ON PRAYER


by Jack Sullivan


 

Assume

The Reverent

Position

 

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]

                                                                                                                                   [Muslims]

                                                                                                                                   [Hindus]

                                                                                                                                   [Buddhists]

                                                                                                                                   [Zoroastrians]

                                                                                                                                   [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