green snake

Snake Oil: A Poem

He wove his hands 
Between his words
Licking his lips as 
The pot he stirred
Bubbled with various 
Half formed phrases,
A dash of fear, 
Some biblical craziness.
"Someone," he declared 
As he wiped his mouth,
"Has a pain in their side, 
Or has lost their house!"
The faces in the Mission smiled:
This man so full of Godly fire
Claimed to be an Angel Child.
He had a direct line, he said, 
To salvation, and all his aces
Ran wild and he ravaged
The nation. 

He drew them in by their 
Pain and suffering, 
Made a play for their pensions 
And disability checks,
Whilst muttering 
About The Lord's
Special dispensations, 
Sold bottles of phony
Blessed water
That he said cured ills, 
Some useless tincture of silver
To take with their pills. 
Crocheted cushions
With 'mystical powers',
Heck he even sold grandma's
Graveside flowers. 

People need some hope
They want to believe the lie
That something better happens
When they shuffle off and die. 
Everyone wants that pure
Speculation that help is coming
And that the evil need fear
There is no help, 
Nor Armageddon
No savior on a white horse
Knocking on our door
To be let in. 
There is no sense
Nor explanation
For why some men suffer
While others live at a higher

All there is, besides this 
Mundanity, are a few old
Stories of celestial tragedy. 
A hint that perhaps a 
Long time ago
Some aliens came in and
Sowed Math, the plough
And the Bow. 
I bet they are sorry now
As they watch this mess,
Snake oil salesmen,
Pecking the fledglings
In the nest, 
Various dictators
Killing needlessly
A failure to see me as you
And you as me. 

The faith healer sidled up
To the nearest mark
Asked her if anyone 
She knew was
Sick, or cried in the dark.
Passed the old woman a 
Can of soda, asked her 
About her back and her
Nephew in Minnesota. 
He took her last cent
And lost his soul.
I guess we don't have 
To believe in order
To score an own goal.


  1. slpmartin

    The ones I alway found curious were the preachers who claimed god wanted them to live a luxurious lifestyle supported by the pensioners’ last penny…another fine reading.

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