There were never many times
where I got it right;
just a few short moments
and the words always seem to fail on my tongue,
or on my fingertips.
Today, I sit in a squalid, messy café,
crumbling sugar into my tea
and sweating out another prayer
to a silent and irreconcilable God.
My curses never meant what they said,
but they were made manifest
with a frightening regularity,
as if drawing from some deep inner bureaucrat;
tenacious, and ruthlessly efficient.
The tea is weak and bitter.
The time is sometime after four o’clock.
Every time someone walks in though the door,
a little bell rings,
an angel gets its wings
and I shudder,
suddenly cold to my marrow.
I am afraid,
that even in this dark corner of the world,
I will be recognized
and my shame could never bear the gaze
of one who knew me
in the time before I was bent
to the haven of addiction.
For I was not always this ragged and disheveled.
Once I held the promise of ten thousand days,
but I was so far gone in my own earthly burdens
that I wandered into a place of hunger and sickness
and drown myself in sorrows
and cut myself with guilt
and gave myself a name
once saved only for the reprobate.
but the tea is still hot
and the warm vapors conceal my moving lips
as I choke out another supplication
to my Master;
begging for His mercy
and His care.
Every orchestrated downfall
that I have set upon myself,
every word I couldn’t take back,
every thing I couldn’t undo;
I drag before my God for absolution
for the release
from the weight of chains,
forged in the fires of my self loathing.
The tea is gone
and the specter of my sins
with the last word from my lips.
I look around to see
the café is flyspecked and decrepit,
the patrons all equally so.
They stare into their cups,
their eyes invariably snared
by some distant trespass.
and in unison,
they all mouth the same, silent prayer.
whose trials are known only by their God
and to those,
who become addicted to redemption.
We all end up here,
just muttering prayers
and drinking tea;
weak and bitter.
HG – 2017