Skip to main content


I wrote once of Christ swimming

on the cross. A friend
suggested I stop such things -
and now I can't recall
if the image was stolen,
probably from Hill.  I wrote
about Christ often when eighteen.
I loved the spring.
It came violently in Quebec, then.

And I had been born
on a Good Friday. If Christ
swam on the cross, he didn't drown.
He took the wood as a boat.
Water was always good to Christ.
God flooded the world easily.
When the ferry overturned
it took hundreds of kids

into a place without breathing.
They did not walk up out of there
like Jesus. I don't blame God
for disasters at sea. I do, though
wonder at prayer, at praying,
when it seems God rarely hears.
But back to Christ on his oars,
rowing his lungs back

to crushing his own breathing
down.  He drowned on the cross
in the blue air of spring.
But it would have felt like summer
in the heat. He dove into
his crucifixion like it was a lake
clear as a promise to be kind.
To be good. He swam out to

the raft, to cling to the wood
that did him no good, that saves us
somehow. Theology
is the way we puzzle out
the mystery of that swim
up there, in blood and oxygen,
Jesus our fish the Romans caught,
that the crowd threw back,

selecting Barabbas for the feast.
At least I wish I had thought
first of Christ swimming;
he usually walked on water;
but I prefer him doing lengths
of the cross, his arms stretched
in a breaststroke of awe and pain.
He suffered doing the crawl

on his lifeguard's chair
they nailed him to for the summer.
I love good Jesus for his distance
swim from God to where
we stood on the sand
waiting for him to come out
of the waves; to rise up out
like Venus. Beauty saves, but

more truly, for a carpenter, does
a stern and bow, a mast and maidenhead.
Jesus sailed out of the sea of the dead.
His body dripping love for me.
And I am crazy to say so,
but my fideism is such I love the myth
because it is may be true, and feels
true when I say it in my mind;

that the one who is most kind
floats free of the wreck's SOS.
This isn't the sombre lies I planned
to plane out, my own crafted object
striving to line up words with need -
but I don't feel you require any pathos
to understand that a carpenter sank
when he took up his woodwork

and broke the bank of heaven's clouds
with his calm strong arms;
and the lake of the onlooker's tears
ran like a river of vinegar
into the place where balm and horror
meet. And they never broke
his legs or feet, the soldiers:
he came off his ship last, the captain.

Good Friday, AD 2014
new poem by Todd Swift


Popular posts from this blog

Review of the new Simple Minds album - Walk Between Worlds

Taste is a matter of opinion - or so goes one opinion. Aesthetics, a branch of pistols at dawn, is unlikely to become unruffled and resolved any time soon, and meantime it is possible to argue, in this post-post-modern age, an age of voter rage, that political opinion trumps taste anyway. We like what we say is art. And what we say is art is what likes us.

Simple Minds - the Scottish band founded around 1977 with the pale faces and beautiful cheekbones, and perfect indie hair cuts - comes from a time before that - from a Glasgow of poverty and working-class socialism, and religiosity, in a pre-Internet time when the heights of modernity were signalled by Kraftwerk, large synthesisers, and dancing like Bowie at 3 am in a Berlin club.

To say that early Simple Minds was mannered is like accusing Joyce of being experimental. Doh. The band sought to merge the icy innovations of German music with British and American pioneers of glam and proto-punk, like Iggy Pop; their heroes were contrived,…


Wheeler Light for 'Life Jacket'.

The runner-up is: Daniel Duffy - 'President Returns To New York For Brief First Visit'

Wheeler Light currently lives in Boulder, Colorado.

Life Jacket

summer camp shirtsI couldn’t fit in then
are half my size nowI wanted to wear
smaller and smallerarticles of clothing
I shrunk to the sizethat disappeared

of an afterthoughtin a sinking ship body
too buoyant to sinktoo waterlogged for land
I becamea dot of sand


With the death of the poetic genius John Ashbery, whose poems, translations, and criticism made him, to my mind, the most influential American poet since TS Eliot, 21st century poetry is moving into less certain territory.

Over the past few years, we have lost most of the truly great of our era: Edwin Morgan, Gunn, Hill, Heaney and Walcott, to name just five.  There are many more, of course. This is news too sad and deep to fathom this week.  I will write more perhaps later. 

I had a letter from Ashbery on my wall, and it inspired me daily.  He gave me advice for my PhD. He said kind things about a poetry book of mine.

He was a force for good serious play in poetry, and his appeal great. So many people I know and admire are at a loss this week because of his death. It is no consolation at present to think of the many thousands of living poets, just right now. But impressively, and even oddly, poetry itself seems to keep flowing.