Of Cowardice and Courage

by Dan Albergotti

There they lay Jesus,
And rolled a great stone to the door of the sepulchre, and departed.
—last lines of The Life and Morals of Jesus of Nazareth (a.k.a. The “Jefferson Bible”)

When Thomas Jefferson made his new book,
he took a pair of scissors to the old
and started shedding miracles and all
the rest of its manipulative lies.
Are you surprised? This was the man who shook
the world with his own writing. He was bold,
if nothing else. Who else would have the gall
(I’d call it courage, myself) to revise
scriptures without any fear of divine
punishment? Who else would dare try to find
Jesus the teacher buried in the myth?
Few really care about morals. Most can
only keep one base line of thought in mind:
a fear of death. Jesus died like a man.

DAN ALBERGOTTI is the author of The Boatloads (BOA Editions, 2008), Millennial Teeth(Southern Illinois University Press, 2014), and two chapbooks from Unicorn Press: The Use of the World (2013) and Of Air and Earth (2019). His poems have appeared in 32 Poems, The Cincinnati Review, The Southern Review, The Best American Poetry, The Pushcart Prize, and previous issues of storySouth, among other journals and anthologies. He teaches at Coastal Carolina University.