Thoughts and Prayers

Leah Mueller

My stepfather got a postcard
     from the 700 Club
            a month after his suicide.

The televangelist urged everyone
                   to call a toll-free number

             for prayer healing, and
                           a free “Jesus First” pin.

He claimed to have a powerful
          and intricate communication system:

gunmetal cables, shooting prayers
               towards the almighty at speeds

       faster than sound or light.

My stepfather lived in rural Illinois,

             a place where prayer was

  common as pie.  He drove twenty miles
       to buy beer in the next county, free
                from the Church’s vigilant eye:

drank his liver to flames,
    body slumped against the couch.

His strap always near, ready
                   for punishment. The beating
                                  worse if you flinched.

My stepfather didn’t believe
               in guns. He chose fire instead,
                           a dress rehearsal for the Afterlife:

        One morning at sunrise, he
doused himself with lighter fluid,
    lit the match. His hair burst

                into flames. The twilight sky                     

radiated with furious burning.

My stepfather got a postcard
       from the 700 Club
           a month after his suicide

and his widow turned it over
           and over in her hands, wondered

                      where the hell the pin was.


Leah Mueller is an indie writer from Tacoma, Washington. She is the author of two chapbooks, “Queen of Dorksville” (Crisis Chronicles Press) and “Political Apnea” (Locofo Chaps) and three books, “Allergic to Everything”, (Writing Knights Press) “Beach Dweller Manifesto” (Writing Knights) and “The Underside of the Snake” (Red Ferret Press). Her work appears in Blunderbuss, Summerset Review, Outlook Springs, Crack the Spine, Atticus Review, Your Impossible Voice, and other publications. She was a featured poet at the 2015 New York Poetry Festival, and a runner-up in the 2012 Wergle Flomp humor poetry contest.