Jesus is Stripped of His Garments

Hemorrhaging from the concertina
crown, brass knuckles, scourging, cigarette burns,
lurching the last meter of Golgotha
where He must dangle three hours in urns
of japing ether, He drops His bloody tree.
Executioners rip His clothes away,
cut cards for His keepsake convict jersey.
He's not uttered a word except to pray
for the spike drivers limbering their mauls
to fasten the scripture of agony.
He's ready for the juice, the black hood, spalls
of sniper fire, the hangman's ennui.
Naked upon the whorled slab he lay,
dreaming of the governor's last-second stay.

Joseph Bathanti, the poet laureate of North Carolina, teaches creative writing at Appalachian State University in Boone, N.C. His most recent collection is Sonnets of the Cross (Jacar Press, 2012).

Image: Station #10, from the Norwalk Stations of the Cross. Oil on wood panel by Gwyneth Leech (2005)

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"Jesus is Stripped of His Garments"
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