Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Lepers and Prophets

And they said to one another, "Why are we sitting here until we die?"
2 Kings 7:3

The thing about prophets is—they’re all poets
so half of everything that they say seems like bull shit
and the other-half is non-sequitur
and the people who go into that disreputable profession
don’t have an ounce of common sense in their body.
Contrary to common belief, they don’t just start
spouting metaphors, parallelisms, and warnings
about locusts, and exiles, and the wrath of the Lord.
Those of us who’ve had the “privilege” of growing up with them know—
they’ve been saying crazy since they could talk,
and then people started listening to the crazy,
and then some of the crazy started coming true,
and then it went to their head, and then they started
beginning their crazy with the phrase “thus sayeth the Lord,”
and then their poetry wasn't categorized under bull shit
and non-sequituiers, instead it was labeled: “divine oracle.”

The crazy started a long time ago
but Elijah added something new.
There was a cocky swagger about him,
not a typical curmudgeon-ed hermit—
when the boring prophets of boring gods
challenged him and were clearly on the losing end of the challenge,
Elijah taunted them “call louder, maybe your god is on the shitter.”
After that he called for fire from heaven,
and God, ignoring what this action would do
to inflate the size of Elijah’s head, obliged.
The whole thing gained momentum,
and then he took on an understudy:

Through a series of events I don’t quite understand
our city came to be “under-siege,” which made our lives worse.
Leper’s already have a shit time, but add to the requisite
loss of feeling in limbs (and subsequent damage to them)
and being ostracized, labeled as unclean, and forced to beg;
add to that, living in the entrance of a starving city
and you have the recipe for quite the pickle.
This particular siege looked extra bleak
people were eating horses,
making deals with each other
to eat little boys.
There weren’t many food scraps
making their way into our bellies.

And then Elisha opened his mouth
“Hear the word of the Lord. . .”
This phrase is usually when I stop listening,
because it’s almost always bad news,
and the outlook for me is always bad anyways,
so I figure he’s not telling me anything I don’t already know,
but that time I listened.
“Tomorrow, at this time (ish)
a bag of flour will sell for 50 cents
and two bags of barley for 50 cents.”

Whether or not I believed Elisha didn’t matter (I didn’t)
because I didn’t have 50 cents. So I said to my friends:
“Why are we sitting here until we die?
If we stay here, we’ll die.
If we go out to those asshole Syrians
they’ll probably kill us, but maybe they won't.
They may give us some food.”
The logic was sound.

So after dusk we went out to look for the Syrians.
And their camp was a ghost-town—there was no one.
All their stuff was there, but they were gone.
So we ate—the best food we’d had in ages.
We ate until we were full, then we drank until we were drunk.
Then we pilfered all the shiny stuff we could find.
And then we found hammocks.
And then we lounged.

I was the first to sober up, and when I did
I remembered the people in the city,
and how they were planning on eating children,
and how it felt to be hungry.
And I realized we weren’t doing right.
So I rolled out of my hammock, found some nice gold necklaces,
and a silver bracelet (to show the gate-keepers
I wasn’t lying, and feel rich for awhile),
and I found some more wine
(because I was starting to sober up);
then I started stumbling back to the city.

Before I knocked on the gate
I remembered Elisha’s words,
and realized that this whole fiasco
would make that prick absolutely insufferable.
I killed the rest of the wine
then knocked.

They didn’t believe me at first.
But when they saw my nice stuff
and how drunk I was
they decided to check-in on it.
And low and behold the crazy leper was right.
But all anyone talked about afterwards
was Elisha this, and Elisha that.

In the years after the story got streamlined,
details were cut-down and pointed towards a particular lesson
about the faithfulness of the Lord and Elisha’s prophecy.
Most versions cut us lepers out of the story,
and none of them ever remembered our names.
But I suppose it doesn’t matter much
whether or not our names are included in a story—
at least the gatekeepers remember our part
and they always make sure we have plenty of food and wine.

Gatekeeping, now there’s a respectable profession.

No comments: