Skeleton Prayer

Peter Breslin

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Guard the great lands of Ilium and Ischium tonight,
Watch out for trochanters and the dreaded acetabulum,
Arrange thy phalanges in phalanxes both distal and proximal,
Align all of thine intertubercular sulci and glenoid cavities,
May atlas and axis roll free
May the great iliac crest never fail or fade!
And so, dear fibula and tibia,
I bid thee goodnight.

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©Peter Breslin, 2018

Peter Breslin is a teacher, musician, PhD student in plant conservation biology at Arizona State University and writer who lives in Tempe AZ.  See his ‘Recycled Declaration’ here 

Page 52


Page 52
25 Books
Sentence 5

Renunciation is realizing that nostalgia for life’s vicious cycle is full of shit:
the waving grass, intermingling with a rich profusion of wild flowers, the most beautiful sight I had ever gazed upon;
our own dark environment, where our only companion is the smell of our own sweat.

(One option beyond these two seems to be the attempt to organize and defend the new sphere of civil society not as mediation but as an end in itself.)

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And yet
And still
If it had ever become ‘necessary’
(I can find no other word)
to strengthen the central supporting column without too much enlarging it or adding to its weight,
no better formation than this spiral could be conceived,
and an almost exact parallel to it occurs
in the air-tubes or tracheae of insects
and the water-tubes of plants.

Although a prisoner’s internal experience
(the smell of his own sweat, her own dark environment)
may be close to
or identical with
that of another person suffering severe pain
from burns
or a stroke
or cancer
or phantom limb,
it is, unlike this other person’s, simultaneously being externalized:
waving, intermingling,  a rich profusion.

Ignorant what to do, he is stupefied;
he neither lets go the reins, nor is he able to retain them
(life’s vicious cycle: full of shit)
nor does he know the names of the horses.

She forgets that she is talking to listening children; she lives with the fairy folk,
or the kings
and queens
and beautiful ladies, whose adventures she narrates,
modern propaganda,
a consistent, enduring effort to create or shape events
to influence the relations of the public to an enterprise,
or group.

Father Arnall’s low and gentle voice:
I wanted to amass information against the enemy we were capturing on the battlefield.
In the fire of the visiting sun their faces shone like the faces of children lit by a golden lamp,
The most beautiful sight I had ever gazed upon.
They began as useful and practical goddesses who cared for springs and wells and cured disease and foretold the future.

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Archaeological excavations of sites thousands of years old have revealed bodies that show signs of medical attention:
broken limbs that have been set,
dislocations replaced,
wounds treated successfully.

Relief is not complete cure, and may proceed from different causes:
a few preparatory experiments,
a panegyric upon modern chemistry
useful and practical goddesses.
These colors,
produced when thin slices of material are placed between two polarizing plates,
have been used to investigate the structures of many natural objects
including crystals,
and hailstones,
battlefields and wells.

Nature is abundant, but Grace is not abounding.
The book says so.
It is the best of those of your poems that you have let me read.

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All that I could do was to wait until the tide was at the highest,
keeping the raft
with my oar
like an anchor
to hold the side of it
fast to the shore,
near a flat piece of ground,
which I expected the water would flow over;
and so it did.

Eviction can be contagious that way.
So I have to watch it–be its eyes.

Renunciation, Nostalgia
Organize, Defend
A consistent, enduring effort
Is it about faith or is it about grief?

Well, you’re the detective, aren’t you?

[with gratitude to the original authors, from whom I beg indulgence for the theft and for the occasional tweak for scan and sense]

©Melinda Rooney, 2017


The Art of Healing











All the ill and the afflicted
All the aged and infirm
All who seek the healing way

You could do worse than cable.

Where once there was a pilgrimage for lame and halt
A dusty road
There’s now a place where hope is offered
Tucked between the binge-watch shows

Honey BooBoo
Law & Order
The World’s Most Trusted Name in News
Here is where the cures are gathered
hiding in your program queues

Tucked between the horror stories
Here are lives that could be yours
Minute segments, bright as Christmas
Perfect people, perfect cures.

Roaring fireplace
Seaside restaurant
Festive kitchen
Verdant yard
Info card
(read it closely, strain to hear the warnings
hummed beneath our breath
Don’t stress yourself; we have to say it:
Seizures, strokes, necrosis, death)

Where once depression, limpid joy
Where once ketosis, healthy boy
Plaque psoriasis? Arthritis?
Hug your baby. Build a toy.

Where once was limp there now is stiff
Closed-mouth kisses
Tubs plein air
You needn’t worry
(Four hour boner?!)
How you’d ever fuck in there.

You are stronger than your weakness
You can look like these folks do
Laughing mothers, jogging seniors
Ask them if it’s right for you

Everybody dies of something
No one here gets out alive
All that said
Would you not rather
Look terrific til you die?

So build that go-cart
Swing your grandchild
Grill those steaks and seek that thrill
If you know you’re not allergic
Go ahead and take that pill

‘But I’m not thin!’ you shout while all those pretty women jog up hills
‘I don’t have a puppy!’ ‘I’m not rich enough for outdoor grills!’
You say it’s not what illness feels like: splashing gaily in the pool.
Illness is a grinding constant, sky-high co-pays, bloody stool.

These treatment options don’t intend
To make your pain a source of shame
But should you opt for rank self-pity
You only have yourself to blame.

We’re up against it, even ad men quaver in the face of death
We’d rather show you pretty people
Whiter teeth and fresher breath
Get you all to think that maybe
If you play your cards just right
You can be just like these people
Ask us how we sleep at night.

And if you just don’t have it in you, can’t commit to getting well
Don’t blame healthcare or big pharma; they’ve got shit they need to sell.

©2017 Melinda Rooney