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“Jesus Is Condemned” and “Jesus Meets His Mother”

James Matthew Wilson
James Matthew Wilson

Jesus Is Condemned

  • I tried to think for half an hour
  • About the face of earthly powers
  • That would condemn a god to die.
  • I listened for its menacing cackles,
  • The crack of whips, the clank of shackles,
  • And searched for dark flames in the eye.
  • Through the church window I heard shrieks
  • Of ambulances whose techniques
  • Efficiently undo our wounds;
  • The certain hum of homeward motors,
  • A candidate’s rank appeal to voters,
  • In these its stare and voice I found.
  • For we sit kind, when comfort’s here,
  • But draw our weapons with our fears
  • Should we one pleasure be denied.

Jesus Meets His Mother

  • Her face seems calm, when he descries her
  • Dark mantle, and sees that her eyes are
  • Counting the deep strokes on his back,
  • Noting where woven thorns imprinted
  • Kingship on his brow, how rust-tinted
  • With damp the dust runs in his track.
  • He feels her kiss against his shut eye,
  • And tries to tell her he will not die.
  • She says she’ll see him through the race.
  • After all, she’s heard all his words;
  • Her heart received them undisturbed,
  • And undisturbed, now, her soft face.
  • But, the authorities speak with one accord:
  • That heart is pierced by seven swords
  • And bleeds for being so full of grace.

James Matthew Wilson’s most recent books are Some Permanent Things and The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry.

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James Matthew Wilson
James Matthew Wilson

Jesus Is Condemned

  • I tried to think for half an hour
  • About the face of earthly powers
  • That would condemn a god to die.
  • I listened for its menacing cackles,
  • The crack of whips, the clank of shackles,
  • And searched for dark flames in the eye.
  • Through the church window I heard shrieks
  • Of ambulances whose techniques
  • Efficiently undo our wounds;
  • The certain hum of homeward motors,
  • A candidate’s rank appeal to voters,
  • In these its stare and voice I found.
  • For we sit kind, when comfort’s here,
  • But draw our weapons with our fears
  • Should we one pleasure be denied.

Jesus Meets His Mother

  • Her face seems calm, when he descries her
  • Dark mantle, and sees that her eyes are
  • Counting the deep strokes on his back,
  • Noting where woven thorns imprinted
  • Kingship on his brow, how rust-tinted
  • With damp the dust runs in his track.
  • He feels her kiss against his shut eye,
  • And tries to tell her he will not die.
  • She says she’ll see him through the race.
  • After all, she’s heard all his words;
  • Her heart received them undisturbed,
  • And undisturbed, now, her soft face.
  • But, the authorities speak with one accord:
  • That heart is pierced by seven swords
  • And bleeds for being so full of grace.

James Matthew Wilson’s most recent books are Some Permanent Things and The Catholic Imagination in Modern American Poetry.

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