Projects Prayer

By J.D. Isip

She never seemed to sleep:
Mornings she wore the green oil factory shirt,
Nights the blue smock with Sav-On on a patch,
all day a troubled look, like the hunted
who pause for a breath and prop up their ears
and plot in seconds their next ten moves…

“Say your prayers” and we listened
Though we prayed for our father and he never came
and we prayed for more food and a home
and God seemed always too busy to hear
but we prayed, because, well, that’s what you do
to ward off the Hate..

The Hate is what made Danny Boy start taking crystal
and his sister started sleeping around, to make a few bucks
and It is the only meal you are sure to get here
in the Projects, and maybe the missionary food
that comes every few months, when the last batch of poor people
wise up and stop praying… and they need more offerings.

“Say your prayers” and I did:
I said, “God, you bastard,
Bless my brother, that he might stop drinking for one night,
Bless my father that he might come back to us,
Bless my sister that she will not be ashamed of us,
Bless my mother that she might not wake up to your lie,
Bless You when you answer to me.”

She never seemed to sleep:
Mornings she watched me eat the Hate
Nights she watched the Hate eat me
all day, a troubled look…


  1. I am a woman of deep and abiding faith in God (He got me through homelessness), but I understand this poem as those who have suffered mightily do. It is good work and not in the least heretic. Good work!!!

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