David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
GOLGOTHA

 

 

i

 

 

Such wretched sight!  They will to know my pain,

That whore, that virgin

There below, the others haggling

For my garments.  I'll give them dice to toss,

I'll give them tears, ten billion

In a blinding instant burning,

Skewer them like their Ox and fit for basting,

Dispatch my sores, my cankers.

They will to know my pain!

Taste this!  Your God Jehovah willed me here,

This parasite, messiah, queer,

A son of God for twenty billion years.  Oh Christ,

You strain to know my pain,

As if such pain could ever come again!

 

 

ii

 

 

I grow so inward.  Sweet Christ, I grow

So inward, caught on fire,

As if they nailed a tumor to these boards,

Some wayward growth to quiver half obscene, and leak

Its juice, exude its phlegm,

Piss pus and void its faeces, drool and grin,

A sty of putrefaction chin to chin,

A smear, a rectal ache,

A senile piddle, old man's stink.

If agony could stop and think,

I'd spell perdition for that throng,

Eyeing my bloody feet,

That hope to scent my anguish for the blessed,

To scent my quest, my tears, and scent the rest.

 

 

iii

 

 

You stabbed me with your thorns,

Almighty God, and here you stab yourself,

This princely crown, oh hear me, God,

That grips my skull

And festers with their spit,

Taunting my grand presumption, wide as Canaan,

As if I'd eat THEIR blood and bread.

Mocking my small-boned hands,

Lips that would suck the leper into bliss

And tongue the sacrament from cancer,

This carpenter, this seer, this silly dancer.

Taunting my feet, my genitals.

You stabbed me with their thorns and stabbed me well

And ate my joy and sucked me into hell.

 

 

iv

 

 

You gave the Baptist Salomé.

This bitch is equal time, locking my face

In loins to eat my fill,

Suck wind and scum, the leavings of a thousand men,

Her monthly plague, foul blood

And Herod's semen.  Such parable of filth,

Disease, won't need explaining!

They say I've never tasted flesh, oh Christ,

That all is purity in pain,

My agony as white as Pilate's bed,

These spikes that rut me on the cross,

All death that rose to fornicate,

The deaf that spoke, the whores that sewed their wounds—

Sweet God, it makes me choke!

 

 

v

 

 

Oh God, they ripped me from the womb

In winter, CLOTHED in my mother's uterus,

Dazzling into sight,

A humble shed, they said,

 

That very night wise men traveled

From the East to note what marvel quaked

Their narrow land

And ate my visage, quick

 

With brilliance, rimmed in sun,

As if even then I had begun to shriek in kind

And rend their just traditions,

Born of a virgin pure,

 

A harlot, others would demure,

Predicting that my mother'd come to grief,

The cuckold father

Plying his trade when all

 

Had settled down, that aching clown,

His infant mouthing sentences

At just three months,

A marvel for the dumb, a token for the lame,

 

The poor-in-spirit, as if the Romans failed

To fear it, this prodigy

Their flunkies failed to slaughter,

Watching my progress

 

In the old man's shop, eyeing the clock

A cosmos leaking from the lintel,

The harlot's plight,

A billion blind and begging for the light.

 

 

vi

 

 

You'll catch another virgin spreading limbs

To trap the sunlight leaking

Through this shade,

Her rose-hued mounds, her trace of hair,

Blond tuft above her southern mouth,

And catch the sky that eats and eats her lips

And ravishes her scented hips.

Such gnome as pulls the curtain

Wills the rape

That centuries might turn again and gape,

Covet the wench that gave herself to God,

And sculpt her innocence, her grace,

And lick her puberty, sniff her style,

That leaks an anguish, leaks it from a smile.

 

 

vii

 

 

The harridan I covet wafts a stench

Of rotting vulva, brooding flesh,

Cut like a canker oozing dust,

This ancient whore,

Myopic, stumbling into lust.

She strokes my thighs and pinches where she might,

This blear-eyed rank Madonna

Humped beneath my sight,

Eyeing my manhood shriveled like a bastard grape,

The shaft inverted, pissing toward my lungs.

I watch those sisters waggling tongues

To lick the semen from my crotch

And watch them crouch—it's such a treat.

The flesh is fresh.  Just take and eat.

 

 

viii

 

 

A touch toward plump, our holy mother, pale

Of adolescent flesh arching at a mirror,

Alive and innocent as kiss.

A mane of plaited hair teased back at your approach,

It sways above the rudimentary rump.

She catches shadowed features

In the gilt, the passive glass,

Eyes modest breasts,

Chin tucked, cupped in the line-less neck,

A silhouette of innocence from here,

A flash of anger in the glass.

Centuries stroke her nubile ass,

Fondle a young man's greed, so anxious, pained to feed,

Sucking her luckless image into need.

 

 

                                   

 

 

                                                                          Balthus

ix

 

 

In time they'll leak my thighs

And lance my waist, a spill of juice, lend vinegar

To drink, avoid the stink of bowels

I must let go, sweet Christ,

For all the pain, the pain a son of God endures,

A fool for whores, this prick-less wonder

Leaking menses, dung,

His scabrous tongue, his anguished sight,

That simply tried, that tried

To make it right, the stench of centuries

More or less—I'll let you guess, it's now your game.

You'll borrow adage, sentiment

To make me tame.

You'll suck my name.  It's all the same.

 

 

x

 

 

As if I didn't know where I was speaking!

At even twelve, that year I screwed

Their Passover,

Pulling the lawyers' middle legs,

 

Sucking their dregs of wisdom,

Tweaking their matted beards, those weird

Old-timers reaching for their beads,

Taking their leads

 

From the eldest, that sac of pus,

His Thees and Thous and how the Scripture

Grants it thus,

And shaking their grizzled heads,

 

And scratching their jaws,

And fetching old saws and gimcracks

To ward off my attacks

On all their sanctified pretensions.  My God,

 

I hadn't more than peach fuzz

On my chin and threatened them, even then!

And Joseph plying toward

Our native village, checking out his kin,

 

As if there was even more than Jesus missing.

"That son of mine, I'll tell you!"

Old goat, even without your horns

I'd surely smell you.

 

Found me sitting in the midst

Of forty seers, assorted saints and queers,

Their brown-bellied son.

Jerusalem, your Christ had finally come.

 

 

xi

 

 

The laugh, a bitter one at that, is one

I'll share alone with one angry Man,

That God Jehovah,

Those years I learned the means to make

 

Them twitch for certain.

Forty days south of Moladah by borrowed

Burro, provisions gone,

Near dead of thirst, I found them carved

 

In solid rock, the monks of Clemesh,

Leeching at ultimates,

A voiceless solitude under an ancient

Master.  The latter spoke

 

But once in seven years, the day I tore

My oath and parted, miracles

In hand, the leverage to master

Thousands, carve

 

In greater rock the fate of seven

Billions.  Spare me

Your contempt that I should range so wide.

And overestimate?  Let fate decide.

 

That old man sensed my wayward path

The day I broke with his tangled notions

And reached inward

For darker purport, those he called

 

My fantasies, illness, pride,

That urge to sway the stars, to stab my native

Land with new devotions,

A rich man's stink, a harlot's lotions.

 

 

xii

 

 

Where was the first temptation?

When was there NO sensation?

Oh yes, I'd suffer small children to come

Unto me, but never see

My earthly son, to watch his flashing legs,

His smooth brown limbs

Dancing toward my future,

A future's lapse, a death in kind,

No death so bitter as this rack on boards,

Cruel spikes that eat my feet

And hands, no son to grace a father's knee,

No daughter, innocence and laughter.

Never to wake to comfort by my side, to trace her flesh,

A wife to carry on hereafter.

 

 

xiii

 

 

When was there NOT temptation?

Dear Christ, I would have made them eat

My words with all the power

At my side, those thousands dazzled

By my tricks, make eat and smile and smile

And eat, and scrape and bow

And turn the earth for me,

Plant seed and milk

Their goats, and tithe their portions just

To lay my stock up for my kin,

My kindred spirits, those chosen few

Who'd whisper my name in secret,

Chafing at the yoke, sucking their rancor, fit to choke,

A name a grandson never spoke.

 

 

xiv

 

 

Oh, that I made them fear damnation!

And yet I can't regret it.

Better to burn in fire

Than let me slip into some anonymous

Future.  Better they fear their torture!

It was simply enough to wither

A tree to have them grovel

Like dumb beasts,

To have broken bread, poured wine as blood,

Given for me, to have them stop dead short, wince,

Quake far deeper than for any earthly

Prince, a stout equation.

Oh, that I made them fear sensation!

My virgins will be whores, my whores vibration.

 

 

xv

 

 

And that I knew it all and chose it!

Chose death in agony

Over a princely throne,

Chose welts and thorns, a pitted flesh,

A smear of dung,

An aching tongue, chose pain above their riches.

Chose death-in-life and not

Their bitches.  Chose fingers in their hearts

And not their loins,

As if I didn't know they'd sleep with me,

An ache of flesh, melting into lust,

A melting fire, a stink of touch,

The scent of virgins on my tongue,

Chose death to take me young.  Chose dust!

 

 

xvi

 

 

Oh God, I feared that man,

That hoarse-voiced prophet, afraid

That he would see and, seeing clearly, force

Me off it.

 

Such arrogance, you might assume,

To lay it in the Baptist's camp, to dare

That burning look, that presence,

And yet, from fate to hell,

 

The look was all, and I the God

He'd shrieked to Romans, Jews, to all

Who'd stop and listen,

So far advanced of him he'd fear to fill

 

My shoes, amazed, God-struck,

After all that wilderness, his brittle voice,

The rending of his flesh,

A merciless vibration.

 

Such small stuff as I, as me,

Hell bent in just a year for Calvary, and he

To lose a head to Herod's bitch

That danced him to a platter.

 

And, rising from the lake,

That madness would forsake the crowd,

Their gathered wits, to spy a dove

From Heaven's kingdom on my head?

 

Lazarus, I rose from the dead,

Could not have served me better,

As if I'd bent the world toward crucifixion.

They'll surely call it fiction.

 

 

xvii

 

 

You wonder when I truly got the spirit

In me.  And where WAS

The first temptation?  That I would

Turn a stone to bread

 

And master Satan's earth, his earthly

Kingdom?  Or, standing

On the parapet, leap down,

Kissing the death of harm, harm's way,

 

The mortal lapse of men?

Oh that, and not this sullen Jew,

This rank messiah

Wafting a stench of mightier ambitions,

 

A kingdom in the poor man's heart,

Scuttling the worldly blessed,

The saints, the prophets?

Just hear me out.  My madness never

 

Knew itself so well as when a demon

Dared to try me.  Fasting

Forty days, even then my ravaged brain

Would not defy me.

 

That madness pales against the days

That came thereafter,

That even Peter would deny me,

That I would merely touch their laughter,

 

That I would grease that scum, that come,

Their rancid throats, old

Pilate's friends, the rabbis, rabble,

Jews, the holy goats!

 

 

xviii

 

 

"My God, my God, hast thou forsaken me?"

Let them stuff that in the Book,

They'll never eat the look

I'm leaking from below, those addled snakes

That eat my vision,

Eat and spit it out

And reach for honeyed dew to mute the canker.

Christ, they hanker for my wit,

That even here on fire

I can procure for them some grand illusion,

Some sweeping odyssey, a jewel of flame

To light my brow, an angel winging down to scream

The pain away and cleanse the wounds

That even pus is pretty.  Some celestial city.

 

 

xix

 

 

No city for your prurient minds,

No city for such rabble,

Only a skewered lamb, full willing his demise,

Asking his God Jehovah for another kingdom,

Some scorching passage

In their guiltless hearts,

Some prophecy of sin and sin's perdition.

I would not hesitate to send them

All to hell, to burn a billion years

In acrid smoke, a leak of dung and vomit,

For such is me, this rack of lamb,

This tortured Ox, this Calvary, this skull,

Raging at predicament,

The coffin of their souls, that nest of vipers, ghouls.

 

 

xx

 

 

Wind me in sheets, three-personed god,

Bury me deep beneath

An April's meadow.  Remove the spikes they

Lovingly imposed, the man they wrenched to death

In life, full knowing death will haunt them

Like a wife, midwife their children

For its hour till some other madman

Takes their fancy.  By Christ, by all

The violated virgins of the earth, you won't

Forget me.

Heed this!  You'll burn me by the thousands,

Millions, stuff the ovens of the earth

With all your victims, simply trying

To find me.  Put out my eyes, you cannot blind me.

 

 

xxi

 

 

You are three-personed god for granting pain,

A slaughtered son he orchestrated

For your glory.

And if the story's gory, let it be.

There is no fitting end to Calvary, no further

Message.  Simply death, death's agony,

The teeth of all mankind chewing

On the lamb, a skewered beast,

The lamb of God diseased, deceased.

I'll give you whores, I'll give you boys

To suckle in the heat of lust,

Upend the universe for you to plow, what

Takes your fancy.

You'll grant me peace.  I'll never grant release.

 

 

xxii

 

 

The day I chose the colt

For my last voyage,

Last but one, rode like some exalted pilgrim,

King in kind, toward old Jerusalem,

 

The very death of it,

Rode like a wayward prince

On palm leaves, scarlet cloaks and petals

Scattered on the cobbles,

 

Rode to my princely fortune,

A kingdom of the dead,

A wrenching of all mankind toward dread, this,

My obsessive direction,

 

That final connection, having stamped

In lasting terms

All human salvation, that I alone could conjure

God, his name, his blood,

 

His earthly dominion,

Less master than my minion, our tamed

Jehovah,

His last aching whore.  He would come no more.

 

And never his decisions.

There would be revisions upon revisions.

His son of God had entered

On an ass.

 

Stoned, mocked, lashed, thy will, thy will

Be done.  Dead on a Friday,

The anointed one.  You must kill me thoroughly.

You have just begun.

 

 

xxiii

 

 

Oh Christ, I ache.  Pitiful Christ, I ache.

These nails that eat my flesh,

A gnash of teeth and tendons,

Pus-holes draining at my wrists, my feet

Like scabs, my belly straining.

And walked the earth

And felt my power shift from just a touch

Against my sleeve, enough to heal

Some grief.  And raised the dead to certain life

And drove the devils into pigs

And broke all torment—

Dear Christ, you break my heart,

Sucked into agony, sucked into fire and spit,

Lisping your mantras and the holy writ!

 

 

xxiv

 

 

YOU'D tell my story if you truly knew

My pain.  You'd spell me out.

You'd eat my doubt, my final doubt,

You'd eat despair.  Oh Christ, these thorns

Are just a tenth of what I know.

The worst of it's below,

Those haggard, believing faces,

The soldiers gaming for my robe,

Sweet Mary aging by the minute, and Magdalene,

That whore that braved it all,

Dear doubting Thomas who would feel for blood,

And God himself, almighty God—they suck

Me dry, lusting for some splendor.

I'd torch them all.  They look like tinder.

 

 

xxv

 

 

Dear Christ, there will be drama!

Is it my sight?  Here the sixth hour there is

Darkness on the earth,

As if your mouth has eaten half the sun.

And darkness deepens, darker than my heart,

If such can be, a hole as black

As perjury, Jehovah's kiss,

Barely a blood-red light to glean the crowd

Beneath like Judas railing.

And still I'm wailing, neither dead

Nor dying, simply molten lava itching

Through my entrails.

It is not enough to feel.  I feel their fear.

This death is crazed, heaving toward another year.

 

 

xxvi

 

 

Dear Christ, I've murdered my first soul.

It is past my reckoning,

Beyond control.  So Judas burst.

I have heard the shriek.

Here the ninth hour, I am ravaged, weak.

I have heard your shriek.

Oh Christ, dear God Jehovah, hear me speak.

If only I could call it back

You'd hear me speak.  You'd hear Creation's pain

Flooding this skull where I'm gripped to die.

You'd hear my cry.

The pain would flood the earth.

If only death were birth!  It seems I'm finished.

Dear God, by death alone I'm not diminished.

 

                                                1984

 

 

 

 

                                                                                                               Unknown

 

 

                         

   

                                                                                             Unknown

 

 

              AUTHOR'S NOTE: This poem [all 23 sections] was written

                    in 3 5-hour sessions without a word struck or altered.