Blackbirdan online journal of literature and the artsSpring 2008 Vol. 7 No. 1

Charlie Chaplin Dug Up & Ransomed: A Prayer

That my body, Lord, might rise too, resurrected reluctantly from earth,
given the rainwater, the dawn begun, grave walls pitched into ooze,

given that the scheme to bury me deeper in my own grave’s dirt will fail
because of schnapps & mud & Lord, let the breath of those who deliver me

that night be sweetened by cherry-tipped cigars. Allow what will lift me
fumbling the first March of my death to be not only a shovel, the grace of rope,

a mechanic’s coat trussed to brass handles, but also the plan for a paid-for garage,
paved cement floors, a procession of wrenches in a drawer. Grant me

morning light in a pickup bed, lying within earshot of Bulgarian songs that rhyme
thigh with smoke & permit me, Lord, once hangovers wane, to be stashed

at the far edge of a field, close to the rocks of a fishing spot where a thief will always—
or for more than a week—watch me, conceal me, keep me in spring heat, devour

a plum & suck its pit clean, dream of cash he half knows won’t come. Let my reward,
Lord, be crow wings, furrows, bits of last year’s stalks, three threadbare burlap sacks.  

(reprinted by permission of Houghton Mifflin)