The author of the following Good Friday poem, which first appeared in this newspaper in 1976, is retired Union Leader copy editor Barry Palmer.

...

The air hangs heavy

My heart stands still

They gather all around me

And hasten for the kill.

They tear my garments from me

Undraped here I stand

While they prepare to crucify

The bleeding Son of Man.

It’s hard for me to understand

Or realize just why

My death is made a mockery

Which makes my mother cry.

When just last week I spoke of peace

And everlasting love,

Apparently to deafened ears

And darkened skies above.

It was just last night I prayed,

Father, if the will be thine,

Take away this chalice ...

This bleeding cup of mine.

But yet, not as I will

But as Thy will be done.

And when pain shot through my heart,

I knew my hour had come.

A noisy crowd shatters the night;

My heart begins to race;

And then a traitor’s lips

Plant a kiss upon my face.

They scourged me at a pillar

And whipped me till I bled,

But this was just a taste

Of the agony ahead.

A wreath of thorns upon my head;

I ached with every breath;

I went before the multitude

They sentenced me to death.

A cross I had to carry,

The splinters tore my skin.

The treacherous road to Calvary

Was just now to begin.

The mid-day sun took its toll;

My knees buckled and gave way.

My heart was beating very fast

As on the ground I lay.

My head began to spin around

And I felt the blistering heat.

I could not go on, and once again

Fell ... at my mother’s feet.

I looked up at her tear-stained face

And even though she tried

To hold back the emotion,

She looked at me and cried.

I stumbled again and fell once more

As time seemed to stand still.

Bruised and bleeding, I arrived

At the sacrificial hill.

And now I stand here naked;

Tormented by seething pain,

While nails are driven through my flesh.

And piercing every vein.

The agony is unbearable

As spikes drive through the bone;

And they nail me to the cross

To suffer all alone.

I now look down from my cross

And see the brutal few.

Father, please forgive them.

They know not what they do.

To my right and to my left

The two thieves I behold.

One this day finds Paradise

But the other heart is cold.

Below me I can dimly see

My mother so divine,

Trying hard to hold back tears

As I try to hold back mine.

Woman, behold your Son.

It hurts you, that I know.

I can see the torment in your eyes

As tears begin to flow.

Upon my robe they cast their lots

To see who gets it first.

My whispered word goes unheard

As I cry to them, “I thirst.”

My arms are getting weary,

And I am numb with pain;

The aching and the throbbing

Seem impossible to retain.

Now I hang here all alone

For all the world to see;

My heart cries out, “My God, My God,

Why hast thou forsaken me?”

I see the sky above grow dark,

And not a sound I hear,

And I know deep inside my heart

That the end is near.

To Thy hands I commend my spirit.

Father, take Thy Son.

I see the light of life go out.

Father ... it is done.