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Alex Porter

Honorable Mention : 2008 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest $100

About this Christian Poet:
I am 54 years old and was formerly a teacher of religious studies and philosophy in Stirling. A heart attack put paid to my career and I have approached my writing with more seriousness since then. I write poetry and short stories and have had some success in getting published over the last two years. I am married with three children and I have recently become a Grandfather.

About this Poem:
This poem came to me with a kind of urgency that demanded that it be written. I have always been intrigued by that clash between spirit and matter that Nikos Kazantkis portrays in his book, "The Last Temptation of Christ." Martin Scorcese's film of the book is a favourite of mine.

The poem attempts to place Jesus in the context of his trade—a carpenter. This gave me the imagary that allowed me to explore the theme of the crucifixion by using Jesus' own familiarity with wood and tools. It also allowed me to employ the metaphor of Jesus as a "nail" that reconnects God to humankind.The spirit is rooted in the concrete circumstance of life yet transcends it.

The Trade

My brother tradesman knew this wood;
how to release angle, shape and line—
see how the crosspiece marries the spine.

This flesh reads the grain;
cedar, perhaps, from Hermon's slopes
or pine from Sataf or Heret—

I've spent nights on those hills, gazing
up at the bright coin of the moon,
chiselling at the self with prayer.

I thought they would disappear—the women,
now shielding their eyes against the sun,
the soldier drawing circles in the dust—

somewhere the knock of dice—I thirst.

I thought he would come, my fellow of the trade,
to check for cracks or crookedness;
but his shadow does not dampen the ground.

If he comes I shall call him—listen brother,
climb up the ropes of my blood
and let me speak of a simple plan—

a single nail to join God and man.

Copyright ©2008 by Alex Porter