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Prayer, Insisting

Lord, if I can hold
this one syllable with sincerity.
Lord Jesus, if I can just
hold my mind together.
Lord Jesus Christ, if I can
hold my mind for one genuine place.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy
for a single moment of real intensity,
myself letting go into the genuine.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
who wishes for only one pure moment of sincerity,
to be honest with the Lord and real with my own repentance.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner
who wants to be sincere for even a moment
that makes a lifetime of struggle worth it.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
in my distractions, temptations, laziness,
calling through the thoughts that are my own
and those I recognize as not my own.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
who loses the sanctity of your name
the second I utter it. Lord Jesus Christ,
have mercy on me, a sinner who can’t live in you,
not even for the breath it takes me to utter
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
who cannot enter but will not leave,
persistently intoning this prayer, insistent.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
who will pray and be distracted, pray
to bring my heart and soul back to prayer.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner,
for my scant moment of breathing your name,
calling and losing, but calling again.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me,
the stubborn one who’ll be sincere
as long as I can hold myself in you,
as long as I can empty myself
of my empty thoughts, my heart and soul.
Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me
to have this breath and this breath again.

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Author:
Nicholas Samaras :
Nicholas Samaras won the Yale Series of Younger Poets Award with his first book of poetry. His next book, American Psalm, World Psalm, is forthcoming in 2014 from Ashland Poetry Press. Samaras’s work has appeared in the New Yorker, Poetry, the Kenyon Review, and elsewhere. Currently, he lives in West Nyack, New York.

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