Jerusalem – a poem by Robert Donohue


It was Good Friday; I was at the bar
(Although it’s not a drinking holiday),
And there I met a real Centurion.
Real in the sense that cosplay is for real,
He made his arms and armor for himself:
(But you can find them on the Internet).
His pilum and his shield, his segmentata,
His pugio and gladius, all made,
He said, the Roman way, from wood and iron.
I wondered if it was against the law
To have a sword and carry it around,
But no one called the cops or kicked him out
So if they didn’t care, then why should I?
I wouldn’t want to spoil someone’s fun.
And it was fun; it was like Halloween,
Or Christmas, even, what with Santa-con,
With him in costume, and us getting drunk.
We lived it up, my Roman friend and I,
To drink away that solemn afternoon
Like we had seen the light only to find
We were the bad guys in a passion play,
And if that day was like its precedence
Then we, the soldiery and rabblement,
Would do as we had done; time’s miracle,
From then to now, was changing wine to beer.

I’m not religious, but this hasn’t stopped
Religious things from happening to me
And as our talking gradually progressed
He would admit to penance of a kind:
While he was still in uniform he swept
The parking lot of a convenience store
And he performed this ritual each year
When evening came, after his early binge.
As he confessed to this strange deed to me
I felt, from my poor stock of sacred power,
What I would lay upon him was a curse,
And sweeping up a crummy parking lot
As he was costumed like a Roman solider,
For all eternity, seemed justice done,
And what we had been up to at the bar
Was like the backhand of a holiday,
Where outrage can be made a commonplace
With nothing but the hope of small rewards;
Where should he be but in a parking lot
Of a convenience store, a broom in hand,
And sweeping up until the crack of doom?
A curse on him, but Good Lord, not on me!

Robert Donohue‘s poetry has appeared in Better Than Starbucks, Freeze Ray Poetry, Pulsebeat, among others. He lives on Long Island, NY.

1 Comment

  1. Jane says:

    A perfect poem!

    Liked by 1 person

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