“Prayer for Anything but Prayer” by Chris Emslie

Chris Emslie


for Omar Mateen

I have felt Florida
like a man’s hands
on my shoulders
felt thumbs
in my clavicles
compel my whole
body to the ground
I have offered
myself to gravity &
been laid open
along the curve of
a root I have been
overcome by light
overcome by song
overcome by wanting
& I have been that hot
kernel of rage have
been a room with
too many walls
have been a bandana
between my lover’s teeth
I have let another
man’s mouth take
mine & been quickened
by it I have put my limbs
in the way of danger
for the sake of collision
I have lofted noises
at my own end & been
shouted down
by nothing
I have profaned
I have holied & if god
be willing I am not
done being undone

Poets Respond
June 14, 2016

[download audio]


Chris Emslie: “This is a poem in response to Saturday night’s shooting in Orlando. I wanted to write a poem that followed the logic and rhetoric of a religious litany, that recognizes the need for more than faith in a time of tragedy, but also expresses my own gratitude to be both queer and alive. I dedicate it to the shooter, Omar Mateen, in the spirit of maintaining dignity in the face of hatred.” (website)

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