WHY NOT AN ELEVENTH?

The internet, he said, was God’s gift to Satan, but Satan returned it within the warranty period since it didn’t bring him nearly as much business as he had hoped. That, and the broadband in Hell was iffy most of the time, something about the heat, like broadband in Florida in the summer, only worse. God didn’t particularly want it, so he gave it to humans, figuring one more plague might keep them from begging for all manner of selfish things.

RETURN

He arrived today
although none saw him coming.
He had been here before,
been quickly ignored,
despite his pleas and prayers,
they twisted his words
to suit their venal desires,
his message forever lost in translation.
They were not ready,
and in their hate fueled world,
they might never be.

HABIT

When you say, she said,
that you are a creature
of habit, I have a hard
time imagining you as
any sort of nun, or even
a monk for that matter.

Perhaps, he responded, I
should emulate King
Henry and start my own
spinoff church, where
the priestly vestments
would be jeans and tees.

But I would require that
parishioners not wear
tie dyes on Sunday and
Crocs are an abomination
so none of them, but
sandals are always welcome.

ASKING

Asking saints to intercede
is something quite new to me,
having never considered that saints
were people whom I might seek out.

I’ve started carefully, only
seeking saints who hang
on my family tree, Margaret,
Itta, Begga, Adela, Arnulf,

and I’ve vowed to ask nothing
for myself, for karma will
see to me one way or another,
so I ask only for those in need.

I don’t know if the saints
will respond, or how I would
know if they did, but my wife says
that prayer never hurts,

and I cannot argue with that.

THE SAINT OF UNCOUNTED NAMES

A desert again,
always a desert
and she the saint
of uncounted names,
her crying eases, no
smile appears for this
Madonna of the coyotes,
her orange-orbed eyes
shuttered against the
slowly retreating sun.
Once her tears watered
the desert sands, mixed
with the blood of a Christ
now long forgotten, trans-
substantiated into a spirit
we formed in our image,
no longer we in his.
The Blessed Mother
watches, holding hope,
holding space, holding
a serenity we cannot
fathom in our search
for divine justification.
She remembers, she mourns,
for what ought to be, and waits
for the windwalkers
to pull the blanket
of stars over her.

First published in Liquid Imagination, Issue 52, October 2022
http://liquidimagination.silverpen.org/

THE DOTTED LINE

Now that I have discovered
my Catholic and Protestant ancestors
I know it is time to consider
what hell must be like.

I know it is not fire and brimstone,
that went the way of old lore
when the Impressionists came along.

So I imagine Hell must be
very much like getting caught
looking at the new cars
in the showroom while you wait
for your car to be serviced,
having already figured out how
you will raise the money to buy it back.

The devil is defnitely the nice
young salesman who knows just
what you want in a new car even
though you have no idea, what
options you obviously need,
and before you know it he
has you at his desk discussing
how you can finance the car
that you did not want
and cannot afford after
buying your old car back.

STARS

Once the winter stars
wrapped in their cloudy shroud
shed frozen tears, unwilling
to come out of hiding.
We searched for them in vain,
knowing our failure,
retreating to the warmth
of home, only to repeat
the failed effort on so
many other nights.

Now, here, the winter stars
are usually fearless,
some drowned by the moon,
but she waxes and wanes
and they reappear, the brightest
never fearing the chilled sky.
We stare at them in wonder
having forgotten for so many
years just how beautiful
they can be in their glory.

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.