Hurricane Harvey

Prompt:

This poem by a student of Gaelyn Godwin Roshi, resident teacher at the Houston Zen Center. It's the perfect "instruction" on how to pray for Houston.

Hurricane Harvey

if you want
to pray for Houston you have to pray
in her way
pray like Beyoncé when she was
at HSPVA
or Billy and Dusty shooting pool
at Rudyard's
pray like you're sitting over soup
at Spanish Flowers
or pho at Mai's steaming your glasses
pray like the kids playing soccer
on the east side
or mutton busting
at the livestock show
pray like the runners
in Memorial Park
lacing them up
or the researchers
in the medical center looking into microscopes
if you want
to pray for Houston you have to pray
as quietly as
the Rothko Chapel
or Houston Zen Center
and you have to pray as loudly as
the old scoreboard at the Astrodome after a José Cruz home run
you have to pray sitting under
a live oak tree
or standing next to an azalea bloom while your skin clams in the heat
if you want to pray
for Houston
you have to pray without pretense
this ain't Dallas
and in a neighborly way as friends come out
to check on each other in the rain
and those
who are far away watch screens
and wipe our eyes
if you want to pray
for Houston
raise a bottle of Shiner to the gray sky
and say that 130 mile an hour winds and 9 trillion gallons of rain
are no match
for a city of such life
and diversity
you can fill up our bayou but you will never rain on our parade

Jeremy Rutledge 2017
Hurricane Harvey

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I do pray for things. Not very often. And only when my resources are depleted. So I'm waiting for the results of a test. I pray. I guess Kevin, with his doctorate in the philosophy of probability, would say that I'm intuitively calculating the odds that I have some incurable disease, and I have  figured that there is a chance, if only remote. I'm not sure if my kids or my wife knows that I do this. (I just asked my wife and my son, and they both said I didn’t pray.) They must just think that I'm blessed and that's why things generally turn out so well. Or maybe, Janelle, our class minister, might say, that I'm blessed because I do pray. I never told my parents, either. And now it is a little late, unless I'm mistaken about the power of their remains.

I guess I could pray for the people in Houston. Or at least I could feel guilty for not doing so. I knew a woman who was recovering from an illness. She went to a weekly prayer group, and they all prayed for one another. Against all odds, she is still around 25 years later.

Once in college I was really worried about something and I went to a church that was open 24/7. I put $5 in the box on the wall. Lo and behold, an intervention occurred and things turned out well. So I went back to the church and retrieved my money.

This would be more understandable if things had turned out the way I didn't want them to turn out. Then I could rationalize that I had wasted my money so it was ok to retrieve it. And maybe it did do good.

So I've heard a couple of things this week about karma that were new to me. One is that karma is not action, but rather intention. So my intention was good, perhaps, to put the money in the box at the church. But maybe not so good to take it out.

The second idea about karma is one that I had read just an hour ago. And it slipped my mind when I wrote the last paragraph. It said that the rational mind shouldn't try to understand the relationship of karma and action. The effects of karma are not comprehensible. In the article I was reading, it said that karma is mystery. We don't know the effect of our intentions.

Prayer? I'll continue to pray. Will I believe it will make a difference? Some part of me probably will because otherwise I wouldn't do it. But another part thinks it is silly. So let's keep my praying as a secret between us. OK?

Kim Mosley

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If You Want To Pray For Houston


My brother wrote today.
The epicenter of deep water
Was three blocks from
Where we once lived.

He shuddered to think, he wrote.
Was his shudder a prayer?
Parkplace: simple, quiet, just barely middle class.

I remember the Irish (almost certainly Catholic)
Policeman who walked us
Across the busy intersection to school.
Is it underwater now?

The reservoir overflowed today
And a certain measure of water
Let out into the flooded streets
Built when I was 2
The year before my brother was born.

Infrastructure spending was not a sin then.
FDR was in the White House.
Laboratory grade fluoride was in our water
To protect children's teeth
All the children's teeth.

Joel Olsteen thinks Jesus will fix it
And does not want to open
His palacial megaplex
To the little soccer playing kids
From the east side.

As quiet as Rothko Chapel
The prayer of silence
Like researchers looking into microscopes
You must be very still and listen
To learn from looking into microscopes.

My brother wrote today.
He shuddered to think, he wrote.
The great infrastructure project
Designed to protect Houston
Was built before he was born.
My brother is 75.

Houston was just over half-a-million people then.
Today - 6 million 5
Minus those who drowned.

I sit in silence
As quiet as Rothko Chapel.
I shudder to think.
It is my prayer.

— Jamelle Curlin-Taylor

Prompt:

Sujata’s Offering INDIA, SIXTH CENTURY BCE

SUJATA was the beautiful daughter of a landowner, and she prayed to the spirit of a banyan tree for a good husband and son. Her wish was granted, and every year, in gratitude, she made an offering of sweet, thick milk-rice at the foot of the tree. Meanwhile, after six years of severe austerities, Siddhartha was close to death from starvation. One day he sat down in meditation beneath Sujata’s banyan tree. That same day Sujata dreamed that she should make her annual offering. She sent her servant to prepare the place for the offering, and the servant ran back, crying, “A god is sitting under the tree!” So Sujata made up the milk-rice in a golden bowl and carried it to the tree with her own hands. She offered it to Siddhartha, saying, “Just as my wish has been fulfilled, so may yours be granted.” He ate the milk-rice with gratitude, and it was the finest food he had eaten in many months. Then he cast the golden bowl into the river, saying, “If I am to fully awaken, may this bowl float upstream.” The bowl floated upstream. Later that day, renewed by Sujata’s offering, he sat down, determined to awaken, and his wish was granted. Sujata and her son later became disciples of the Buddha and members of the sangha.

(2013-10-21). The Hidden Lamp: Stories from Twenty-Five Centuries of Awakened Women (p. 283). Wisdom Publications. Kindle Edition.

The prompt is gift. Write about a gift you have received or given.
Prompt:

Write about a "first."

Protecting What We Love

Prompt:

“because this is how we protect what we love,
by hiding what it truly means to us, this little bag of gold
we keep buried in the yard, the thing we will do anything
to keep safe, even going so far as to pretend
it doesn't exist, that there's nothing missing in the dark.”

Excerpt from Quan Barry's poem “Someone once said we were put on this earth to witness and testify”

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Little, tiny drops of rain

Prompt:

"Little, tiny drops of rain, drops of rain may look like pimples on the flower's skin but it's so ironic—it is so ironic—it is those drops that cool the flower. Flaws are the rawest and most original forms of you, how "cool" is that!" —Nita Majethia

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FLAWS: I like people who don’t know how to finish a full story. They will start by telling you, “the other day I went to HEB,” and end up with tears in their eyes, sharing with you about their grandma who died last month. They will pause and say, “Anyway, I don’t even remember what I was trying to say…” I like people who say the wrong words on accident. They will say something like “fresh of breath air,” or, “potato couch,” because it was the meaning they were after and not the correct arrangement of words. I like people who don’t talk much and when they finally do, it sounds like a pure bell ringing in the static of everyone else’s voices. But I also like people who talk too much as if they have no filter. They might interrupt you but then say, “hold on, let me just get this one thing out!” I also like people who stutter and mumble, because I have to listen closely, and the words they are choosing take great effort. I like people who can’t control their laughter. Like my uncle who turns beet red during my grandpa’s long prayers before family dinners. We all know he’s excusing himself to just to go release laughter alone in the bathroom. I like that feeling when I’m writing and I’m not even trying to be good. Something embarrassing, awkward will burst out—a girl with a stutter and bad handwriting has something to say. It feels like an accidental birth of an idea, painful and inconvenient, but alive and crying nonetheless. I also like women who wear too much make-up and perfume to HEB because I know the deep hunger of wanting to be beautiful and noticed, even among the vegetables and produce aisle on a Tuesday night. I like the little boy at my summer camp that raised his hand in a discussion about recycling to tell everyone that last night his dad never came home. I like when my uptight supervisor licks Cheetos off her fingers when she thinks no one is looking. I liked the people in Africa who had no sense of personal space. Like the lady on public transport that started braiding my hair and my host mom who would jiggle my belly fat and tell me I’m eating well—o ya gabotse! All of this is probably why adults drink so much. So we can slur old love songs and hold one another and dance to Justin Bieber—even if we can’t stand him, even if we can’t dance.

by Hallie Gayle