The Cross by Felix Morrisseau LeRoy

BOMB 14 Winter 1986
014 Winter 1986
McDermott and McGough BOMB 14

Mssrs. McDermott and McGough, Young Christ Jesus, 1878, painted 1984, oil on linen, 23¼ × 23 inches. Courtesy Patrick Fox.

This is how it happened
Jesus Christ had to die
No matter what you’d done
He’d die
Pilate repeatedly said no
But Caiaphas insisted so much
They condemned the man
He did not eat for two days
With two branches on his back
He was falling at each step
Pilate looked at him with pity
All the roman soldiers looked at him too
That was when a huge black man passed by
a huge black man like Paul Robeson
Passed by—
Simon from Cyrene
He looked at Jesus with the kind of look
Black men have
Pilate signalled the soldiers
They fell upon Simon and beat him soundly
And they told him: Take up the cross
And carry it
Simon took the cross with one hand
He took the cross from the white man
He ran up the hill
Singing, dancing
Left everybody behind
He sang and danced

Tossed the cross in the air
Caught the cross
Passed the cross through his legs
Tossed it again in the air
This time, the cross stood in the air by itself
Everybody shouted: Miracle
The cross came down
Simon caught it and played with it some more
Before he gave it back to Jesus
Well, since that happened
Whenever a load is too heavy for the white man
They call on the black man to carry it
That’s alright: We sing and dance
Beating our drums big and small
Playing the big bamboo flute
Our back is broad enough
To carry any load
Since that happened
Whenever a cross is too heavy for the white man
They call on the black man to help
We help bear the crosses
We help carry the guns
We help pay for the crimes
Somtimes
We are even made to bear
All the sins of the world

(from Diacoute I)

Felix Morrisseau–LeRoy: Haitian poet and scholar largely responsible for the promotion of Creole literature. He is a juror on the Casa de Las Americas panel and currently lives in Miami. His books of poetry include: Diacoute No. I, No. II, and No. II (1983), Razinodyab (1982), and Zilbone (1982). He has also written essays, novels, and plays.

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Originally published in

BOMB 14, Winter 1986

Roy Lichtenstein, Jackie Winsor, art by Sarah Charlesworth, Francesco Clemente, and more.

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014 Winter 1986