Prayer of the Jaguar

Roger Reeves

Lord, let me be useful, and not
The green jaguar stitched in the cross
Hairs of some night vision scope
Meant to hush me into the uncut
Kitchen of an inconsiderate lawn,
My hushing a gust of bells excited,
Gonging, just long enough for the oligarch
Hunter to raise my head to his,
Pluck my eyes from their sockets, and forget
Them in his pockets until airport security
Demands he empty what’s concealed,
Pull out his forgetfulness for full
Inspection, not this wicked-flame
Animal fire caught in the draft
Of a slamming door, innuendo of an end
Whistling its horror in my ribs
And kidneys until the blood lets and ladders
The ghost down into the heart
And bile of its disappearance and walks
Out to where the other ghosts shimmy-
Shimmy and slip out of the trees and tea-
Cups broken at the bottom of war,
The baker’s one-armed son halfway home
Returning in the mouth of a white tiger
Moon, all balanced on the back of a wagon
That signs and sings its creaky complaint,
I have slept, I have slept the sleep of reason.
Here, here, are my monsters. Now let me
Sleep, let me sleep. Lord, not this, not this, but,
Lord, let me be that other miraculous
Instrument, the night’s leopard rebuking its God-
Given golden fur, embracing the hush
Of its spots in the tall grass, the hunter
Unaware that when he raises the head
Of the dead animal to his chest and the camera
I, Lord, I am coming with my mouth
Open, my mouth, Lord, ready to fang
And tear wherever my hunger falls upon him.
Lord, let me be the golden heaven rising
Above him, the hush of a slamming door.

Roger Reeves is the author of King Me. He was awarded a 2013 NEA Fellowship and a Ruth Lilly Fellowship by the Poetry Foundation in 2008. He earned his PhD the University of Texas-Austin and is currently an assistant professor of poetry at the University of Illinois, Chicago.