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Tania Runyan

The Mark of the Beast / The Mark of the Lamb

The Mark of the Beast

Whatever you do, mom tells me at bedtime,
don't let a creature put a mark on your head.
I'll probably be long dead and gone.
There is no such thing as far, as future.
I lie under an avalanche of stuffed animals,
nauseated over kickball in the morning.
Probably when the years start with twenty,
she says. Oh, that then, when I will ride monorails
in a silver jumpsuit. I'll worry
when I see it, a Snuffleupagus of sorts
hurtling toward me with a librarian's stamp.
She grabs my shoulder. When he comes,
just duck and pray to Jesus.
I try that most days, when the ball flies
toward my left-field hiding place,
my teammates throwing down their caps.
Our father who art in heaven,
please let it go the other way
before I clasp the air and trip, drop it
between my pencil legs, or face another
horrible end I can't predict.

The Mark of the Lamb

Meanwhile, the 144,000 received the mark of the lamb,
a paw print of glitter on their foreheads.
His voice washed over them like a river lit with silt.
Harps rolled out the thickest, goldest arpeggios.
We've been instructed to want a Baz Lurhmann afterlife,
not the subtle, oaky undertones of Christ in the wilderness,
women spilling hair on his feet. But when I died,
I turned away from the light. Walk toward my face,
he said. Quiet, thorn-pocked, creased with the desert.
Reflections of unthrown stones in his eyes.

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