To Christians Who Support Torture

How can you believe
it’s naïve

to protect the bodies
of those

who threaten
to upend

this comfortable
way of life?

How can you believe
they deserve

to suffer,
their transgressions

unforgivable?
Maybe you wouldn’t

if you were with me
in the Prado,

standing before Velázquez’
Cristo Crucificado.

The buckled body
hangs

on the Cross
against

a black background,
bruised,

bloody,
but glowing.

It is impossible
to be distracted.

No clouds, no sky,
no criminals

on the right or left,
no disciples.

Just the body,
the wood,

and the knots
in the wood.

Author’s Note

The painting referenced in this poem hangs at the Museo del Prado in Madrid. You can view it online at the museum’s website. I first saw it in 1995, and it moved me in a way that I couldn’t explain. I wrote the second-half of the poem in 1999. Since then, there have been many different first-halves, all of which I’ve abandoned as not-true. The impulsive truth of the poem revealed itself to me during the last two years. This is what it had to say: There is no justification for state-sanctioned torture, especially if you consider yourself a Christian.

Copyright Notice

©2018 Andrew Brown. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced or transmitted in any form, in whole or in part, without express written permission from the author, Andrew Brown.

Cristo crucificado