Prayer Before Battle
I'm not built to upstage a visiting statue---
Shall I turn to witchcraft or religion?
My Mother Superior valued inanimate objects without
Discrimination, her needles carrying the same weight as her flimsy nail files.
Falling down like a horse with smashed to smithereens kneecaps, the
Shape of your jaw gives you a godly profile, hands like matching dumbbells.
New York: I outgrew my role as family martyr, changed my name, bought x-ray
California: I called you as I saw you, not by your pet name or your honeyed
But a five-alarm fire.
I have nothing left to give, nothing worthy of a fair exchange,
I tossed my last life off our roof with the rest of your suits.
I have nothing left to give you except anxiety (the weed translates static
And I hear the click-click-click of the FBI wiretapping the house phone)
I have nothing but your musty books on obscure deities devoured like
Essays by Randolph Bourne, your cramped notes struggling to breathe in the
You tried to give skeletons lungs.
You know when to cradle me,
Give me vodka as charity.
Your silence turns me into a video girl
Who shatters your precious marble to pieces.
Vanessa Willoughby is a writer and editor. Her essays and short stories have appeared on The Huffington Post, The Toast, The Hairpin, and The Nervous Breakdown. She is a Prose Editor for the literary journal Winter Tangerine Review.