I watched a man pretending
to be Christ stagger up the aisle
with a two by four on his shoulder.
Two soldiers with Roman plumes
flanked him, ready to slap
his back with those Jesus whips.
My brother said they were real
cat o’ nine tails from Egypt, but I knew
they were from some county barn.
At center stage, they bound him
at the ankles and pushed a crown
of barbed wire around his forehead.
When the soldiers raised Jesus up
in front of the audience, he bit down
on the blood capsules and howled.
As every head bowed, we slipped
out before the collection, kept dollars
hidden until we were in the parking lot.
We heard the organ start up, bet
each other on who made it home first
through the silent congregation of night.