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The Devil's Bet

Craig Westover 1950 (Everett WA)

July 22 


That’s my granddaughter -- the photo in your hand.
She’d be in college now. That was life planned
For her, but Life had other plans. …
I see
A look of disdain in your eyes. (Honesty
Becomes you.) You look at her not me.
She is Life; I am Death -- an irony
I do appreciate … as I do your
Friendship, which is a balm but not a cure
For the obituary taped within the frame --
Faded, fragile paper, and a heart the same.

You have never asked, accused directly
(Until now), why I believe I correctly
Vote “against the common good and favor
‘Paranoid crazies’ who never waver
In their love for guns.” Why do I, like Job,
Defying both my friends and my God, robe
Myself in righteousness and deny guilt?
My friend, (or is it foe?), trust to the hilt
The blade of guilt twists deep within my heart,
But Guilt and Regret are two things apart.

Guilt and Regret -- Consequence bequeaths
Both to heirs. A weapon that one unsheathes
Seldom returns unbloodied. … I see blood
Caked in her fair golden hair, a reddish mud
Framing an unrecognizable face and
A twisted body -- a nightmare in dreamland.
A forever frozen image that does not dwell
In a cold heart but in the heart of Hell.

You ask, “Can I justify the slaughter --
A child’s death, an estranged wife, a lost daughter?”
“Justify” is what Job asked of his God;
Pain and suffering destroy the facade
Of righteousness -- That was the Devil’s Bet.
And in arrogance did God not accept
Satan’s terms? Did He not say “Do with him
As you will?”
… Are my principles but whim?
Satan says “He claims to be in the right
When Consequence does not disrupt his night.
Let him sow what he reaps. Give him to me.”
My God, my Refuge, answers, “Let it be.”

So here I am. Friends pity me to my face
And then whisper, “Death put him in his place.”
I seek Reasons. Meaning. Truth. But in ire
False gods hector from a tornado of fire
“Who are you with gall to ask such of us?
Your selfish soul … there is no more to discuss.
Until you admit guilt and you recant
To us, we cannot the peace of God grant
To you. Be one of us, lost sheep to prodigal son --
Remember those in power keep the gun.”

Are they the true gods in whom I should trust?
Until I am again reduced to dust
I must say “No” to false gods that on whim
Torture freedom to own its antonym.
That’s my granddaughter lying on bloody floor,
But Truth is not different than before --
Except that the pain weighs heavier now
That I carry it alone. Yes, I bow
But from weight, not submission. And regret?
I played the hand. I beat the Devil’s Bet.

My faith in freedom is not a facade;
It crumbles to neither Satan nor God;
I keep the faith, and I bear the lashes --
I do not repent in dust and ashes.

But I rant. … Enough! … I appreciate
Your ear. Her photo goes with me, not freight.
The movers arrive soon. Come, one last drink
As colleagues, perhaps even friends. I think
We shall be safe and secure, for as far
As I know, “No guns allowed in the bar.”

About this poem

A character study of an individual confronted with the consequences of standing on principle.

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Written on June 20, 2022

Submitted by WESTOVER on August 08, 2022

Modified by WESTOVER

3:06 min read
52 Views

Craig Westover

Retired communications professional living on a 40-ft trawler, "IdleTheme," cruising between Brunswick. GA and The Bahamas. more…

All Craig Westover poems | Craig Westover Books

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1 Comment
  • Scaronce
    Inventive rhymes reveal some important truths, at least for those seeking answers to the question: Who, exactly, am I.
    LikeReplyReport3 months ago

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"The Devil's Bet" Poetry.com. STANDS4 LLC, 2022. Web. 28 Nov. 2022. <https://www.poetry.com/poem/133835/the-devil%27s-bet>.

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