by Paul Hooker
Matthew 26:47-50; 27:3-9
The betrayer is betrayed; that’s the sum of it.
Serving higher callings only puts you
higher on the hanging tree, to fall
a little farther, stop a little harder,
snap the neck more cleanly, but no less dead.
Thirty silver pieces buys a field where
we plant the shreds of hope that yet remain
and water them with blood, once hot,
once ready to be shed for righteous causes,
now cold and slow within the veins.
Just a word, a whispered name.
Master. It was the truth, and yet a lie.
No godly gift that pure can long survive
the gore and grime and grimace of this world.
It started well but soon enough became
a parody of itself, a mummer’s dance.
Justice, revolution, restoration—
all polluted by the rhetoric of love.
We crucify messiahs who deliver
the message we elect them to convey.
See? What’s easier than this?
Just a kiss, just one kiss.
Tie a good knot, cinch up the noose;
find one branch on this barren tree
stout enough to bear the pendant strain.
Grief is the heaviest sin of all.
Try not to botch this last impassioned speech.
The drama acted on that other stage
played to a packed house, had a more
star-studded cast. But the playwright
quit the show. Its final scene concluded
where our soliloquy began.
Sinners all, we do the best we can.