In Competition No. 2871 you were invited to submit a dialogue in verse between man and God. The tone of the discourse was far from cordial, ranging from boredom and -disinterest to outright hostility. Here’s Alanna Blake’s disgruntled deity: ‘I’m old and growing deaf and very tired/ These are my final words: I have retired.’ Loss of faith, it seems, works both ways.
Honourable mentions go to Peter Goulding and Emma Mascarenhas. The winners below earn £25 each. W.J. Webster gets £30.
Forgive me, God, but might I know
What on Earth you do these days?
If you’re at work it doesn’t show
Even in mysterious ways.
You never make a prophet now
Or even send a modern text;
In parlous times you must see how
This leaves your creatures much perplexed.
There’s pious claim and counter-claim
By those who say they do your will:
But who acts truly in your name?
On that we wait for guidance still.
O, little man, presumptuous speck,
I have a Universe to tend.
The Earth is yours to save or wreck;
I only know how it will end.
I’m a resident of Thanet on a small and troubled planet.
I’ve two kids, a mortgage and a two-car garage.
I am anti-immigration and this creeping Euro nation
Makes me feel that our Messiah is Nigel Farage.
He’s a very British fellow, so convivial and mellow,
Who sounds just the kind of chap to rescue Blighty.
But the word is that he’s barmy, so before I join his army
I am seeking the advice of the Almighty.
I am glad to welcome mortals using cybernetic portals
To access omniscient counsel, safe and sure.
My purview is microscopic, though it’s rarely that the topic
Will turn out to be the Poujadiste du jour,
But in trying to oblige I’ll adumbrate my views on Nigel
Without fear or favour, prejudice or rancour,
And in answer to your praying all my superpowers are saying
That this charlie is, at heart, a total banker.
Now, tell me frankly, what is your opinion?
You must admit, it’s looking pretty swell.
This tasty little world is your dominion,
And I’ve thrown in a Universe as well.
Not bad, but seems to me there’s something missing;
In fact, I’d say you made a big mistake.
I would have liked some nookie and some kissing
With something other than that slimy snake.
I’ll see what I can do, but it’ll take
At least a rib. Right now, I’m feeling shot —
Creation, man, is not a piece of cake;
I worked my butt off, six days on the trot,
Then took a well-earned break to have a nibble,
And never quite completed Hell and Heaven.
Six days, you say? Although I hate to quibble,
You might have done a better job with seven.
O God, our help in ages past,
Wherever have you gone?
By some you’re as ‘old myth’ now classed,
By others ‘evil con’.
I’m here, and caused you to exist,
But Earth’s my one failed plan.
These days, despite what priests insist,
I don’t believe in Man.
You called? So what’s your prayer this time?
World Peace again? No floods or famine? Crime?
No, sorry. Look, it’s just a phrase. It’s what
we say when things — computers, say — are shot;
like, say, you can’t access your Facebook page.
And you’ve invoked ME out of simple rage?
Your social media’s down so you call ME?
Creator of the World, THE Deity,
Ancient of Days, Jehovah, and much more …
So how come you’ve not sounded off before?
I’m ‘Dear God!’ roughly fifty times a day.
I know. You’re one of trillions. Many pray
For better worlds, while all you do is moan.
I’m tempted to abandon you, alone
AND Facebook-less. Ah, yes: my master plan
that justifies the ways of God to man.
You creature born of spit and mud,
I plan to send another flood
To wipe all humans off the map.
I haven’t found a single chap
Whose life would make me change my mind.
You’d pull the plug on all mankind?
What happened to that vow you made —
The rainbow and the cavalcade
Of promises that we would be
Protected for eternity?
So sue me. As I know full well,
The lawyers are all down in Hell,
So they can’t touch me. Say goodnight.
But if you kill us, who will write
Those endless hymns saying God’s adored?
Oh, right. Threat’s over. Yours, the Lord.
No 2874: problem child
You are invited to submit a scene written by a well-known children’s author of the past in which a character grapples with a 21st-century problem (e.g., Billy Bunter struggles to fit in his five-a-day; Christopher Robin gets his mobile phone pinched; the Famous Five grapple with the angst of social media). Please email entries of up to 16 lines/150 words to email@example.com by midday on 12 November.