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

     {from The Will to Christ}

 

 

 

 

 

 

JUDAS ((((((((((((( first movement

JUDAS ((((((((((((( first movement

 

 

i

 

 

The master in the low clay room

Admits my progress has been manifold and deep,

In less than half a year a wakening

To the siddhis and yet a willingness

To let the siddhis sleep

And move toward higher realms.

Oh Sashi, 17 and bliss,

More samadhi than all the rest,

Your hairless belly, chest,

The wriggle in your thighs—

Wedding my comfort to your kiss,

Your open trusting glance,

I suckle nectar from your silken skin

And lick the suchness from your melting eyes.

 

 

ii

 

 

Child, I am so far away,

Returning to my native land,

So far away and yet so near to death,

For death is dearer to me now

Than even Sashi's scented breath

These final days I must recount, explain,

A mission that recoils to rend the just

And bleeds all mercy into yellow heat.

Sashi sweet, prepare to eat.

The greatest passions transcend lust,

Even your curious delicate turns of phrase, your tints,

Your gestures.

A demon in me festers.

Let Judas spill his guts.  Another sort repents.

 

 

iii

 

 

Please fear my violence.  I am seldom calm.

The master sent me on to frame a Nazarene

In pity.  I thought I'd find him

In a city.  I thought I'd find him robed in silk.

Not such a fool upon an ass,

Riding toward certain doom.

There is always room

For a prophet or a vendor,

For a prophet's gloom or splendor.

The genius of this wayward monk

Was human, all-too-human charms.

Suffer the little children to come unto me?

I might have known enough to flee

Straight to your velvet arms.  I wasn't free.

 

 

iv

 

 

Remember perhaps the mornings

All the world lay in our arms and spoke

In first light, in the narrow chirping birds,

The rose swell of light haunting

The casement in a well of purity

Only our love could touch.

Remember such as you remember me, my  Sashi.

And feel compassion that I dared

To feel that ache, that blinding ache

And bliss in yet another's touch and kiss,

His torment aching toward a cross,

Not in the sense of flesh and need

But in what WE felt when flesh and need was fed—

My sacrilege was written in his blood and daily bread.

 

 

v

 

 

Pity Judas.  The afternoons lotus in the courtyard,

Chasing our inner visions,

And the clouds would shift in wind,

Rippling void, tremor from the outer world

When all was calm and inward,

And I would look up and see your troubled lips,

That aching smile, flicker of smile and torment—

Such was his.  Such was his.

This man would have taken you toward universal fire

Just to touch his hem.  Amen to that.  Amen.

And Judas betrayed him.  Pity him.

I would have seen that devil rend the priests

And scatter them like flecks of dung.

Such seemed to me the message on his fiery tongue.

 

 

vi

 

 

And yet I have seen you soft,

Ripple of muscle under a tawny sheen.

I have seen you, pure as flame, twitch to the touch,

Arch, tense, recoil.

You have fed me adolescent seed

After the vespers, after the mantras,

After our thigh-racked toil.

We have slept in fire and comfort,

Male warmth and scent, skin shudder, pulse.

I have sucked your eyes of innocence and pain.

I have sucked your pulse and ache.

Through such sensation even visions break.

I have eaten you, Sashi.  It is you alone I cherish.

Against your flesh I swear this man will perish.

 

 

vii

 

 

And yet I have seen him soft,

Pliant as the lamb, eyes like breasts,

Smile the flicker of a deep lament

And yet a touch of bliss so urgent as to melt the sun

Toward pity.  And I wish him dead.

And I wish his Lazarus dead.

And all the angels coming in their glory dead.

And the demon-struck, the lepers.

Even his mother dead.

We've seen our master speak of God

As just a face on endless void and calm.

This devil has us fear an endless fire,

His soft forgiving form sole object of desire,

His sainted form.  Consign such pity to the worm!

 

 

viii

 

 

Such small time remains to Judas.

I fondle death's manly strength.

I am spread across his scented length,

Sperm-scent the deeper rapture.

Death tenses.  I feel him in my mouth.

He is Sashi, adolescent.

Such small time remains.  Adjust your clocks.

Bitterness is in the touch and scream

With which I submit to this obscene paradox.

Sweet Sashi, skin of my skin,

You will drink my sin, my terror.

Perhaps you may find me in error.

Can one simply murder a man?

Is murder just a larger plan?

 

 

 JUDAS (((((((((((((     second movement

 JUDAS (((((((((((((     second movement

 

 

i

 

 

My Sashi, oh yes sweet boy,

I will not tell a story.  Rather gather

Several images to thrust

Before your glance, a fabric of ache and joy.

 

Joy of a morning lucid

As the temple sphere,

So clear and cut that lines might edge

The melting boundaries of a smile

 

Or frame the quadrants of the sky,

Pellucid to the eyes

And yet a mystery vast as inner calm,

A morning framed in fire,

 

Blue-white, eternal, vernal,

Joy like a well of fire,

Yet fixed in a chill of void and space

As if all space might trace

 

The bounded nadir of desire.

Ache in a wayward prophet pausing at a tree

To draw no sustenance but sermon,

Mocking its barren limbs,

 

While the world glowed innocence

And rest, a searing sky,

Bird-flutter, twelve of us clinging to its bliss,

Enduring for his touch and kiss—

 

No master taught the siddhi

He employed.  That we should ape his gesture,

Hurl mountains to the sea?

I damned him at that moment.  He damned me.

 

 

ii

 

 

It was not so much his message,

While that message was framed in torment,

Torment and lamentations,

The crucifixion of all nations,

 

But rather his visage framed in sun,

Fire from his brow and eyes,

Blue fire in his garment drape,

His slender hands.  Such aspect had begun

 

To shake the priest and Pharisee,

Who rather than enjoy their ease

Had come to hear the upstart's ministry,

A sermon locked in light,

 

A fearful sun-struck well of flame

That poured from his glance

To captivate the thousands.  We came

To hear his greater mercy,

 

Bathe in a dance of love,

Shudder of mercy to the poor-in-heart,

And not Jehovah hoarse above

Our mortal concerns, but lamb they said

 

He was, that devil, mocking

The weak that they might dare to speak

Against his messianic vision,

Or bury his radiant form, his blue fire eyes

 

In poor-in-heart's derision.

Was it merely time eternity denied?

Whose was the clearer sight?

We'll see in time where Israel will side.

 

 

iii

 

 

Oh yes, my Sashi, coming in his glory.

Yet you against my length

Of sense and feel had greater strength

Than any seraph in his story.

 

They will tell you of the coins

I took against his life.

Sashi, sweet boy, my scented velvet wife,

As if Judas is merely Judas, fit to join

 

The karmic level of a thief,

Mean cur to dog a master's heels

And throw that silver into carnal squeals

And smear the face of true belief,

 

For such is now my pain,

That Judas is by Judas known and sought

As darkest sin that silver ever bought,

Betrayal for a paltry silver gain—

 

And yet I would have had the means

To join you, Sashi, in that sum,

To Sashi's flesh I could have come,

Suckling the twitch and wriggle of my schemes—

 

But, truly said, that sum was all

Such starved souls could understand,

Priests in their usury, milking a wretched land

Of blood and bread, the wherewithal

 

To drape a body, feed a dancer,

Exacting tribute from the poor,

Avarice the angel guarding heaven's door,

Judas for all history history's cancer!

 

 

iv

 

 

Gethsemane, your name is history

For a generation, perhaps for eternity.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to a kiss.

 

Gethsemane, he had just spoken

When the garden gates were broken.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to a shout.

 

Gethsemane, I have heard he tried to pray

And turn that cup away.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to a tear.

 

Gethsemane, he yielded to a sterner God,

God's wish, aching for his blood.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to an ache.

 

Gethsemane, the disciples were asleep.

Compassion's sleep was deep.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to a cross.

 

Gethsemane, a primal Cain arrived that night.

A lesser man had taken flight.

I, of the twelve,

Reduced him to my fright.

 

Gethsemane, the greatest masters grin?

You have not witnessed

That monk's trial.

I, of the twelve, reduced him to a smile.

 

 

 

v

 

 

When he gave unto us to eat

He knew I would betray him.

When he bathed his disciples' feet

He knew I would betray him.

 

That day I first looked on his form,

I would betray, I would betray,

Consign him to the worm.

I would betray him.

 

When he dipped his hands

And waited for my own,

When the heavens seemed to groan,

I would betray that devil,

 

That beauty, that fierce soft thing,

That bliss and ache,

That paradox of kiss and suffering.

I would betray him.

 

That night they said he wept,

After his body, after his blood,

A sacrifice, the scented corpse of God,

That image of raging peace,

 

I would betray him,

In his terrible ache and need,

Seed of eternal blossom, deed and seed,

Awesome, his Judas would betray him.

 

Oh Christ, your name in vain,

I suffer to proclaim

Your mystery in the aching flesh of Cain.

Sweet Jesus, Sashi, come again.

 

 

 JUDAS (((((((((((((     third movement

 JUDAS (((((((((((((     third movement

 

 

i

 

 

I have aged ten decades in this telling.

Fruit bears heavy on this tree.

They say he's bound for Calvary

To die with several thieves.

My time draws short.  I catch at breath

Like one who drowns in blood.

I who adored our master, mask on Brahman,

Face of the face who sent me hither

Only now to wither,

Having probed a mystery only to uncover layers

Of still further mystery—a man certainly,

But what a man!  My luck he'll rise again

And heal another leper.  The sky is yellow in the East.

Poor Judas hangs and then the fiery Beast!

 

 

ii

 

 

This son of man?  I have healed

In his name, cast out a dozen demons,

Drawn his figure in the wind of thought

For others to proclaim legitimate messiah.

And now he is pariah.

Even Simon Peter did not know him.

The situation's ugly, grim,

And now the host that gathered at his side

To kiss his hem and touch his mirrored light

Have quite denied him.

Perhaps Judas alone—am I the final zealot?

Well then zealot hangs or bursts his guts

Across the total fabric of his master's ideation.

A suicide?  Such is small cause for cosmic celebration.

 

 

iii

 

 

Had I only slept with him!

Sashi, he was lovely as a summer night

In form, face, manly as an August storm,

Gentle as the dying wind, calm,

Seemingly indigo in hue, part of you,

Blond as a lion when the lion spoke,

Dark as a sun split day,

As dazzling coming after.

Even his manly evidence seemed comely.

In neither speech nor manner was he ever ever homely.

I loved him like the touch of death

In lover's flesh and twitch.

His was the lover's itch and rapt surrender.

I often prayed that we could end there.

 

 

iv

 

 

I grow old.  I am impossibly old.

I am jaded courtesan, wrinkled

Like an ancient fig.  I exude vapors

Of decay.  My tongue melts, licks death's melt.

I am rotting by the moment.

God, I'll swear by you

That saw me through to tell this sorry tale,

I'm stale, defunct,

Coarse as the stench of bowels,

Toothless gaping jowls,

Insect-scuttle rasping on the glass of time.

No egress.  Only the blade or rope.

I inch toward you on the rope of Satan's tongue,

Mighty Jahweh, queer as a beetle inching dung.

 

 

v

 

 

And yet if I could touch him,

Fondle that evidence, man smell and warmth,

Lie in the death cot clasping me, floating, floating,

Each way free to feel, just feel that manly feel,

That urgency wielded to my equal touch,

So much of him, ah so much

To let it rot and stink

In a nameless tomb, for that is me, is I,

My Sashi, this corporeal form and never spirit.

The master taught us death was just transition.

I tender my opposition.

If Judas dies all dies.  The Christ is dead.

Christ is body stench, the rot of paradise,

When life is the supple yield of wielded thighs.

 

 

vi

 

 

Did he sleep with Simon Peter?

Did he sleep with Andrew?

Did Bartholomew, the younger, lie against his side,

Or Simon, the Zealot, touch his skin?

Did that dark Nazarene admit such sin?

Did he sleep with James?

Or was it Magdalene?

The thought has me on fire, and yet the thought

Is thin.

In sudden time that eats all wounds

We'll copulate with worms, my noble friend.

Was it Matthew?  Did you sleep with him?

Oh Sashi, young God lacking circumcision,

They lead a seraph's body toward the crucifixion.

 

 

vii

 

 

So old I wither, fitting the noose in place.

The lure of samadhi is just a trace

On lust that burns like fiery pitch,

This hateful itch

That burns my vision.

I am vanquished, spent.

I who have coupled with the void

And spent my seed on inward vulvas twitching

With desire, seeded that fire, that suck.

I who was born to last perhaps forever

In some small inscription, insatiate, bitched.

Judas Iscariot, bitched, foiled, spent.

Dear God, relent!

I've spilled my guts.  Must Judas now repent?

 

viii

 

 

Death to Jehovah, the living Father.

When did a Father ever bother?

Death to Christ Jesus, the living Son.

Death to the age the man's begun.

Death to the birth of the human spirit.

Why must the wisest always fear it?

Death to the living fact!

By such inducement few men act.

Death to the lure of human progression.

Death to the Spirit, Spirit's transgression.

Death to all manner of mortal solution.

Death to the man who bleeds my resolution.

Death to the universe!

Forgive a dead man's living curse!

 

                                              1981