Poetry: “Prayer” by Charles Rammelkamp


I don’t believe in God,
but when I return home from work,
the streets deserted, the sun
a fond memory,
I always take the shortcut,
from the train station,
down the dark narrow alley
where rats scuttle by piles of garbage,
their red eyes glowing like matchheads,
the sky a tiny slice
between tall vacant buildings
in which, I imagine, the bodies
of hobos rot on dirty linoleum floors,
and I find myself assuring someone
I’m one of the good ones;
I deserve to be spared.

Charles Rammelkamp’s latest book is a collection of poems published by Time Being Books called Fusen Bakudan (“Balloon Bombs” in Japanese), a sequence of dramatic monologues involving missionaries in a leper colony in Vietnam during the war.