try to recall the right way to pray

Editor's Note

This piece was previously published by Spider Mirror Journal, 2017, under the title “a prayer for the soulless”.

only when you stay awake late enough can you hear

the sound of daybreak, a town slowly coming alive

as you wonder if you still are

you count every breath you spend staring

at the ceiling, watching the corners collect dust

the small patches of dirt remind you of your sins

you wait for the quetiapine to wear off, as if it ever worked

the bad dreams are proof that you cannot trust

your own mind

survival, to you, is having to stay awake

Do not fight it, my mother recites

every night like a litany

she believes my soul can be salvaged

with a couple anticonvulsants and some prayers

but do miracles even work on an agnostic?

against the moonlight, your scars look like abstract work of art

everyone pretends to understand

your sleeve of shame, your greatest asset

—the best thing about you used to be your pain

Do not fight it, your ghosts tell you

recovery is a lie; the chemicals won’t kill us

try to recall the right way to pray:

oh, Saint Lamictal, help me get through tonight and flush me

with a wave of calm

dear Saint Seroquel, teach me how to forget

the horror of watching my soul’s slow decay


forgive me—

i still cannot forgive myself

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