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Feather's Miscellany: Judas

John Waddington-Feather's poem reflects the thoughts of an abhored man.

He is the Chosen One all right.
I knew it when I heard him first,
listened to his teaching, marvelling at the insights
he revealed to those prepared to hear.
His words went striking home, clear
as beacons to both heart and mind, lights
which lit the very soul of those athirst
for truth; not canting lies
the Levites teach, nor Scribal nits
the priests pick clean from Scripture
to crack about the ears of fools, the vulgar
crowding the Temple courts, swallowing bits
of Law the High Priest plies them with,
to keep them sweet and toe the Roman line.
They sell themselves, our nation and the holy
Covenant to gentile sacrilege, moly
God-forsaken pagans who rule our
sacred land and foul Jerusalem,
prick our pride at every turn with Roman
arrogance and might. Damn the Sadducees
and wormy Scribes who value rank
and wealth above all else. Bland
yes-men whom the Emperor makes his friends;
yes-men not implacable foemen
as they ought to be. They’re dead in mind
and heart, treacherous men like Publicans
who milk our dwindling pockets;
pockets and pride they pick alike.
But he beat them at their game – pat!
Like the time the lawyers tried to trap him
when he asked them for a coin, then asked
whose likeness had been cast upon it.
They forced the trick reply to whom we paid
our tax: “To God or Caesar?” supposing
he’d deny the Emperor his tax and seal his fate.
They stood confounded when he said: “Give
unto Caesar what belongs to him,
and what is due to God pay Him alone.”
He read them like a book, through and through.
He read me, too, I know, but trusted me
with everything: the common purse, our food,
even his very life.
Zealot that I was I tried to win him to our creed
of terror to crack the Roman rule.
I read him wrong. The look he gave me
When I sold him with a kiss still tears my heart.
He goes now to his death, I mine.
Too late forgiveness now.
His life for mine, mine for his –
The grave gapes wide for both of us.


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