By Peter Venable

A Stumbling Block


After they pried out Rome’s nails

from His wrists and ankles, the post stood,

wound-stained, for the next one,

a pillar of foreboding

and in piles, like railroad ties,

crossbeams waited for the next

seditionist, or King against Pax Romana

Pontius Pīlātus was comforted next week

as those bearded temple worshipers—

and their invisible “God” superstition—

left for another year.

A bloody mess he thought

as rivers of animal blood ran down slopes…

The stench from the Valley of Hinnom

will last for days!

King of the Jews, huh? He had a busy Monday

as others would be dragged before his judgment seat.

Better wash my face and get going.

The post and crossbeam remained for decades

until sun and rain and worms rotted it away.

Others replaced them.

            .           .

19 centuries later,


inscribed on a limestone block

and 19 centuries later IESVS

is found inscribed on billions of souls.

Pax Christi.




Inscribed on a plank, affixed overhead:

This is the way Pax Romana spread news

To plunge traitors and messiahs in dread.

Ecce homo,” the prefect proclaimed loud,

Smirking. He condemned this pathetic soul,

Then bowed in pantomime before the crowd

As soldiers marched him to a crossbeam pole.

Awash with wine, they nailed and propped him up,

A billboard between two others nailed so.

He writhed—He bled—His mother drank His cup.

“It is finished!” was His last cry and throe.

Across eons the cross remains upright

To flood men’s hearts of hate and blood with light.



The writer has written both free and metric verse for over fifty years. He has been published in Ancient Paths, Time of Singing, Windhover – A Journal of Christian Literature, The Whirlwind Review, Apex Magazine, Kingdom Pen Magazine, and others. He is a semi-retired clinician, volunteers at a prison camp and food pantry, sings in the annual December Messiah, and is graced with a happy marriage, daughter and son-in-law, and Yeshua.