Poem: “The Stations of the Cross – XI. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross” by James Matthew Wilson

via First Things (April 2014)

The Stations of the Cross

XI. Jesus is Nailed to the Cross

For boys who pull the wings off beetles

Or prick their sisters’ backs with needles,

They spread his hand to take the nail.


For we who meet in dark motels

To clasp a stranger to ourselves,

His palm split as they drove the nail.


You, the one who frisked through her purse,

When she stepped out to find the nurse,

For you they placed a second nail.


While I got drunk this afternoon,

A child’s skull was torn from the womb,

Its cries rung in the hammered nail.


This whole world is a pile of skulls.

We like it so, lest days grow dull.

Watch them brace his feet for the nail!


For us, who keep our kitchens clean,

Who’d never have ourselves thought mean,

We had them drive the final nail.


And set him hanging, his fists bleeding,

While we went shopping, shooting, feeding,

And in his shadow pared our nails.

James Matthew Wilson