On Seeing through the Bad Guys – Pilate

Pluto must have thought of politics
when he first handed the boulder
over to Sisyphus. The cold, damp, useless
weight of it just sitting there, the sound
of its mass ringing with the promise
of cuts, and scrapes, and the awful grind
of stone on stone and tendon’s pop.
Just so, there wasn’t much to recommend
the sweaty work of Judea before: the
grit and dirt of it works in your robes,
the sun robs you of rich reds and purples
you thought made you so high, until
you are wearing the earth and sand itself,
until you feel you might be stone.
I have lived this toil, I have pushed
men, armies, people, senators, and emperors
up the incline of my life’s ascent. And then,
high above the street on a blinding day, there was a roar of crowd
that seemed to lift the weight, for just the tiniest moment
of hanging stone and hanging time. Friends, I swear, I did not
let go for long! And then the awful, crushing knowledge of its falling: a man slaughtered quietly beneath it, its murderous inertia rushing, dragging, me to judgment…
And so I, Pontius Pilate the Equestrian, came, weeping, to ride a stone.

On Bible Tricksters – Jacob and Assurance

If ever a plan was made to fail
it was this plan.
Dressed up in robes too big,
skinny frame sweating under pelts
to make him into his
rough-hewed brother, Jacob
must have felt like I did one Halloween:
the harsh reality dawning that
the costume didn’t make me Batman,
it made me a dork in tights. And yet,
you picked him up in a great stream
of blessing and promise, and still do today: promise
that no matter how hair-brained our disguise,
no matter how deceitful we might be to you
or ourselves, no matter the weight of our pelts
or our surety that we don’t deserve blessing,
you bless us.
You bless us with grace and peace
we know in that moment are worth cheating for.
And as the tent flap falls closed behind us,
laugh at what we go through
to get what had already been given.

Exercise 1: On preaching

When I talk, I hope you hear
that I am not talking,
that you might feel a buzz
in your rib cage, close to your heart,
as if you were playing a guitar.
It’s a promise we make:
that I will work and sweat
and shape a sounding board,
a place for resonance,
and leave for you
the work of the strings,
and what or how you play,
and hope to inspire you
to pick out songs that someone
sang in whisper to you, ears just formed,
crooked arm and breast-bone hum
that held you, and you felt before you heard.