I talk to God in the dark.

Thank him thirty-three times.

Give praise thirty-three times.

Thirty-three times I say

I’m sorry.

I ask for forgiveness.

Often not knowing what for.


My mother used to

light incense. Stand over us

in the dark.

And send her prayers

in the smoke.


On those nights

I stayed awake.

Saw the smoke take on

the form of a woman

lost in the desert,

a man being swallowed

by a whale, a serpent

inhaling the world whole.


Mornings were greeted

by the smell of ash.

And anxiety ridden

memories we did not live,

the fear of mistakes

we had not yet made.

And love.


My existence was delivered

by sin. I wonder if God knows

I’m sorry

To be alive. Wonder if that’s why

I spent this lifetime 

swallowing saltwater

in anticipation of drowning.

If living is my penance.


I wish my body was not

made of mud and ruin.

I fantasize combusting

into fire and lighting

my own way.


But none of my history

Is history enough to learn from.

My fingers do not recognize

they were made to count

prayers. My hands reach too far.


My mother does not come

into my room anymore.

Those empty nights

I still get down on my knees,

Press my head to the floor,

and search for something holy.

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