Broken Prayer by Colin Dardis

Jesus, I have knelt under the apple knee
and tasted the serpent’s poison,
but a man may pray for antidote
with mouth and mind and heart and hands
open in sweet sustaining supplication;
bleed for me Jesus, and let me taste sanctuary in your blood,
shelter from the rampaging hordes
of crazies drugging the streets with their diatribes,
crazies worshipping their golden bombs
and silver Kalashnikovs aiming at the hearts
of every good, kind, sane person out there.
Jesus, Jesus, Jesus, sweet Lord Jesus,
I have lost count of how many times I have forsaken you,
distracted from my calculations
by whore-shaped sin, blubbering breasts
offering barbed wire teats to suckle upon,
lilting, riving torsos across the streets
promising perhaps the shallowest of gratifications
as they toss and discard lovers like tissues;
and I became a whore myself,
whoring to the power of fiscal pleasure,
unemotional security kept in vaults that drip
with the saliva of a billion investors,
rusted copulation of humanity and greed.

Jesus, I am lost in cosmic confusion,
a bundle of atoms thrown together
looking for his place on the Periodic Table:
map my acid stomach, graph the malleability of my metal,
consider the neutrinos and revolutions of my nature
spinning through a fog thick with the stench
of intellectual excrement, the unwashed learning
of experience gained, each lesson a knot
for the noose to hang innocence with;
oh mourn for our temporal childhoods!
mourn for the lost years of refuge blinded by enlightenment,
the exposure of puberty placing needles in our eyes
and then asking us if we would be so obliging
as to stick those needles deep into our pupils,
severing the optic nerves with the point of adulthood
and while we are at it, let us take up a thousand more needles
tipped with agony to plunge into our sorry hides,
a torture of acupuncture akin to the iron maiden
closed over bodies and minds still alive and screaming
for a pill to kill the pain, a hand to hold lacerated palms;
oh Jesus, where is our sponge and vinegar?
all we have are thieves that mock us while we hang.

Jesus, we’re walking inside spiritually abandoned cities
with men who have no concept of the soul,
who have chopped down your crosses to build bonfires
so that their wives may have somewhere to burn their discarded fat;
cities with no fresh water for baptism,
every chalice spiked by marauding hucksters
come to rape the face of humanity
and spit hatred into its eyes.
They have rewritten your gospels Jesus,
and now preach not of eternity and everlasting love
but of the power of the here and the now,
the denial of consequence for the sake of today,
building ivory towers and not caring
if tomorrow’s children can climb the stairs,
if they can even crawl out of the shadows of the palaces,
placing malnourished limb in front of each other,
umbilical cords trailing like butchered kimono dragons without fire,
breathless babes of Babylon snuffed out underfoot
as Utopia bends down to smell its own shit.

Jesus, they’re waiting to drop the bomb,
their bulbous, greasy fingers posed on the button
as all our green fields are pockmarked with landmines
rattling in the winds of heresy, sandbagging our minds,
making escape the impossible dream;
so we build artificial minds offering artificial escapism,
digital fantasies to console our weeping
and plant distraction into our living rooms:
a pair of blinkers for every man, woman and child
to turn away from the festering corpulence of bankers
and unseen pioneers of legislation
queuing up to jump through the loopholes;
there is no tiger leaping through the flame here,
our economic tiger lies dead in a pool of failed businesses,
with the vomit of sub-prime mortgages and toxic debt
soaking into its stinking fur.
Jesus, let us break through these firewalls of cynicism
holding the fools of mankind to ransoms
that can only be paid with our entrapped souls,
forced into gas chambers, singing to order,
singing in order to forget the kiss of monoxide,
by the order of faceless generals called prosperity,
civilisation, the great white American dream
wearing the mask of hope.

Jesus, we pumped our children full of gasoline
and left them matchbooks for an inheritance,
a generation of ticking cataclysms,
an assembly line of suicide machines;
parents defending themselves with ignorance
against these accidents of birth
stillborn in culture and still crying for their bottles.
We put sugar in their upbringing and hide the sting
of perpetual disappointment born into dawning reality,
ground their glittering rocket ships and piss into their milk.

Jesus, all our heroes have been cemented over
and our eyeglasses dusty, having given up the good search
for another redeeming saviour; we carry debt now
as our burden, instead of your cross, Jesus,
and sling our shoulders low against the ubiquitous weight
gained from the cost of modern living.
Those that retreat are soon lampooned and considered weak
in the face of a bull we reared to spear us all,
our houses and cars and credit cards, red rags
stained by our toiling blood;
the persistence of commerce
pushing commuters into city pockets
chasing the unholy dollar;
forcing frightened foot soldiers
to greet the day before the sun,
dawn chorus of stock markets,
tickers applauding like overactive pacemakers.

Jesus, they stuck paper money in their pipes
and used the future as a match.
We have forgotten our prayers
and soon our tongues will lie mute
from the lack of progress in our protests,
lying down with legs open and spread cheeks
allowing the pistons of industry
to pump crude oil through our assholes and into our hearts;
we’re motors running on spitefulness and gluttony,
drowning our babies in the bubbling slick
and erecting our temples around the oil wells,
lining the pews with holy barrels,
a measurement of society’s worth.
We will weigh the value of human life
against the oil fields and gold mines
and find that the minerals outweigh us all,
minerals that have the extra ballast
of tanks and bombs behind them.

Jesus, now we need you more than ever:
two thousand years of pestilence has ruined your kingdom.
They burnt your crib and made you lie in the desert,
kicking your foetal body curled up in prayer
and wiping their shoes on your swaddling bands.
Make them kneel to your stations of survival,
break their pretty facades and petty conceits
masturbating in the wings of the church,
no, not even in the wings, but in full view of the alter,
flapping their half-turgid, half-flaccid genitals
into the communion cups, and wiping themselves clean
with pages torn from the Bible
while swiping from the donation plates.

Jesus, there is no warmth in our deathbeds:
Autumn has stripped us of our dignity
and lambasted our precious petticoats of copper,
our valued pennies accrued in hardship
sewn together as a windbreaker against Winter;
our deciduous gardens hold no fruit
and the maggots cry out for an apple to fester in,
this great famine of the soul come to wash away
the rice mountains and wine lakes of salad days,
where bank accounts mean more than accountability,
interest rates mean more than interest in your fellow man.
We’ve been baked in the oven of transgression,
burnt skin cackling out like Tantulus,
beseeching and crazed by eternal thirst.

Jesus, there is no meat for our broth,
all we have are ancestors’ bones to feast upon,
a hearty stew of heartache and desolation:
we mine poverty for potatoes, kinship for barley,
despair for carrots, and sacrifice our morals
for paltry snippets of week old beef
just to be able to extend our collective miseries
into a few more days of drought,
sinking our well of depression deeper into the cold.
We’ll eat the rocks in our delirium.

Jesus, help me hope;
do not let help and hope feel like happenstance.
Is Doomsday coming soon?
Surely now is the time for your judgment.


Colin Dardis is a poet, editor, creative writer tutor and arts facilitator, based in Belfast, Northern Ireland. His work has been published in numerous anthologies, journals and zines throughout Ireland, the UK and the USA. His most recent collection, ‘Dōji: A Blunder’ was released in Nov ’13, from Lapwing Publications. He is also the founder of Poetry NI, which aims to provide a platform for poets in Northern Ireland.

2 thoughts on “Broken Prayer by Colin Dardis

  1. Pingback: New Poem Published – Carolyn O' Connell

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