+ 27.225 MHz 211: Encomium To A Crucified Thief

Suspended on a cross of Roman wood by

nails of Roman iron driven through your flesh,

you feel the energy of life withdrawing:  and

your soul, led---you know not (yet) how---to

withdraw from the sins you have accumulated

(though Barabbas committed the murders of
those you had robbed), you turn to the

innocent man next to you and ask only to be

remembered.  You are no sophist; you cannot

explain the paradox---that, fully a man, He is

more than a man; He is God and Man.  You,

being sinful and condemned to this ignomious

death, and a toss, when dead, into a ditch

outside the City's walls, where, by night, the

wild dogs, emboldened by the odor of death, will

maul, perhaps dismember, but certainly devour the

carcass that was once you, you turn to Him, Whom

priests and scribes---and your bitter compatriot---

mock and scorn; and, after rebuking your once

closest friend, you declare the innocence of the
Man who hangs next to you, and ask only to be

remembered.  And He, dying more rapidly than you,

promises you Paradise, in His Company, this

very day.  His Words echo again and again in your

soul, as if He, knowing your inherent uncertainty

(given the sordid sum total of your past and its sins),

intends to fill that lack of assurance with certainty.

Shortly, thereafter, the darkness begins; a nightfall

awaited since shortly after the world began, a nightfall

without moon and stars---these having, like the sun,

retreated to a veil, a screen, of unlit sorrow.  He will

die during the phase of this skyward shadow, and,

when the daylight returns, as it will, you also will

died as the soldiers of Rome break your legs with a

convenient board, and down you go at once---

asphixiating---that the Sabbath and the land

should not be defiled.  But in this gloom that has

gathered without a gloaming, a light shines in your

soul, a glowing of two sides---forgiveness of all your

sins, and the promise of Paradise in His company.  This

assuages even the fear of asphixiation preceded by the

agony of your legs shattered by the smashing blow of a

convenient board.  And, perhaps unknown to you, you

have repaid all that you stole; you have repaid it in

thousandsfold by thousandsfold when you asked to be

remembered by the Son of God, and received His

lasting, enduring, and wholly efficient promise---that you,

with all others who die in Faith upon His Words---will be

with Him in Paradise, in that Garden He had prepared at the

Will of His Father; a Garden, they say, surpassing even Eden.


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patriciajj's picture

A thundering tumble of words

A thundering tumble of words that addresses the thief and puts us, with rapt attention, into his head, his pain, his redemption. Even through a veil of agony and crushing darkness and impending terrors (described with striking detail), there's a feeling of privilege to be so close to the the One who is "God and Man" and indescribable comfort in His promise of "Paradise in His company".


That in itself is inspiring but you took it to the next level with his realization that a simple act of faith changed everything: all that was stolen was repaid " thousandsfold by thousandsfold". The light that pours through those lines is, absolutely, "a glowing of two sides". What a profoundly relevant message to us all! 


The ebb and flow of your riveting verse adds power and emotion and . . . Life to the words, lifting it from the realm of language into the stratosphere of the sacred. 


A great achievement for you as a poet. A triumph for all who receive this message. 







Starward's picture

Thank you for understanding

Thank you for understanding this poem.  Because it came to me while listening to some Orthodox Liturgical music and chant, I cannot say, honestly, that I wrote it, but, more accurately, I just transcribed as it came to me.  I pray that it may be the beginning of a sequence, and a style for that sequence, because this would fulfill an ambition I have had since early 1976, but never had the full resources to fulfill.  I know I am putting it in a very clumsy statement. but I know your powers of discernment will fill in whatever I lack in expression.  Thanks again for the comment.

Enjoy effulgent days,exquisite nights, unto

the exultations of Heaven.


patriciajj's picture

It takes talent to be a

It takes talent to be a vessel, so you should certainly give yourself some credit. This would make an amazing sequence. I hope you pursue your ambition! 

Starward's picture

Thank you for the

Thank you for the encouragement and the validation.  I do have in mind several Biblical figures in mind to whom I would like to give voice.  (In Hebrew legend, Adam and Eve's son, Seth, was said to have been highly interested in astronomy---that would provide a great subject.)  Years and years ago, a certain Biblical scholar (who I cannot cite, now, because I have forgotten the name) wrote that Mark's Gospel is highly interested in minor characters, and that the whole account is given from the perspective of a minor character.  And that has always fascinated me about Mark (the evangelist as well as the text itself), and has been a challenge that I have postponed.  Your words remind me that I am not nearly done with the things I have to complete.  Thank you for that; thank you very much.

Enjoy effulgent days,exquisite nights, unto

the exultations of Heaven.