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.