A DECIMAL SYSTEM

So, if I have it right, God
managed to come up with ten
plagues for Moses to visit
on Pharaoh, although at the time
Moses probably could not
understand why it was ten,
since God was boundlessly
creative, or so He told Moses.

Maybe it dawned on Moses
when wandering in the desert
that ten was a convenient number,
after all, he only gave Moses
ten commandments, but I doubt
he told Moses they were
a starter set and the other
603 would come along
in due course, but Moses
wouldn’t take the blame
for them, he’d be written
out of the story in Book Two.

First Published in Half Hour to Kill, August, 2022
https://halfhourtokill.com/home/a-decimal-system-by-louis-faber

OH, HELL

You say that I am an apostate,
hell bent, hell bound, soon to meet
the hell hound awaiting my arrival.

You have condemned me for thoughts
that deviate from your own, you
are the guardians of the Word, you say,

although whose words you guard is ever
harder and harder to discern, certainly
not those of He who died for saying them.

You say heaven is reserved to you
and those who merit being your apostles
and those who fail must be condemned.

Yet Cerberus understands well,
and you will be surprised when he
greets you at the hell gates of your heaven.

SIN

A poet suggested that sin
was created by the Christians,
wrong, of course, but perhaps
just being politically correct
in not naming the Jews as
its creator, or at least
giving it a name and rulebook.

And on the point of accuracy
the poet might have noted
that the Jews created
the Christians, for Jesus
was one of them, a reformer
before Judaism would allow
anything beyond orthodoxy.

All of which is a long way
of explaining why I am
now a practicing Buddhist.

HOLY ERROR

If you truly believe that God created
every creature individually, it is all
His intelligent design, then why the apple
in the Garden, and why both crocs
and alligators, wouldn’t one have
been sufficient, and why, just why
have mosquitoes at all, ever?

I won’t bother asking why God gave
us free will, since you say He will
punish us if we use it other than
as He directed, and you know the
directons better than anyone.

For that matter, why termites
and fire ants, alternative purposes
seem wholly lacking, and above all,
and beyond all logic and even
beyond omniscience, what in the name
of God was He thinking when
He created the politician?

OH MY GOD

On the subway there was a placard
telling me and all of the other riders
where we could find God, promising
salvation if we made the search.

Someone had scrawled beneath it
“God is ded.” I was left to wonder
if the writer also thought that God
was now somehow deceased,

and how you would know
if that were really the case, since
you’d be struck deaf, dumb
and blind if you were in His presence,

unless, of course, you were
an evangelical preacher, in which
case you talked to the man upstairs
with great regularity, making

certain you never, ever disclosed
how much you were taking in
in collections each Sunday, lest
God claim his portion of the take.

COMING BACK

He appears, rising from the horizon
the sun at his back, as if a mirage
taking physical shape and form.

He approaches slowly, your eyes
straining to separate him
from the sun’s growing glow.

You wonder if his is a holy man
robed and with a staff, walking
to announce his long awaited return.

As he grows closer, you realize
he is a she , older, in a flowing
dress with a walking stick, not

the returner for who you wish,
but your faith requires that you
continue waiting in hope.

BOOK TWO

So if I have it right, God
managed to come up with ten
plagues for Moses to visit
on Pharaoh, although at the time
Moses probably could not
understand why it was ten,
since God was boundlessly
creative, or so He told Moses.

Maybe it dawned on Moses
when wandering in the desert
that ten was a convenient number,
after all, he only gave Moses
ten commandments, but I doubt
he told Moses they were
a starter set and the other
603 would come along
in due course, but Moses
wouldn’t take the blame
for them, he’d be written
out of the story in Book Two.

JUSTICE

The Rabbi always said that
the highest form of justice
would be to teach a man to fish,
rather than to donate fish to him.

The Rabbi in question is now
long dead, and in so many places
teaching a man to fish will only
enable him to poison his family.

We have laid waste to ouir world
assuming someone will clean it up
for us, and we do throw money
as our attempt at atonement.

So perhaps we should give
out brooms, and hope for the best.

LEAD ME NOT

Strange as it may seem,
I was tempted to consider
Catholicism, not the Roman kind
but that of the breakawy churches
who accept all, gay or straight,
married or divorced, the whole
lot of mankind just because.

They do believe in heaven
which is a good alternative
to the Bardo, and having choices
is a good thing even in death.

I was truly tempted to give
it my all when I realized that
it was problematic, for it had
led me into temptation and that
is something you pray doesn’t happen,
and if I want a conundrum
Buddhism offers me plenty.

BEGGAR’S TALE

I speak clearly, concisely
in an ancient, long forgotten
tongue that none understand.

I tell my tale, leaving out
nothing, a summoner
in a deaf world, whispering

of coins, pulled from
an empty pocket and cast
at your feet, soundless.

I point to signs, lettered
in my careful hand, without
meaning, cryptic to you

You urge me to trust
in your god even as
you deny me my own

who sits by the gate
wrapped in rags, waiting
to for rain to melt the pillar.

First published in Glimpse, Issue 54, Fall 2021