Forgiven, unforgiven, they who drive the nails
Know what they do: they hammer.
If they doubt, if their vocation fails,
They only swell the number,
Large already, of the mutineers and thieves.
With only chance and duty
There to cloak them, they elect and nail.
The vinegar will pity.
Judas who sops, their silver his accuser, errs
To blame the unrewarded.
They guard the branch he hangs from. Guilt
Where it can be afforded.
The Destructive Element: New and Selected
Poems, Ohio University Press/Swallow Press, ©
Reprinted by permission of the author.