Jesus the Nazarene King of the Jews


Through the narrow streets of Chicago, Christ carved in marble

is carried upright on a cedar cross.

Pigeons heavy with wonder bread drop from rain gutters

to take a closer look the face of Jesus bright as a magnolia leaf.

The green of his eyes is the emerald of veins in a mother’s afterbirth.


I have always been the prophet of loss and a lover of the wasteland.

My heart is wide open to anyone who has no value

whose only skill is knowing how to breathe.

A voice will carry for a hundred miles in the wasteland.

It will echo like bones snapping in an alley

or hot stones tumbling fire into a waterless arroyo.

It’s up to us to look into the face of the one

who comes to tear the night from our throats.

With grace we cannot hide from that black face whose teeth glow in the absence of light

like thirty-two pharisees in a sepulcher.

With grace we cannot close our ears when a voice

we know is our own tells us in whispers

how we will die.

Every blow, every lie, every kindness we have done

is the swelling of a wave that lifts and separates and carries us where we may not want

to go.

Grace does not ask permission.



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