This poem came from the March 6, 2012 Poetry Fishbowl. It was inspired by the_vulture and sponsored by Anthony and Shirley Barrette. You can read the other poems in The Ocracies series through the Serial Poetry page.
The Hagiocracy of Gyronny
served the Divine
without feeling compelled
to be any more specific than that.
Their priests were much sought as chaplains,
for they could fit into any army
and figure out the needs of every soldier.
When Staulos took oath as a chaplain,
he found the world weirder than he had expected.
In the Plutocracy of Aurea,
people worshipped an idol of gold
and prayed in complex calculations.
In the Hipparchy of Pelip, the idols were wood
and honored the Lady of Horses.
The Hamarchy of Helgi had a whole pantheon of their own,
each deity with its icon or altar or other symbols,
but they were just as willing to pray to everyone else's too.
To Staulos it seemed strange
that anyone would try to personify the Divine.
It was like painting faces on the wind.
Only the Bonocracy of Ophele was familiar,
for they followed more of a philosophy than a religion,
adhering to that which was good
without insisting on a God or Goddess of Good
(although Helgi had one of each that it would happily loan out).
Staulos learned to compose sermons
with an Aurean counterpart
clicking away at her prayer beads nearby,
busy as an accountant at an abacus.
He incorporated the Pelippi techniques
for conducting rituals on horseback,
always convenient in an army on the move.
He collected a complete set of Helgian symbols
with which anyone could address a deity
suited to the needs of the moment.
The Letters of Good Intent from the Ophelese teachings
were far too many to collect in full,
but Staulos read what he could of them
and found the philosophy a fine support for his conscience.
When the clashes came, though,
and littered the battlefields with bloody dead
and the howling remains of able-bodied men,
Staulos found that the differences
were not so great after all.
A dying man would call for water,
for his mother,
for someone -- anyone --
to take his hand that he might not die alone.
And the wind of his last breath
was as faceless and as sacred as his first,
and Staulos felt honored to be there
to guide it toward its Divine home.