Poem: Beyond Prayer

temptation

Trying to keep this jangling bag of nerves together,

Drip-pissed, demented, quaking in coffee shops, and

Waiting for some limb-soothing nurse to cart my

Panic away

*

What is this sprite of spasms infecting my heart?

Filling it with troubling smoke, wild, untamed,

Writhing like the underbelly of a millipede in

A raven’s beak, its myriad legs writhing, but

Not one of them finding a sanctuary of solid

Ground on which to stand

*

Just a hysterical nursling

Attacked by a nervous system

That has ambitions far beyond this body

*

Like a puppet in the hands of a palsied owner,

I cannot stop shaking – my body grows cold,

And my nerves chatter disobediently among

Themselves, like a swarm of wasps, tied together

By string, yet tangled into a mess, flying in different

Directions – and I sympathize with the spasmodic, the cripple,

The epileptic, the stroke-victim, the paralytic – all those afflicted

With anatomies no longer obeying their orders

*

“Cells!” I call out. “Cannot you work together?

Must you be so insistent on mutinying against

Me?”

*

“Down with him! Down with Reuben!”

They yell in seditious cheer, binding me

Down like a maniacal Gulliver, and pricking

Me all over with pickaxes and knives, except

For the more modern of this fiendish host

Who employ cattle prods, tazers, and infrasonic

Nuns

*

Sprawled out and sick, I can feel my spine

Twitching, longing to crawl out of this shivering

Spasm of skin; preaching to people in silence from

The bench on which I writhe – a demagogue of

Dourness that the Good Lord did contrive

*

II.

And I’m beyond prayers – beyond praying –

Whatever the universe wants, the universe gets,

And I am just part of the getting

*

The heat of the sun, and the heaviness of the moment

Nail me to the ground: everything is condensed into this

Moment – all the pain, the light, the despair, the joy of

Seeing the blueness of the sky, and the existential dread of

Knowing it is not enough – and yet it has to be enough –

It has to!

These are the things that keep me going:

Just little acts of mercy,

Little acts of mercy

*

A sun shining,

And then not shining,

Only to shine all over again

*

 

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