Two Poems

by Devon Balwit

And Yet

I. God does not believe in our god.

Standing aloof, the ironic watcher
at a party, we imagined better,
and must content ourselves with holding the head
of our drunken friend over the gutter.

II. Perhaps the fact that God is incomprehensible
is the strongest argument for His existence.

A koan, stubborn in the mouth,
a woody root, chewed and chewed,
miswak—the hunger stick of the long fast.

III. I don’t know if God exists, but it would be better
for His reputation if He didn’t.

Each unanswered prayer floats
its lit candle down the dark river,
anguish lighting wick after wick,
the hope that knows better
releasing them to the current.

IV. Yes, God exists, but He knows no more about it than we do,

faces pressed to our small windows
the shadows receding just enough
to make out skyline, the bent trees.

(italics from Jules Renard)


Even in the Lord’s House

“Most importantly, I cannot shut my eye to pray. I cannot shut my eye to pray.
Even when I try, I cannot because I have to keep my eye on everyone that is around me.”
(Felicia Sanders, Survivor of Charleston, S.C. shooting)

I’m no conjure woman, cannot
summon spirits from lumped clay,
ask a vision, speak in tongues.

I call up just the day’s tasks,
perhaps those of tomorrow—laundry
and shopping, the dusting of shelves.

Ever a reader of psalms, I cry:
Lord, the waters have risen up
to my neck, do not let me sink…

I stitch their pleas into seat cushions,
but turn away from their curses—
it isn’t for me to call down wrath

on another. Even so, wrath found me,
a young man with a grudge
and pockets rattling shells.

I’ve been baptized in the blood
of the lamb, and again, in the blood
of lambs. I keep both eyes open,

pray while keeping track of my own.
My faith says God watches, but
I’ve learned He may not intervene.

DEVON BALWIT teaches in Portland, OR. She has six chapbooks and two collections out or forthcoming: How the Blessed Travel (Maverick Duck Press); Forms Most Marvelous (dancing girl press); In Front of the Elements (Grey Borders Books), Where You Were Going Never Was (Grey Borders Books); The Bow Must Bear the Brunt (Red Flag Poetry); We are Procession, Seismograph (Nixes Mate Books), Risk Being/ Complicated (with the Canadian artist Lorette C. Luzajic), and Motes at Play in the Halls of Light (Kelsay Books). Her individual poems can be found here as well as in The Cincinnati Review, The Carolina Quarterly, Fifth Wednesday, Red Earth Review, The Fourth River, The Free State Review, The Ekphrastic Review, and more.

Photo: “The Creation of Adam” by Jessica Branstetter