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 a professor of English at Western Washington University and author of nine collections of poems, including Theophobia, All Soul Parts Returned, and–forthcoming this fall from Orison Books–Prayershreds.