Tavern of Suicides
Iscariot said to me,
his head bent over a game of chess,
that he would leave a letter
were he to do it all again.
He says this all the time.
I replied that I'd trade for his job.
Thank you no, he told me
and in the process lost a pawn.
He waits on splintered tables
nailed from stinking sulfurwood
at a tavern with a splendid view
of the oily pool where I do shows.
Tough to be a holy man, I suppose
and never given credit for taking the fall.
I sweat through endless performances
for bored patrons who sip their drinks.
About the Poem
This poem takes up a matter of religious speculation that has long intrigued me. The betrayal of Jesus Christ by Judas Iscariot has made his name synonymous with traitor. But if the passion story and the crucifixion of Christ was a necessary sacrifice for the sake of all humankind, providing a metaphysical lever to lift any wayward soul to their salvation, then perhaps the bent and broken back of Judas was the fulcrum upon which that sacrifice rested and was turned. In this poem, Judas spends eternity grumbling about being misunderstood and getting little sympathy from the best Hell as to offer in the way of a holy man.
This poem is unpublished in print. It was completed August 8, 1985 and revised slightly November 15, 2012.