Prayer to the Gods of the Night, II

I.M. of David Ferry

The mouths of the bankers are closed. The secret
Police dream of hanging and hang. The gallows

Lay down upon the hill and refuse the money
They are paid. The drowsy crows stand on the eaves,

Ridges, and composed light in mudpuddles
With their dark, wet gold out, bartering

With the wind. Money is finally no good
Here. The offered lamb, only a rumor

Of its death, the black smoke of him now nothing
More than the night extended. Sleep. The dogs

Regard the night joyfully because the dead
Let them rest in the alleys beneath the loud gods

That have gone quiet in the sky. House and vulture
Veil whatever aches or bleeds. The good axe,

The bow, the wagon, the viper forget—
As everything at rest forgets what it has

Maimed or killed. The eyes of the poor, for once,
Are bruised like eyes of the rich—only with sleep.

Come, Gods of the Night, enter here, touch
One of your sleepless clients. His head

Is a rose being burned alive. His mother 
Calls out from her urn, telling him to find her, 

As death has, does, finds, walking, not
Knowing whether … Gods of the Night,

Take this man I love who’s being promoted
Beyond his commas and the little motions

Of light on the ceiling, which is his mother
Calling him, take him now to her. Without his rose.

Copyright © 2024 by Roger Reeves. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on April 30, 2024, by the Academy of American Poets.