Judas Iscariot

My lonely tree boasts a view for crows
yet I remain suspended
between the coins’ silver dance at the feet of priests
and a groaning rope.

Shadows rallied night to the walls of Zion
as I watched from the milling crowd.
Pilate and the Nazarene.
Pilate could not face him,
could not look into those cow eyes.
His sorry arm dismissed us all
with a tired backward wave.

And tomorrow? Tomorrow my task is done.
Just as sure as if I had anointed my lips with poison
this strumpet’s son will die.
You are weak, Nazarene.
Weaker than I and the strong alone will win this fight.

It comes now from dusty streets
a shadow a movement a bubbling swollen stream
pushed forward by an uncontrollable tide
swirling jostling rolling streaming
boiling and whirling yelling and tumbling
faces swimming in the current
covered heads wailing arms flailing brand and sticks
shawls flying off one shoulder onto the next
and a face, upturned, head uncovered.
Brother! Why scorn me so?
I did this thing for you as well.
Is it I alone who see the poison of this Nazarene?

My lonely tree waits.
In the light of firebrands
the first red buds swell out.
Tomorrow. And tomorrow when the rain comes?
They will burst with life.

Currently unavailable for purchase


  • hsien-ku
    hsien-kuover 4 years ago

    i never understood the whole judas thing. we know christ was onto him – at the last supper he said judas would betray him – and he must therefore have known how the story would end, that it would be as dire for judas as for him. so why didn’t he intervene? was it because the crucifixion and subsequent resurrection was necessary for salvation? but that would mean he knowingly used judas – let him suicide in despair, outcast by all who loved him, to be remembered as a betrayer, while he, jesus, got to be the messiah. and why was judas never mentioned in the bible – suddenly popping up out of nowhere to betray christ then disappear immediately thereafter? the whole thing perplexes me. your writing evokes so much of the confused agony of that story – suspended between priest’s gold and crows. very strong, dramatic work.

  • Mike Rowley
    Mike Rowleyover 4 years ago

    I can’t answer for the theology of this story but, I think that the story has been changed over time to suit the intentions of the teller. Changed to much that it has stopped making logical sense. Judas was a zealot and his brother was in the crowd. I don’t think Jesus used Judas. I think it is a stoy about fate and predestination. I also believe that Judas was edited from the Bible because it didn’t suit early Christian purposes to have the bad guy portrayed as a normal human, I like to think he was just a man caught up in events that ended up greater than him. There is an apocryphal gospel by Judas. Copies are on the internet. I think it is one of the most compelling stories in the Bible.

desktop tablet-landscape content-width tablet-portrait workstream-4-across phone-landscape phone-portrait