PRAYER: Prayers Of Daniel Berrigan

Prayers Of Daniel Berrigan

Prayer of the Vindicated

Thank you at last. The question indeed
was long and vexed, allowing of
infinite delay, this or that stab at solution
well-intentioned, in long run unavailing.

Then the state gathered strength out of weakness,
a dynastic leopard starved itself for the feast.
A people known in the world for its achievement;
coals, gases, alkaloids, engines, boots
and amenities more precise and cunning —
false teeth, false hair, the reprocessing of
old bones and bottles, melting down of jewelry —
a genius to make the head spin in the telling!

Well, we were a chosen people
once more chosen! The gears ground fine
the fires were stoked. Our children
included
in the vast ‘definitive solution,’
swept along, a minor debris — shoes, scraps of clothing,
a scrawled diary — in the universal tide,
crying like caged birds
at the railroad sidings,
shoved like matzoth trays
into the ovens.

We came too, cajoled
to the same ruin. The smoke stood up
here and there in the faultless sky, a ghetto baking
before sabbath eve.

Chosen! the winch squeals like a tortured
animal, the wine press oozes red.
Chosen! the rings stripped from the women’s’ fingers,
the mailed bridegroom; Jahweh, our God a consuming fire!


Prayer on the Six P.M. Subway

unsteady
my prayer mounts or falls why do I
waste so want so
O make room
in the kingdom of light for lack lusters
among the austere and severe
for malfunctioning men
only this to their credit NO GREAT HARM DONE
only passage writes
MAYBE on water

nevertheless
might make it yet
who knows who knows
whether some hour
turns us on
unbelievable
as Christ’s new somersaulting
start his words his heart


Prayer from the Catbird Seat

will you for a space of days
refuse my games
be yourself mercilessly
be serious in the world uncorrupted by our gods
stand unwavering
beside the faulty and perplexed
the ridden and victimized
speak modestly act audaciously
sing FREEDOM in the teeth of law
be forbearing be equable
under obscene threats
see good
where rumor smells only evil
widen communion reduce to zero
the no-man’s waste of hatred
yes, strike gently the strings
of inarticulate hearts
O be YOURSELF supersensible
available
overflow
LIFE! a runnel so pure it cleanses
the stables of our foul wills
so deep we are borne along drowned ecstatic
metamorphosed out of our sweet skins
are YOU
east or west poor or in possession
squatter in Watts rotting in jails somnolent suburban
yes
allowing
vicious depredations against
bone and flesh of BROTHERS?
be ANSWER be QUESTION ABSENCE and PRESENCE
WHEN and WHERE and WHO
O
TERMAGANT of history TIGER overarching
with your electric body our skies
unfended CHILDHOOD intellectual GRANDEUR
SCOPE beyond compassing!
come EASTER
FLOWERS BIRDS FLYING TREES and MEN
erase with your mouth to mouth respiration
the mortician smile of death
come PEACE and SWORD
break the locked fists of dominations
upon our throats
come SURGEON knit into one
cunning anthropos the bones bones dry bones
slack jaws scattered knees
of the amnesiac dead
come desert SUN
suck into nothing
our brackish
serpentine joys
come STIGMATIC
write on our blue eyeballs
words you learned by heart
in death’s hideous limbo
where none but you escaped
his overkill arrogant reach
GLORY GLORY GLORY


Prayer From a Back Pew

O GOD YOU HAVE DECLARED TO ALL THE
CHILDREN OF YOUR CHURCH BY THE
VOICE OF YOUR HOLY PROPHETS

Well I don’t know, at least I wonder. One kid dead,
the old man out of work, the girl on the town not
coming home at all. You get to wonder. If the check
doesn’t come I

THAT THROUGH THE WHOLE EXTENT OF
YOUR DOMINION YOU ARE THE SOWER OF
GOOD SEED AND THE GROWER OF

stand in line all afternoon; ache, varicose, dread.
“Good seed and chosen vines!” I haven’t seen
anything green in years, the drought kills

CHOSEN VINES. GRANT TO YOUR PEOPLE
WHOM YOU HAVE SYMBOLICALLY CALLED
YOUR VINE AND HARVEST

it all off. You don’t ask for much but
it does seem hard — “thorns and briars.”
I know. You have less and less to

THAT WITH ALL THORNS AND BRIARS
REMOVED THEY MAY BE WORTHY TO
BRING FORTH GOOD FRUIT IN
ABUNDANCE

give — you just make it. Less joy, that’s the
worst of all. “Good fruit in

THROUGH OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST YOUR
SON WHO LIVES AND REIGNS GOD
FOREVER AND EVER. AMEN.

abundance” — a pound of spotted apples, a
soup bone, some marrow. I can tell you next
year’s meals, years and years.
But we’ll get there I know.
Through Christ
our Lord. That’s the word that sticks. Sometimes
in your craw, sometimes in your heart. The boys bought
me an Easter plant. It’ll be on the table, white and
green and all. You don’t need much.


Prayer for the Morning Headlines

MERCIFULLY GRANT PEACE IN OUR DAYS. THROUGH YOUR HELP MAY WE BE FREED FORM PRESENT DISTRESS. . . . HAVE MERCY ON WOMEN AND CHILDREN HOMELESS IN FOUL WEATHER, RANTING LIKE BEES AMONG GUTTED BARNS AND STILES. HAVE MERCY ON THOSE (LIKE US) CLINGING ONE TO ANOTHER UNDER FIRE, TERROR ON TERROR, GRAPES THE GRAPE SHOT STRIKES. HAVE MERCY ON THE DEAD, BEFOULED, TRODDEN LIKE SNOW IN HEDGES AND THICKETS. HAVE MERCY, DEAD MAN, WHOSE GRANDIOSE GENTLE HOPE DIED ON THE WING, WHOSE BODY STOOD LIKE A TREE BETWEEN STRIKE AND FALL, STOOD LIKE A CRIPPLE ON HIS WOODEN CRUTCH. WE CRY: HALT! WE CRY: PASSWORD! DISHONORED HEART, REMEMBER AND REMIND, THE OPEN SESAME: FROM THERE TO HERE, FROM INNOCENCE TO US: HIROSHIMA DRESDEN GUERNICA SELMA SHARPEVILLE CONVENTRY DACHAU. INTO OUR HISTORY, PASS! SEED HOPE. FLOWER PEACE.


Prayer for the Big Morning

People my heart
with the living! their cries like
fists, their sight healing
my eyes foreclosing night.
Would be
that one and populous
heart of man;
O cries like fists
O sight set free!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

w

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: