Issue 35, Final Fringe

"A Prayer Toward Sleep" and two more poems

by Aneesa Davenport Issue 28 11.21.2011

A Prayer Toward Sleep

Dear God, you worrywart,
You latent,
you whimsy,
you burning meant ritual.

Your name, take
thirty-three times at bed
or as needed,
gather two or more
in your name to
bring you to us,
please us.
Practice your names
no less than half an hour
each day or as directed,
remember with your last breath
to remember you,
bring us to you,
O rest O rest O rest.

O Beloved, you icon,
work ethic.
O illusor,
divine unwinder,
O twice-garlanded you.
O tincture, toddy, tongue.
O eyelid, toe tip, lung.
O body. Beyond.
O beyond-beyond too.

Slipper, you slip in, you spoon
our comforter-covered us,
you heavy our blankets,
rub our soles
and shoulders.
You swell and gush,
you prompt,
you hush,
you lull,
you lust,
you lotus,
O recall us all,
you all.

Application for Remembrance

Watchword, may you
grace my lips before meals,
may I sleeptalk you,
butter you up,
simple syrup you down.

Mindful, I balance my heart on my head to start,
my practices are stopwatched and enumerated,
pill-sized pronouns,
proper names,

but you—
every word is your name—

I recite you by heart, both speak
and hear your part,
inhale your iambs
on every throb and every stride,
enjamb you, try you, test you, cross you,

but you—
offer me a cigarette,
acclimate, endorse me,
then make me smoke outside,
chasten me, incite me, addict me sick
then snuff me—

hold my tongue.
Damn you,
overheard and obscured,
dream you, déjà vu you,
et tu, et tu, et tu.

May I let you down,
may I let you down easy,
swallow the smoke,
every gulp
another irrecoverable,
wet-eyed choke
toward you.

Lover’s Complaint

I spring-clean,
prune turned petals from the perennials,
donate my shirts to thrift shops,
and out-the-legs clothesline my verbs.
Pledging not to retain even my personality, I purge—

Then you show up on the doorstep
of the house I’ve heaved for you
when I’ve just about given up.
Your sandals throbbed flat,
sadra sweat-soaked and see-through,
you trace the perimeter, skim the gauzy drapes
which kitchen windows billow—

or you deliver a delicate parcel:
the halved heart
evicted for your stay—
your stopover—
your layaway—

or you hastily inhabit
the hollow of the hand
I hold out to you,
sloughed, rebuffed—

I may When?
I may When? again,
offer all,
and all and all,
but you won’t come in
till my beam breaks
and ceiling falls,
till I at last sacrifice
my least device,
my only keep,
my hard-won,

Aneesa Davenport

Aneesa Davenport

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Aneesa Davenport lives in San Francisco, where she earned her MFA from the California College of the Arts. Her work has appeared in Fanzine, The Santa Barbara Independent, The South Carolina Review, and elsewhere. This month, she is writing a novel. You can find her at