January 7, 2021

This is how we pray today

Vershal Hogan

The poem, some say, has been given to us for times when prose cannot express the heart. It’s an art form that has been used to elevate, to devastate, and to strike mood. It can be silly and sweet, and it can be a knife. The form of the poem is so powerful that the Bible’s collection of poetry, the psalter, is the major liturgical base text for multiple religions. While not reaching or striving for those heights, the following poem was written as an expression of response to the events of Dec. 6 in the United States.

With footsteps fallen like rain
the drums of war sound their staccato
in our streets. We did not mean to follow our feet.
We did not mean —
We did not mean to play this song.
The ample throng —
them purpled with bruises of mountains’ majesty,
of love and hate —
they sing, they sing,
they bring the dream
of time and space from which the page
can curate
the air, the clock, the grace,
the unreal place in which they feel safe.

It is not enough.
They cannot be filled on words alone.
How long, how long? My people starve
for want of a song. They cannot live
under skies of black and bone.

They stumble, they stumble, they fall
as shadows drool toward Heaven
and the traps they prepare
strain against trigger and snare, and pestilence
waits for a cloud.

“Save us, oh God,” we pray.
We pray. We pray, as the drums
begin to beat with the pulse of our veins,
“Save us, oh God,” we pray.

 

 

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Vershal Hogan


Vershal Hogan is a newspaper editor and poet living in Southern Arkansas. He is a 2011 graduate of Louisiana College, where he studied journalism and religion. He has done graduate research centered on liturgy as call to action and the patristic understanding of the impoverished as the crown jewels of the Church.

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