[“The Last Supper”] from The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You

By Frank Stanford 1948–1978 Frank Stanford
I am afraid after reading all these so-called initiation books that some
cortege of boot lickers will enter my room while I am sleeping and suck
my eyes out with soda straws they will be older men and women much like
the amanuenses with bad breath in the principal’s office who call
up and tell on you the Unferths of the world better beware
I know Jesus would have kicked your teeth in you couldn’t pull that shit on him
he was telling his buddies one night boys I’m glad y’all decided to come on up
and eat supper with me I hadn’t got much there’s a few things I’d like to say
at this time Matthew says to Simon I sure as hell don’t know what he’s got us
here this time for I’m beginning to wonder you talked to him lately
yea I was shooting the shit with him on the mountain but I want to tell you
this Matthew don’t never come up on him when he’s alone he jumped on me
I thought he was going to kill me he was just walking around just talking
to himself waving his arms like he does he’s worse than John   
Jude put his hand up to his mouth and said down the table I think Jesus is going
off his rocker get Simon to tell you what he asked me
Simon says he didn’t want to talk about politics or dreams or nothing he just said
Jude next time y’all are over in Mesopotamia why don’t you pick me up a few   
bottles of that wine they make over there
sure thing Jesus I says
well now the boss is talking he is saying I asked y’all up here because frankly
I’ve been feeling a little sick lately and I want to make sure y’all know what
to do in case anything happens I know one of you is going to do me in I know
that but goddamnit y’all know those people in town are after my ass
the other night I walked down the streets in a disguise and I seen a couple
of you messing around and drinking with the soldiers what’s going to happen
if one of you gets drunk and lets it slip where I’m hiding out then I’ll
be in a fix you know if they was to find me they going to cut me y’all ever
think about that and Peter ain’t you ever going to get it straight what you’re
supposed to do give me one of those biscuits Judas and go outside and take a   
look-see I got you Jesus Judas says
John leans over he says been catching any fish Peter
oh well I been getting a few of a morning they ain’t biting too good now you know
on account of this blamed weather nobody is even listening to Jesus he’s just
talking to himself like he was crazy Matthew says I believe he’s been hitting
that wine a little too hard don’t you reckon
Jesus says another thing I told all of you it’d be better if you didn’t get
involved with women
now just listen to that little two-faced bastard James the Lesser says
we all know what he’s up to shacking up with all those town girls
the other night he was dressed fit to kill and drunk as six hundred dollars
a rolling around in the mud like a hog kissing that whore’s foot why shit
I wish he’d let us in on what he really does
Thomas spoke up for once he says I know what you mean the other day Andrew
and I asked him about some scripture he said leave me alone I don’t know
nothing about that shit and then we seen him cussing out a priest over at the   
temple he knew more about it than the elder did
another thing Matthew says I wish he’d start writing what he wants done down
and do it so I can read it you know as well as I do that damned Peter can’t
keep it straight he won’t get anything right
Bartholomew says don’t make no difference atoll cause Paul is going to tell
it like he wants to that’s for damned sure
all the time Jesus just mumbling to himself wine spilt all over his robe
the rest of them chattering and cussing trying to figure him out
John the Baptist about the only one Jesus can count on except for crazy John   
is banging his goblet on the table he is saying now ain’t this a sight
spitting in the lord’s face at his own birthday party I’ll swan
Brother John why don’t you tell Jesus what the real problem is
the crazy one says everyone of y’all is chickenshits you are afraid to look
those elders in the eye and tell them what you think ya’ll get up on a rock
to talk and you see a soldier coming and you say anybody seen a stray mule
Jesus is saying to himself I’m going to pull those temples down if I have to
get me a rope and tie it to a pillar and a jackass and do it myself
wake up Jesus Philip says
Paul who hadn’t touched a drop gets up and gets his paper out and says
the nature of the problem Jesus is this the people don’t believe you
those fellows in the temples have got it all organized all they have to do
is send out stooges and hire a couple of rednecks who make out like they’re
crippled they have a big gathering they say the same things you say they   
pull off a fake healing the redneck’s wife stands up she says LIE he ain’t lame
he’s just drunk and so all the people go home saying those christians what a   
bunch of wind see Jesus they are using your material but they ain’t coming
through so that is making you an enemy of the people we just got to get
organized as is proved here today by your followers carrying on as they did
so I’m getting sold down the river by the elders and their hirelings uh
that’s right Jesus ask anybody here why I didn’t think they’d do that he says
I told you a long time ago not to keep talking with them temple people John says
you should a know’d what they was up to ain’t nobody going to understand you
why you ought to know that when we first run on to you we had second thoughts
we thought you was crazy there’s probably still some sitting down here right   
this second that still thinks you are a crazy one but Jesus you should a known
we been through a lot together we go a long way back you should a listened
all they wanted was you they liable to get you yet then they won’t have no
competition they want to keep feeding the hogs the same slop
they the ones that want to get fat man you listening to me Jesus
he says ok if that’s the way they want to do things at the temple
I’m going to change my tactics I going out after these chillun more than I have
been they’ll know I’m telling the truth I still got a few things up my sleeve
left what’s that Paul says
I’m going to do a few things can’t nobody follow
we could always go back to biting the heads off fish and chickens Peter says
why don’t you let us in on it for a change Paul says we follow you around
like we were a bunch of sheep picking up your tab bailing you out of jail
coming up here all the time for supper and what do we get to eat nothing
why can’t you have a little faith in us Jesus
ok this is what we going to do he says hold on who is that walking up the steps
it’s just Judas
how does it go boy Jesus says and the other one answers just fine Jesus just fine
and John the Baptist turns around he says to the one who has just slipped in boy
didn’t I see you talking to some white folks the other day
here endeth with a chord on the guitar that’s how the men did Jesus like he was
old like he was young just like Elvis did to Big Dad Arthur I know
just like another blind singer the men come down to see with their equipment
they get his song they pay him twenty dollars and he don’t hear from them ever
again except sometimes in the mail on Christmas when one of them might send a   
five dollar check there won’t nobody cash oh tell me brother how do the old men
feel who were young as purple flowers from Hawaii once when they listen to their
songs coming in over a borrowed radio tell me don’t they take up a notch in they belt
don't they tie another knot in they headband don't they wring that sweat out
have mercy Jesus deliver me from the lawyers and the teachers and the preachers
and the politicking flies can’t you hear them buzz can’t you hear them bite another
chunk out of me oh brother I am death and you are sleep I am white and you are
black brother tell me I am that which I am I am sleep and you are death we are
one person getting up and going outside naked as a blue jay rolling our bellies
at the moon oh brother tell me you love me and I’ll tell you too I want to know
how do they like it when the ones who sung shake they leg on the Television
I want to know Jesus don’t a blind man count no more some by signs others by
whispers some with a kiss and some with a gun and some with a six bit fountain
pen whoa lord help me and my brother help us get through this tookover land

NOTES: lines 3001-3199.

Estate of Frank Stanford © C.D. Wright

Source: The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You (Lost Road Publishers, 2000)

Discover this poem’s context and related poetry, articles, and media.

Poet Frank Stanford 1948–1978

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Subjects Living, Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Biography

Born in 1948, Stanford was a prolific poet known for his originality and ingenuity. He has been dubbed “a swamprat Rimbaud” by Lorenzo Thomas and “one of the great voices of death” by Franz Wright. He grew up in Mississippi, Tennessee, and then Arkansas, where he lived for most of his life and wrote many of his most powerful poems. He attended the University of Arkansas from 1967-9 and studied engineering while continuing to . . .

Continue reading this biography

Poem Categorization

SUBJECT Living, Religion, Christianity, Social Commentaries

POET’S REGION U.S., Southern

Poetic Terms Free Verse

Report a problem with this poem

Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

This poem has learning resources.

This poem is good for children.

This poem has related video.

This poem has related audio.