Poem #99: “Religion” and a Flash Fiction piece (“Parable”)

If I have counted right, “Religion” is the 99th poem I’ve posted this year, so I might write a commemorative 100th poem for next week. I’m not sure it warrants it, though, so I’ll probably wait until I get to the 500th poem for the year (current count: 464) before I do something like that. As for my other goals, there hasn’t been much progress because I was too busy with midterms over the past few weeks. They’re done, now, so I’ll probably get a little writing done before I have to get the finals ready. Even so, I’ve made a little progress by writing a few really short ones (like “Parable”), and I think I’ll end up with two collections by the time I’ve finished. The SF collection is one of them, and the other is a mainstream / mystery one that I started some time ago. “Parable” will fit in with the latter.

Religion

The inspiration
for many to do great good
and greater evil.

© 2015, all rights reserved.

Parable

I was walking to Damascus one day, when I met a strange man with a small boy at his side. They were dressed in frayed, dirty-gray robes that were spotted with a spattering of familiar brown stains. The man had a beatific smile that was as disturbing as it was serene, and he possessed an almost godlike self-confidence. He walked with a brisk stride, as if he were a prophet on some divine purpose, and—but for the lack of wings—the boy at his side could have passed as an angel.

What can their story be? I wondered as I fell in step beside them. We walked in silence for a short time, and then the man suddenly turned his gaze toward me, and a silent shudder rushed through me. Never had I seen such an intense, piercing look! “We are bound for the holy city,” he confessed. “My son has been blessed with God’s mercy.”

He said it with such honest conviction that I was held speechless for a long moment before I could say, “That is indeed a fine blessing.”

He smiled with such radiance that I thought that he, too, had been touched by God, and then he looked at his son. “He is a fine boy,” he said with reverence, “so unlike his brothers and sisters. They were the devil’s own, they were. But no more.”

I was puzzled by this, but before I could raise a question, he had fixed his stare on me as if he was studying my soul. His voice was profoundly sad as he said, “They were unruly, disobedient children who never listened to me. The depth of their disrespect was unfathomable, unforgivable. I was patient. I was tolerant. But a father can only forgive so much.” He fell silent, as if a heavy burden was draped across his shoulders.

There was something disturbing about that silence, and I felt compelled to ask, “What did you do?”

He blinked, and the smile returned to his lips. “What does one do with devils?” he asked. Before I could answer, he said, “I took up my axe and sent them back to hell!” Then he looked down at his son with such tenderness and love that it brought an ache to my heart. “But not Noah,” he said. “He listens. He obeys.”

© 2015, all rights reserved.

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One thought on “Poem #99: “Religion” and a Flash Fiction piece (“Parable”)

  1. Pingback: Brief Update on “Exploitation and Other Stories” | rphansenauthorpoet

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