Prayer for Things Bent Askew

posted Sep 29, 2015

Lord, I have tried but not nearly so hard as I imagine
I could have. It was imagination that did this
in the first place. You exist, as I do, on paper,

behind passwords. That is where we're best left.
I drag my feet and wonder what is virtue
where blood is thin. You have me fastened to unruliness

and it would speak for me, its single word again
and again as one bends a nail in boredom till the metal furs,
tires, will not bear weight in the way it once did.

Hilary Vaughn Dobel is the translator of Nine Coins/Nueve monedas by Carlos Pintado (Akashic Books, 2015), winner of the 2014 Octavio Paz Prize, and The Clouds (Open Letter Books, forthcoming). She is also the author of two poetry manuscripts, Hot Cognition (finalist, Brittingham Prize) and He Imagined Himself Laughing (finalist, Colorado Prize for Poetry). She holds an MFA in poetry and literary translation from Columbia University and is the recipient of fellowships from Columbia and the University of Chicago. She lives in Boston and at

We’ve published two more poems by Dobel: “Tuesday” and “How to Use a Book of Hours.”