It was approaching the end
of another too long semester
and the sign-up sheet for office hours
was getting fuller with names
I didn’t recognize, or did and not
in a way that would please the student.
It was always like this, the two weeks
after it was too late to do anything,
when the pleading would begin.
I remember being in that position
almost fifty years ago, making my
supplication for relief of some kind
to a professor I had ignored all term,
and he, genial and gentle, taking out
pictures of the rice paddies
and saying to me, you stand
a far better chance in the Air Force.
There are no wars now that I can offer,
and so I tell them the bad news,
but add that Starbucks can
be a career of sorts, with benefits.
“You know,” she said with a smile, “that you are going straight to the infernal regions when this is over and done with, no doubt.” “I can’t imagine,” he replied, “that He who is all knowing and all powerful would ever let that happen to me.” “Be serious,” she added, “you know that the nether world is replete with scriveners of doggerel, it is their natural home when they are done here.” “But I’m a mere bard, a weaver of tales,” he cried, “nothing more, nothing less.” “Ah, yes,” she smirked, “but the road to everlasting fire is paved with cliches and euphemisms.”
He had been there for days although he’d stopped counting since it didn’t ultimately matter. He would leave when the time was right although he had no idea how he would know when that moment arrived. Some things you do on faith he assumed, and this had to be one of those things. He wasn’t sure why he came but he knew he had to be there, And he knew that the cave provided him shelter and there was an allegory hiding deeper in.
The black cat walked by the patio again today. He won’t stop and engage no matter how hard I try to talk to him. Some cats are haughty and this one clearly isn’t deaf. Some say it is feral, but it’s too well groomed for that. More likely it has spent too much time with people. The sort of arrogance it shows has only one source and, though we hate to admit it, we know that source all too well.
We marched for hours, going nowhere really, but nowhere was the point of the marching so we achieved the goal the Air Force set. We didn’t even think it odd that they made us shave our heads, so we’d all look like fools, there was a war on and we were in the military, so we had already proven that point. We were the smarter ones, as it turned out, enlistees who’d spend our time on bases getting the pilots ready to fly into the danger we knew we had so carefully avoided, and for us the greatest risk appeared daily in the mess hall.
As King, newly appointed, he mulled over what to do for his first official act. The predecessor King was known to be much a recluse, one who tolerated people as a necessity of a Kingdom, and he would say, a good source of revenue to the King. That one didn’t last long, never imagined the people could rise up and overthrow a monarch. He would be more benevolent, but he did need to make a strong initial statement. It came to him – and he issued a decree banning all mirrors and shiny surfaces in public, and he knew it was a good idea when everyone else grew ever older, and he, he knew, never aged a day.
Hell is a place where what you least desire becomes eternally yours, or so we were told as children, well not us, not the Jewish kids, for us Hell was our mothers’ finding that copy of Playboy we stole from our father’s stash our mother didn’t know about, and which he would deny, throwing us under the bus or any large vehicle she found
If we buy into Hell, and given that ours is an aging population, many of whom have landed in Florida and Arizona to avoid the winters that are hell on the ubiquitous arthritis, and all those who have joyously consumed the evangelical Kool-Aid, when the final bell rings, they may be surprised to discover there is far, far more of a chance of a snowball in Hell.