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Making a Mess of Your Life

April 26, 2018

Carol A. Oberg, a mother of two grown children, retired to live on Gooseneck Lake in the middle of Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, where she works in her own “writing studio.” There she continues her calling to write both short stories and poetry and devours a vast array of reading material, “almost everything,” she says, “I can get my hands on.” 

Carol was selected as one of the featured poets for issue 16 of Ancient Paths. Below, we share her poem “Making a Mess of Your Life.” You can read nine more of her poems by ordering a copy of the magazine.


Making a Mess of Your Life
by Carol A. Oberg


 “Let your holy angel be with me, 
that the wicked foe may have no power over me.  
Amen.”  –Martin Luther

 When I try to clean up ashes with a rag
I smear a mess on the carpet making it
three times worse than before.
When I tell one little lie
I have to create another to make
it work, then another, still another
until there is a ratty patchwork quilt
of deceit covering up the truth
that feels so heavy I can hardly breathe.
I wonder why I bother trying to
clean up my life and my neighborhood
when everywhere I turn I see
some kind of dirt that isn’t right.
God created a perfect world.
We ruined it, and the wages of sin is death.
Yet we plant lovely fresh flowers
over the graves in our cemeteries
build churches with tall steeples
to hide taverns, strip joints, drug houses.
We put Bibles in the drawers of
hotel rooms for kidnappers, prostitutes
fugitives, adulterers to find.
Every one of us, every one
breaks God’s laws daily, out in the wide open
but not many are eager to call anyone on it
especially a friend or a loved one.
Though it would be right it wouldn’t feel right.
Every day I wake and say today please
let me live according to God’s will
I will try to keep my day, this life around me clean
but then something spills, it always spills
when you are wearing white
so I pick up the first rag I see—usually the one
I used before but didn’t get rid of—there, that one
lying on the ashes in the fireplace.


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