Bruce Beasley

Called to Lapse
July 22, 2022 Beasley Bruce

Called to Lapse



And straightway the father of the child cried out, and said with tears, Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.  
Mark 9: 24


Let us turn now to the passages on Unbelieving:


502.1 through 503.5 in this marred
thesaurus, long half-de-spined, backcoverless, to its much-used
vocabularium of apostasy and o ye of little faith.


I admit, Lord, I have told these words like a rosary.


Tongued delicately the syllables of dubiety and qualm.
Proclaimed by heart the verses and chapters
of set no store by and undeludable.


Often I have drowsed on the chill wet
crabgrasses of Gethsemene, while Judas stirred
and some carpenter rose before dawn to fulfill
an urgent new order for a cross.
Often I’ve half-heard through some inchoate dream your
Sleepest thou? Couldest thou not watch with me one hour?


My dog Beauregard walked each day the length of his long untangleable tether:
left yard azalea, sidewalk-border to stone bench, backyard thorn bush.
When once I forgot to attach his collar
he still paced that ropeline’s
Credo of semicircle: backyard thorn bush, sidewalk-edge to stone bench, left yard piss-soaked
litter of pink azalea blooms.


I have nulled-and-voided, Lord.  I have mis-
and de- and over- believed.
Half-prayed to ‘Oumuamua,
not-comet not-asteroid not
anything we know,
halo-less, coma-less, elongated and tumbling
here out of Lyra constellation,
whose name means a messenger
from afar, arriving first
whose ‘orbital eccentricity’ exceeds
our sun’s escape velocity.
Eccentric strayer: glottal
stop’s half-choke be


the incipient of thy name.


In this particular


into time’s


restless lapse


I have elapsed as time has,
24 frames a second.
31 million seconds a year.


In this particular passage through time, I have
shaken my head at You
at each turn, saying, No.  I pass.  I pass.  I pass.


Lapsible: liable
at any time to stray.
Lord, I have harbored my doubt
as in: moored there.
Clove hitch, taut tether, cleat.


Onamata: Greek for names.  “The word comes
to designate language as such,”
“the audible icons of the divine”
says the Dictionary of Spiritual Terms


I’ve been Lent-praying-through.


Onamata, domiciles of the
The credible.
If words were to lapse, if names were.
Announce themselves and quick-vanish, like ‘Oumuamua.
Messenger from Afar, arrive first.
Your name, Lord, Your onoma, from the unburnt scrub bush: I AM THAT I AM.


Say unto them, I AM is my name.
Ehyeh asher ehyehAsh at its unburnt core.


To be in Time is called
to lapse.


Expose me
in time-lapse, Lord, one frame a second,
and watch me in 24 frame-speed, slow-filmed then sped


and lapsed clean out of Time.


In this particular
re-recalled passage
around the front yard
on Summit Avenue, Macon,


in memory’s jerking time-lapse credendum I stand


hard-of-belief and tugging
at a tether I’m untethered-from,


crabgrassy edges of Doubt’s
thin shadow as it passes and I’m
barely by its ragged hem.


I would touch it again, I believe (Thou: help) I believe.

Bruce Beasley is the author of nine collections of poems, most recently Prayershreds (just published by Orison Books) and All Soul Parts Returned and Theophobia, both from BOA Editions.  He has other new poems appearing in New American Writing, Lana Turner, Agni, Gettysburg Review, and other journals.