Plague Psalm 19
The heavens distract from the gnashing of ants And from your mouth pour forth doom after doom. The shaking fist proclaims the wound of your brand— Nightmare upon nightmare sprout from your moon. You’ve pitched termites into our wooden house, And cloud upon cloud upon cloud you build, Night after night we hear the working jaws Packing them full of grayness and rainfall. Your steeples are sharper than kitchen knives, Your statues entrap us with perfection. Bees needle our sin-stung flesh in your hive Yet some kind of sweetness still touches the tongue. May my workloads of muck serve to bless, then, The gleam of the floor of your seventh heaven.
First appeared in Post Road Magazine.
Philip Metres has written numerous books, including Shrapnel Maps (Copper Canyon 2020). Winner of Guggenheim, Lannan, and NEA fellowships, he is professor of English and director of the Peace, Justice, and Human Rights program at John Carroll University, and core faculty at Vermont College of Fine Arts MFA.