by Mary Ruefle
loves Barry Soyers.
Please pray for Lucius Fenn
who suffers greatly whilst shaking hands.
loves a pug named Cowl.
Please pray for Olina Korsk
who holds the record for missing fingers.
Leon Bendrix loves Odelia Jonson
who loves Kurt who loves Carlos who loves Paul.
Please pray for Cortland Filby
who handles a dead wasp, a conceit for his mother.
Harold loves looking at Londa's hair under the microscope.
Londa loves plaiting the mane of her pony.
Please pray for Fancy Dancer
who is troubled by the vibrissa in his nostrils.
Nadine St. Clair loves Ogden Smythe
who loves blowing his nose on postage stamps.
Please pray for William Shakespeare
who does not know how much we love him, miss him and think of him.
Yukiko Pearl loves the little bits of toffee
that fall to the floor when Jeffrey is done with his snack.
Please pray for the florist Marieko
who wraps roses in a paper cone then punches the wrong code.
Muriel Frame loves retelling the incident
that happened on the afternoon of November third.
Please pray for our teacher Ursula Twombly
who does not know the half of it.
By the radiator in a wooden chair
wearing woolen stockings sits a little girl
in a dunce's cap, a paper cone rolled to a point
and inverted on her hair; she's got her hands
in her lap and her head bowed down, her chin
is trembling with having been singled out like this
and she is sincere in her fervent wish to die.
Take it away and give it to the Tartars
who roll gloriously into battle.