiness.
A lesson learn from the fig tree:
As soon as you, on one twig, see
The budding of the first new leaf,
You know that Summer is nigh;
Although He’ll come just like a thief,
He’ll be seen by every eye.
How blessed are you who read and hear
This message because, indeed, it’s near
When a horde of ghosts will go by
Christ the Lord of Hosts on High.
From Jesse’s stem and David’s line
Came blessed bread and saving wine,
A lily on a hill of dung,
On whom our guilt and shame were hung;
So cry to Jeshua the vine,
Ere once-bright lights no longer shine,
Ere flowers wilt, no songs are sung
And no more might’s left in a lung.
Call out to Christ, when you are young,
Before your righteousness is dung,
For He’ll return, our Great High Priest,
Like lightning striking from the east.