Almost 20 years ago…

SAINT MICHAEL
What’d I do to deserve such honor,
why’ve I been selected?
Days spent preening my feathery wings
now receed like the cloud, once perched
by brother Satan, as he free-fell, arms flailing,
leathery wings shorn of angelic plumes.
Always the one to … qualify,
take issue with the comfortable
and serve God by providing a bad example,
as contrast and definition of the good,
he rode his rails unerringly
to the absurd reduction. His fate is sealed
irreversibly. Now here I sit reading
“Greetings! …” and am drafted.
The cost of existence in this free society.
A draft board of one. I’d not expected
my role to be the soldier, had hopefully assumed
myself able to live peacefully, unsullied
by the skills of war. Vain expectation, that.
But there are no Swedens or Canadas hereabouts.
No sympathetic physicians to declare
my health inadequate to the task of death.
No wealthy Daddy to buy my future,
he is my selective service and I’m selected.
Our wishes have no effect on the way
our square-pegged selves pierce the hymen
of history. No president, I, and unable to refuse,
if nominated, to run; if elected, to serve.
My fate is sealed and my track won’t swerve.
The nastiness, ingenious.
I see my brother’s tricks for what they are.
His rhetoric’s appeal to uninitiated souls
is logical in its success.
Yet his effort’s fueled by promise
of advantage to be gained. His tirelessness
fueled by self interest, he’ll not discount
tactic for its low ethic or persistence
for its unseemliness. Unfettered by need
to maintain acceptable aspect, he’ll bite
and claw and cheat. The marquis of Queensberry
is his meat.
My tragedy is thus defined. My strategy
is most inclined to the “good fight.”
Yet I’ve a need to be seen so. Lacking
the freedom to let go the righteous demeanor
it pains me to use tactics seen as meaner
than those devised by the Devil himself
in order to elicit his defeated yelp.
Fighting fire with fire I see myself
at thirty thousand feet, loosing Napalm
on the foe beneath me. Secure in my sensibilities’
cloak, eaten by conscience’s moths as I joke
with the other archangels in the mess,
hoisting cans of refreshing Bacchic blessed
froth. I know I’m safe from my father’s wrath.
But my dreams are where the battle’s been taken
by my foe, my brother, mean as none other.
His weapons the best that money can buy
from the state of the art armory
stockpiled by God our father.
As my fiery sword punctures his scaly hide,
his dragon-breath scorches my outward side
and, riding later, on a limosine trunk,
adored by the consumers of the junk
he once purveyed so shamelessly,
the tape of yesterday’s ticking transactions
filling the air with summer’s snow,
my face smiles acceptably for the throng
too far back to see my eyes know wrong.
As my grandchildren frolic at my feet
and my children define their lives by my deeds,
my silent aspect is accepted, they allow me
space to appear dejected. They know it’s not
a dour soul, if you listen to them it’s plain eniugh.
But I’ll not shatter their paradise.
(Copyright: James T. Risdon 11/5/92:1315)

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