Category Archives: Good Friday

Working on Good Friday 1997

I worked this Good Friday.

I did not pray.

I wrote about prayer, though.

Made it sound good,

like something worth doing;

I believe I wrote that

doing was praying,

and singed the praises of those who did

good works.

I wrote about them

and did not pray,

yet hoped my work

was prayer, hoped

my prayer was good

in the same way,

I hope this poem

turns to prayer.


Next year, I will pray

on Good Friday

even if I have good work

to do.

Good Friday, 1996

On Holy Thursday they found her body

snaking down the Eel River, blond hair

hiding decomposed flesh. Her family

mourned her on Good Friday —



The Unabomber sits in jail, just charged.

A math professor gone bad; theorems turned

into action, into horrible corollaries.


Rescuers search for our Commerce Secretary

who did not know what broke when

his military jet mistook a mountain for a cloud.


Too much has happened this week.

My colleagues call this a good news day.

They are spared from running fluff on the cover.

This all sells. People want to know —

Was she nude? Did she use drugs?

Did he really survive on parsnips?

Did the Bosnians sabotage the plane?


I chose not to sit and pray

to remember the day He died

while others stood by wanting to know

when he would die or if

the weight of his hung life,

the nail holes, the knife wound

in his side or the disgrace

would erase his life.


I had a deadline

for the magazine I write

and really no deadline at all other

than my wanting Easter Day off

and the week to play,

to enjoy my son’s fourth birthday.


Forgive me my vanity, my values,

O Lord, I pray;

Forgive me for my work —

the glory I take in my son’s joy,

the fear I feel for him, for my daughter,

for my soul’s struggle for perfection.


I am too human.

I would watch you die,

write it down, write

how the blood streaked your side like wine

and your mother wept into her veil,

while I asked the guards

to spell their names for me

so that I could get it right.

Good Friday, 1995

Wondering what to write

for this year’s passion poem,

thought of nothing

then the clutch began to slip

on the uphill ascent to the garage

knowing they’d have to remove the

traney to free the clutch

and not under warranty

I took the streetcar to work,

the car jouncing in the tunnel below

Twin Peaks, wondered

if the driver was on drugs, his

foot jammed against a dead-man’s pedal,

we emerged at West Portal, no

angels greeting us with rolled back stone,

at work I turned on my computer and saw yesterday’s work

gone, an INIT glitch nailed me, I think,

buried under my work I wait

for daylight, still, it could

be worse, don’t want

to think about it, though.


Good Friday, 1994

My daughter fears the night

facing her bed alone, unstoried and abrupt.

She wants to come and join the din.

She does not know my sadness, my

self-pitying whine that I let slip

as prayer each hour over small matters

of money and home. She wants my arm

to encircle her, to shelter her from

her needs. “I want you,” she says, still,

as I hold her. “Here I am,” I say, still,

and she wants a story to fill the

empty spot somewhere that she feels like an

ache in a tooth with her tongue.


My daughter sleeps. I fight the peace offered me

tonight, more at home in my despair than in salvation,

than in a story of passion I find becoming

increasingly my own.

Good Friday, April 9, 1993

Christ went to a certain place

to pray,

says Luke, who wasn’t there

when the Lord’s prayer

spoke itself in shivers

of intention.


I read it this way: that Christ was certain,

possessing a calm knowledge

that bread would be

delivered daily, and broken,

and that names would be held holy

on the tongue,

spoken only at moments of

passion and passage.


How certain, I wonder, did the

cross feel, rough cut, slivered

and notched as he humped it

to a certain place

that held no secret, only

humiliation and public hanging,

shouting his abandonment

to the lowland traffic?


In his doubt I find

my certainty.

I sense, finally,

a biography.


by Paul Totah