March 7, 2018

Richard Prins


For I have sinned. It has been six months since my last submission.

During that time, I got liquored up on a few hundred occasions, often to forget my responsibilities, and sometimes in pursuit of carnal relations.

I also accepted key bumps in a few divey bathrooms even though I never liked that crap, and snorted lines of ecstasy to mark certain milestones in a hedonistic manner.

I only went to church once, Editor, unless you count meetings to resist our new president that happened to take place inside of a church, where I gained more sustenance than I ever do noshing on the body of Christ.

Editor, I do not recall taking your name in vain (though I didn’t thank you for your consideration last time you rejected me), but I sure cursed my Lord and Savior every chance I got, every time I missed a bus, stubbed my toe, spilt a drink, or checked my bank statement near the end of the month.

Moreover, I participated in the capitalist economy every day, by making purchases of questionable practicality, by making payments on loans and accepting payments of rent, by owning property and thereby fomenting the oppression of mankind,

And I did not give money to everyone who asked me, even though I’ve read the Bible and know it’s what Jesus would do, no matter if they were rude, flaky, or an ex-girlfriend (Editor, did Jesus have ex-girlfriends?),

And several times I became disconsolate and grumpy when my partner did not want to have relations with me,

And several times I became anxious she might have relations with someone who was not me, even though I had relations with people who were not her, and felt sad about it, and complained about that sadness to my partner,

Who loves me as only a goddess could and deserves neither my mistrust nor my hypocrisy,

Therefore I never lied to her, Editor, but I lied in small ways to almost everyone else, and never ceased considering myself an exceptionally honest person.

Editor, I picked my nose and ate the boogers no matter how many bystanders I disgusted.

I littered and defiled our planet, tossed dead batteries in my household trash, and I did not recycle everything I could recycle.

Editor, I grew too easily frustrated with my daughter’s mother, even though she is a commendable mother,

And when I visited their home I did not resist patriarchal exigencies, or change an equitable amount of diapers, or cook or do much cleaning,

And though I thanked the Lord profusely for my baby’s health and beauty, and though my prolonged absences from her life are surely penance for sins long past, I still don’t comprehend how joy and pain can feed each other so lavishly.

It’s dark in here, Editor.

I can’t see you, and didn’t bother learning your name.

Are all my sins written in my face?

Do you know how much I’m not telling you because it would be too lurid to print?

Have you already stopped reading?

I made derogatory comments about puppies; Editor, I just don’t like them.

I referred to police officers as “pigs” while marching for black lives; although I believe dehumanizing language is amoral and violent, I did not believe it was my place to amend a mass chant.

I was probably blocking traffic at the time, which is a violation not a sin, but the pigs didn’t arrest me for it, so it falls on you to punish me, Editor,

For I have lived as a cis-and-mostly-straight white male, mindlessly accumulating privilege and dressing in a manner that could be described as culturally appropriative,

And I submit to you that I allowed too many white people to smile at me in the days following the 2016 presidential election.

Though I pined for their swift and just obliteration from the earth (which is violent and sinful), I did not include that wish for the white race’s annihilation in my prayers (which is surely just as sinful, I mean don’t you agree God should just fucking smite us already?)

And I harbored baleful thoughts towards anyone who obstructed me on the subway or sidewalk even though I habitually obstructed others on the subway and sidewalk,

And I harbored lustful thoughts for a mushroom burrito last week and did not stop myself from committing gluttony,

And I harbored jealous thoughts whenever someone I knew was being published or celebrated more than me,

But nevertheless I cowered from risk in my own writing, and spent many afternoons throwing back mojitos at the beach with my partner, basking in her splendor when I should have been clamping my ass to my ratty swivel chair and digging the real poems out of my chest,

So here they are, my detestable sins against our human enterprise,

For which I ask your absolution, Editor, who art good and deserving of my love.

With my whole depraved heart, I regret offending thee.

from Rattle #58, Winter 2017

[download audio]


Richard Prins: “I’ve never confessed my sins to a priest, and I don’t usually confess them in my poems either. But I like to think of writing poetry as a cross between prayer and singing in the shower. After all, we poets sure do spend a lot of time wondering if anybody’s actually listening. (And when someone does, I usually can’t decide whether to be thankful or embarrassed.)” (web)

Rattle Logo