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A Poem by Donal Mahoney: "All Aboard"

September 18, 2016

 

 

 

 

 

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

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