The red-head with the cat under his seat
has a kiss for the guest-of-honour
later in the garden, with fingers-crossed
and the silver in his purse.
He looks up,
the dark aura rings his head;
he does not know
they will call these haloes
in later times
and that others’ will be light.
A speech before the twelve
and the insurrectionist,
the table turner, the medicine man,
the preacher of peace and love:
so many sides to a single,
“Let these thirty pieces be spread around the world,
bury each one deep, until they are found by demagogues
and spent on making still greater fortunes
which will propel the Philistines to power
and afford them each the price of the four
to bring down the temple columns, its roof
and friezes to bury civilisation
or at least that part of it
not already drowned in blood.”
The son of man, the son of god,
the son of a virgin
or a simple, foolish girl;
Nazarene or Bedlamite,
or Zealot or none of these
“It is ordained, foretold,
a kiss is just a kiss
a lie is just a lie,
they will remember this
as time goes by.
I am your fate
as you are mine
do not ask the reason why
ours is but to do and die.”
But the birth is more remembered than the death,
there is irony in this, and in the famous proferred gifts,
no use to new-borns or their mothers
not heard of again, perhaps given to others.
As if the myrrh used in the desecrated tomb,
(what else, did he walk out of it alone-
a trick as good as Lazarus?)
could be still efficacious after thirty years?
As if the gold was not spent on bribes
and frittered on a carpenter cuckold’s dreams?
Incense? Frankinsense? Burned in censers
over corpses, during weddings
Gone, gone like the smoke
in the desert wind.
“He is a man”, Judas thinks,
“a good man, a remarkable man,
but a man’s a man for all that
as someone must later write,
and I must do what is required,
by duty, by him, by God
if there be any such
fit to wear the name.”
And the kiss should be on the mouth
and the spirit perhaps will pass to him
who deserves it quite the least
and he will expend it on the limb
of a cursed and blasted joshua tree.