Prize-winning Poetry

Alexander Matthew Weyand ’05 wins the 2003 Shipsey Poetry Prize for his work.

Each year, the SCU English department awards several prizes to students for outstanding writing. Here we share a poem by the SCU senior, Alexander Matthew Weyand, who won the 2003 Shipsey Poetry Prize for his work. Weyand also won the Tamara Verga Prize for his poem, “Still-born.”

The Shipsey Poetry Prize was established in 1954 by Richard W. Schmidt in honor of the late Edward Shipsey, S.J. This prize recognizes the outstanding contribution in the art of poetry as determined by an annual competition.

Founded in 1994 by Victoria Verga Logan and Frank Verga Jr., in memory of Tamara Verga, the Academy of American Poets Tamara Verga Prize is given to the undergraduate who writes the best group of poems as determined by an annual competition.

web exclusive

Read a Web-exclusive short story by the 2003 McCann Short Story Prize winner, Erin Pate. Established in 1894 in honor of Daniel M. McCann, B.S. 1884, the McCann Short Story prize is given by the English Department to the author of the best short story as determined by an annual competition.


The Stations of The Cross

By Alexander Matthew Weyand

I. Christ is condemned to death

The living air sheltered itself by crouching
within the border of sanity.

The rain pointed counter to
the compass of human decency
and divine mercy.

A man’s finger extended
like a yellow tree’s
knuckled branch
fell upon Him,

felled with the ease of destruction
the soft and pliable tree of light and despair,
the light of light and despair.

Moving like a lover
escaping to calm
from a lover now calm
beneath the night of night,
despair barked into the silent rain of death
as water dashed upon the rocky weight
of his hand.

II. Christ takes up His Cross

He held the tree.

He held the tree that was once
the fallen trunk in the plain of fielding light.

Struck silent and shadowed by an
inner-grief, an inner-violence, the tree
of green unstiched its hair, its roots.

And when it was finally overcome
by the force of its own motion, the trunk
fell deep and down along
the way.

Its crevasses were like veins.
Its cloven hand, branches caught below.
And it twisted into a new nude form,
a blossomed hill, where flowery arms painted the
wood with a lacquered green.

III. Jesus falls for the first time

He fell under the tree.

He slouched as a thing,
a flower, dropped through
the false face, the faceless flame,
the rose.

Slouching as a sound drops from
a sound, a sound from a shadow’s sound,
a shadow from a shadow,
the rose.

IV. Jesus meets His Blessed Mother

She loved him.

she framed within her hands
a child-like
a nursed child-like oblique slab of air
backed by cotton earthy fiber and cotton skin.

Threading with imperceptible
the needle threaded,
and pieced to one her
separate gods,
her separate god,
her infallible, imperceptible, unifying god
of cotton earthy fiber, of cotton earthy skin,
and of but one thread and one thread.

And she spoke, “Let it be my son.”

V. Simon of Cyrene helps Jesus carry His Cross

He, without voice or desire, carried him.

He stands as though one with
the man who holds the tree,
and placing his taut, linear,
arm upon the man’s head,
wills him into the shadow of his own light.

Reaching down, he takes the cross into
his own hands, whispers a gentle incantation
over the fallen heap of a man,
now lost in his own shadow’s light.

Like flowing hair caught in the hook of
the gentle, fishing, wind, the man sways,
and slowly stumbles onward.

VI. Veronica wipes the face of Jesus

She loved him.

Soft as a mosquito
she descended.

Soft as a mosquito
she gently removed the skin of her hide
and stroked the man’s face clean,
thus, forming a reflection of god
upon the cotton earthy fiber
of her cotton earthy skin.

VII. Jesus falls the second time

He fell under the tree.

As time is—the earth knows one’s earth as light
in the field of light, in light.

As time is—the soil of one’s own soil,
bound in light, plants the seed of doubt
within a seed.

He continued onward.

VIII. Jesus consoles the women of Jerusalem

He spoke not as he moved, but he spoke as he
moved in his suffering:

“The wind dries the leaves that have fallen,
for saying farewell is like autumn.

The leaves in my soul are dry,
for they blow in the wind,
crossing the cross of my face.

Listen: when I fancied that love
was absolute and eternal,
the leaves pressed themselves to me
and whispered
that it is not so transient as eternity,
but that it is brief,
like the explosion and windless
dispersion of the universe.”

IX. Jesus falls the third time

He fell under the tree.

As time is—as time is in its own seed, as time
within time is death.

He continued onward.

X. Jesus is stripped of his Garments

He was clothed.

And, one,
made sick before the living fruit,
tore from his skin his skin.

He was naked.

XI. The Crucifixion

He was pierced and placed upon the tree.

There was no separation of church and state
within this god-bidden sign, this cross.

It was the sign, the soul, that dark word,
the soul, that distinction.

All were within that plot of light,
the sign of god,
yet gilded with flesh, the sign of truth,
yet girded with human truth.

XII. Jesus dies on the cross

He died.

He who is not alive bends
towards the ground
like a mother bending to caress
her young child.

Pale as the universe,
his pale shirt is removed as softly
as the wind
which trembles the leafy
expanse of a stream soaked deep
with enlightenment.

As the coddling companion of ash exults in the
smoking removal of its own deposit,
so does this altar of light
give way to the white shade of movement.

And as movement is but
a contrast between that
which is and that which is,
this is not really but a building of stillness
upon the certainty of repetition.

It is but a contrast of perfection.

XIII. Jesus is taken down from the cross

In death he becomes the tree.

The palm tree,
the column of solid wood pressed upon a
plain landscape,
swings willfully in
the wind and rain.

A torrent of pressure rebuts these words,
and the palm tree descends to earth,
its ancestral home, to be the idol
which the air worships
with a bow.

XIV. The body of Jesus is placed in the tomb

He will rise again.

the fruit of the body.

Three and three and three and
Petals of the risen.

the unkempt froth
unkempt froth
its disavowal to
scorch its soul.

Three and three and three and
Petals of the risen.

the passion
of the saint
of our living
concern was thrice
and carried
to a florid death.

Three and three and three and

Monument all
and but the petals of the rose.


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