Those are ominous vehicles, she agreed.
Elijah, I gather, was already gone?
I'd lain there, out cold, throughout the night.
And though I came awake consumed with thirst,
A hot unquenchable thirst for vengeance,
Elijah was gone miles away by then,
Having a drink to celebrate escape,
Laughing, not thirsty, not hurt at all,
Praising that same God that I now cursed.
My fingers were curled like satan talons
But found no soft throat to close around.
They throttled only air, the elusive breeze.
Prayers for swift vengeance went unanswered,
And this, Marguerite, is what so galls.
We who knowingly do God's bidding
Have come to see how slow he's become
To intervene and balance wrong with right.
Even laypeople can't fail but note
The huge deficit he's somehow amassed,
Unpaid debts owed to injured parties,
Reparations due for day old bread.
Can't they, she said, just forget past wrongs?
Having learnt our Lord doesn't much care
To put effort behind rescue attempts,
The victims of crime now suspect the worst,
That he'll do little to heal up wounds
Or stir to seek an adequate revenge,
Even though, from mankind's point of view,
Law really has no other job
Beyond the redistribution of pain.
These duties are light but still too much.
Each year the Lord falls further behind,
Mired in detail, swamped with paperwork,
Until a once-swift justice is delayed,
Or postponed indefinitely, or cancelled.
And even karma, always slow-acting,
Goes slower, grows weaker, does little.
The lag between sin and retribution
Has grown so great that no true linkage,
No causal relation can still exist.
The neighbourhood feuds and family fights
That once kept us at one another's throats
Become only polite competitions,
Still deadly but oddly robbed of passion,
Open to all who pay the entry fee.
Vendettas dissolve into free-for-alls
And events drift off, their sense forgotten.
Take a deep breath, bird. Try to adapt.
You're living in the big city now,
And lawless though it might appear to you,
It's far safer here than Babylon,
If one can believe last month's statistics.
Those employed to protect public safety
Work hard to keep evil out of sight.
I've seen your Inquisition, Marguerite,
But not ever on streets or walking beats.
They're best observed with sight that penetrates,
That goes through the bricks of office walls
And throws its light upon the rows of desks.
I've seen your Inquisition, Marguerite.
They cut short hourly hour-long tea breaks,
And forego naps to tap at keyboards,
Go into wee hours of afternoons,
Well past quitting time for bureacrats,
To make sure their yearly budgets increase.
I've seen the press releases they put out
That display the need for more Inquisitors
To help predict which way evil flees
When pelted with the public's well-spent bucks.
They locate crime by plotting out paths,
By finding which way it will likely go.
It's best, they suggest, to find the next point
And take pain that you don't go there too.
Without a crime report, a crime dissolves,
Which is why, if called, their phones just ring.
Instead, police project, extrapolate
From old data gathered by satellite.
To this end, like worthy weathermen,
They geocode the points where wrath erupts,
Charting Godhead's pursuit of evil
By finding spots where lightning has struck,
Where bolts of wrath have left blackened stumps.
The worst sin dwells, they soon learn from this,
In heartwood of innocent-seeming trees,
In circuits of power grid substations,
Or inside the cortex of those who know
That though a cap endorsed by Tiger Woods
Is not the proper protective headgear,
They still will golf the greens in thunderstorms.
Liber Jonae Contents