The first God I remember was a Santa Claus God,
who you only turn to around
Christmas time, who you tried to butter up,
and you got mad at if you didn’t get what you wanted.

That didn’t make sense.

I knew if there was a God, he could see through us,
like we were made out of cellophane, like he could stare directly into our hearts,
the way we look into an aquarium,
like he’d know what was floating around in there,
like he were the one feeding it.

Then there were those people who used god to threaten you,
saying “you’d better be careful- God’s watching,”
like God was some badass hillbilly sitting on some cloud,
with some binoculars, a cotton candy beard and a shotgun.

Then there were those people who had God’s name on a bumper sticker,
like he was running for president.
And sometimes those people would cut you off on the freeway and give you the finger,
which is very different than lending a hand.

Then there were people on television,
dressed in weird clothes and scary make-up,
SWEARING that they had the secret to God,
like god was a keyhole their eye was pressed to it,
and if I gave him some money they’d let me look,
and I could see God just hangin’ around in his boxers,
and though I liked the idea of spying on God,
I began to wonder if the world would be a better place if the Romans had just put up
with Jesus and let him die of old age…

And then there were the football players,
kneeling down in front of everybody, thanking God,
like he was their best friend,
but then they’d jump up and spike the ball yelling, “I’m number ONE!!”,
and that confused me,
for if you’re number one,
then what number is God??

Then I saw politicians trotting God out on a leash,
like a racehorse they wanted to hop on and ride to the finish-line.
But if they lost, it would be GOD’s fault,
and God would be the donkey they’d pin their problems on,
and that was very nice of God,
to be both a racehorse
and a donkey.

And then there were those who said,
“You’d better be good on earth, if you wanna get into heaven,”
Like heaven was the United States, and the Earth was Mexico,
and angels were the Border Patrol.
Like when you die,
you sit in a parked car on the outskirts of Heaven, the engine idling,
your soul in the back-seat in one of those kennels used to carry small dogs on an airplane,
as you listen to the radio,
hearing the voices of all the people you ever wronged testify against you.

And then there’s the church which was like this cafeteria,
where they serve God to you on these very un-Godlike plates,
but I wanted my God PURE, not watered down by humans.
So I had one of those catastrophe gods- you know, the one you called in an emergency,
like God was the National Guard you call on to clean up the earthquake of your life.

So I got drunk one night,
drove home, passed out behind the wheel,
and woke up, going 60mph straight at a brick wall.
I slammed on the brakes, my heart banging like a wrecking-ball in my chest,
staring at death’s face,
close enough to see that we had the same cheek-bones.

Now I have a God who’s like a mechanic who can fix anything.
So, when I wanna chew somebody’s head off like a salt-water taffy,
or amputate my DNA, or open my wrists like windows that have been painted shut,
I just put my soul into a box, like a busted computer, and haul it in.
And He never asks to see my paperwork,
or says that my warrenty has expired.
And I walk out feeling better.

And I don’t care if He doesn’t exist.

-Jeffrey McDaniel


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