Fat Tuesday

Dan Clendenin
2 min readFeb 19, 2023

Selected by Debie Thomas

Dante Di Stefano

Fat Tuesday

Out of exceeding gloom and out of God,
I break a prayer from a growl and sing
a hymn more ordinary than tap water.
I pray that I might be more than my skin,
this dance of atoms, this ritual of ash,
this tribe of twilight and rattled angels,
this pattern of epiphanies rejected.
I know all prayer is merely the patter
of little feet coming down the stairwell
in a daydream of a future household.
Paradise I make a book of laughter
and forgetting; in the threnody spun
from streetlight cascading through sheets of rain
in the parking lot after a movie,
I make a gospel called marriage. Coast there
with me, wife. I pray for the only grace
every soul is blessed with: stupidity.
Let me be stupid enough to love more,
to want less, to desire only what moths
insane for light desire in their beating
against the screen door on August midnights.
I make a ceremony of small hopes
and venerate them like scratch-off tickets.
I confess I carved a psalm into
the stump of an oak tree. Sometimes, I drink
milk straight from the carton and I seldom
thank you for doing the laundry. My choir
is the sigh of the shovel into dirt
I once heard in my grandfather’s garden,
his blood of Christ a can of Ballantine’s beer.
Holiness turns a curse to canticle
and returns the bleat to the slaughtered lamb.
Without you, my wife, without God, sweet Jesus,
I’d be tracing my muscles in the dark,
spinning on a treadmill in the basement,
instead of letting the lark in my gut
warble a nest of cracked hallelujahs.
I’m a host of bright wings and brokenness,
praising the body that betrays me now
and at the hour of forever I do.

Dante Di Stefano received a PhD in English from Binghamton University. He is the author of Ill Angels (Etruscan Press, 2019) and Love Is a Stone Endlessly in Flight (Brighthorse Books, 2016). A poetry editor for DIALOGIST, Di Stefano lives in Endwell, New York.

Debie Thomas: debie.thomas1@gmail.com

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