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Job 6 • With Friends Like These

by Robert Hawkins © 2019

Then Job spoke again:

If my grief could be laid on the scales to be weighed,
with my troubles -- how great would they be!
Its no wonder my words have been rash and absurd --
they'd outweigh all the sand in the sea.

For the arrows that fly from Almighty, Shaddai --
they have pierced me -- I'm barely alive;
and the further they sink, the more poison I drink --
oh, my spirit will never survive.

Is the bray of the ass not complaint over grass?
Does the ox without food low to beg?
Would it not be our fault to eat food without salt?
Is there taste in the white of an egg?

Oh, I just cannot eat for its all rotten meat.
And I only ask God one request:
that, in place of my bread, he would crush me instead,
then I'd truly at last be at rest.

But there's comfort to gain: for despite all my pain,
I have never denied God's commands.
Little strength I have left, of all hope I'm bereft,
as the sands of time pass through my hands.

Is my strength like the stones? Have I rocks for my bones?
Am I covered in bronze as my flesh?
I'm unable to cope, at the end of my rope;
I'm without any hope of success. ​

But a man who despairs should have one friend who cares,
even if he no longer fears God.
Yet my brothers, it seems, are like seasonal streams,
that become raging rivers so broad --

when their banks overflow from the melting of snow,
and once rains in the springtime have come.
But it all disappears once the dry season nears;
now that riverbed's dry as a bone.

For the caravans died in their turning aside,
in the sands of the desert they drowned.
And from Tema, they came; and from Sheba, the same:
but the water could never be found.

​Disappointed and drained when their confidence waned,
they arrived, but found nothing instead.
Now you've proven to be like mirages to me,
my calamity's filled you with dread.

Have I asked for myself anything from your wealth,
or a ransom exchanged with my foe?
If you'd teach me​, I'd learn; only help me discern
where I've erred, so I finally will know.

There is pain in the truth; what does arguing prove?
What is learned by your statements like these?
Do you mean to correct every word I inflect;
disregard my despair like the breeze?

You would even cast lots for the fatherless tots,
and would sell your own friend in disgrace.
If you looked in my eyes, you would soon realize
that I never would lie to your face.

Reconsider, good men, reassess me again,
vindication may yet come to light.
Are my lips that unjust? Has my tongue lost your trust?
Do you think I don't know wrong from right?

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This poem won second place for the July 2020 poetry contest

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