Poem-A-Day: Valarie Kaur

This is from Valarie Kaur. I don’t know whether she initially meant it to be a spoken-word poem, but it sure feels like one, and it’s gorgeous and lyrical and deeply moving, and so I’m including it because poetry finds us in unexpected places and unexpected ways, and this is marvelous in our eyes.

Click on the link to watch her deliver this absolutely glorious prayer of optimism, which is never not needed.

 

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Prayer of Thanksgiving

Thank you for our many, many blessings:
good health, good friendship, the love of those we hold dear;
the ability to provide for ourselves (may we always have it),
and the opportunity and responsibility to care for others;
the enlightened perspective to know when all is not right
and the desire to leave the world better than how we found it.

 

Help us always to remember our blessings,
to appreciate and be grateful for them,
to enjoy them,
but most of all, to deserve the good fortune laid at our feet.

 

Help us to feel and to understand our gratitude.
Help us to make the world a more sustainable,
more respectful, more loving and peaceful place.
Help us to save ourselves and be always better than we are.

 

Blessed be.

Featured Poet: Rachel Dacus

I knew someone who had this great bumper sticker. It said, “God bless the whole world. No exceptions.” I live in Texas, and the news cycle hurts. I was raised with religion, but I don’t recognize very much of what I was taught in the people who profess their faith in the public sphere. It’s enough to make a person forget that any of it matters, to dismiss that stuff as crazy. You don’t have to wield a machine gun or build IEDs to be radicalized.

It’s Easter here. And Passover. And Oester. And Sunday, and April, and springtime, and raining, and probably several other things. That seems like a good time to share this lovely poem with you, from Rachel Dacus. It appears in her collection Gods of Water and Air (Aldrich Press, 2013).

I hope whatever good thing you’re celebrating today makes you feel peaceful. I hope you have a good day.

 

***

 

Prayers for Everywhere

 

Prayers for the volcanoes
that need garlands when they erupt
and prayers for the freeways
you never drive them the same twice,
prayers for the buds
that look like babies’ faces
as they open next week and for the blossoms
opening their soft legs to bees.

 

Prayers for everything the soul
must reluctantly or passionately kiss:
rain-running gutters,
a pebble in the shoe,
the silt gritty on your ocean-washed lips.

 

Because what is a prayer
but a laugh that can’t be formed
in letters, but only heard
in that place that, praised, lights up.
So prayers for everywhere
that needs them,

 

Prayers for the worms washed out
of the grass onto driveways,
prayers to step over as they swim
because you can’t pick them up
without damage. So much
of the heart can only be helped
without direct touching.

 

Prayers for everyone
in the throngs who need well-wishes
to suck on in their sleep
like giant glowing lollipops.
Prayers going to every restless sleeper
on this earth who needs a cool hand on the brow.
Prayers for their own sake,
prayers as beautiful as dolphins
leaping and twisting, prayers
freed from gravity’s pull
to fly glistening into the air.

 

***

Rachel Dacus is the author of Gods of Water and Air, a collection of poetry, prose, and drama. Her poetry collections are Earth Lessons and Femme au Chapeau, and the spoken word CD A God You Can Dance. Her writing has appeared in The Atlanta Review, Boulevard, Drunken Boat, Prairie Schooner, The Valparaiso Poetry Review, and many other journals. It has appeared in many anthologies, including Ravishing Disunities: Real Ghazals in English (ed. Agha Shaid Ali). She’s currently at work on a time travel novel involving the great Baroque sculptor, Gianlorenzo Bernini.

Prayer at Thanksgiving

Help us to be truly thankful for our many blessings,
including the ability to provide for ourselves
and the wisdom to recognize that ability.

Help us always to remember and appreciate and
enjoy our blessings, but most of all,
help us always to deserve them.

Help us to be generous with those who have less.

We are thankful for our friends, whom we have chosen
to be in our lives.
We are thankful for our family, whom we did not choose
but love anyway.

We are thankful for the earth and the sky,
for the flowers and the rivers,
for the trees and the squirrels gamboling in the yard.

We are thankful,
we are thankful,
we are thankful.