Poems for Holy Week (IV)

Poems for Holy Week (IV)

Those who passed by hurled insults at him, shaking their heads and saying, “So! You who are going to destroy the temple and build it in three days, come down from the cross and save yourself!”  In the same way the chief priests and the teachers of the law mocked him among themselves. “He saved others,” they said, “but he can’t save himself!  Let this Messiah, this king of Israel, come down now from the cross, that we may see and believe.” Those crucified with him also heaped insults on him.

At noon, darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon. And at three in the afternoon Jesus cried out in a loud voice, “Eloi, Eloi, lema sabachthani?”(which means “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?”).

MARK 15:29-34

(See also PSALM 22)



So far from the words of my groaning,
my God, you do not respond. The day
is night and I am a worm
in the downpour. Yet you are holy.

I am the skunked wine they lift
and spill over this desert tongue;
I am encompassed, I am hung
by a madness so complete they call it sane—

your name be praised. My God,
what have you done? The wick
grows dim, the wax runs, I melt—
I cannot fill myself with breath—
and would you snuf me out?

-Sarah Crowley Chestnut

Poems for Holy Week (V)

Poems for Holy Week (V)

Later, knowing that everything had now been finished, and so that Scripture would be fulfilled, Jesus said, “I am thirsty.”  A jar of wine vinegar was there, so they soaked a sponge in it, put the sponge on a stalk of the hyssop plant, and lifted it to Jesus’ lips.

JOHN 19:28-29

Sour Wine

 In the beginning was the Cross
And the Cross was with God.  And the Cross was God.
Moreover the depths: surf-stacked

 Towers tilting right, tilting left.         

Pass through,
Hurry now—over the long, dry tongue of sand.

I am the Lord upon many waters, I am the

Rung-out God, enthroned above the flood.
See it now?  These rivers of living water?
Tip your wine-soaked sponge to my split lips—
Yes, the wine is mine.  The water, too.  And the thirst.

-Sarah Crowley Chestnut

Christ on the Cross, Salvador Dali

Poems for Holy Week (VI)

Poems for Holy Week (VI)


When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.” With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit.


Now it was the day of Preparation, and the next day was to be a special Sabbath. Because the Jewish leaders did not want the bodies left on the crosses during the Sabbath, they asked Pilate to have the legs broken and the bodies taken down.  The soldiers therefore came and broke the legs of the first man who had been crucified with Jesus, and then those of the other. But when they came to Jesus and found that he was already dead, they did not break his legs. Instead, one of the soldiers pierced Jesus’ side with a spear, bringing a sudden flow of blood and water.   


JOHN 19:30-34






The wine severs in its descent.
How long has it been poured
before spilling in grisly torrents 


down your chin?  It rends you as it rides
this seismic current from heaven
to earth until it finds the spear’s slit.


Until now each dove and lamb
were fingers plugging holes
in the most impossible dam. 


But you are the burst wall
so water and blood gush eternal—
you break to effect the impossible


turning of the most impossible tide.
Come.  Put your hand into my side.


-Sarah Crowley Chestnut



Poems for Holy Week (VII)

Poems for Holy Week (VII)

It was now about noon, and darkness came over the whole land until three in the afternoon, for the sun stopped shining. And the curtain of the temple was torn in two.  Jesus called out with a loud voice, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit.”  When he had said this, he breathed his last…

Now there was a man named Joseph, a member of the Council, a good and upright man, who had not consented to their decision and action. He came from the Judean town of Arimathea, and he himself was waiting for the kingdom of God.  Going to Pilate, he asked for Jesus’ body.  Then he took it down, wrapped it in linen cloth and placed it in a tomb cut in the rock, one in which no one had yet been laid.

LUKE 23:44-46; 50-53


Into Your Hands

It’s the care of commitment when all is done—
Reverberant cry lobbed as a prayer;
Silence echoes inside the hum.

Light bleeds as a cure from the staggering sun
And by some unseen hand the veil is split with
Care.  Such commitment to a job well done

Hangs like a flag, pounds like a drum.
Were you always first to volunteer to face
The silence that blares inside the hum?

You held the note and held the line—
Did you hold your breath to exhale your life?
This, the care of commitment.  All is done.

When the spectacle sinks, flies or slumps,
We stagger blind, shell-shocked and dumb.
Silence rings inside the hum.

Is war silent?  Combat, still?
Hush of linen wrapped limb by limb to fulfill
The care of commitment.  All is done
To silence the scream inside the hum.

 -Sarah Crowley Chestnut

(Descent From the Cross, Rembrandt)