They told me Jehovah
was a person in the sky
The Lord, the Father,
a big Daddy
He could see into your thoughts
and if your thoughts were naughty
he would punish you
but not today, not tomorrow,
not in the afterlife,
and not with karma.
A few years from now
at Armageddon
you would be destroyed —
that was the word, destroyed
along with all the other wicked people,
burnt, blown up, buried in rubble,
drowned in tsunamis, swallowed by crevasses,
while the good children
who controlled their thoughts
would live forever — on Earth,
which in the pictures
was green and well-kept
and lightly populated with families
in clean, modest American clothes,
occasionally patting lions and lambs.

My thoughts were difficult to control.
It seemed there was still time
to learn, but if I didn’t,
in a few years I would die
in Jehovah’s fire and brimstone.

And yet they said
Jehovah loves you.
And he’s everywhere, in everything.
And you can talk to him.

I tried to imagine a loving Jehovah
My child-mind thought
of a blanket in the sky
spread over the world
keeping it warm
I imagined Jehovah
in the stratosphere
or the ozone layer
But that didn’t seem
like someone you could talk to
I guess that’s why the prayers
were more like letters —
you had to ask Jesus to deliver them,
you had to address and close them correctly
as if you were writing to the Prime Minister.

Lying alone in the dark
I wrote many letters
to the blanket-person in the sky, asking
for what you were supposed to ask
for this or that sick person
to be well again
and for what I wanted
for this or that boy
to notice me
or just
to fall asleep quickly
instead of lying awake
worrying about Armageddon

but Jehovah
being a Daddy and busy with wars and things
never wrote back.

An earlier version of this poem was published in Tamba