Saint Judas

Jerome Rothenberg's Poems and Poetics blog has an interesting post about artistic creation, gnosis, and the "Gospel of Judas," in which he describes how the gnostic works "present us...with religious and poetic propositions that open up new windows on reality – or reopen old ones."

Here's an example from the "Gospel of Judas," provided by Rothenberg, which certainly "reopens" reality for me.

Assignment: fill in the one missing line:
JUDAS ASKS ABOUT THE DESTINY OF ADAM AND HUMANITY
Judas said to Jesus, “[What] is the long duration of time that the human being will live?”
Jesus said, “Why are you wondering about this, that Adam, with his generation, has lived his span of life in the place where he has received his kingdom, with longevity with his ruler?”
Judas said to Jesus, “Does the human spirit die?”
Jesus said, “This is why God ordered Michael to give the spirits of people to them as a loan, so that they might offer service, but the Great One ordered Gabriel to grant spirits to the great generation with no ruler over it—that is, the spirit and the soul. Therefore, the [rest] of the souls [—one line missing—].

_______

Saint Judas

When I went out to kill myself, I caught
A pack of hoodlums beating up a man.
Running to spare his suffering, I forgot
My name, my number, how my day began,
How soldiers milled around the garden stone
And sang amusing songs; how all that day
Their javelins measured crowds; how I alone
Bargained the proper coins, and slipped away.

Banished from heaven, I found this victim beaten,
Stripped, kneed, and left to cry. Dropping my rope
Aside, I ran, ignored the uniforms:
Then I remembered bread my flesh had eaten,
The kiss that ate my flesh. Flayed without hope,
I held the man for nothing in my arms.


James Wright
from Above the River