Benjamin Bagocius

Why Jesus Changed Water to Wine

At the wedding, the groom’s brother
sat beside me on the stone wall bordering the garden
where everyone danced and drank

The music held us apart from them like a soft net
He was drunk and moving his body close to mine

His knee touched mine
He moved the insides of his eyes
closer to the insides of my eyes

He said, The wine is nearly out
One more sip pooled in his glass
His eyes mouthed 

Kiss me

I got up, found the barrels, and turned water to wine
not for the bride and groom

but for the changes wine works in a man
to ache so tenderly, so openly
for a kiss in a garden



The Podcast Host Asks Jesus to Explain Again Because Listeners Want to Understand

I can use a wrench
and fix doors just fine

But the tools that come naturally
to me are introspection
and patience with discomfort

I noticed cracked souls
more than creaking doors

I was ashamed of that skill for a long time
because I didn’t think it was one

I looked so deeply into everyone
I fixated on their fundamental innocence

I knew I was supposed to be mad at injustices like everybody else
but I wasn’t, because everyone—violated and violator—was innocent

We are The Same from eternity’s perspective
Eternity is the Great Equalizer

So I decided to function at the level of eternity

When you see everyone as God underneath fear’s gunk
you can’t take sides. Eternity has no left and right

When they come to kill you, as they did for me,
you see eternity, not men with weapons

I could not fear eternity
coming for eternity

It would’ve been like fish
fearful of water


Mary’s Biographer Reflects on Three Ceramic Shoes

In Mary’s home, beside her bed,
three little ceramic, decorative shoes line her windowsill

I was not going to ask her about them,
assuming they represent her three children: Jesus, James, and Esther

But they don’t

She said they stand for her siblings:
Rose, herself, and Noah, who died as an infant

When Mary rises every morning, the first thing she sees
is this trio, with one member always missing

But no, she corrected me, missing is wrong too

We all lead full lives





Jesus’s Parable of the Windy Day

The street artist watched the wind take his drawing

It flapped across the ground and past street vendors
The artist did not yell to passersby to catch it

Nonetheless, a couple of men tried, even climbing up a fire escape to follow it
blowing upward past the second floor

That is the ego blowing away, Jesus said
People tried to rescue mine by writing the Gospels

Luke and John climbed that fire escape
They think I lost something precious

I was the artist who stood there and watched it blow away





Benjamin Bagocius ( holds a Ph.D. in English and teaches writing and literature at Bard Early College in Cleveland, Ohio. He writes at intersections of spirituality, literature, and gender and sexuality, and his work appears in On Being, Tiferet, Modernism/modernity, Lit, and other venues.