If I didn't have an MFA already in fiction, and if I wasn't thisclose to paying off my loans from those first two times around, I would hunt down Andrew Hudgins and make him (by which I mean ask him politely to) be my teacher. What I like most about this piece is how it switches registers on us gleefully and without apology, from the exquisite bathos in the first two lines, the whole first stanza actually, which dials down to the very earnest final four lines.
I would like to write a poem that is funny. Any kind of humor would do, honestly, but I aspire to this kind of poem. Someday.
Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.I ought to start with praise, but praisecomes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell youabout the woman whom I taught, in bed,this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple formkeeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,Poof! You’re a casserole!—and laughed so hardshe fell out of the bed. Take care of her.
Next, confession—the dreary part. At nightdeer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.They’re like enormous rats on stilts except,of course, they’re beautiful. But why? What makesthem beautiful? I haven’t shot one yet.I might. When I was twelve, I’d ride my bikeout to the dump and shoot the rats. It’s hardto kill your rats, our Father. You have to usea hollow point and hit them solidly.A leg is not enough. The rat won’t pause.Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, backinto the trash, and I would feel a little badto kill something that wants to livemore savagely than I do, even ifit’s just a rat. My garden’s vanishing.Perhaps I’ll merely plant more beans, though thatmight mean more beautiful and hungry deer.Who knows?I’m sorry for the times I’ve drivenhome past a black, enormous, twilight ridge.Crested with mist, it looked like a giant waveabout to break and sweep across the valley,and in my loneliness and fear I’ve thought,O let it come and wash the whole world clean.Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair—whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.
Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,that nature stuff. I’m grateful for good health,food, air, some laughs, and all the other thingsI’m grateful that I’ve never had to dowithout. I have confused myself. I’m gladthere’s not a rattrap large enough for deer.While at the zoo last week, I sat and weptwhen I saw one elephant insert his trunkinto another’s ass, pull out a lump,and whip it back and forth impatientlyto free the goodies hidden in the lump.I could have let it mean most anything,but I was stunned again at just how littlewe ask for in our lives. Don’t look! Don’t look!Two young nuns tried to herd their gigglingschoolkids away. Line up, they called. Let’s goand watch the monkeys in the monkey house.I laughed, and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,which is—let it be so—a form of praying.
I’m usually asleep by now—the timefor supplication. Requests. As if I’d stayedup late and called the radio and askedthey play a sentimental song. Embarrassed.I want a lot of money and a woman.And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know—a character like Popeye rubs it onand disappears. Although you see right through him,he’s there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,and smoke that’s clearly visible escapesfrom his invisible pipe. It makes me think,sometimes, of you. What makes me think of meis the poor jerk who wanders out on airand then looks down. Below his feet, he seeseternity, and suddenly his shoesno longer work on nothingness, and downhe goes. As I fall past, remember me.