All Aboard by 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 Mahony

Donal Mahoney, nominated for Best of the Net and Pushcart prizes, Donal Mahoney has had poetry and fiction published in North America, Europe, Asia and Africa. Some of his work can be found by clicking here… 

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