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"Praying South" by Alex Rieser

Praying South

Young is the cacophony of frogs

chiming that night has come

The insects ripe on our tongues

The meaning of tire tracks sighing away from us

Until there was only the I, childhood

Was a lonely time. My children don’t know this:

As the proprietor of that disorganized song’s

Regular return to memory, like an interaction

The true lesson of which remains elusive,

Turning off the highway for two days

Alone, well deserved, have you

Just wanted to sit in a room

And enjoy nothing but song? When

I emerge I expect to be unburdened.

You know it, as it belongs to you, like we all

Belong to burden. When morning arrives

On the first day I can see

The pepper tree twice it’s size since then.

Landmark that speaks in browns and jags. My aging body

A topography of the same gully. I’ve never

In my years of traipsing this creek

Seen one frog alive but

Every night they hung the air

Their dream language: signal

With nothing to signal, a growing child, meaning

Continuously encountering itself. Some people

See a song as color

Others call this a disease

We can briefly accept our weaknesses.


Alex Rieser (he/him) is a Jewish-American poet and Audiologist who holds an MFA from the University of San Francisco. He is the author of the chapbook Emancipator (New Fraktur Press, 2011) and has internationally published poetry, fiction, and literary criticism. His works have appeared most recently at The Poetry Foundation, Your Impossible Voice, Ploughshares, and others. More on Twitter @AlexRieser.

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