eric beeny

Since orgasm is a prayer reduced to its simplest
expression, I consider myself deeply spiritual. (1)

On his knees he prays, believing in nothing. I’m hollow as my womb without me, he thinks. There are rumors no one has ever spoken. Utterly unuttered. I’ve heard them all. Cocooned by halos, she tastes like hope—he promises not to tell. Pressing his cell phone against her thigh, he uses her landline to call himself. Why are you male, he thinks. Where are your breasts. She pulls the pillowcase over her head. Where did you first learn about love. Her thigh, vibrating—a caterpillar praying—, the cell phone display glowing against his cheek—in his ear, the hum. When did you first. Closer. How long will it be until you remember. A butterfly’s wings an atheist’s hands, praying. (2) Tell me everything you know about crying. Life is a joke he’s heard so many times. You were in love once. He forgets how it goes. You have pictures. Proof. She doesn’t laugh. You can’t wait to tell her about this. One day she’ll come. He wants her to come. You can’t wait to confess. He’ll promise he’s changed. You’ve done nothing wrong.

1. Excerpted from Jeffrey McDaniel’s poem, “Twentynothing,” from his collection, Alibi School
2. In reference to Ted Kooser’s poem, “Praying Hands,” from his collection, Delights & Shadows