An Easter Poem . . . my take on Judas, from my book “Inside Light” Finishing line press.


Jesus To Judas, From Kingdom Come

Go and do quickly that which you must do.

John 13:27

It’s true. Though the others never recorded it in their texts,

I loved him best. And knew from the moment we met he would require

something extra to pull off this business—that he’d pay the price

for intelligence. Nights on the road, between miracles, I would catch him

watching me with beady eyes as if he might steal my bag of tricks,

pull a flock of doves from a flap in our tent, expose a mirror from the pocket

of my robe. It’s easy to worship blindly. What I mean is— there was some

balance struck between the believing naif and the Roman cynic, and few

had that hairline down the way he did—often distracted from my teaching,

always pushing the limits of what could be known hands-on, fingering coins,

the correct change in the market, or retrieving ledgers Matthew kept for taxes.

(His suspicious and prolonged wine-tasting the night of the wedding.)

And he took inordinate time checking the count of the fishes—

things like that, choosing the tangible over what must remain unfocused,

not like the shade of a man’s skin, but the shape of prayer, the texture

of sin, as if one could measure Satan’s gloss in the desert

when noontime sun splayed the horizon. He lacked the fusion of dust

on an eyelash, that feel for a fourth dimension. With his long fingers

he’d pluck at his full red beard, flash a disarming question,

forehead compressed in sullen resistance to the simplicity of the word

love. Mouth crimping down at the mention of any emotion,

so I grew certain I could trust him to carry out the plan. That’s why

I waited, never told him, knowing he’d take my cues in advance.

And he knew I knew, after supper, after I washed his gnarly feet,

at the moment I stroked his hand, understanding within an hour

in the garden, still with the bloody wine on his breath, he would dispatch

the final piece. Not with gold or silver, mind you, but with the kiss,

that tenuous kiss, how I dreamt it and dreaded it. But I relied on him,

on his being the strongest with a mind that could not go beyond

our human significance—Yet I regret that we never acknowledged

the mutual set-up, that I never thanked him in the flesh

or forced him to admit we colluded in the covenant.

At the end when I looked down through the sullied ceiling

of storm, I recognized his spirit form just ahead of me

on its knees— and I blessed those two earthly bodies


from their respective trees.


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