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.
There will, I am certain, come a day when I will need to do nothing. My computer and my apps will know what I want, will obtain it without asking, will expect my thanks when it arrives, even if they are incapable of understanding what thank you means in a human world. They already plague me with offers and suggestions, if I liked that or even looked at it, I must like this. And they do it with a certainty that only an algorithm can possess. They know me, or so they are programmed, for they cannot think, and they cannot begin to imagine how fickle I can be, or what that term even means. But I know Jeff Bezos won’t give up without a fight. At least if there are a few more billion dollars to be made.
Mark your doorpost with the blood
of the lamb for this may be the night
when God’s emissary arrives for the killing
of the first born. Will he be a night bird
half raven, half vulture or an aged man
concealing his weapon in shabby robes.
Mark your doorpost and check it
often for if your neighbor wipes
the blood away, you will be visited
and no amount of pleading will
deter him from his task. There
are no interim plagues remaining to buy
you time, if he chooses to come tonight.
Put your ear against the window
and listen for him. Will he come
on cat’s paws or the rasp of lungs
slowly drowning?. Will coins jangle
in his pocket, to pay your fare
to the ferryman?
But if you do not believe,
perhaps he will forget to come.
First published in The Right to Depart, Plain View Press (2008)