Call to Prayer

Flame tree, smoke tree, a sky like sandpaper. Mobile phones have been programmed to issue the call to prayer: God is great. A man grazes horses where a lake used to wrinkle in the breeze & stares into the dry cup of his hands five times a day. God is great. The future has been recalled; too many people were dying of natural causes. All weather will now be provided by the private sector, they tell us, as trees belch with flame around the ancient temple of Artemis. I bear witness that there is no God but God. Lines of footprints in wet ash tell a story, but not ultimately a very interesting one. The wonderful thing about movies is that they are always true. I bear witness that Mohammed is the messenger of God. Here you can see where lizards went on pilgrimage to a puddle of water, steering with their tails. Here you can see where the toymaker’s assistants have been poaching charred olive wood. Hurry up please it’s time for prayer. Notice how the shadow grows smaller & blurrier as the bird gains in altitude — hard to say at what point it’s gone completely. What kind of bird? The black-diamond tail makes it a raven, I guess. The point is that weather-related incidents may no longer be ascribed to acts of God, thank God. Hurry up please it’s time for success. And if that’s the case, someone must do something about the suddenness of nightfall in the tropics & those ridiculous short days we have in winter, where applicable. It has been duly noted that the naked Germans on the beach are happy with the extra sun, although the locals are not: God is great. Flame tree, smoke tree, a sky like alabaster now that the last contrails have been delivered to the museum of blueprints. Ah, & the boys from the village are stalking grasshoppers with wooden machine guns. There is no God but God.

19 Replies to “Call to Prayer”

  1. Thanks, Rachel. I guess it’s clear I don’t mean to pick on Muslims; I could have used a Christian or Jewish frame instead. But I thought the brevity and simplicity of the Adhan make for exceptional pathos when considering how seriously human beings have fucked up Creation.

  2. I like ‘the last contrails have been delivered to the museum of blueprints. ‘, I’ve been rather occupied by the beauty of jet trails of late.

    These dystopic visions are very compelling.

    (Also meant to tell you how much I’m enjoying ‘visual soma’; I tried to leave a comment there but feel very stupid admitting I couldn’t work out how to insert the code they asked for…)

  3. Thanks, TG. Of course I was quoting “The Wasteland” in the transmogrified call (“Hurry up please it’s time…” rather than the usual “Hasten…”) I’m reasonably sure Eliot would NOT have approved.

    Lucy – I wasn’t aware there was any special trick to leaving comments at Shutterchance blogs. There’s a capcha test of some sort? Bummer. Anyway, I’m glad you’re enjoying Visual Soma. I appreciate the sidebar link at box elder.

  4. Whoah. This was terrific. I’ve just finished Matthea Harvey’s Modern Life for Jessica’s poetry book club and your prose and acopolyptic thoughts would keep her fine company.

    I didn’t think it picked on Muslims – many of the phrases (and sentiments!) are shared by ancient J-C theologies. I just read the phrase “there is no God but God” last night…in the completely Anglo setting of a novel.

  5. …deb, SB – Glad you liked. I’ll have to look into Matthea Harvey.

    Pica – Oh, I thought you were just trying to out-apophatic me.

    I should add parenthetically that as apocalyptic as some of this stuff seems, it’s already coming true. And if humans are to a great extent responsible for the severity of weather systems, can we still hear the voice out of the whirlwind as a sovereign call?

  6. Oh, I can see why this poem reminded you of her. Unfortunately, her work isn’t included in the new prose-poem anthology No Boundaries, edited by Ray Gonzales (which is mostly what prompted this exercise).

  7. Wow. I’ve been thinking about this for a while, trying to come up with an intelligent comment, but I’m still speechless. Everyone else has said it. Dave, your writing is becoming more and more powerful and moving.

  8. Thanks. It’s strange for me to hear this, since I didn’t think the piece quite measured up to my own expectations of it. But I guess “A man’s reach must exceed his grasp” and all that. I’m glad that so many people whose opinions I value found it moving.

  9. What’s the HTML for “rendered speechlessâ€??


    Wonderful, Dave. And the brass Buddha with the Elvis tattoo, too – masterful structures of rhythm and repetition and image. They grab hold and don’t let go.

    Thank you for these poems.

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