Jesus Christ walked out into a world of poetry poverty depravity
martyrs muggers mothers and The Bomb, holding His healing Hands
out to the quietly pious stretched out on the racks of the Spanish Inquisition,
the walking starving dead of 16th century and Auschwitz,
the silently-suffering Cherokee and Creek losing blood en route to disease-ridden reservations
the children of the Bikini Island nuclear tests, the survivors of Hiroshima and Nagasaki
the AIDS-infected drug addicts dismissed and forgotten
in the streets of Los Angeles and .
And when He left, it was not pierced through to a wooden cross, arms flayed wide
to lure carrion, it was tied to a post set in a bed of lit faggots,
the crowd screaming not “Set Barabas free!” but “Burn the heretic!”
as a private confident and lover looked on, arms folded on chest, face set as stone.
And when He left, it was not at the torches of lunatic French patriots, but of a wasting disease
in the middle of the ocean
in the cabin of an abandoned plague ship, His only comfort
sea gulls offering gobbets of raw fish and olives from far-away shores.
And when He left, it was not en route to Java or Australia, but roped between
four crazed and blinded horses, whipped into a frenzy and pushed stumbling
down the side of a steep hill.
And when He left, it was not by being drawn and quartered in the highlands of Scotland
for the amusement of the English Royal family, but in searing holy agony
on the streets of Japan, the last child pushed safely into a crudely- constructed fallout shelter
before the twins hit the ground and the lightning goes up.
And when He left, it was not huddled beneath the falling timbers of the American consulate,
but of an accidental overdose maliciously prescribed.
And when He left, it was not sitting on the toilet of His Tennessee mansion,
stomach cramping, eyes blurring, but blindfolded and alone
before a CIA-sponsored firing squad, convicted
of teaching school children how to read both Spanish and English texts.
And when He leaves, it will not be lying comfortably in bed, reading a James Michener novel;
it will be at the hands of a NeoNazi vigilante, a boy in a uniform
fighting for his country, an antiabortion activist with a pipe bomb,
a confident doctor with good intentions,
a soused truck driver on his way home from work.
He will not go quietly into that final night,
but with as much doubt and pain and fear
as any one of us, forgetting each previous walk with man
upon rebirth, holding tenaciously at death to the belief and the promise
that He will come back again to us, and again, and again, and again.