Jesus stands on a green hill rank with clover and autographs a thousand bleached skulls: one for each righteous man in the last millennium.
Once pitied as a crucifix of red mahogany inside some gothic alcove before a candle's tiny holocaust, he comes to reassert himself late in the twentieth century to test the waters for a second coming.
He soon learns no one cares if he takes a lover or has a slush fund or molds the truth to soothe his audience's ears, but that he should never eat veal or wear fur or own a car or claim to really understand the plight of minorities, lest we doubt his sensitivity (that is, whatever television requires).
He learns that feminists discount him, gays are shocked he isn't, blacks resent his master's skin, Jews despise him as a sell-out, seniors fear the effect of his healings on Medicare, teens find him irrelevant to their super-caffeinated suffering, though children still love him (they don't know any better).
After consulting with campaign strategists Jesus decides the world isn't ready. Everything's too watered down. No one's passionate about good and evil anymore: Satanists run summer camps, pedophiles have websites, televangelists promote cosmetics. Eliot's hollow men look virtuous by comparison.
Jesus stands on a green hill rank with clover and lays the last skull down. Park sanitation workers gather them into red biohazard bags for incineration. There were never enough Hamlets to hold them, anyway.
Bio: C.E. Chaffin, M.D., FAAFP, edited The Melic Review www.melicreview.com for eight years prior to its hiatus. Widely published, he has written literary criticism, fiction, personal essays, and has been the featured poet in over twenty magazines. In the last ten years he's had over 500 pieces published. Credits include: The Alaska Quarterly Review, The Pedestal, The Philadelphia Inquirer Book Review and Rattle. His new volume, “Unexpected Light: Selected Poems and Love Poems 1998-2008,” published by Diminuendo Press, can be ordered at: http://cechaffin.com/light.html Website: www.cechaffin.com Blog: www.cechaffin.blogspot.com
When you wash the hotel beams no metaphysical claptrap shall rescue you from the fingerprinted panels you scrub, no Buddha adorn you, no Christ relieve you, no pagan gods bathe you in mud to purify that soul you know you haven't. And when you go home to your entertainment no doors in the walls will open to ancient tunnels and no redemption shall shake your weary hands; it's just what it is and here is where you are. You must hallucinate to free yourself. Steel being steel hardens your heart, and the fingerprints you clean were left by beam leaners whose cardboard crowns you steal. Work a little less hard, you capitalist, and make the most of your pay. Go on strike and slow production, you one-woman union. Stare at the guests and make them nervous: They've yet to take their anti-depressants. Now you're a queen in this one little way, and you required no spiritual guidance to become one. Swallow the bees and eat wasps and frighten the a-holy customers. Don't smile when you work; howl like a samurai, an inward scream, silent yet heard, bringing down this hotel beam by beam.
Bio: Paul A. Toth lives in Florida. His first novel, "Fizz," and its successor, "Fishnet," are available now, with "Finale" due in July of 2009. His poetry has been featured by The Potomac, Nth Position, Piker Press, Arabesques Review, and others.
1. Acting as an agent for Queen Victoria, conquer a loose collection of 52 warring tribes in East Africa and call it the Cradle of Civilization.
2. Build a "Lunatic Line," employing several elderly male lions to devour 28 Asian railway workers, digest enough Africans that nobody bothers to count them, drag away a European sleeping in his tent beside his wife, and board one of the first trains to eat the passengers.
3. At mile 317 construct a shantytown out of corrugated iron erected on swampy soil called "black cotton." Equip the staff with enough rats and plague to make their lives interesting. Act gobsmacked when this lay-by turns into the most important city in Africa. Anglify its name from the Maasai for cool water and put up a sign reading "Nairobi" at the railroad station.
4. Practice white mischief at every chance, making Nairobi a playground for penniless Limey aristocrats whose main interests are drinking, horse racing, knocking up friends' wives, and shooting each other in the ear. For diversion, domesticate and ride zebras.
5. Turn the natives into worthless lackeys wearing white gloves. Take over their land. Pass laws forcing them to work for settlers. Shoot or arrest anyone who mentions the word "Uhuru."
6. Start a civil war under the assumption that 50,000 Mau Maus must be wrong. Name its leader after a mountain and keep whoever can be rounded up in detention camps surrounded by barbed wire and fence posts spiked with sharpened bamboo. Slaughter 13,577 Kikuyu freedom fighters without blinking an eye and repeat after me: "Power is never having to say you're sorry."
7. In face of universal revolt, declare Uhuru at midnight, install Jomo Kenyatta as President, and send Kip Keino to America to rewrite all concepts of distance running and altitude training.
8. When Kenyatta dies, empower an egomaniac with the ironic name of Moi. Make him a stooge of the moneyed Wa-benzi. Suck the people dry. Implement a corrupt system of political appointees. Shoot or arrest anyone who mentions the word "Uhuru."
9. Except for despotic rule, assassinations, and loud chest thumping, make the women do everything else.
I spent several years in Kenya while working for the United Nations. My poems have appeared in The Malcontent, We Magazine, Asylum, Bouillabaisse, The Prose Poem, Prism International, Howling Dog, Quarry, The Fiddlehead, Queens Quarterly, The Strain, Pomegranate, and Wascana Review.
Revolution is a complete replacement, one for another;
an establishment torn to its foundation and rebuilt again;
a phenomenon of unexplained bodily transformation, the conjugation of in-and-animate;
a cycle of forms, both heavenly and machine; a swirl of patterns on pavements and interstates.
Many mistake revolution for rebellion, the embodied action of the rebel,
who seeks to undermine authority through the use of force
and intimidation. Rebellion however, is easily misled by impassioned speech,
opinion and drink, and should be trusted as much as an apology.
Given revolution’s resolve in certain matters, rebellion is hesitant to make promises,
and seeks rejection, while revolution seeks completion.
There is a marked distinction.
Bio: I earned my MFA through the Northeast Ohio Master of Fine Arts in May of 2008 and currently teach composition and creative writing at the University of Akron and Kent State Stark University. I am an editor for the Akron-based lit mag Barn Owl Review and some of my independent work has been published in EDGZ, The Naugatuck River Review, Glass: an online journal of poetry, and Softblow to name a few. In my spare time, I take hikes and play guitar.