'Praying Drunk' by Andrew Hudgins
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Our Father who art in heaven, I am drunk.
Again. Red wine. For which I offer thanks.
I ought to start with praise, but praise
comes hard to me. I stutter. Did I tell you
about the woman, whom I taught, in bed,
this prayer? It starts with praise; the simple form
keeps things in order. I hear from her sometimes.
Do you? And after love, when I was hungry,
I said, Make me something to eat. She yelled,
Poof! You're a casserole! - and laughed so hard
she fell out of bed. Take care of her.
Next, confession - the dreary part. At night
deer drift from the dark woods and eat my garden.
They're like enormous rats on stilts except,
of course, they're beautiful. But why? What makes
them beautiful? I haven't shot one yet.
I might. When I was twelve I'd ride my bike
out to the dump and shoot the rats. It's hard
to kill your rats, our Father. You have to use
a hollow point and hit them solidly.
A leg is not enough. The rat won't pause.
Yeep! Yeep! it screams, and scrabbles, three-legged, back
into the trash, and I would feel a little bad
to kill something that wants to live
more savagely than I do, even if
it's just a rat. My garden's vanishing.
Perhaps I'll plant more beans, though that
might mean more beautiful and hungry deer.
I'm sorry for the times I've driven
home past a black, enormous, twilight ridge.
Crested with mist it looked like a giant wave
about to break and sweep across the valley,
and in my loneliness and fear I've thought,
O let it come and wash the whole world clean.
Forgive me. This is my favorite sin: despair-
whose love I celebrate with wine and prayer.
Our Father, thank you for all the birds and trees,
that nature stuff. I'm grateful for good health,
food, air, some laughs, and all the other things I've never had to do
without. I have confused myself. I'm glad
there's not a rattrap large enough for deer.
While at the zoo last week, I sat and wept
when I saw one elephant insert his trunk
into another's ass, pull out a lump,
and whip it back and forth impatiently
to free the goodies hidden in the lump.
I could have let it mean most anything,
but I was stunned again at just how little
we ask for in our lives. Don't look! Don't look!
Two young nuns tried to herd their giggling
schoolkids away. Line up, they called, Let's go
and watch the monkeys in the monkey house.
I laughed and got a dirty look. Dear Lord,
we lurch from metaphor to metaphor,
which is -let it be so- a form of praying.
I'm usually asleep by now -the time
for supplication. Requests. As if I'd stayed
up late and called the radio and asked
they play a sentimental song. Embarrassed.
I want a lot of money and a woman.
And, also, I want vanishing cream. You know-
a character like Popeye rubs it on
and disappears. Although you see right through him,
he's there. He chuckles, stumbles into things,
and smoke that's clearly visible escapes
from his invisible pipe. It make me think,
sometimes, of you. What makes me think of me
is the poor jerk who wanders out on air
and then looks down. Below his feet, he sees
eternity, and suddenly his shoes
no longer work on nothingness, and down
he goes. As I fall past, remember me.
Editor 1 Interpretation
Praying Drunk by Andrew Hudgins
Praying Drunk is a classic poem written by Andrew Hudgins that was published in 1991. The poem is a personal reflection on the speaker's struggle with faith and the search for meaning in life. It is a deeply introspective and honest piece that explores the complexities of spirituality and the human condition.
The poem is divided into two sections, each containing eight stanzas. The first section describes the speaker's experience of praying drunk while the second section reflects on the aftermath of this experience.
In the first section, the speaker describes how he has been drinking and is now kneeling in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, praying. The speaker describes how he is praying for forgiveness and for the strength to resist temptation. He acknowledges that he is not in the best state of mind to be praying but he feels compelled to do so.
The second section reflects on the aftermath of this experience. The speaker acknowledges that he is still struggling with his faith and his place in the world. He acknowledges that he is flawed and imperfect but he is still hopeful that he can find a way to connect with something greater than himself.
Praying Drunk is a deeply personal and introspective poem that explores the complexities of spirituality and the human condition. The speaker is struggling with his faith and his place in the world. He is torn between his desire to be a good person and his susceptibility to temptation.
The first section of the poem is a reflection of the speaker's desire for forgiveness and strength. He is praying for help in overcoming his flaws and staying on the right path. The fact that he is drunk while praying adds a layer of complexity to the situation. The speaker is acknowledging that he is not in the best state of mind to be praying but he is doing it anyway. This suggests a deep sense of desperation and a desire for something greater than himself.
The second section of the poem reflects on the aftermath of this experience. The speaker acknowledges that he is still struggling with his faith and his place in the world. He recognizes that he is flawed and imperfect but he still has hope that he can find a way to connect with something greater than himself.
One of the key themes of the poem is the struggle between faith and doubt. The speaker is torn between his desire to be a good person and his susceptibility to temptation. He is struggling with his faith and his place in the world. This struggle is reflected in the imagery of the poem. The speaker is kneeling in front of a statue of the Virgin Mary, a symbol of faith and hope. However, he is also drunk, a symbol of temptation and weakness.
Another theme of the poem is the search for meaning in life. The speaker is searching for something greater than himself. He is looking for a way to connect with the divine and to find purpose in his life. This is reflected in the imagery of the poem. The speaker is praying for forgiveness and strength. He is seeking guidance and direction in his life.
The poem also explores the idea of imperfection. The speaker acknowledges that he is flawed and imperfect. He recognizes that he has made mistakes in his life and that he will continue to make mistakes in the future. However, he is still hopeful that he can find a way to connect with something greater than himself. This suggests a sense of resilience and a willingness to keep trying despite the challenges.
Praying Drunk is a deeply personal and introspective poem that explores the complexities of spirituality and the human condition. The speaker is struggling with his faith and his place in the world. He is torn between his desire to be a good person and his susceptibility to temptation. The poem explores themes of faith and doubt, the search for meaning in life, and the idea of imperfection. Overall, Praying Drunk is a powerful and evocative poem that speaks to the struggles and challenges of the human experience.
Editor 2 Analysis and Explanation
Praying Drunk: An Introspective Journey Through Faith and Doubt
Andrew Hudgins’ poem, Praying Drunk, is a powerful and thought-provoking piece that explores the complexities of faith, doubt, and the human condition. Through vivid imagery, raw emotion, and a unique perspective, Hudgins takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and introspection, challenging us to confront our own beliefs and doubts.
The poem begins with the speaker admitting to being drunk and praying, a seemingly contradictory combination. However, as the poem unfolds, we see that the speaker’s drunkenness is not just a physical state but a metaphor for the confusion and uncertainty that often accompanies faith. The speaker is struggling to reconcile his beliefs with the reality of the world around him, and the alcohol serves as a way to numb the pain of that struggle.
The first stanza sets the tone for the rest of the poem, with the speaker describing himself as “drunk and making the usual / mistake of thinking too much.” This line immediately establishes the theme of overthinking, which is a recurring motif throughout the poem. The speaker is grappling with big questions about God, the afterlife, and the meaning of life itself, and his thoughts are spiraling out of control.
The second stanza introduces the idea of doubt, with the speaker questioning whether his prayers are even being heard. He wonders if God is “too busy to bother with / one drunk praying.” This line is particularly poignant, as it highlights the speaker’s feelings of insignificance and doubt. He is struggling to find meaning in his prayers, and the idea that God might not be listening only adds to his confusion.
The third stanza is where the poem really starts to take off, with the speaker describing a vivid dream in which he is “swimming in a river of fire.” This dream serves as a metaphor for the speaker’s internal struggle, with the fire representing the doubts and fears that are consuming him. The image of swimming in a river of fire is both terrifying and mesmerizing, and it perfectly captures the intensity of the speaker’s emotions.
The fourth stanza is perhaps the most powerful in the poem, with the speaker describing a moment of clarity in which he realizes that “God is not the fire / that burns but the light / that shines.” This realization is a turning point for the speaker, as he begins to see God in a new light. Instead of being consumed by doubt and fear, he is now able to see the beauty and wonder of the world around him.
The fifth stanza brings the poem full circle, with the speaker returning to the idea of prayer. However, this time his prayers are different, as he is no longer praying out of fear or doubt but out of a sense of wonder and gratitude. He describes himself as “drunk and weeping / with love,” a beautiful image that perfectly captures the transformative power of faith.
Overall, Praying Drunk is a powerful and deeply moving poem that explores the complexities of faith and doubt. Through vivid imagery, raw emotion, and a unique perspective, Hudgins takes the reader on a journey of self-discovery and introspection, challenging us to confront our own beliefs and doubts. Whether you are a believer or a skeptic, this poem is sure to leave a lasting impression.
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