…and His Voice was Stilled

“John Hass, speaking out fearlessly against the corruption within the church, was taken outside the city to be burned. He was chained by the neck to a stake and straw and wood were piled around his body up to the chin and sprinkled with resin. Finally, he was asked if he would recant. As the flames arose he sang, but the wind blew the fire into his face, and his voice was stilled.”

–Be Your Best Self
Thomas S. Monson
1.
You stood on a block of belief,
sturdy and solid.
Head and heart
preceeding your body.
A prophet, you screamed–
hammered sacred reforms
until you dried up inside yourself.
They held fingers over your lips.
Told you to stop.
Stop.
Your breath, tangled
between their knuckles–
gaining fiber after fiber
until it threaded red
around your own neck.
They baptized you.
Taped your mouth shut and
submerged your open eyes.
Crossed you with their hands.
Vertical.
Horizontal.
Placing Christ lightly in the
palm of your hand,
they made you cling.
Painted you black.
Devotees to man.
You detached. Opened your mouth.
2.
Chains cut into your skin.
Ankles dripping thick on piles
of wood and moistureless straw.
Sulfur mists and fill lungs.
You lift out of yourself,
above dull orange-red strobes,
rising with heat that
silences prayers.
And then, you pry open moalrs
and clenched enamel–
forcing songs from stomach.
And like blue rain it becomes
a fountain of pure religion
amoung voices that continuously
drown out your own.
–Published, Spring 2001
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