Poetry: With My Prayer Beads I Pray for Bad Sushi by Nardine Taleb

In “with my prayer beads I pray for bad sushi,” the speaker contemplates the unshakeable impulse of longing: “the same space I seek poetry/ is where I also seek god. I’m not even/ sure what I’m praying for.”


with my prayer beads I pray for bad sushi

Sometimes, I speak

only out of need to hear

longing. The prayer beads just

fingers to hold. Little ears

to god. A child

has a tantrum at my feet and I feed

him mouthfuls of language

to explain himself. How I try to quench

my own longing by pressing

words against other people’s gums. How

the same space I seek poetry

is where I also seek god. I’m not even

sure what I’m praying for, but there’s a little bit

of myself in the unanswered things. Like. I wish

to be reunited with my dead. I wish

for bad sushi. I wish

for lust that drains. I wish

for cold coffee, and plants

that only last a week, and rain

we can’t drink. I’m on my way

to submissiveness but first

I must get through

myself. There are many things

I’ve loved that I’ve learned

to lose. I wedge

the prayer beads

inside my throat. READ,

said god,

I read.

Nardine Taleb

Nardine Taleb is an Egyptian-American speech therapist and writer. Her work can be found in The Commuter, Hobart, and Rattle.

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