Breaking Herod

by Carl Thomas Gladstone

subscriber exclusive


When the matchstick met the pilot light
they knew their fate — accomplices!
To be ablaze, illuminate

To rendezvous upon the square
Devising harvest nights and feasts.
Despite the King’s cold polity

to warm the house and break the night

With kindling lifted from the woods
she bundled branches to alight,
and the world come watch them burn.

He stayed within, a sibilance.
Invisible combustibles
recast as sharp blue danger.

to warm the house and break the night

They signaled, torch upon the hill
and lantern chopped across the waves,
Arrival of a coming realm.

A village green where spears are drawn
from soldiers hands, Ironwood batons
and gavels heaved onto a pyre

to warm the house and break the night

His Majesty in grey-gold keep
dropped firecrackers to ground beneath
to see whom he could brand

And subjects who’d had gilt in eyes
Left with ash and popping noise
Abandoned in his offering

to warm their house and bide the night

But from deep forests, firewood came
And bygone ovens roared to life
And pilot light and matchstick beamed

For there amongst the capitol
a mending formed from bread fresh baked
and we were healed when love was lit

to warm the house and break the night


released April 3, 2017




Carl Thomas Gladstone Detroit, Michigan

As a music and mischief maker on the prophetic edge Carl writes music as a discipline of justice-seeking and disruptive discipleship. He writes to engage people of faith and of no faith in deep questions and engaging stories that matter for the world.

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