Socialist ViewPoint ...news and analysis for working people

Febuary 2005 • Vol 5, No. 2 •

To a Contemporary Bunkshooter

By Carl Sandburg

YOU come along. . .tearing your shirt. . .yelling about Jesus. Where do you get that stuff? What do you know about Jesus? Jesus had a way of talking soft and outside of a few bankers and higher-ups among the con men of Jerusalem everybody liked to have this Jesus around because he never made any fake passes and everything he said went and he helped the sick and gave the people hope.

You come along squirting words at us, shaking your fist and calling us all damn fools so fierce the froth slobbers over your lips. . .always blabbing weíre all going to hell straight off and you know all about it.

Iíve read Jesusí words. I know what he said. You donít throw any scare into me. Iíve got your number. I know how much you know about Jesus. He never came near clean people or dirty people but they felt cleaner because he came along. It was your crowd of bankers and business men and lawyers hired the sluggers and murderers who put Jesus out of the running.

I say the same bunch backing you nailed the nails into the hands of this Jesus of Nazareth. He had lined up against him the same crooks and strong-arm men now lined up with you paying your way.

This Jesus was good to look at, smelled good, listened good. He threw out something fresh and beautiful from the skin of his body and the touch of his hands wherever he passed along. You slimy bunkshooter, you put a smut on every human blossom in reach of your rotten breath belching about hell-fire and hiccupping about this Man who lived a clean life in Galilee.

When are you going to quit making the carpenters build emergency hospitals for women and girls driven crazy with wrecked nerves from your gibberish about Jesus—I put it to you again: Where do you get that stuff; what do you know about Jesus?

Go ahead and bust all the chairs you want to. Smash a whole wagon load of furniture at every performance. Turn sixty somersaults and stand on your nutty head. If it wasnít for the way you scare the women and kids Iíd feel sorry for you and pass the hat. I like to watch a good four-flusher work, but not when he starts people puking and calling for the doctors. I like a man thatís got nerve and can pull off a great original performance, but you—youíre only a bug-house peddler of second-hand gospel—youíre only shoving out a phony imitation of the goods this Jesus wanted free as air and sunlight.

You tell people living in shanties Jesus is going to fix it up all right with them by giving them mansions in the skies after theyíre dead and the worms have eaten Ďem. You tell $6 a week department store girls all they need is Jesus; you take a steel trust wop, dead without having lived, gray and shrunken at forty years of age, and you tell him to look at Jesus on the cross and heíll be all right.

You tell poor people they donít need any more money on pay day and even if itís fierce to be out of a job, Jesusíll fix that up all right, all right—all they gotta do is take Jesus the way you say. Iím telling you Jesus wouldnít stand for the stuff youíre handing out. Jesus played it different. The bankers and lawyers of Jerusalem got their sluggers and murderers to go after Jesus just because Jesus wouldnít play their game. He didnít sit in with the big thieves.

I donít want a lot of gab from a bunkshooter in my religion. I wonít take my religion from any man who never works except with his mouth and never cherishes any memory except the face of the woman on the American silver dollar.

I ask you to come through and show me where youíre pouring out the blood of your life.

Iíve been to this suburb of Jerusalem they call Golgotha, where they nailed Him, and I know if the story is straight it was real blood ran from His hands and the nail-holes, and it was real blood spurted in red drops where the spear of the Roman soldier rammed in between the ribs of this Jesus of Nazareth.

www.americanpoems.com

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