The evolution of a poem

TeeAhr1's picture

Note: I originally posted this poem on Oasis in March '98. It was written in opne mighty burst of inspiration, over about an hour and a half one sunny morning in the spring of '98 (right about the time I dropped out of high school). I was completely unsatisfied with it, but I couldn't shake the feeling that here was a poem destined for greatness, that this was supposed to be my masterwork. It has gone through innumerable revisions and rewrites in the last six years, most of which I still have socked away in various notebooks and hard drives. I'm not going to waste my time and space with all the rewrites, but here are the original (Feb. '98), third (Apr. '98) and final (mid '02) revisions. I think it's finally done, and I think it's the best thing I've wrote in my life so far. If I never put pen to paper again, I can still say I wrote this. It feels appropriate for me to post it here first, where I got so much encouragement after publishing the first and third drafts. Thanks, y'all. This one's for you.

Third Day first draft

I have not forgotten
Golgotha
Nailed to a tree
A bad joke above my head
Red life mingling with earth below
I have not forgotten
The agony
Humiliation
Impotent rage
These holes in my hands
Constant reminders of what you did to me
But this is the seventy-second hour
And the rules have changed
The stone is gone
The tomb is empty
And I am risen

If you needed to hear it, this one's dedicated to you
--
Third Day third revision

I remember
Gethsemane
Betrayed by the one I loved
Abandoned by my brethren
I remember
Pilate
Guilty by birth
Sentenced to die
'Crucify him'
I remember
The streets of Jerusalem
Stripped of all but pride
Afraid and alone
Slain by the city I loved
'Who struck you, prophet?'
I remember
Golgotha
Nailed to a tree
Red life mingling with earth
A bad joke above my head
Agony
Humiliation
Impotent rage
Raying to Him that had forsaken me
To envelope me in His black cloak
'It is finished'
I remember
Hell
Lost
Wandering
Without purpose
Without hope
But this is the seventy-second hour
I have emerged
I have triumphed
And the stone is gone
And the tomb is empty
And I am risen

Revision three dedicated to Laura Grapp, who asked for more
--------------------------
Third Day final(?) version

I remember
Gethsemane
Abandoned, afraid and alone
At the point of no return
At the beginning of the end
"Take this cup from my lips"

I remember
Pilate
Asking if I’m crazy, asking if I’m God
My family scattered to the winds
Taken before my people in shame
And they cried out
"Crucify him"

I remember
The streets of Jerusalem
Betrayed by the city I loved
Stumbling toward my birthright
Prodded on by the fiftieth ignorant bastard of the morning
As the crowds cheer
Small comfort, the knowledge that soon it would all be over
I will not cry I will not cry you son of a bitch I will not
"Who struck you, prophet?"

I remember
Golgotha
The barren ground around me salted with the blood of the damned
Someone’s bad joke above my head
Red, thick life mingling with earth
Praying to a god I didn’t even believe in anymore
Please just end it god end it god end it end it end it
Darkness
"It is finished"

But this
Is the seventy-second hour
This is the reckoning
The promise is kept
The stone is gone
The tomb is empty
And I
am
RISEN
"He is risen indeed!"

This final version dedicated to all my friends at Oasis, who have given me so much encouragement and love through the years.