George Held


What did the Savior smell like,
A gaffe with garlic breath,
A hint of death,
Or like a kike?

Did his teeth stink from caries,
His feet from fungus,
His armpits, richly hairy,
Like a leper’s house?

Whatever scent he wore,
Like an aura
In Giotto’s work,
As he walked in the agora

On steamy Galilee days,
Spinning the Word,
It drew swarms on his way
Like a pheromone hoard.

Those who heard him preach
Savored his brown odor,
His stammered speech,
His bleak splendor.

George Held, a five-time Pushcart Prize nominee, has published poems, short stories, translations, essays, and book reviews in such places as Circumference, Confrontation, 5 AM, The Philadelphia Inquirer, and Notre Dame Review. In December 2007, Garrison Keillor read his poem “Aftermath” on The Writer’s Almanac. Among his ten collections of poems are the chapbooks Grounded (2005) and The Art of Writing and Others (2007).