The Carpenter by Philip Burton – Joint First Prize

His carpenter’s shop was a cellar

and the sweet air of sap and resin clung

to bench, ceiling, tools, apron, and the fellow

who swept the floor; when his broom swung

it was a celebration for the senses.


Early one morning the craftsman lingered,

nodding at the tidiness, pausing to blow

yesterday’s fine dust from his barked fingers.

A tall order. A set of three, wouldn’t you know –

two for Galgotha, one for the palace.


He rather hoped Pilate was to be crucified.

Cheered by the thought he wielded the adze

and the chisel, going with the grain, satisfied

in his work till a customer came

with the news. “Stop man! The Messiah


Is to be the executed one. In God’s name

lay the cross aside.”

“Jesus is a carpenter,”

replied the skilled man, “just like me. He’d say

get the job done by the man they assigned

and don’t have it made in a slip-shod way.

We all have our cross. This is mine.”


Copyright Philip Burton 2018