The Unforgiven

Ian Crockatt

Being Herod was impossible
that Christmas, swords going epileptic,
anoraks on bikes chasing stars.

I issued a thousand edicts — how else to face
the pyres of infants' limbs,
the news-readers' poker faces

simpering over shots of dazzled peasants,
old Bethlehem a talking-shop
of suspect close encounters, bud-eyed kings?

It was all too much — the responsibility,
the risk of failure, conspiracies of High Priests,
generals falling on swords.

In simpleton disguise I
visited the asylum to greet their
blue-cowled virgin — pure Mother-of-King.

"Time," she assured me, "for your trials to begin."
O and I was impaled on the spear-
points of their words, bloodily

deconstructed on tacky talk-shows,
monstered by history. "In the name
of the son," I begged, "drowning in mother's milk;

of the daughter seduced by angels; of the father
and of the wife- their infidelities;
in the name of our lip-serviced gods and misled peoples —

take this heart and feed it to the hungry;
embalm this brain for schoolboys to dissect;
let the stone that stops his tomb be my lost head."

They took me — you still take me — literally.
Every star-hyped Christmas you resurrect
that boy and crucify me.