An Unknown Prophet’s Complaint Regarding
the Tardiness of the Messiah (c. 200 B.C.)
The milk has soured. The honey? Gone.
The widow’s oil has all run out.
The glory that you promised us
left in the night like Pharaoh’s son
while we ate bitter herbs.
When we took wives and lay with them
you punished us because their blood
Was Philistine, but what grave sin
Did we commit that you would send
This storm of hollow rain?
You carved your name into our hearts,
Like boys will do in sycamore,
But wood is scarce, and that tree limb
And all our swords became the tools
We use to scratch the earth.
If sacrifice began again
And blood and flesh were placed upon
The holy fire, would all that smoke
Climb Jacob’s stairs to only find
That you had locked the door?
“How long, O Lord?” the prophets ask,
But we have lost all track of time.
Instead of days, we measure life
By promises left unfulfilled
And wounds that cannot heal.
So take your time deciding how
You’ll save us all—a flood, a fire,
A brimstone rain—and while we wait
Perhaps we’ll find just what it is
That we need saving from.
I stand with an unfocused stare
at the ground and the bleeding bird,
surprised by my aim and the weight
of the gun pulling down my right arm,
surprised by the woman who runs
from the porch at the front of her house.
I saw you she says through the tears
in her throat as she points at my feet
where the woodpecker lies.
I saw you she says looking down
at her wrinkled bare feet
through a gap in her pale spotted hands.
I saw you she says looking up
at the hole in the pine tree
the red-crested father had bored
while she listened and watched and
smiled through the first weeks of spring.
I retreat to a home full of ignorant faces,
to a lunch of sweet tea and the cold
meat of birds, while deep in some pastoral
hell the bleats of unseen lambs echo
and King David remembers Bathsheba.
The Rain Comes
Inside your four walls,
the first rumble sounds
and you ask those nearby
if they heard it too.
Out of doors, if you have the gift,
there’s a smell, a thickness
in the air, just before
it hits the ground around you.
Inside, alone, the white noise
pulls words from your mouth,
“Here it comes,”
you say in hindsight.
Outside, the cold droplets
move toward your planted feet.
Like locusts, they’ll bring change
To everything they touch.
Jason Leslie Rogers lives in southeast Tennessee with his wife and daughter. He will graduate in December 2013 with a B.S. in Liberal Studies, writing and literature emphasis, from Lee University. He has not previously been unpublished.