We shudder at the inhumanity,
the crafted cruelness of that sickening show:
the stripped humiliation, blasphemy
of beaten flesh, death’s agonies stretched slow
by fellow men created in God’s image,
turned terrorists, enslaved to sin’s strange fruit.
How could they mock the marred and lifeless visage
of God’s own child? His axe is at the root!
We tremble more: If we were in that crowd,
would we have spoken up? or wept? or cared?
Would we have stood against those winds or bowed?
Or did we lead the mocking? “Were you there…?”
the Negro spiritual demands—and, trying,
we answer “no,” but know that we are lying.
Michael Stalcup is a Thai-American poet living in Bangkok, Thailand. His poems have been published in Commonweal, Red Letter Christians, Sojourners, and elsewhere. He co-teaches Spirit & Scribe, a workshop helping writers to integrate spiritual formation and writing craft. Find more of his work at michaelstalcup.com and on Instagram @michaelstalcup.