Corona of Thorns


From Saskatoon and Michigan 
I know all you Americans love Jesus — 
From Maine 
to the Straits of Magellan  
Even a Jew, like myself,
Loves that true Jew Jesus, too
And yet as with so much, most know 
Just half the truth 
About the Nazarene 
For Jesus, he wasn’t a shepherd;
Healing the blind
The lame, the lepers, 
And don’t forget his free food and drink Distributions 
One of the conditions 
of actual health, of ease, indeed 

The two roles are inimical, in fact
They’re diametrical 
For shepherds breed obedience 
Exploit their sheep
Deform them into imbeciles 
And dock their tails 
Instead the healer heals 
Their wounds
To set them free 
Enables their autonomy
And actual community — 

The shepherd who since ancient times
Has symbolized the rule of kings 
and rod-wielding pharaohs — 
the ravaging Nomos — 
Control, and order, custom 
And, relatedly, the word for shepherd’s 
In Greek 
The healer, on the other hand, heals injuries 
And remedies injustices 
Brings justice — as opposed to law — 
In concrete form — brings peace 
And heals — that is, makes whole 
The trees and plundered seas and fish 
The mountains, skies, and insects —
Who repairs the world — including us 
Is what we must unfold   

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Elliot Sperber is a writer, attorney, and adjunct professor. He lives in New York City and can be reached at and on twitter @elliot_sperber.