Wednesday, November 21, 2018

Poets United Midweek Motif ~ Prayer

The sacred Mount Kailash in Tibet.
Bild:Kailash Tibet.jpg; photo taken by Heringf

“I talk to God but the sky is empty.” 
― Sylvia Plath

“If the only prayer you said was thank you, that would be enough.” 
― Meister Eckhart

“You pray in your distress and in your need; would that you might pray also in the fullness of your joy and in your days of abundance.” ― Kahill Gibran

“I prayed for freedom for twenty years, but received no answer 
until I prayed with my legs.” ― Frederick Douglass

"I believe some people-- lots of people-- pray through the witness of their lives, through the work they do, the friendships they have, the love they offer people and receive from people. Since when are words the only acceptable form of prayer?” ― Dorothy Day

"There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.”― Rumi

Midweek Motif ~ Prayer

Thousands of poems say they are prayers, and hundreds of books exist about prayer.  Still more poems and prose are prayer-like without saying so ~ Walt Whitman's and Mary Oliver's poems, for example. 

So what can we add?  Poems about our experience-based knowledge?  Mystic moments?  Silence? Rejection? Love?  

What haven't you said?  
What bears repeating?

Your Challenge:  Write a new poem in which the narrator observes prayer or reveals some truth about prayer.

I happened to be Standing

by Mary Oliver

"I don't know where prayers go,
     or what they do.
Do cats pray, while they sleep
     half-asleep in the sun?
Does the opossum pray as it
     crosses the street?
The sunflowers? The old black oak
     growing older every year?" 

a poem in seven parts

my knees recall the pockets
worn into the stone floor,
my hands, tracing against
the wall their original name, remember
the cold brush of brick, and the smell
of the brick powdery and wet
and the light finding its way in
through the high bars.

and also the sisters singing
at matins, their sweet music
the voice of the universe at peace
and the candles their light the light
at the beginning of creation
and the wonderful simplicity of prayer
smooth along the wooden beads
and certainly attended.

someone inside me remembers

that my knees must be hidden away
that my hair must be shorn
so that vanity will not test me
that my fingers are places of prayer
and are holy that my body is promised
to something more certain
than myself
. . . .
(Read the rest HERE.)
He did not wear his scarlet coat, 
For blood and wine are red, 
And blood and wine were on his hands 
When they found him with the dead, 
The poor dead woman whom he loved, 
And murdered in her bed. 

He walked amongst the Trial Men 
In a suit of shabby gray; 
A cricket cap was on his head, 
And his step seemed light and gay; 
But I never saw a man who looked 
So wistfully at the day. 

I never saw a man who looked 
With such a wistful eye 
Upon that little tent of blue 
Which prisoners call the sky, 
And at every drifting cloud that went 
With sails of silver by. 

I walked, with other souls in pain, 
Within another ring, 
And was wondering if the man had done 
A great or little thing, 
When a voice behind me whispered low, 
"That fellow's got to swing." 

Dear Christ! the very prison walls 
Suddenly seemed to reel, 
And the sky above my head became 
Like a casque of scorching steel; 
And, though I was a soul in pain, 
My pain I could not feel. 

I only knew what hunted thought 
Quickened his step, and why 
He looked upon the garish day 
With such a wistful eye; 
The man had killed the thing he loved, 
And so he had to die. 

Yet each man kills the thing he loves, 
By each let this be heard, 
Some do it with a bitter look, 
Some with a flattering word, 
The coward does it with a kiss, 
The brave man with a sword! 

Some kill their love when they are young, 
And some when they are old; 
Some strangle with the hands of Lust, 
Some with the hands of Gold: 
The kindest use a knife, because 
The dead so soon grow cold. 

Some love too little, some too long, 
Some sell, and others buy; 
Some do the deed with many tears, 
And some without a sigh: 
For each man kills the thing he loves, 
Yet each man does not die. 
. . . . 
(Read the rest HERE.)

Norman Rockwell, Golden Rule, 1961. Cover illustration for The Saturday Evening Post, April 1, 1961. © SEPS: Curtis Licensing, Indianapolis, IN. Courtesy of the Norman Rockwell Museum and the New York Historical Society Museum & Library.
Norman Rockwell, Golden Rule, 1961.

Please share your new poem using Mr. Linky below and visit others in the spirit of the community.   (Next week Sumana’s Midweek Motif will be ~ Morning Poem.)


  1. Hello everyone! I'm going out to catch the night train just now. Hope to visit you all tomorrow. Happy Wednesday :)

  2. Me, too! It's a travel day for me. And that's why I'm late and will be in and out all day and through the USA holiday. Traveling mercies! Have a great day everyone.

  3. Happy Wednesday to all fellow poets

    much love...

  4. My travelling laptop is doing funny things adding words and letters. Iff you see something strange, that is why.


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