Portrait of a Gangster
by John M. Davis

Esau begat someone, and someone
begat someone else, until Herod
was born an Edomite, son of a converted Jew.
He was suspect from the beginning.

Herod the Great, of old cloth,
blind to his beginnings, missing a tooth,
rendered unto Caesar
Maritima and Masada.
Herod the Horrible,
slaughtered every infant boy in Bethlehem,
all those innocents,
____________on the word of three wise guys.

Dark farce.

"Flee to Egypt, flee to Egypt," the angel said.
"Fly like finches. Get the hell out of town."

What did Joseph think of this cowardly advice?
An angel of God. The boy in the house.
Couldn’t they do better,
come up with another plan?
All those small dead bodies in Bethlehem…
So many mothers crying,
so many slack jaws, open mouths,
heavy, heavy eyes.

History, heaven, even the scriptures are silent
where conscience clearly screams:
Herod, making his bones.

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