by Buddy Wakefield
I pray thanks
for the woman’s heels
I heard on the way here tonight-
they sounded like salt.
When I pray
I pray thanks for the small things,
for flowers and other natural holidays,
for my eight-year-old niece flying her kite
like an umbilical cord.
When I was eight
I prayed for a chest of kites.
Now I pray for You to open
my chest of kites.
Lord, let me write,
leave me autistic and typing
until my windows bust into a thousand silver doves
and I know the poem is done.
And when the words break too much glass inside me
I run when I pray.
I run when I pray on trails
watching the branches blur
to the sun’s Holy Sanskrit.
I carry your forests
in my heart.
are on my back.
I have not fit your ocean into my chest
but I have fit its sound.
our prayers come
from the ground up.
My God’s abridged book
is a children’s story
where the lessons are simple
and the smiles lift like first grade watercolors.
When I pray
I pray in museums.
I pray over sweat-stained stages.
I pray with vinyl prayer wheels.
I pray by reading math, eating pocket-watches
to suck the chain back to your chest.
You are the men and their saws.
You are silence.
You are gospels.
You are the shoulders of woman
whose name I never learned.
You are the fire returned back to itself
When we pray
our chests peel back
like open love letters the size of tide,
the way tide sounds
when it crashes your tympanum,
the way tympanum sounds
when it turns the word eardrum into a cymbal.
We play percussion when we pray.
We sing when we pray.
We laugh when we pray.
When I pray I move my feet
for the goosebump
in the heartbeat…
And I drop my jaw at fire when it’s flyin’ out my eyes, Lord
I plunge my coiling wires in the water till I rise
and pop rocks
of roof tops
and the noises I can’t outrun
even when I’m running twice the speed of sound already
and three times the speed of my blood
’cause everybody’s got voices
and everybody’s got some they can’t contain
like my need to be redeemed
at any time
in any place.
So you can bring on your boogieman loading his fuss
and gunning his fattening desire
’cause we’ve got bees on flowers
with honey on hold
for those made of gold
but wrapped in wires
who keep themselves inspired
by the way they feel their spines
screaming, sparkling gods
who gotta live by the way they shine.
And this is not a dot-to-dot plot
or a battle on your god
of the makers of money (odd mockers of the drum)
who all peel and staple great gobs of large labels
to a god they just wanna slum.
this is my time and place.
This is me saving my saved face.
So if my heart starts to radiate bold broken glass,
it always pumps this fast.
So get thee behind me blindness
and come to me quietly light.
Our god loves people like poems,
loves poems like prayers,
and loves prayers even when they are silent.
We pray until our words run out,
By Wislawa Szymborska
We are very polite to each other,
insist it’s nice meeting after all these years.
Our tigers drink milk.
Our hawks walk on the ground.
Our sharks drown in water.
Our wolves yawn in front of the open cage.
Our serpents have shaken off lightning,
The bats—long ago now—have flown out of our hair.
We fall silent in mid-phrase,
smiling beyond salvation.
have nothing to say.
(Joao Cabral de Melo Neto)