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The Atheist & the Thief

by Tomás Ó Cárthaigh


Two men in life once came to grief,
One was an atheist, the other, a thief,
They shared a cell for a time brief,
And discussed their views on life.
As they passed the time along,
They discussed right and debated wrong,
An occasionally burst into song,
Lamenting the world and its strife.


The atheist in wonder stared
At the thief, who of his wonder not cared,
And they these moments shared
The thief sang with passion and feeling.
The thief sung a praiseful hymn,
He enjoyed doing so on a whim,
The atheist said his chances were slim
Of redemption due to his stealing.


With laughter the atheist did rock,
With a facial expression of fake shock,
To be chided by the thief who said not to mock,
Another man for his deep faith.
For he as a sinner indeed may sin,
And heaven outright he may not win,
But God knows a mans heart and what lies within,
And from that a mans virtues God'll state.


The atheist, an educated man,
To explain sin, and right and wrong, began,
His raised voice around the cell it rang
As he called the thief a hypocrite.
For if he stole and Gods law broke
How could he have those words spoke?
Of loving God, on those words he should choke,
The affrontful audacity of it!


And so they chose to disagree,
And enjoy each others company
For in the morning both would be free,
Or at least out on bail.
How he got to be jailed, the atheist told,
Of a demonstration he attended bold,
That back the police tried to hold,
He was arrested as to comply he did fail.


And here now were both men
Both seen as criminals then
As men find themselves when
They break laws and orders of another.
To say who was wrong many would say,
Debate it loud and long for many a day,
But in jail our friends did not stay:
They were bailed by the atheist’s rich brother.


Outside the jail a pub was near,
And was each to the other himself did endear,
The decided as friends to enjoy a beer
As friends new and old like to do.
Alas on crossing the busy road,
A lorry big with a heavy load,
Failed to swerve and enough had not slowed
When it struck our heroes two.


Our two friends in friendship died
As two best friends side by side
As out in shock passers by cried
But nothing could be done.
And when each in death each man fall
And in horror out did call
Though twas of no use at all
Their afterlife begun!


And on his death, each faithful friend
Found himself judged on life's end
One soul saved, the other condemned
And great was the surprise of the two.
The thief, who all his life he stole,
(He saw it as his life’s role!)
The sinner: reprieved was his soul
The atheist was condemned, that’s who!


Too late he realised twas true
And too late his lack of faith did rue
Though to repent chances were not few
Each one he scorned as they came.
He was good: he did not steal
The money he spent was his - and real,
To be afraid of judgment he did not feel,
And held no sense of shame.


And soon our atheist good
Who to acknowledge God never would,
His existence and Grace soon understood
As well as His wrath, which the atheist endured.
To steal - sure it is a sin,
And evil gains by conning to win,
But a conscience and a faith in his heart was within
And so the salvation of the thief was ensured!


Posted on 04/04/2011
Copyright © 2020 Tomás Ó Cárthaigh

Member Comments on this Poem
Posted by Gabriel Ricard on 04/05/11 at 01:00 PM

I really, really like the structure and word play in this, man. It's terrific and a beautifully written piece overall.

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