• Chris Yokel

On The Problem of Evil


This poem emerged out of a conversation with a former student who was a military veteran and retired police officer. One day he stopped by my office after class and, as we chatted, he just started telling stories from his life, stories that made me realize how little evil and suffering and misery I'd seen in my life. I realized the profound chasm between our life experiences. The title is meant to juxtapose how easy it is to make evil an abstract, philosophical, or theological issue, with the true horrors he told me about.



On The Problem of Evil


He told me about

the horrors he’d seen:


the fellow soldier’s blood and bone

he wore

as he dragged him to safety,


the man graying out

from a gunshot wound,


the little girl whose skin peeled off her arm,

like a glove

in the few seconds her grandfather turned away

from the machine,


the junkie so strung out

he asked for the sheet back

that they wrapped his dead mother in.


I wonder if he believes in God,

could believe in God

after all the senseless misery

he’s seen.


It makes me wonder

if I believe in God,

could believe in God

outside of my cocoon of middle class comfort.

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