Posted by: janetleigh | April 8, 2012

‘Golgatha’ by Glenn Buttkus


I am the Christ,
he whispered,
and they laughed at him;
at his thin unshaven face,
at his long blood-caked hair.

But no one looked at his eyes
the way I did.
He could have told them,
if they would but listen.

He remembered
the cold castle walls
and the cockroaches that chewed his ankles.
The club and the chain,
and the many-tailed whip
that tore hunks of flesh from his body.
Roman guards that had beat him.
Thorns in his hair
tearing at his scalp.
Men who had feared him,
pummeled him with their fear,
Blackening his eyes;
those sad eyes
that could see

Herod was fat,
and loved his whores,
and his little boys.

Pilate was lean
and he splashed his hands
in a flowered urn as the people
cheered the thief Barabbas;
placing a straw basket on his head,
and carrying him on their shoulders,
a frozen smile on his lips,
his liberty barren.

It was a dirty amemic yellow dawn
as Jerusalem reeked of refuse.
He put the rugged cross upon his shoulder;
a huge thing
that smelled of creosote and tar and pitch;
fresh cut
brought from the dark forest,
bolted together with iron clasps.

The burden was heavy
and he fell under it.
the cobblestone bit into his raw knees.
the whip kissed his scourged back
as he stood up.

The sky appeared dead.
The narrow streets were open cesspools
in the dim light,
rubbish in rainbarrols,
gutters that rannith over
with filth.
People leaned out windows
and spat,
though some did not.

Come see the parade,
it is free,
like hunger.
and the people came,
an army of shopkeepers, drunkards, farmers, artisans,whores,
pick-pockets, thieves, cutthroats, lepers,
and rabbis,
huddling, steaming, and shuffling,
as dirty children played
tag with the rats.

Another painful stumble at the corner crossroads,
flat onto the hard street,
but this time gentle hands
reached out to him
and a negro named Simon stepped up
to help shoulder the burden,
and although conscripted,
he too
was whipped and beaten
as the procession continued.

His mother was there,
in that sea of whirling souls,
though he had missed her at the trial.

Porta Judiciarn,
a Roman gate,
stone and ornate,
marble and impressive.

Then Calvary at noon,
a sickly place,
stinking of carrion and death;
the place of skulls.
The crowd jeered and bellered and wept.
Dysmas and Gestas sweated,
watching the crosses being arranged on the ground.

The four corners of the world heaved,
black clouds raced for the hillock,
a pallid ring hid the desert sun;
noon and dark.

Pain hid the rising,
three sharp white sihouettes
against the indigo sky,
yet the iron spikes still hurt
as the flesh split, cracked, and crunched
in his hands and feet.

Jesus of Nazareth,
King of the Jews;
words on a hand-written wooden sign,
nailed lop-sided over his drooping head.

The spikes were thick and cold,
and blood flowed,
slowly trickling down,
spiraling around his body
and the cross.
Little red rivelets of life
in a rubious world;
becoming a steaming puddle
on the bare trodden ground.

I thirst, he cried,
and they sponged his swollen face
with vinegar;
while the black sky brooded,
his crown caught the light on a barb.
Whispered words with his father,
dice that rolled,
winners that did not win.

4:00, Good Friday,
April 7th,
30 A.D.;
a scratch on eternity,
a wound that never heals,
bleeding still,
becoming words that will not clot,
from a Christ,
and from all men suffering,
and not suffering.

My God,
My God,
Why have you forsaken me ?

Glenn Buttkus Easter 1966

† † † † † † †

Glenn Buttkus, at Feel Free To Read, was kind enough to let me post his Easter 1966 poem Golgatha a few years ago at my request; it affects me now, still, in the most profound way as it did back then.
Thank you, Glenn! This is as vivid and real to me as though I were there witnessing it first hand.  I feel I walk the Stations of the Cross with My Savior Jesus; you make me aware and pained over what His walk must have been like. Your poem makes Golgatha come to life in a real and personal way. 


  1. My heart aches once again. He is Risen for me, for you, for us.

  2. I love to see my work reposted with such appreciation; poets need to network. You taught me that years ago.

  3. Nice to see the old cross dragged out again for public scrutiny. Thanks for your continuing support, and your constant inspiration to me, for me. Love to see you drop in my blog, or jump on my opus pages on FB.

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