Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Young Man on a Bad Trip

The stench came first,
the young man remembers.
It was as if someone had
grabbed him by the ankles, 
turned him upside down
and dunked him in a latrine.
Not good, he says.

Then all the hissing 
and the forked tongues
only he could see, 
flickering as if vipers were 
slithering around him.
Very bad.

A nurse told him 
he was out of it for days,
yelling and cursing
jumping out of bed 
running around.
It took three orderlies
to hold him down.
All he remembers is 
the stench and hissing.

When he came out of it
he thanked a priest
his parents had called 
when doctors said they
could only sedate him

The priest came back 
the next day and asked 
if he wanted to pray.
He told the priest 
he didn't believe in God
never mind Satan. 

The young man said
the problem was a guy 
had sold him bad stuff.
Simple as that.
But if it happens again,
he hoped the priest 
would come back,
light his candles
and work his magic.
He’d appreciate the help.

Donal Mahoney 


All Aboard

Next to me on the train
going home to the suburbs
is another guy stuck in a suit 
reading his paper,
a normal-looking guy
who suddenly says
it’s terrible, what’s happening
in Syria and Iraq, 
terrorists killing people.

Then he says if he believed 
what the terrorists believe
he wouldn’t care either 
whether he died in battle.
If 77 virgins were waiting for him,
he’d be happy to die
a martyr for the cause,
but since he’s an atheist
he knows no one is waiting.  

Then he looks at me 
and asks if I'm a believer.
I’m a lot bigger than he is 
so I say I’m a Catholic,
and he says if he believed
what Catholics believe
that Jesus Christ,
the Son of God, is in a wafer
waiting in that little house 
in the middle of the altar--
he wouldn’t walk into church,
he would crawl up the aisle 
every Sunday and lie there,
face down, praying.
He asks if I get his drift, 
shaking his paper.

I say I certainly do, but 
Catholics know what they have
and don’t like making a scene.
It’s in their genes from the time
they spent in the catacombs
praying not to be killed.

He says he understands
the importance of propriety
but says if Christ is God 
and is on that altar, how can 
Catholics just sit there,
mannequins in a pew,
standing and kneeling 
once in awhile to avoid 
clots in their legs.
I agree that’s a good question.

Finally he yells,
loud enough for all to hear:
For Christ’s sake, 
the next time you go to church,
act like he’s there
and do something!
He shakes his paper again. 

The train rolls on 
and there’s a loud moment of silence.
The man has a point, I say to myself.
Finally I say I’ve enjoyed talking
and have learned a lot
but the next stop is mine.
I have to get off.

Donal Mahoney