2/6/08 – Brian Clements

06 Feb

Disappointed Psalms

If I had said “Mission accomplished,”

I would have been untrue to the generation of my children.
Yes, I hear the whispering of many—terror on every side!

But my tongue is stuck to my jaw
And all my bones are out of joint

And I can barely stand to speak,
Like a boxer who wanders

From Everlast to Everlast,
Beaten half to death

By the eyes of a child.
The ordinance of their mouths

Outweighs the ordinance of their planes
And the ordinance of their secret prisons

And the ordinance of their training camps
And the ordinance of their FBI and CIA

And the ordinance of their Madrassa
And the ordinance of their pestilential balls

But only by a feather.
Lord, they are like me, I think;

There is no truth in their mouths.
Their mouths chew lies

And their bellies are filled with lies.
And while the food was still in their mouths

Their own tables before them became a snare.
If I were hungry I would not tell you.
I am more angry at George W. Bush,
Than I am at you,
And I am more angry at Dick Cheney, Lord,

Than I am at your hosts,
And I am more angry at Osama bin Laden, Lord,

Than I am at your 3 times 3.
And I am more angry at my silence, Lord,

Than at all the world.
The first person to ignore

Is the person who says loudest

“Give ear to my words.”
His heart is destruction,

And his throat is an open sepulcher.
Let him fall by his own counsel.
And all who knew their Lord

Wanted their mouths
To be filled

With the mouth of the Lord.
And when they spoke

It was a wish.
And then from the heavens

The helicopter fell.
What profit is there, Lord,

In longing to live in your tent forever?
Everyone knows that even your tent

Is shredded by the suicide’s shrapnel,
Everyone knows that even your tent

Is pounded by the pilot’s bombs.
Let no one dwell in their tents, Lord,

But let those who love your name dwell in it
Where it is written in the shelter

Of your fighter jet’s wing.
One who realizes he is not a believer

May clothe himself with curses as his cloak,
And he may set up the sign of ignorance

As his own sign.
But one who realizes he is a believer

May know you, Lord,
And he may set himself up as your creditor

And seize all that he can,
And he may set up shop

In your name.
Lord, were you not there

And were your minions not there
When fire rained down

Upon heads in the mosque
Like the Pentecost descending

Upon the heads of the Apostles?
Were you not there in the stadium

For the public executions?
Were you not there

When they called?
The law of the mouth

Is now the law of shattered teeth,
Law of swallowed blood,

Hushed voice of common men and women
Checked off in Florida,

Out of range on C-130s,
Suddenly sunk in New Orleans.

I am poured out like water,
For the waters have come up to my neck.
The science behind

My mouth
Is not clear.

The jury is still out
On the words my tongue

A king is not saved

By his great army,
But by the mercy

Of the last child
Left behind.
I laid a word in my heart

like a lonely bird on the housetop
Lord, if there were an election,

We would name you
Lord of Lame Ducks.

God of statistics.
God of road-side explosives.

Lord of tatter, bone, and rag,
Savior of leg-iron and rifle.

It is not too late.
Be moved by this prayer for action.


Brian Clements is the author of Essays Against Ruin, a book of poems from Texas Review Press, and of And How to End It, a book of prose poems forthcoming from Quale Press. He edits the small press Firewheel Editions and Firewheel’s flagship publication, Sentence: A Journal of Prose Poetics. He lives in Newtown and coordinates the MFA in Professional Writing at Western Connecticut State University.

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Posted by on February 6, 2008 in * A Few Poems, * Past Features


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