Mammon, Ba'al, and Me

Day in, day out, week by week,
Then month to month, I fret th' end.
Security repealed, the hours grow bleak
As one, then another is sent away.
Denial becomes desperate to fend
Off the fear, the anxiety day by day.
Soon it will be my turn
For my career to be spurned
And join the ranks of th' unemployed,
The future falling into a void.
How then will we survive?
How then can we thrive?
In this land of opportunity,
In this nation of impunity,
No income is no life
And makes impossible its strife:
Self-assurance and self-worth kaput,
Thirty years trampled underfoot,
The future of freedom and quiet
Gone, overwhelmed in my mind's riot.
Then I hear that my team
Will soon have a flood of work.
My heart is lifted up on a beam
Of hope, out of fear's murk.
Reprieved, for sure I am saved,
I seek out my boss to learn the facts.
Yes, he says, your lay off can be waived
To work on these war-making contracts.
How much is my family worth?
How many anonymous lives for theirs?
Is this the answer to my prayers?
I have the skills to give birth
To weapons, massive in assault,
Precise, exact without a fault,
Targeted just for th' evil doer:
My hands would be clean,
The war would be lean
And so many fewer
    would die
    and cry.
To what god have I prayed?
Whose 30 pieces am I taking?
With whose blood will I be paid?
On what god am I staking
    my life
    to be free of strife?
The time will come when mine
Will be laid out before the bloody idol.
My accounts will be infanticidal,
Offered up for my bottom line.
Lady Poverty is more sacred and holy.
More true to mine is the Other;
All children are their sister and brother.
I returned today to my boss.
To her I spoke a word of peace:
I'd rather not work but be lowly.
Too many have hung on the Cross.
Let me be a small step for war to cease.

©2004 John A. Mills
published in The Way It is; Poetry Now; Natalie Catterick, ed.