The Charlatan of God
You’ll judge me.
I’ve been judged.
Strange I was never chained for fraud,
Always for crimes against the state,
Except that once
When the nation failed to earn much interest.
The times I strove like Jacob
With a god that rules the world
But lets us quarrel with ourselves.
The times I lay
In hay an ox would sniff at,
In a hole
Beneath the bootsteps of the world,
Happy to see a child come down the stair
Into the smell of unwashed, humid, crowded, poison air.
I ask you how
A trickster would endure indignities
For the slim pittance of a moment’s fame,
For hour after hour of waiting death
In every handshake with a failing saint.
Is that not proof enough
I told the truth
The way it was and is and is to come?
That’s how I saw it—
From the tied-up tongue
To pitch-black skin
Downy with ornamental shame,
To jails and chains
And to the window fall.
It all looks bad,
The way some look at it.
I had a fit
And woke in sunlight brightened by wide eyes.
The lie got bigger
As I held it close.
The giant egg
Hatched out a monstrous angel of a scheme.
I cobbled red and olive skins
And forged a yellow book to tell the tale,
One only I could read,
Though others claim they saw and held it.
Only I could read.
I pulled a woolen veil
Between the people and the face of God.
Across the river,
Then returned in shame
And took my licking.
Why would a fib
Grow wings so mighty
And a voice so fell?
You think the stone
Till it smashed the god I made?
It was my hands
That hewed the tablets from the mount
And smote the stone
Misspelled, unpunctuated, cruel,
Making a havoc of my days.
So few, those days,
For me who loved the sun,
Dimmer than visions,
Colder than hell-fire,
A light to walk in and by night
To rest from.
(c) 2012 Mark Penny