David Swartz "RELIGION WITH AN EDGE"
biblicalfictions.com
Poetry for the Curious across the Religious Spectrum
The Will to Christ

  

 

       an oratorio

       an oratorio

            

 

 

 

for Michael Megraw

 

dead in Vietnam, 1968

 

and for Eugene

 

 

 

             

 

(The JUDAS sections were half of SONG 15, 1985)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The first three figures step forward to the base of the three crosses.  The fourth speaks from above, only his impaled feet visible to the audience.

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

                

 

 

i      

 

In the beginning was Christ,

Who kissed a leper whole and into needs,

Who woke a harlot kneeling at the fire

And fed desire and mumbled creeds.

 

In the BEGINNING was our needs,

Who licked the haze of history

From the glass of time,

Whose arrogance was Herod's, not the crime.

 

In the beginning WAS the beginning,

Vast as a withered tree from his stern glance,

As quiet as the hole that sucks

Us all from turmoil into circumstance.

 

Yes, in the beginning was the beginning,

A blade that cuts, the Christ,

From either edge

And heals what's sliced.

 

Vastly, in the beginning was his humble birth,

Of sky, of galaxy,

Of stars,

Of earth.

 

Kneeling to all, he raised them

From the dead.

They turned and set a wreath

Of thorns about his head.

 

Kneeling to all, he made us smile

At cankers and despair,

At suppuration,

And then departed on a scent of prayer.

 

Jesus is Christ, though others will aspire

To the same torment.

I pray to Christ, the Son, the Son of man.

His agony, though great, is still dormant.

 

I pray that you will hear my voice

And echo these few verses.

The time remains and is cruel,

And living's what our curse is.

 

I pray that time will heal our living

As it healed his mission.

He's hanging yet on Calvary.

He's stretched and aching yet he's risen?

 

The pain remains.

It will last 10,000 thousand years.

Even the vast seas would not disgrace

Our lake of tears.

 

We are caught in fierce Jehovah,

Who has willed Him bend.

And he has knelt

And wept and of weeping there's no end.

 

Prophets will come forever

To amend a young man's speech.

I simply tell a story.

Let the pompous, preening, preach.

 

Simply let a few words speak

For what I touched, what lingers,

The pulse and ache

Of my own fingers.

 

There is no touch given coarse or fine

To all that whirls

Within and out

That is less devout and more divine.

 

I'd give my soul gladly

Were it mine to give,

To walk abreast of his lean body,

Body's touch, had they let Him live.

 

I'd give an ache and tears as large

As one man's death

And die possessed

And never breathe another breath.

 

Christ is the message, the body of HIS life

And death,

"Father, forgive them,"

On his final breath.

 

Marry THIS message

To your heart and soul.

He found a scented harlot in despair

And left her whole.

 

                                            

 

TWO ((((((((((((( JUDAS

 

               (addressing his lover)

 

 

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.

 

 

      

 

    THREE ((((((((((((( JOSEPH

 

 

i

 

I'll not hear it said he brought the dead to life.

No matter what THEY utter, I knew his mother.

 

This healing lepers—it makes me sick.  I'll grant she was a virgin

But she did the trick.  Cain beget Abel simply with a knife? 

 

In time, in time, they'll state he took that whore to wife.

God yes, they stink.  Come, let me sit and think.

 

ii

 

In the beginning God created Christ?  I've heard him called my SON.

The official account?  There are so many. Jesus, in fact, the one.

 

For thousands just begun, from Judas to believers.

Burn me in hell, I'll not worship that prodigy.  Rather BUNG my bride.

 

Than have him God and crucified.  These Jews that scrape,

From John to Simon, nothing but deceivers.

 

iii

 

She rots in the cold cold earth.  She who gave him birth.  I heard her split

By an infant's yowl.  If only God could stop

 

The here and now.  I kissed a shadow.

Cunnilingus on stone—Pfahh!!!!!!  For fucking virgins I'll atone.

 

By God, she was simple, plain, nearly homely.  Good good good—

As well it should.  Who got her hymen splintered wood.

 

iv

 

You don't like the image?  I am a carpenter and proud and of that vintage.

Could turn my bench to wine,  or blood to bread.

 

Knew angles of the dead.  Knew Judas and Moses.

Knew God and the Spirit and the MAN who chose us.

 

Knew cerebrations as large as ANY wayward sensations.

Knew Jesus.  Knew Pilate and his proclamations.

 

v

 

Just how MANY baskets did he fill with bread?

And Lazarus—he rose from the dead?

 

Where was his MOTHER born?  He was a lamb, a sheep?

Till shorn.  Where was the state of the Nation?

 

In his parables or some former creation?

Where did they carve the TREE?  In Judah by Calvary.

 

vi

 

Serving tables when I met her—the quiet one,

Addled but lovely in her innocence, done or undone.

 

I knew I'd marry such a wench.

Poorly turned was the wood the lathe had made a bench.

 

I'd add a shed to their commons.  Such was my summons.

Typical Jews—they'd have it cheap.  Night!  I sleep.

 

                                          

 

FOUR ((((((((((((( CHRIST

 

               (addressing the Christ)

 

 

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!

 

                                         

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

 

 

ii  

 

If Christ survives, he will have

Found me by a brook,

Under a willow, weeping

By the look.

 

My gown will be ivory linen

With a band of linked gold

And filigree of silver in my hair,

Pearls, lace, at 20, not old.

 

No, not old in years, perhaps,

But middling age in spirit.

He will have knelt to wash my feet, or hands?

At 26, I fear it.

 

There was just the chill of birth

In that hot icy touch,

The heat of death

Or such.

 

And he declined my kiss,

As if I offered,

And declined my arms, my throat, my limbs,

The somewhat darker I'd have proffered.

 

And declined all but my chastity,

Though we were newly wed

Simply in his smile,

For my death was newly dead.

 

And declined my teeth,

Though I'd have eaten,

My tongue, my lips, my mouth

Newly suckling Eden.

 

And offered me simply a lesser seat

At his table,

And though I was born Cain,

I was reborn Abel.

 

And I was Esther

Out of Esther

And a Salomé without her Baptist to repent.

And I was lovely, and it was God-sent.

 

And I was the first faint chill of recognition

In an April morning,

And I was free of my last long winter

And mourning.

 

And I was free of envy

And free enough to touch his hair

Without fear

Of yearning or heartache or care.

 

And I had asked nothing

For the chance, and nothing was denied.

And for a few fierce years

I was even chaste and calm, and his bride.

 

But you will deny this

Should you know him simply from these lines,

For I have eaten 20 years

Of rotten meat and coarse designs.

 

And have slept and sucked

And licked the very Herods of the earth,

But lost all, all,

In that brief moment of rebirth.

 

And lost innocence as well

And gained my tears

And acquired temptation

Beyond my years.

 

And gained a well of radiance

That could liven a maggot-driven corpse,

And did so, again, again,

And far better, worse.

 

And gained my heart

From all the worms that held it eaten

And gained Paradise

And gained Eden.

 

And gained wisdom, peculiar enough,

At 20,

And gained strength and beauty

And poetry.

 

And gained all my 20 years had never had

And never lost,

And an itch, simply an itch,

Was all it cost.

 

And we walked together,

Hand in hand, with all he loved, and unafraid,

The Twelve who loved in turn

And burned, betrayed.

 

Betrayed by their own instincts,

Habit, learning,

That all that certain manhood had a price,

And left HIM solitary, burning.

 

And stood, some, and watched covertly

From the base

And wept and gnashed their teeth

And watched him perish in disgrace.          

 

No one but a whore had been so violated

As that fragile gift to man,

And no one but a whore

Would fail to call it planned.

 

And no one but a harlot

Would dare to curse the God

That brought him under,

Would refrain from the plunder.

 

And fail to preach in pairs

Upon his vision,

And fail and fail to see the merit

In 20 centuries' derision.

 

Or the merit in the glitter

And the pomp of Pontiff, bishop, cardinal and priest,

Or ALL that surely followed,

Intact, diseased.

 

But would wrench inward, quiet,

Lamenting the larger loss

Than that man's message, flesh, deceased.

And would scorn the feast.

 

And would scorn the Resurrection,

Great as the God they wrenched to blood.

And would count her blessing

That they found her odd.

 

 

 

TWO ((((((((((((( JUDAS

 

               (to his lover)

 

 

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?

 

     

 

      THREE ((((((((((((( JOSEPH

 

 

vii

 

The gate she entered had a list

And squealed.  I asked of her mother.

 

It was not known or repealed.  Laid an infant at their door.

Raised her, suckled—goat's milk.

 

No more. My heart was in my hands, my knees the floor.

She had known NO man—uncommon!

 

viii

 

I'll give you messages to probe—was she tall

Or little, that piece?  Where did her father cease?

 

Was he comely?  They knew nothing,

Less than nothing.  Said she was natural, simple.

 

When she smiled the slightest flick

Of a dimple.  Fart.  I'll not start that.  Rather DROWN the cat.

 

ix

 

In the abyss of yearning I found me burning—

By nightfall I'd split her thighs.  There was such plain

 

Innocence in her eyes.  I ached to have her

Yield.  Such was the power they would wield.

 

Crucify me, I would burn to bend her.  Upend her.

In weakness I took her home.

 

x

 

The very most that came of it was a blush

And tears.  She was younger than her years.

 

I slept alone.  The rabbi had it sanctioned

In some odd hour of another week.  There is some mischief

 

I can't repeat.  I sat me down

To eat.  I sat me down to rest.  Blessed are the blessed.

 

xi

 

Matthew or some other busy body has me traced

From a great house to a stable, to a son—all one.

 

There was no heat in his making.

No pounding, no aching.  No thrust, no trust.

 

No lust.  Not that I didn't eye her!

Prior to the prier you'd crucify HER.

 

xii

 

All this for a little son of a bitch

That broke bread for thousands.  Who knelt for John to baptize,

 

Who withered a Tree.  Who was holy

Suddenly at even 3 and died without dignity

 

On a bare rood, crying

Mercy.  I'M getting thirsty.  Durst he?

 

 

 

FOUR ((((((((((((( CHRIST

 

             (to the Christ)

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

 

 

iii   

 

In all the time that's passed

I've found my fortune

In whom to obey

And whom to importune.

 

I am not without lust,

Nor without betrayal.

I am woman and young yet in my glands

And able.

 

There was flesh that I'd find

More to suit, but it perished

Beyond the press of his hand or a glance

That I cherished.

 

The latter was fire and the scent of snow

And white-pure

And conveyed a mystery

I'll never answer.

 

The glance was a tremor of tender regard

And enclosed like a father

And raised up like a God

And laid to rest, and the rest my brother.

 

And it touched,

So it felt, envious as I was for consummation,

Or any other betrayal

Or sensation.

 

But in time I was quiet

And awaited his smile

That split a night sky with a flicker-heat

And the day with a darker trial.

 

And I ATE of his smile

And ate of his eyes gently, but ate,

And awaited the end of the eating

With my heart on the plate.

 

And I ate of his words

And understood the latter

No necessity,

And I watched them lick the platter.        

 

And the stories that he told were mute

But children clinging to his gown,

And I hoped to understand

When we too had grown.

 

And the stories were a lesson

That some era will repeat

Toward no real purpose beyond error

And retreat.

 

And the stories were a gown

That hid his radiant form.

And the latter lies with putrefaction,

Worm.

 

And the stories were a miracle large

As the wonders they reduced

To the Prince he'd be,

Forsaken, used.

 

And the stories made me cling,

And many wept,

And I clung and wept

When he finally slept.

 

And the stories gave me puzzlement

And awe,

And there were times there were times

There were times I saw.

 

And the stories are forgotten

Even in the recollection,

For the teller sleeps eternal

In a Resurrection.

 

For the teller bled on rough wood

From the pierced chest,

Feet and hands.

And only that image wakes or makes demands.

 

And the stories were eternal

While he smiled,

And though the Twelve have told them,

The teller is defiled.

 

And the stories WERE a child,

Clinging to his gown,

But the listeners all have grown,

And the teller is defiled.

 

I will listen, obey, the story of my heart

Only,

And though it wails to speak

I will importune it only.

 

                                           

 

TWO ((((((((((((( JUDAS

 

               (to his lover)

 

 

ix

 

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.

 

x

 

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.

 

xi

 

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!

      

 

 

THREE ((((((((((((( JOSEPH

 

 

xiii

 

Lay hand on a virgin's belly, find it rounded,

The beat of the purest heart somehow confounded

 

In an ache of lust, here, there, some months along,

This quintessential dust, this

 

Quiet, Joseph compounding riot,

That purity could so conceive, she whom I had never

 

Deceived in ruin.  I cannot etch

My inner feelings on your vellum, impending birth,

 

Mary, God's sweetest visitation

On this earth, no foreign

 

Origin even in question, a maiden

Mild, mute wild confusion.

 

And then that vortex, whorl,

That fearful light, archangel

 

Visiting my plight, that such as she

Were in my sight—

 

"Joseph, my son, the Ghost has wrought a quietude,

Unravished is your bride."

 

xiv

 

Lay hand on belly, find it rounded,

One's trust, one's innocence confounded,

 

The birth of pain in a male-son

Maelstrom, three strangers following

 

A light to pay their fond respects,

And Herod hounding family to the desert,

 

A flight from death, frustration,

Some sudden stealth, configuration, that the lot

 

Of a virgin's child be manic

Motion in the stars, a planetary scar, commotion,

 

Fearsome, looking, as it well

Seemed from light years hence, afar.

 

"He shall be called Emmanuel,

Jesus is your Son.  From Chaos

 

Is born the One."  Three stabs

Upon a hill I could have noticed boded ill.

 

I am an old man making sense of vast confusion.

That further beginning's scant

 

Solution.  I'll add my part in silence,

Waiting for a sign, obscure, divine.

 

xv

 

I find the Nazarene obscene.

Old Liz's offspring, that Baptist,

 

That a bird came down and settled

On his cousin's head?  You're better

 

Off dead.  I know I loved his mother

Far more than all this bother.

 

Sad, odd, that your lad's a God!

I'm more like you, a proper Jew,

 

Not prone to confession, or other obsession,

Less clerical than judicial,

 

Watching my i's are dotted on the line

Than eyeing my lineage,

 

Alert to the wayward course of planets

When you fire a Nation,

 

The latest tortured sensation, dead on a lonely

Hill they called the Skull.

 

I had taught him a joiner.  Mortar and pest.

I had brought him up on synagogue

 

And Temple.  The bells of Hell's his mission,

Sadly defunct.  They, I as well,

 

Failed to get the point.  Twelve, nay, Eleven

Loved him.  Certainly not the God above

 

Him.  Was a crazed message!

         His Maggie listened.  Had she only kissed him.                                          

 

 

 

FOUR ((((((((((((( CHRIST

 

               (to the Christ)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

 

 

iv

 

He lived toward death and died

Certain that he died

But fueled with doubt that God could raise him up,

So crucified.

 

Only Pilate in his silken bed slept the sleep

That nightmares could awaken,

Of a man of peace,

Forsaken.

 

Herod perhaps was kneeling to some odd boy or man

Or infant impaled

Or whore

Or child.

 

And some drank or sucked man's root,

Or chewed the corpse

Of a lesser God,

Remorse.

 

And Christ himself was shortly

To be eaten,

For worms are seldom friendly

Even in Eden.

 

And fish swim or multiply like lizards,

And bread will well

In baskets

And cankers breed in caskets.

 

And the sky will devour

With sun and shower

And burn sweet lesions on a manly chest,

And there will be rank and fitful flower.

 

And trees will scream

Their satisfaction

That one who wilted by a curse

Has lived to see him founder, shrivel, worse.

 

And plants will sing

Sweetly and rocks will stare

And burn and melt

And agonize at what they've felt.

 

A moment will flood,

An hour corrupt,

A chance dissect,

Disrupt.

 

And one smooth supple belly

And the tower raised beneath,

And a bag for fornication

Simply seethe.

 

And the shudder in the loins

And the spasm in the belly

And the murmur in the organ

And the climax in the swell.  He?

 

Knew them all,

Was no wan effeminate saint,

Had eaten early

And survived the taint.

 

Survived to survive to perish,

Nailed to a rough-hewn cross.

Again, his FLESH and not The Spirit

Was the loss.

 

God will endure all our folly,

Grace.

But I will never see that Savior smile again,

His face.

 

And I will never touch his lips

In this or any living,

And I will fornicate with worms

And his forgiving.

 

And I will never stroke his manhood

Or endure his manly smile

Or endure his children

Or endure his grin.

 

Or endure our children

Or endure our breath.

And great God putrefaction grows

A sickness unto death.

 

Or endure transcendence

Or wisdom, mercy, paradise,

Or endure pity

Or the prodding of a certain young man's thighs.

 

Or our children

Or theirs in turn

Or a walk toward some quiet senescence,

A chance to learn.

 

Softness, frailty,

All deceit,

For a meal I once had eaten sits itself

Down to eat.

 

For God was dead in just 8 hours,

Impaled and shrinking,

Stretched on rugged beams,

Festered, stinking.

 

And Man was dead, the Son,

Carted to a tomb

They found empty, as if tomb

Had room.

 

And man was rotting,

Brilliant ascent in a haze of light,

Transfigured by ten centuries

Of poetry and light.

 

And 10 of darkness,

Darker than his mouth,

When he ate worms

And hastened south.

 

                                           

 

TWO ((((((((((((( JUDAS

 

               (to his lover)

 

 

xii

 

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.

 

xiii

 

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.

 

   

   

    THREE ((((((((((((( JOSEPH

 

 

xvi

 

Lay hand on belly, find it rounded.

The whole of Creation nurtured or astounded.

 

"I am about my Father's business."

Did he care for his mother's distress?

 

I see her knelt beneath

That awful Tree.  Did He love THEE?

 

What a terror to have a Son!

To watch him grow toward Christ?  What price?

 

I have seen him heal the sick.

I must say I was sick.  I have seen

 

Him heal the leper.  Jesus, boy,

Wash your hands—it's time for supper.

 

JUDAS kissed him.

I'm sure his mother missed him.

 

She twists in an early grave.  At 12, the elders,

Pompous, grave.

 

Whom did he come to save?  Come, heart,

Down!  Behave!

 

If I had nearly an hour to state my case

To that weird sister, I'd ask him if HE missed HER.

 

He called us REPENT.  Who was the God

He bent?  Lent?

 

I only remember pain, and could care

Very little if he comes again.

 

xvii

 

I'll not hear it said I am pure or impure.

She was quiet, calm, gentle, demure.

 

I loved her like the God that sent her.

It was a cruel Fate that bent her.  It was a cruel fate

 

That quickened in her loins.  She could not know

His Twelve, that club he joined.

 

xviii

 

There was quiet in her heart and motion,

A peace that passed his subtle understanding,

 

Devotion beyond his Joseph's

Manly concerns, and could not have known

 

His Coming or his going,

Or his third degree burns.  His lofty concerns.

 

xix

 

They will raise her image, it seems patent

To a simple man who loved to know her.

 

They will raise it often higher than her Son.

They will never stroke the folds

 

Of her sad gown or her sadness

As it grew, nor know her grown.

 

xx

 

He came, it seems, with some great lesson

On his mind, and she learned

 

It imperfectly, and it is not my intention

To be unkind.  Nor to curse his sandal that the Baptist

 

Scorned to strap,

Nor to mock his mission nor any of that usage perhaps.

 

xxi

 

But rather to gather an image of a child

Who served my table, gentle as the rain

 

That fell on Cain and on Abel,

Gentle as the rain that summer evening

 

As we lay to rest.  That gentle.  Just that gentle.

There.  It's almost off my chest.

 

 

 

FOUR ((((((((((((( CHRIST

 

               (to the Christ)

 

 

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.

 

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

                                               

                                     

v      

 

And what was the Man?

And where did he begin?

And why will they persist to urge him

Free of sin?

 

And how was the Man?

And did he riot?

And was his flesh fresh as fire,

Quiet?

 

Did the Twelve believe?

Where was their gratification?

In the sweep of his garment,

Or their torment?

 

And was the Man in pain?

Was God in pain?

Did Jesus Christ have entrails,

Brain?

 

And was he handsome?

How was the Body formed?

His genitals, how large?  Or how

Deformed?

 

What were the teeth?

His eyes?  His hands, his skin?

Did he laugh, smile,

SIN?

 

Were there miracles?

Who led him by the hand?

Was his mother Virgin?  Urgent!

Who was the Man?

 

And WHICH was he?

Prophet, redeemer?

Healer, rabbi?

Dreamer, schemer?

 

What did he love?

What did the Man love?

Was it God below

Or flesh above?

 

Did your fingers rake his flesh,

Did he make you bend?

And was he lover or your friend?

If God, when?

 

Did he taste of his own blood?

Did the Twelve taste blood

And body?

And who was Judas?  Somebody?

 

And who were Matthew, Luke, John,

Simon, Andrew, Peter?

And who was Salomé?

Did he EAT her?

 

And who was the other Magdalene,

Who Mary, the mother of James?

Did they call him by the itch

Or what it tamed?

 

And who WAS James?

And who was Moses?

And who was the Man and the man's woman?

And the God that chose us?

 

And was HE God, or Man?

Or man, woman?

What was his bodily function?

Did he eat or pass gas?  Without compunction?

 

Were all his functions regular?

Did he tend to them in secret?

Words one can't repeat!

Did he secrete?

 

Did he ever scratch his face?

Lower?

Did he shave,

Bother?

 

And, forgive us, woman,

What was his scent?

Did he bathe?  And who attended?

His garments, renewed, mended?

 

Who were the virgins he upended?

Whom befriended?

Did he hate, scorn, riot?

What was his fury, quiet, ended?

 

Did he FART?  Pray?

Weep?  Shout?

Was he venal, devout?

His cast of skin, his hair, say.

 

I hate to stretch this out.

Was he ever impolite?

And your sleeping arrangements?

How did you spend the night?

 

Did he snore?

Did he ever choke?

Was it always wisdom

That he spoke?

 

Tell us at least of Gethsemane.

Was it a public park?

Was such fierce agony permitted

After dark?

 

Where does he sleep?  In Paradise?

How many thousand kalpas

Till he comes again?

Does he know we miss him?  Does it give him pain?

 

Does he weep for US?

When will he climb

Down from the Tree?  And where did he end?

On Calvary?

 

 

 

TWO ((((((((((((( JUDAS

 

               (to his lover)

 

xiv

 

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!

 

xv

 

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.

 

xvi

 

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.

 

xvii

 

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.

 

xviii

 

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.

 

xix

 

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.

 

xx

 

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?

 

xxi

 

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!

 

 

 

THREE ((((((((((((( JOSEPH

 

 

xxii

 

I have heard he screamed on Calvary.

I have heard he forgave

 

And forgave and asked his God

For grace.  Perhaps he brought us love.

 

I often doubt he saw it

In HER face.  I saw something.  A trace.

 

xxiii

 

I saw a child an angel thrust toward womb

And woman.  I saw a smile that knelt

 

At tears.  I saw something beyond

My scope and years.  May the dear Lord

 

Bless the earth that cupped her tears.  May it bless her tears.

May it calm my fears.

 

xxiv

 

The Man we saw him grow to be

Expired on Calvary and walked

 

Among the dead, it is said.

Ascended to stroll on water.  The ocean of her being

 

Was the weeping that it cost her.   She had one Son,

No daughter.

 

xxv

 

There was talk of that, of some blessed, irregular

Consummation.  And she longed

 

For gentle and consolation.

But I never knew the event.  Nor could part her soul,

 

Let alone her thighs.  The night is long,

Meant.  Her soul is bent.  THIS waiting tries.

 

xxvi

 

I would be willing to call Him God,

Were he not MY son.  I would be willing

 

To carry His Cross on MY bare shoulders.

I would knowingly, willingly,

 

Take his ache and His transcendence.

There was something there I'D share.

 

xxvii

 

There was something there beyond even his mother's

Pain, and it was not the myth that he'd come

 

And come again, that he'd rescue ALL our pain,

That he'd have us joy and holy.  That the coins

 

We'd change for bliss were NOT simply buried

With his folly.  That the Old one'd hiss.

 

xxviii

 

And what ARE we to make of the Resurrection?

Would I summon even that

 

For a Father's erection, thwarted, distorted,

Contorted, to the whim of flesh even fierce

 

And fiercely denied.  They said HE wept.

Sinned?  Thirsted?  By Christ, I'LL not be crucified.

 

xxix

 

I see something, mind's eye, brilliant above that hill

Where, for better or worse,

 

A sad man perished.  See the multitude, cherished,

See it kneel to gather up simply a virgin mother.

 

See a billion burning years, no further.

No earthly Father.  See farther.

 

                                           

 

FOUR ((((((((((((( CHRIST

 

               (to the Christ)

 

 

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.                                               

 

 

 

ONE ((((((((((((( MAGDALENE

 

                                

vi  

 

When I met him, his eyes were blue fire

And silver,

And his hands were golden, dark,

And his breath a fever.

 

And he seldom smiled,

But when he did, the sky parted,

And the sun was in his smile,

And the night departed.

 

And the wind was in his speech

Alone, and the seas were in his large embrace,

And I never feared

To look upon his face.

 

And when HE looked

There was such purity in his glance

That I was a child,

A child, and my heart danced.

 

And I ate his message,

But I ate his flesh

Covertly,

And I thought I would eat, would eat, shortly.

 

But they wrenched Him,

Flesh and juice

Of flesh toward death,

And he never drew that breath.

 

And he never smiled

After Golgotha,

And he never touched or said

Or left unsaid.

 

And I hated his radiance,

And I hated his soul,

And I hated his mission and his wisdom

And, again, his soul.

 

For the body of Christ was as smooth

As virgin, and a velvet

Demon,

And I will not live to finally taste his semen.

 

Or bear his children

Or bear his pain,

For he has come and has come

And has gone again.

 

And he will never return,

Fearful as the wait, a dust that catches

In my throat and lungs,

And the disbelievers will waggle tongues.

 

If I am zealot

It is for his touch,

And if that is little, in the scheme of His existence,

It is still much.

 

But his much WAS their little,

Though it reeked with grace.

They would have had him bend the earth

And read it in his face.

 

For his fate was an earthly kingdom,

Andrew argued,

Peter, John.

Such is the wisdom that would carry on.

 

And in glory, at least in their own generation,

Have him return,

And the disbelievers perish

And the scoffers burn.

 

And the wicked wail in some great furnace,

Gnash their teeth in fire.

And there was small talk of forgiveness

In heart's desire.

 

But Maggie and a few of us, some few,

Were content to have him rest

Beneath a tree, caress a child,

That too, tenderly.

 

Speak with warm tremor of compassion

Always warmed his voice,

And if we too had passion

We too had choice.

 

And would have him be our father,

Earthly, there and then,

For a moment, be his wife,

For an hour, not a life.

 

Or brother, at least brother,

Meek and mild,

And lift us on his virile shoulder,

PLAY the child.

 

And carry us to blessings

Even the Twelve could not imagine,

And gentle us on to peace that passeth

Understanding.

 

And yet he perished.

SUCH was the Man.

Something only the wayward truly cherished.

CHERISH what you can.

 

Invest your wealth in power, riches, glitter,

Fame.
I'd rather his cast-off sandals

Than a name.

 

For a name and a myth and a power

Might well bend a thousand thousand years,

But nothing, nothing, nothing

Can erase our tears.

 

Ah Christ, my pain!

Ah God, the loss.

A body, not a Spirit walked the last mile comely

To the Cross.

 

 

 

                          CURTAIN

 

 

                   FINIS

 

                        

                                                     1981-2003                 

 

                                            2010