by Jack Sullivan



The Reverent



Or so he says, intoning each word
     Like a Roman emperor,
         Not a kid.

            “Where do you think he learned that voice?”
                 My brother asks, as our teacher
                      Pushes us to the floor,

                           Not realizing
                                Even on our knees
                                    We’re still bigger than him.




Spare me your banalities                                                                                               I know


About heaven,                                                                                                               I don’t


How I’m supposed to feel.                                                                                            I know


I’ve been priced out                                                                                                      I don’t


Of your wanting,                                                                                                           I know


Days spent searching                                                                                                   I don’t


For my next fix.                                                                                                             I know




When we say it
Why don’t we ever think
About the pagans?


How the act for them
Was all

Screaming?                                                                                                                       Singing?






Instead we’ve got:


A solemn request for help or an expression of thanks addressed to God or an object of worship.




I think about this red-headed girl I’ve known for ages.
We’ve gotten drunk together, broken bread.
How she said I’ll pray for you when asked
What she really thought about me.


Less a promise than a threat.




I pray to you, for you
The moment before I enter.
Less promise than wish,
An everlasting hope for
A life free from pain.




So many people pray                                                                                                 [Christians]





                                                                                                                                   [insert religion]


Yet pain still exists // As if
                                                All our screaming // singing

                                                                                Was absorbed by air

                                                                                                                And became // electric.


How else to explain
                When my hair // stands on end?




What constitutes heaven, anyways?
       No one can agree. Some say
                    Up // other says down // While I think
                         It’s all around us, even if
                             That’s the easiest way to respond.




I still pray on planes.


Planes are fucking scary.




Oh god,

For whom or what

Should I worship?


Well that depends


On what?


On what wounds

You let pass

And what wounds

Move through you




Like outside this window,
The trees whispering in the wind.

The sun’s been rising
From hours on end,

But soon day will come,
Bringing a flame

So great, I’ll forget
You’re beside me.



Jack Sullivan is a writer and visual artist living in Brooklyn, NY. Some of his work can be found in Yes, Poetry, Ghost City Review, and Thimble Lit