“Therefore put away all filthiness and rank growth of wickedness

and receive with meekness the implanted word, which is able to save

your souls.  (James 1:21 RSV)


I scratched, pinched, bit my way through today

as if I didn’t come from a long line of God fearing folk

but from Darwin’s monkeys being provoked with pokes of fun

by human aliens all safe on the other side of the hellish cage.

I dug a deep trench hiding safely behind garbage bags of self pity

then started a sunrise war with my defenseless family,

went on to battle an army of co-workers until lunch hour found me

picking fights with unarmed cashiers, shoppers, fruit vendors,

with noses lifted so high in the air they could probably

identify by smell the flowers in heaven but not tell me..

I missed when I tried to kick a snarling dog

on the leash of a snarling man both of whom barked

at me with mouthfuls of long, white teeth, crooked

like the interlacing necks of hungry trumpeter swans

I saw later while sitting on the bench but didn’t care to feed.

Beating it home, I blasted the horn, shook a mean finger

at a gang of elementary kids playing dodge ball in the street

then couldn’t find a song on the car radio that

didn’t fill me up with great big foul irritation.


Saying prayers while I brush my teeth and my husband snores

I ask God why he gave me the burden of so much anger today

even though I know He didn’t, will mercifully forgive and help me

once I  accept the blame, humbly drop to my knees to pick up

the empty cartridges of my wicked weapons of words and deeds,

that I pray have left no permanent wounds in the lives of others.

All that I have won today is a flag of guilt slapping me in the face

with the filth of my own hands; a flag at half staff with it’s metal pole

jammed deep into the shallow ground of my soul.           


Carol A. Oberg


During her writing career Carol has published widely with Blue Mountain Arts, Inc., was one of three featured poets (10 works) in Ancient Paths, issue 16, and has also published with Carcinogenic Poetry, The Avocet, Extract(s), and in the fall issue of The Fourth River (Chatham University). This poem was first published in Ancient Paths in 2010 and was nominated for a Pushcart Award.

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