Authors and Poets
Authors and Poets

Photos used with permission from the Academy of American Poets

Last updated:
November 19, 2017
Lori M. Cameron, editor

Because they cut me – Mark Aveyard

Fall 1997, vol. 1, no. 2

I am bound vertical,
here where doom
meets the sky
with a broken promise,
where the dread of kings
and the criminal’s zenith
link arms like brothers
and charge eternity
like mad angels.

Because they cut me,
all my beauty has seeped
from my once-pulpy veins,
now hollow and magnifying
the mockings and mournings
reverberating up Golgotha.
Faces wrinkle and bend up
to witness the sporadic lifts
of the man upon me
who slumps and recoils to live,
shortly, a while.

Once, I had been proud.
I was a podium for the morning doves,
who would trill softly their songs
to the sun and falling moon,
and the final star would respond
with a final spark and die for a day.

Once, I had been happy.
I was a shelter for the young Jerusalem lovers,
who would trill softly their songs
to each other until the stars fell before them
and the moon covered itself
to give them darkness and a moment
that would die in the wake of Venus.

Once, I had been satisfied.
I was a summit for the traveling shepherds,
who would remark to each other
how strongly my limbs pushed their twigs
towards the sky in praise of life
and the sun, the stars, and the moon,
which at night threw a dust of light
onto my white blossoms and made them
the wings of angels.

Now, I am here because they cut me,
and this man upon me heaves his body
upward each minute. I am motionless.
They have bound my feet: Romans, Jews, and Greeks
and all whose eyes peer up to myself, and this man,
who swallows air as if snapping at phantoms
and drools his blood onto my wood.

Now, I am here because they cut me,
and a body watching below whispers …
this man, a carpenter,
bleeds the salvation of these mockers,
these mourners: Romans, Jews, and Greeks,
and all whose eyes fall before him,
to become the art and tool his hands procure,
to endure the kind pain of the ax and file,
to liberate their souls through faith and surrender.

My wood is drying, brittle like old bread.
Soon it will crumble and disintegrate.
My friend, king, we have lived.
I, for one, am grateful for the time.
But time grates my life and yours to sand.
Our fruits have plunged to earth,
And our branches droop, brittle like thin lead.
So, seize my imperfect arms
and lift your body one final time.
Cry out to the sun and the stars and the moon.
Let veils be torn.
Let the sky turn dark.
Let us split into riddles and return.

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