The American Journal of Poetry
"Strong Rx Medicine"®


Kelly Cherry

First Conversation

          "Nothing is so at odds with prayer as vanity." --Dietrich Bonhoeffer


Yet vanity entraps us, not in mirrors

or reflections or even giddy praise

but in the steps we take to prove ourselves

not vain, not prideful, neither self-obsessed

nor falsely humble. In fact, the farther down

we dig, the deeper strata we expose,

including layer on layer of self-deception,

which tends to mislead others, not just ourselves.


I don't object to what the preacher says.

I only say it's hard as hell to do.



Kelly Cherry

Grasped by God

          "Grasped by God" --Dietrich Bonhoeffer


But if we don't believe there is a God,

we will not find ourselves grasped by God.


Unless perhaps we've taken notice of

life's defenselessness against the scythe


that threshes us all as if we're wheat or grass.

The poet Plath described electric shock


as being grasped by a God who held her by

the roots of her hair--her permed, peroxided hair.


I don't think that God was a God either.

I do think there are paths that we are called


to take, if not by God, by love, and don't

we like to say that God is love?




KELLY CHERRY is the author of 24 books of poetry, fiction, and nonfiction. Her 25th, and tenth poetry collection, comes out February, 2017. A book of flash fiction is forthcoming in the fall of 2017, and 2018 will bring another book of poetry. Further details may be found on her Wikipedia page.



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