25 March 2010

Another Mozolak Gem

Fellow Lutheran pastor, Harvey Mozolak, penned these lines on the Centurion. He sent them to me and I was quite blessed by them. Thought you might be too. I think his poetry hangs somewhere between Whitman and Cummings for style; but insight is all Elliot.

officer's report
Harvey S. Mozolak

the name
Longinus in Latin
like the soldier
you might call Gunner or Tank
I do not carry a spear
any longer
Centurions wear a short stabbing sword
and the brass plate that holds
our scarlet cappa
at the shoulder bears the Roman eagle
holding a shield
but the detachment knows who I am
and the crowd backs away
when I near them
this is not my favorite duty
orders are orders
and we must take our turn
among the executions
the ones on the road
are like barbed fence
and these more like signs
for warning
some speak others cry
most moan and plead
for the javelin
the dogs are always underfoot
more like wolves we meet in the mountains
the ravens as brazen as vultures
here near Jerusalem
we followed the authorized commands
dragging them through the streets
past wailing women and children throwing stones
to the hill of hanging
we had to force another to help
the weak one everyone
with interest cursed
tied and nailed them neatly
with some dispatch
for the sky was turning ugly
as oddly this Jesus spoke some pardon
to us for not knowing or doing our jobs
there was the inscription
in several tongues posted
something about royalty and the Jews
then the squad of four played their games
with the seamless robe of the rabbi
and their marked gambling bones
without the usual arguments
the one some called Master
had his mother there
some women and a friend
beneath the timber trembling
at his blood and pain
then later my men had their fun
with a vinegar sponge
pushing into that one's face
more banter from one bloody bar
to another between the thieves
with their taunting the one for perfection
and hopes for some better garden of glory
than this what did he call it
God-forsaken mound
next the thunder that shook the ground
some said it was an earthquake
the mob moved away quickly toward the city
it was at the time
this Christ of the Jews
heaved his last heavy gasp
the grasp of air now gone
his spirit left the body limp
a mass of flies now undisturbed
to lord his body
witnesses bring their cases
the courts condemn
judges like the governor order punishments
crowds affirm the fairness
but this one's cross-death rocks
the solid earth of justice
as I know it and hear his pardon
spoken peace and promise
proclaimed crowned by thorns
to those who hurt him
and are hurt by these sticks
in this placed called fallen Skull
we were to break their legs
so they could no longer lift their lungs
we did and robbed the robbers
of their tattered hold on life
but this one
you cannot blame me for wondering why
I grabbed a handled spike
we use to goad the crowds
and since he was dead
to be certainly truly sure
opened the cask of his chest
with a thrust
from which flowed clear water
and the dark blush of death's wine
my arms felt connected to the spear
as to a branch
touching even grafted to his innocence

I asked off going to the tomb
they will find a replacement
for some reason carrying home
under my tunic
next to my racing heart
a blood soaked sponge
trophy of a strange war
won by a victor in defeat

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