Joshua Sutherland Allen

Joshua Sutherland Allen

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Caravaggio's St. John the Baptist

Brooding prophet wrapped in robes of red,
Strong reed scepter, autumnal tree your throne;
Not bound by desert wilderness as in the Gospel,
But bound by pervasive, haunting images
In your mind.  Your lean, locust-fed body
Curved in outward anguish, your eyes
Searching for meaning outside the canvas.
Your hair, the color of the tree,
Is soft and fluffy – full of youthful life,
But somehow old, lost in the hue
Of falling leaves behind you.
Your hand twirls your reed,
Ruminating over mysteries and miseries
Of your yet young life. 
What thoughts invade your calm, country idyll –
What haunts and pains?
Are thou he that should come,
Or look we for another?
Is it your doubt about the Christ:
Wearily wondering whether faith and spirit are real,
Or simply shadows created by the mind
To hide us from the traumas of human life?
Or is it the grief endemic in a prophet’s brain:
Pains that come from knowing

That the earth is not as God would have –
That love, justice, knowledge and truth
Fall when faced with the stronger forces
Of capital greed,
Contented ignorance,
Closed-minded arrogance, and
Cruel apathy?


  1. Oh how I resonate with this poem, especially your strong closing stanza. It reminds me of Benjamin Creme's quote - there can be no peace without social justice. Corporate greed is strangling the planet. Thanks for adding your voice to those who share the prophet's grief.

  2. "Contented ignorance" is the worst vice of all...a thought provoking write...

  3. Thoughtfully penned with devastating accuracy.

  4. A wonderful read. I like how you try to connect to the picture.. Many ideas embedded in a picture like that.

  5. Whew. Then and now he would think the same, I'm sure. I love how you did this!

  6. Strong thoughts behind these words and musika of loss...humanity within humanity....too close we came to face and force the holy innocence of divine experiment....

  7. Yes Earth is not as it could be. We must work hard to change it.