Monday, January 10, 2011


They were very hungry and squabbled
with one another about who should have remembered
to buy date cakes or figs from Jerusalem
before they left but a sharp-and-low Men!
and a pointed finger
made the hot night freeze
and they, breathless, and finally silenced,
in shadows covering their long-
awaited, high-rumored, light-blazoned king
found a child.

I saw a crown
the shape of America in my mind
and said, Yes, this is right.

What’s “right”? my neighbor asked
and I saw him too, gold lining his body
like light; before I could answer,

men and women walking
and sitting past him started glowing
metallic—some crowns

stretched wider over heads, or hands;
some were silver, many fixed
with precious jewels, some plain;

he started talking
about the intolerance
of being right

and the goodness of Machiavelli
and Rousseau
when combined

by an American,
but I could barely hear, caught
in chains gold singing Glory.

Capernaum near glittered
and the sea smelled like home, but his mind
still sat on the question, Why—
At the local tax booth Matthew’s surrogate
was calling for coins, but the cries
landed mute at mechanical feet,
moving a mind whirring, Why do they call me—
At the shore he looked out and breathed in
and almost felt alone there and turned his face
and asked Why don’t they do what I— two men
touched him from behind, old men
he knew from the synagogue’s doorway,
pleading for a Roman who loved
the old men, their God, and his servant
nearing death. He agreed, started walking,
but halfway to the house the Roman
shocked him and showed him