by John Beardsley

In every soot-scabbed
and black-bricked alley
stale paper, wet with morning damp,
catalogues and cartoons,  
thread & spool among the rubbish, angels among it,
germ set to bud       to curl
greenly to open,       to gasp in the cog–work of mind—
raise leagues of creatures, the many-faced, the flightless,

and while glory there, while the altar’s parts
found salvage there what song
what monarch-winged
rescue for me?        

My prayers have not been idle
though maybe too soft, scratched out, re-traced,
          only poor jewels      which is to say humble, only
humble perhaps to say small,
          but whole in what
love I could breathe into them
—and maybe though my prayers are unbeautiful
it is good. That they lie with the frayed and careworn
edges of my collars, my tireless pages, meager and meek as the lamb

gone after its master—
that their opening in to the dark and unkempt
is enough.                
          It is the only          the one thing,
my lone and muffled vesper.

Photo: John Beardsley
John R. Beardsley lives in Tallahassee, Florida, and teaches at Tallahassee Community College. His poems have appeared on

Photo by Jess Novak