Sunday, March 20, 2016

Twisted Prayers


Tucked beneath an overpass,
a makeshift lounge gathering
of apophatic theologians
kneels at a crack pipe altar
to smoke twisted prayers of escape.

Never knowing how long it will take
to reach rock bottom, blistered eyes
calculate the stretch in torn pockets
by the flesh crawl on the clock
to determine when to pass the dust.

Sitting in a red light meditation,
tongue primed to litter with condemnation,
I feel my conscience speak, “Although your
list of errors didn’t lead to this communion
you need to own your reflection in a broken mirror.”

The same sun shines on both sides of the sidewalk
casting shadows on two routes of escape.
A horn blast tries to crowd the line
between hope and hopeless….

All eyes watch for the color green.

  
©Susie Clevenger 2016


Karin Gustafson prompted us to pick a poem written by another poet. Ingest it a little.  And then write something of your own. I went searching and found a poet and a poem totally new to me. I chose Coffee & Dolls by April Bernard.



9 comments:

Jim said...

For some reason, Susie, this one makes me smile. Though I didn't join the under-the-bridge church I have watched for the face crawl to pass the Vicodin pill, not the dust. This isn't a good situation to be in but those there are glad they are.
I wasn't expecting your ending but I liked the sunshine on the sidewalk, both sides. I dare say many will sit through the green light, waiting for the next red.
..

brudberg said...

This is stunning in it's keen observation of the chemical worship, mostly because we are not all that different ourselves... It's really the same sunshine, and the same longing for green... Wonderful poem...

Kerry O'Connor said...

The opening image of drug-abuse turned into a religion is very powerful, Susie. Each verse is a tight and sometimes scathing description of social degeneration. It is hard to know when and how to care - yet one is forced to bear witness to the fall. I haven't read the poem which inspired yours yet, but this is as a fine a piece of poetry as any publisher could hope to find.

Magaly Guerrero said...

"tongue primed to litter with condemnation," I love your use of the word "litter" in this context. So appropriate... and telling.

hedgewitch said...

First thanks for apophatic--a great word and one I had never known. Second, thanks for your poem, which skates on the thin ice of choice and circumstance that separates the fortunate from the failed--the images are moving and so cleanly drawn. Third, thanks for the link to your source poem--a great one, and a new poet for me as well.

Sherry Blue Sky said...

The sunshine on both sides of the street - peoples' choices. That route of escape is a nightmare one, which you have captured well.

Outlawyer said...

Dear Susie, an intense and strongly felt poem--the volume of your feelings can be heard here in every line--I love the idea especially of a red light meditation and then the way you end on green. I actually think of Lorca here-yo lo quiero verde--or whatever that poem is, but yours is a different and its own very valid and real take--thanks so much for playing along--k.

Gillena Cox said...

I live your inspired poem I also read the Coffee and dolls. The pain and greif of human degradation through drugs and abuse is well translated

Much love...

Margaret said...

I flipped over and read the inspirational poem and the line "but I've been looking for a narrative in which suffering makes sense" ... you've captured that in spades here..