National Day of Prayer

National Day of Prayer – Poem by John C. Mannone

A very serious thing, this matter of prayer,
asking him for help to cope in such a miserable place—
I wish for one much better.

I could ask him to take me out, out of this rat race
to a better place, but I’m not ready to come to my end
just yet. But surely this home could be one of peace

where I can celebrate with family and friends,
but also with my enemies, who, for a moment
would not see me as their foe, not one whom I’d offend.

Let us pray for ceasefire from self-destructing bombardment;
including the hurtful words we hurl at each other. Let us pray more
to quell the road rage epithets when tailgated; for a patient

tongue when being cut-off in long cashier lines; or even before
entering that grocery’s parking lot, looking for “your” own
spot that’s snatched from you after circling the store.

Be thankful while you’re pulling hair and screaming. Don’t
lose your head, Christian, and take his name in vain,
while others literally lose theirs because they won’t.

We are much too smug, even as we speak, the ISIS blame
us. They, who are many, have desire to exterminating
us as if we are cockroaches—the infidel-insane.

Their insecticide so toxic it even burns the devil’s skin.
We don’t want the hatred that they carry, only love for one another.
Let us be guilty of that one infectious thing.

Cry out “Help us, O Lord” to look past the color
of a person’s skin, especially those among our pews.
A sad truth still: Sunday has the most segregated hour.

And no matter what denomination, there are way too few
churches not sitting mostly empty during the rest of the week.
I pray that they will all be filled to overflowing and renewed

with unity one day. Paul spoke of it: we should seek
to build one church, one faith, one baptism, worship one God above all.
What the devil are we doing? Why don’t we speak

out against it? Instead, we rush to preach good news to all
in distant worlds. Shouldn’t we ourselves revel in that news first,
here in this now-depraved country about to fall?

A country founded on the principles of God that once had thirst
for him. Perhaps this National Day of Prayer should be relabeled
as the Day for National Prayer. We, as a nation, for better or worse,

should be calling out his name for forgiveness. I am willing. And able
to thank him for my family of God, for his adopting me (a child only lost
in his love), for the way his love moves, for his stable

arms lifting me up. Even as I write these words, he fills, without cost
to me, my prevailing emptiness with his spirit and I see
how he lightens my lingering darkness, before it must flee, the most.

When I raise my eyes, I see the sky spill its bloody
ink of morning. I marvel at the glittering smiles of stars,
and hear the whole host of heaven in sacred melody

intone, Holy, holy, holy is the Lamb of God, the attar
of prayers incensing the throne. I say, How can my soul not praise You?
I am a nightingale and I will sound my sugar-throated song afar!

Even when the clouds bring tears, they wash me anew.
Rainbows splay their colors after the rains stopped pouring.
Every blade of grass catches the hope of sunlight with drops of dew.

Rumi once said that we, the seekers of truth, are searching
for the sun with a candle. All around us, His truth spills
yet we are blinded by our own light, our own discouraging.

All we have to do is look up, open our eyes, even as we swirl
in His dazzle. Let the wax melt from our eyes to see delight
—the light of stars, the light of heaven—to see the world

in a new refreshing. Look up to Him! See the bright
and morning star, with a prayer on your lips. Look, and feel the Light.

John C. Mannone

John C. Mannone has work in Artemis Journal, Poetry South, Blue Fifth Review, New England Journal of Medicine, Peacock Journal, Gyroscope Review, Baltimore Review, Pedestal, Wordgathering: Journal of Disability Poetry and Literature, Poetica: Journal of Contemporary Jewish Writing and others. He’s a Jean Ritchie Fellowship winner in Appalachian literature (2017) and served as Celebrity judge for the National Federation of State Poetry Societies (2018). He’s been nominated for Pushcart, Rhysling, Dwarf Stars and Best of the Net awards. He edits poetry for Abyss & Apex, Silver Blade, and Liquid Imagination. He’s the president of the Chattanooga Writers’ Guild and a retired professor of physics in east TN. http://jcmannone.wordpress.com

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