Ask America if She Prays

Ask America if she prays
If she turns to Mecca or Medina
Or a dilapidated temple
Ask her if she bows her head
in silence while drinking Merlot
And munching Merita
Ask America if she battles jihad
If she moans like great grandmas
Or weeps like the son of gods
Or the scar of David

Ask her if she prays.
Then ask her 
If she lays prostrate on bloody ground
Or reclines on rickety pews—
They pierce your side if you don’t sit still
What is faith if not splintered?

Ask her if she wails at the Western Wall
If her knees have been bruised by absolution of sins
If her back bends to the will of her forefathers
Or hugs trees that smell like Trayvon Martin,
James Craig Anderson, Emmett Till,
Burmingham’s Four, Corporal John C. Jones,
Roger and Millie Kate Malcolm,
George and Mae Dorsey,
pregnant Mary Turner
and all other Persons Unknown

Ask America if she prays
For herself or for her enemies
For her future or for her past
Or does America trust in good deeds?

America must pray serenity
To change the things she dared not
And accept the things she had the audacity to do
And to never learn the difference

Ask her if she prays skyward
Or to a torrid tormented South,
to an idol or to a god
To a beautiful or a brave
We all just want to be free
Ask her. Ask America if she prays
And I bet she’ll tell you that prayer,
Just like hope, ain’t for everybody 


Originally Published in the 2013 volume of the Coraddi