A short story by Michael Poage

Today I drove past one of those new, brightly lit billboard signs that always flash catchy colors and, usually change messages every ten or fifteen seconds.  This particular sign did splash out its message with those wild primary colors, however, the message did not change.  In bright red, white, and blue, it announced, with the urgency of time running out:


Some signs catch my eye, as the saying goes, but this one reached out and grabbed both eyeballs, pulled them out like they were attached to rubber bands, and suddenly let loose so, as they popped back into place, I ended up with a raging headache and a nasty attitude.  I was in a Hanna and Barbera cartoon!

How did whoever was responsible for that sign know what Jesus did or did not do for me. Really, I thought. He died for my sins! I did not ask him to take that lethal step and who really knows that he died.  The Bible has some pretty flimsy and star-studded stories as far as I am concerned.  I even recently saw a serious documentary that says there is evidence that he survived the cross, was nursed back to health, and made his way across the famous Silk Road to live out his life in northern India or, perhaps, in Tibet.  Why not?  He didn’t have to die to make me aware of all my shortcomings! I’m very familiar with what I’ve done in my life – and that damn sign did not tell the half of it!

I don’t need some martyr to take on my burdens – not even sure what that means but it seems like a waste of a perfectly good life.  Don’t kill anyone else on my behalf.  Take down the stupid, gaudy sign that probably shines in someone’s bedroom window keeping them awake most of the night.  It’s not only useless, it’s a nuisance.  I get much more meaning, reassurance and comfort from a book title:  Custer Died for Your Sins.

About Michael

Born in Quantico, VA. Went to high school in southern California, BA from Westmont College in Santa Barbara, CA, MFA (writing and literature) from the U. of Montana. MDiv from San Francisco Theological Seminary, Graduate Certificate to teach English as a Second Language. Have six books of poems published. Have given workshops/readings/or taught at Wichita St. U, Friends U., Tuzla Medressa (Bosnia), U. of Latvia, Laisma Middle School (Riga, Latvia), plus several states in the U.S. Live now in Wichita, Kansas.
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