Forepray by William Greenway


 “Compared with a child with cancer, all your problems are just gnats on your ass.”
Conrad Dobler, former New Orleans Saint

It’s too late to pray for the things I want,
so I’m left to pray only
for the things I don’t want:
death, disease, divorce, destitution,
all the big D’s.
They’ll be no more travel,
new car, job, home,
or, in so many words–one,
in fact–no more money.

Or the things money can’t buy,
a love affair, a Nobel Prize,
or some other third thing
I haven’t even imagined yet,
though when I do


I will be sadder still.

Still, I watch the evening news to see
people worse off, buried in earthquakes,
downed in floods,
and so I pray anyway, if only
to be granted gratitude
for preschool fees, mortgage,
marriage, humdrum job, all
I hear humming behind me
like a tiny choir.

William Greenway‘s Selected Poems was the Poetry Book of the Year Award winner from FutureCycle Press, and his tenth collection, Everywhere at Once, won the Poetry Book of the Year Award from the Ohio Library Association, as did his eighth collection Ascending Order.  His publications include Poetry, American Poetry Review, Southern Review, Missouri Review, Georgia Review, Southern Poetry Review, Prairie Schooner, Poetry Northwest, and Shenandoah. He’s won the Helen and Laura Krout Memorial Poetry Award, the Larry Levis Editors’ Prize from Missouri Review, the Open Voice Poetry Award from The Writer’s Voice, the State Street Press Chapbook Competition, an Ohio Arts Council Grant, an Academy of American Poets Prize, and been named Georgia Author of the Year. He’s a Distinguished Professor of English Emeritus at Youngstown State University, and now live in Ephrata, PA.