I’ve had a nightmare! Let that just man go!
You’re right that he’s done nothing wrong. They’re wrong
To want him dead. No, nothing you could write
Above his head could possibly undo
Your guilt. He’s innocent, however long
You try to wash your hands of him. That rite
Is cowardly, since you know what is true.
You’ve said yourself, the power is yours. So do
What’s right. If you do not release him, know
That all the horror I beheld last night
Will fall on you.

© 2020 Cynthia Erlandson



Cynthia Erlandson is a poet and fitness professional living in Royal Oak, Michigan.  She has had poems published in First Things, Modern Age, Measure Journal, Anglican Theological Review, The North American Anglican, Forward in Christ, and the Anthologies The Slumbering Host (ed. Clinton Collister), and A Widening Light, (ed. Luci Shaw)

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17 Responses

  1. C.B. Anderson

    Egads! This day will just not end, and yet it is finished. A man should listen to his wife, his better half. Pontius was clearly unconscious of what he was doing, yet everyone involved had a part to play, for otherwise there would have been no story to tell, no good news at all.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Yes, Pilate was essential to The Story — and I certainly would not have wanted to be in his place! (or his wife’s)

  2. Joseph S. Salemi

    Pilate was caught between a rock and a hard place. The mobs in Jerusalem were screaming for the blood of Jesus, while the imperial authorities in Rome were watching with a stern eye to see if order could be maintained in the troublesome province of Judaea. Did the Procurator do the right thing? In hindsight, he seems like a moral coward. In that time and place, however, his decision must have looked like a Machiavellian correct move.

    The scriptural accounts give evidence that he tried to be fair, to judge impartially, and to assuage the anger of the mob. But the plain fact was that he had no interest whatsoever in the religious wranglings of the Jews, except insofar as they might constitute a threat to public order. And it should be noted that Pontius Pilate is honored as a saint in some of the Eastern churches.

    • Joe Tessitore

      Interesting thoughts about Pilate, Joe, and very interesting to read that some Eastern Churches venerate him as a saint, but Cynthia’s poem has the last word on him.

      • Joseph S. Salemi

        Every poem always has the last word… until the next poem comes along.

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      I have always felt sorry for Pilate. It does seem clear that he wanted to do the “right” thing. It’s easy to say, from our vantage point, that he didn’t have the courage. But of course, from God’s point of view, he needed to do exactly what he did. Years ago, I heard a sermon in which the priest made the very clever (and insightful) comment that Pilate’s wife “was trying to keep his name out of the Nicene Creed”!

  3. Margaret Coats

    Such a masterful poem, Cynthia. All these spousal comments in eleven sentences that wouldn’t seem to have rhyme and meter in them, yet you’ve poured them into ten lines of good rhymed iambic pentameter, and pointedly finished them off with that single, ominous cut line. A triumph!

    • Cynthia Erlandson

      Thank you so much, Margaret! Coming from you, this means a lot to me!

  4. Joe Tessitore

    A brilliant poem, Cynthia,
    and to have written it from such an oblique angle imbues it with the ring of truth.
    Well done, indeed!

  5. Julian D. Woodruff

    Ms. Erlandson,
    So many eyes should see your poem. Yet, plainspoken though it is, you’d have to provide a lengthy gloss to make it meaningful to a frightfully large number of people, even native English speakers.
    The enjambment underlines the message’s urgency impressively and the truncated final line causes a lump in the throat.

  6. Cynthia Erlandson

    Thank you very much, Julian. Yes, I do lament the general loss of biblical literacy in the last couple (?) of generations. I wish many more people knew what amazingly exciting and poignant stories are in the Bible. I am grateful to have been brought up on them.


    Great poem, Cynthia. I love the characterization of the wife and I especially love the abrupt “I-have-the-last-word” ending. Well done! And Happy Easter!

  8. Susan Jarvis Bryant

    Cynthia, I have often contemplated the mindset of Pilate’s wife after her prophetic dream. Your easily accessible, conversational poem gives great insight into the mind of a woman who knows the truth in the face of all those denying it, and it is heart-rending. I would like to echo Julian in my admiration for your adept use of enjambment, which adds to the natural flow of the piece. I know just how hard it is to afford a pure and tangible feel to a poem that holds a weighty message. Hats off to you! Very well done, indeed!

  9. James Sale

    Thanks Cynthia – excellent poetry – I love those poems which focus on just those moments when the world turns, and forever. If only … But then where would the salvation of the world be if people did the right thing? Thanks again for reminding us.

  10. Yael

    Great poem, I love it. I’m just now able to catch up on all the lovely Easter poems which were posted on this website over the Easter weekend. I won’t get around to commenting on every one of them but I want all the poets who posted them to know that I really appreciate every one of your Easter poems. I never tire to read about my Lord and Savior Jesus Christ and about the other Bible characters and stories. I choose to read in my Bible every day and it is a treat for me to read some in poetic format. I appreciate all of your contributions very much. Happy Easter to all.


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