Sunday, April 05, 2015

The Funeral Baked Meats

Since it’s Easter morning, it’s perhaps an appropriate time to resurrect the dead, in this case an old poem that was (sort of) published almost a quarter of a century ago. Adam Gopnik wrote a much better essay on the same topic a few years ago—coming across Gopnik's work this morning is what make me think of my old poem.


We are saved by grace alone. It follows
The chalice of eternal mercy’s
An earthen cup and not a golden grail.
To be saved by a miracle is not a miracle.
He was not the man with the honey beard and the tender eyes
But an excitable young intellectual
Whose love, like ours, was overgrown with rage
Like the last rose in an abandoned garden
Among the thorns, entangled branch and root.
Certainly he was not very nice,
Moody and hysterical and then suddenly cold;
And if his words were sometimes a new thing in the world,
Mostly he repeated the wisdom and insanity of the prophets.
He wasn’t a good teacher either.
His followers followed him for their own reasons
As if they had caught the power in his voice
But not the sense. As for the rest
They hardly listened at all or heard
What they wanted to hear and already believed.
For the exhausted women he was an Adonis.
For the men,
Against all the evidence, a vengeful sword.
Perhaps he cured the sick or perhaps
The wretched took some comfort from his hand
Because compassion in his day as ours
Is by itself a portent. Beyond that sign
Which either suffices or does not
He gave no other, as you all well know;
For you are fools. He died and he stayed dead.