Book of Praises: Bones

I will praise you O Lord
for having no interest in the bones
of dead bodies:
you have not asked
where they are buried;

for you, my God,
have not concerned yourself
with rubbing it in,
nor will you cease lashing
to pour out vinegar.

I will praise you for the incision,
and for the missing rib;
I will lift my voice
under your steady hands,

for you, my Love,
are hiding it somewhere new:
I will wrap my arms around her.
I will recognise those notches.

Book of Praises: Miracle

When I bowed beside the river,
hands knit to slake thirst,
you heard me, the axe head
floating on the face of the water;
I looked back to my pile of masks
knowing what to do
(and now, how to do it).

When I had finally gotten somewhere
much like a mountain, coals over my shoulder,
you heard my dishonest letdown
at forgetting the weapon;
an angel from behind, saying,
“The Lord will provide the gun.”

Book of Praises: Jericho

This is the struggle to believe
you are love: that I can be naked
and ashamed to see you throwing knives
as if blindfolded.

But I’ve never been the good child:
this damned pyrite streak keeps
showing up as I get deeper.

Are you love?
Then, give me something lovely,
like the strength to keep
lovely things intact.

Or, give me glory; tonight
your smallest cubbyhole
would suffice.

Book of Praises: Bashan

Great is your irony, oh God my father,
in twisting the strings so I dance
where I swore I’d never step;

you are a mystery in breaking down
idols two at a time,
hands and feet broken off
before the altar;

you bid me carry censor and wood
up the mountain (I will prove
a good lamb);

you are turning me inside out:
I am not who I thought I was.

Book of Praises: The Seventh Day

While the child was still alive,
I was toe-to-the-altar bleeding
prayer from my forehead;
while it still lived,
I was pushing paper into
the wall.

But you have gavelled;
I have acquiesced,
no circling spacecraft
above the bed.

Can I bring you back again?
No, I will go to you,
but you will not return
to me.

Book of Praises: Timeliness

Prayer in the morning:
thank you for filling my mouth
with pebbles,
for working those muscles
with your fingers,
for the taste of soap
suds on my tongue.

Prayer at midday:
thank you for teaching me how
to say the hard words,
or paint the awful pictures
of my freakshow lovers,
or write down that I am a
sinner primarily.

Prayer for nightfall:
thank you for punching me in the face
when I was twenty-five,
for grace O’Connor would have
been proud of,
for the fact I am
not fifty-two.

Book of Praises: Psalm

The Lord is my surgeon;
I will never lack scars.

He ties me down to the gurney;
he leads me down quiet hallways.

He divides my soul, and threads
righteousness into my flesh
like a holy doctor.

Even though I walk
through dreams of torture,
I fear no sharpness:
you have already cut.
Your scalpel and saw,
they terrify me.

You prepare a table before me
in the presence of my enemies:
You anoint my head with alcohol –
my blood bubbles from the incision.

Surely the surgeon will follow me
all the days of my life;
I will know the inside of this hospital:
you will teach me to love.

Book of Praises: Endings

How long has this rope
been wrapped around my neck?
The burns are there to witness
the three years spent
proving myself faithless.

Wishes are ropes. Walls are ropes.
Regrets are ropes.

You cut them and below,
to the muscle, to the bone,
as if to say carelessness
is reciprocal.

But you cut them.