Get out your stringed instruments.

How many have I seen on the sick bed,
Calling out your name. So many.
So many have had that sensation of growing
in their own sweat, their own blood,
their own tears.

So many. Do not abandon me now,
they cry. Do not forsake me.
O, great physician, turn toward me.
So many have I heard in this way.

What good am I if I die?
What, I should go to the landfill
at the edge of town?
That would be better?

I’m powerless in this bed
and forgotten.
No one is there to hear me.

God is angry at me.
God is punishing me.
How can this end?
What does this mean?

I shiver in terror.
My soul amplifies
and multiplies my terror.
Terror on terror.
Grief on grief.
Loss on loss.

How much can I bear?
How long shall I wait?
My groans, my tears,
they’ve worn me out.

Turn to me in your kindness.
Give my soul and my body
Some way out of this,
You who are the inventor
of the way where there is no way.

I’m a veteran of many wars
against suffering and sorrow
and sickness and fear.
I’m worn out.

You’ve already heard my prayer.
(My friend came to see me yesterday!)
You’ve heard the sound of my cry.
(We laughed and laughed.
We told all the old stories.)

God will take my prayer
right into the center of God’s heart.

(Once, a wife of a soon to be dying man
turned to me and said:
This guy, you can’t
believe how often he played

BJ Thomas, Loretta Lynn,
every Friday night in our poker games.
Told the same jokes.
Everyone loved him for those jokes.

The man turned to me and smiled:
Tis true. We had a good time.
I may not get out of here alive,
but I’ll always have that music
and those times and the laughs
that gave me life.)

The grief may yet kill me.
My enemies might still rejoice,
stomp on my grave.
My old body might just shut down.

But I’ll still pray
Peace, peace,
old body,
peace, peace.

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