Prayers while throwing stuff

Pondering grief from Baghdad to Baton Rouge, Medina to Minneapolis, Dhaka to Dallas (and points in between)

by Ken Sehested

We each pray for different
reasons in different seasons,
too often steady-headed,
manners-minded, when
indelicacy is now needed
        —prayers while throwing
        stuff against the wall—

whether in rapture or in rage,
banging against the cage of
knock-off propriety,
boorish pleasantries,
self-referencing piety
when it is precisely this
self-bordered life
that must be breached
if blood-soaked streets
are to stand a chance
in the light of
Judgment Day’s inquest,
crippled heart recoiling
from what it fears,
jaundiced against all
it cannot control,
cheered by death’s leer
and sacred call to arms—
        lest justice be denied!—
but brutal arms they be,
assaulting arms, separating
tissue from bone,
breath from lung,
hands from caress,
babies from breasts,
words from truth,
hopes from healing,
vision from revealing
the ties that bind
        but do not strangle,
the lover’s reach which
        does not entangle,
the wing that shadows
        but never wrangles.

Dare to rave within
Heaven’s hearing!
Scorch the roof of your
mouth with incantation.
Hurl your disquieted heart
at every tranquil caution.
Risk unpleasantry in the
company of angels.
Demand a hearing with
the Most High.
Journey with Job into
the whirlwind’s gale.
Demand an answer:

        Who, indeed, can
        deliver from this
        body of death?

The shackling terms of our
Constituting covenant, the
aftermath of independence,
seeding slave-harvested
bounty and monetized
virtue, still haunt and
impair our most beloved
intentions. From this
white-washed sepulcher,

By the waters of Babylon
we sit weeping,
how can we sing
Deliverance’s song
in a strange land?

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The week of 4 July 2016
©ken sehested @