William James


Bless this house, proudly clad in chipped
& faded paint. Bless the peeling vinyl siding,
pink insulation erupting from the cracks
like tufts of untamed hair. Bless the concrete
steps, their broke-toothed grin & crumbling,
the broken railing on the porch—splintered,
shaky, unstable & wholly incapable of keeping
anything contained. Bless the rows of couches
rescued from sidewalks or dumpsters—
though they be bent of frame & misshapen,
they provide comfort to all who would stay here.
Bless the warped planks on which they rest,
the stained lumber littered with crushed cans
& spilled beer. Bless the crooked architecture,
the roof bowed & sagging above our heads. Bless
the absent landlord. The apathy of maintenance
& the overloaded breakers—may they hold true,
if not forever than just tonight. For the amplifiers
& the PA speakers are hungry beasts. They crave
a feast of power, & we have sacrificed the grocery
budget this week to feed their mouths. But if
the lights should fail us, bless their flickering
into darkness & let our throats together blossom
& rejoice. Bless this congregation. Our voices
ringing out into the night. The rusted coffee
can passed around the room for shared tithes
with which we will pay the band. Long have
they traveled & long is the road which lays
before them. May our offerings be abundant.
May we send these pilgrims on their way

with full bellies & full hearts in repayment
for the unrelenting joy they brought to ours.
Bless this house—a stage to call our own,
our sanctuary of scavenged mattresses & plaster
walls, wide open so that we may stretch our wings.
Bless this broken mess. This fractured temple—
yes, it is battle-scarred, & so are we. But here,
we are alive. Unstoppable. Divine.

William James is a writer, aging punk, and train enthusiast from Manchester NH, and the author of rebel hearts & restless ghosts (Timber Mouse Publishing.) He's a contributing editor for Drunk In A Midnight Choir, whose poems have appeared or are forthcoming in Souvenir Lit Journal. Tinderbox Poetry, Sundog Lit, Dirty Chai Magazine, and Really System, among others. Follow him on Twitter (@thebilljim) or at williamjamespoetry.com.

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