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How Much Vengeance Is Enough? a Poem by Mark D. Stucky

Photo by Levi Meir Clancy ~ Upwork

How much bloody carnage and rubble

is required to atone for sins of a few?

How many eyes must be gouged

to extract desired justice?

If wronged, is exchanging one eye enough?

What about two eyes for one? Or ten for one?

Is twenty enough?

How about a hundred?

Such revenge might feel like justice,

but it fuels hate’s endless cycle.

Can we exit this interlocked sequence

of oppression and reflexive violence?

Can we struggle toward implementing

a radical, restorative, improbable alternative?

Remember what a crucified carpenter taught

about loving enemies and turning cheeks?

Do such ideals seem impossibly wrong

when gushing anger from our wounds?

Yet, as he stretched on splintery beams

no carpenter would willingly build,

he said, while gushing blood for all our sins,

“Forgive them for they know not what they do.”

(First published on Poetry Soup, 26 Dec. 2023.)


Mark Stucky has degrees in religious studies, pastoral ministry, and communications. After being a pastor, he moved into communications and has been a technical and freelance writer for three decades. During his day job, he documented diverse technology products. In free time, he’s written articles, stories, and poems on a variety of (usually spiritual) topics. He has received over three dozen writing and publication awards. Mark believes in following facts and faith, understanding other perspectives, preserving the earth, protecting the vulnerable, and saving the world (or at least trying to). For more writings, see


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