After transcribing scripture all day,
interrupted only by frequent prayer
or a Spartan meal, one would think
that those medieval monks would be anxious
to break out a little, to think outside the box,
or margins as the case may be. And they did.
After hours of drudgery copying Luke or Revelations,
after the day-in, day-out regimen of faith and devotion,
they strayed onto the edges of the parchment
and created something fanciful, a little divertissement
to amuse themselves – a snail with a cat’s head,
an elephant imagined with a wolf’s body,
a guy blowing a trumpet from his buttocks.
Then their pens would return to the realm
of rote and reason, as if nothing had ever happened,
as if imagination had never opened the borders,
but their smiles might last a little while longer.
The Back Door
Heaven is a place where nothing ever happens….
– Talking Heads
There are chaise lounges lined up to infinity
on a cloud like a cruise ship deck.
Some people are playing shuffleboard
or ping-pong or mah jongg. Some people
are reading all the favorite books
they didn’t have time for on Earth;
some are binge-watching old TV series.
There’s a 24-hour buffet, and no one
ever worries about gaining weight.
There’s a party in the community room,
and there’s music playing but everyone hears
their own favorite music. I hear the Beatles.
People still make small talk so no one knows
how they really feel, and everyone leaves
at eleven o’clock. There’s a couple kissing
in the corner; they’ve been doing it all evening,
the same kiss over and over again.
A pretty woman who may have been a model
walks up to me and whispers,
“I’ve heard that Hell is more interesting.”
So we slip out the back door to find out.
Bruce W. Niedt is a retired civil servant and New Jersey native who is now enjoying the joys of grand-parenthood. His poetry has appeared in numerous publications, including Rattle, Writer’s Digest, Tiferet, Spitball, The Lyric, and US 1 Worksheets. He has been nominated twice for the Pushcart Prize. His latest chapbook is Hits and Sacrifices (Finishing Line Press).