Trial At Sea

A sudden, nighttime, violent storm at sea - mayhem,
disaster - swiftly sinking their small fishing boat
with little warning, drowns the crew, all of them,
all save one, who finds flotsam on which to float.

And float he does, day after torturous day,
with nothing to block the blistering sun, no food, no drink.
Initial anticipation yields to desperation today.
The man begins to pray. His answer is not what you’d think.

A man appears on his raft. “Are you an angel come to save me?”
A roar of laughter, “Try again. I am Lucifer, Satan, the Devil
if you will, here to save you, to grant all earthly dreams to thee.
All I require is your soul.” “Be gone! I don’t agree and never will.”

More days endured leads to despair. Satan tempts him again.
“This time keep your soul. Give up your family - wife and kids.”
“Never. Life would be guilt and torment over what should’ve been.”
Now left to his fate, his life is saved when a passing ship did

rescue him from Death’s door. His talk of Satan must be due
to delirium all agree. In Hell a demon says “Well, that’s one
we lost. Are you not sad?” The Devil smiles, “Very few
escape. Why be sad? All over Earth my work is being done.

Envy, greed, lust, hatred, killing, war, pestilence, all abound.
Abuse, violence, selfishness, dishonesty, apathy are routine.
Why be sad over loss of one soul? Besides, I have found
most humans refuse me face to face. I seldom do that scene

since humans don’t like being forced to acknowledge their
acts forfeit their soul, preferring the comfort of denial.
That same man may be mine yet. For an adulterous affair,
he may lose soul and family held so dear. I offer humans trial

after trial - adultery, thievery, hatred. Now don’t be good!
It’s more fun to be a sinner. Who wants to be a saint?
As long as humans are so easily tempted, then it always should
stay thus, Hell a metropolis, Heaven a village -- small and quaint.”

Harry Edward Gilleland      10.20.02