The Man who Wanted to Save the World


A seething gang of teens surrounds him,
mocking, calling him names,
Stealing his concentration,
but he will not be defeated; he’s here
to save the world.

Catcalls, insults and derision
almost overwhelm the voices in his head.
He will not listen; they are sent
to deflect him from his divine duty
to save the world.

He strains to hear the angel’s voice,
but the rudeness intrudes,
diluting essential information –
instructions which he is convinced
will save the world.

A Sainsburys receipt floats past his feet,
its jumbled numbers will reveal
a secret code for him alone,
he who was selected by the highest deity
to save the world.

As the youths close in, he strikes out,
screaming, spittle flying from his mouth,
splattering an angry face. Someone cries out
“He’s just a crazy crank, a tramp. Nobody will care.
Let’s have him, lads.”

A slip of paper escapes from a slack hand
to land in a spreading pool of blood. Absorbing the gore,
its empty message blurs as tears forget to fall
for the man who failed
to save the world.

Image supplied by Pixabay.

©Jane Paterson Basil

26 thoughts on “The Man who Wanted to Save the World

    1. This post has triggered a thought about how homeless women get better treatment than men. They’re potentially more vulnerable, and yet possibly in less danger – or in a different kind of danger, and more likely to get help than men.
      I wouldn’t dare say that on Facebook…

      Liked by 1 person

        1. A lot of the pseudo feminists (man haters who are therefore as sexist as they came) would say my point isn’t relevant, since “men are the ones who caused the mess in the first place.” I’m on FB, but I’m not active there.

          Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you. This one made me quite emotional. The character – although male – was based on someone very close to me, before she went into recovery from addiction. It made me realise that if she had been a man, she might have got a rougher deal.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. So vulnerable out on the street, aren’t they? This is so well done, so heartfelt and sad. And I love the idea of him on a huge mission, if only he can hear the words – heartbreaking, Jane. The structure and repetition work so well here

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you, Lynn. I’ve seen psychosis like that, and it’s horrible for the sufferer. His is the only truth he knows and he’s convinced the world is against him. If you try to help, you are most likely to be seen as an enemy. He’s frightened and alone, and it often translates into anger.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. We had a neighbour years ago with a neurosis like this – he was convinced there were lines of power running through the walls and gates, convinced my father in law murdered a friend of his, scribbled geometric patterns in notebooks. Goodness knows what he thought was happening in the world, but he was definitely at the centre of it in his head

        Liked by 1 person

        1. It’s a terrible place to be. When Laura was in that state, there was nothing I could do to help. Once, when I was in Sussex, she rang me to say she was about to be murdered by her friend (who was trying to help her) and if she didn’t ring back within fifteen minutes, I was to call the police, and send them to her friend’s address. She didn’t call me back, and didn’t answer when I phoned her – she was too scared.

          Liked by 1 person

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