Oh my Lord is a voice

Written by

Blackout Beach – Deserter’s Song

I’ve been saying the Jesus Prayer lately.

I picked it up from Mitchell, a character in Jeffrey Eugenides’ novel The Marriage Plot, who got it from Franny, a character imagined up by J.D. Salinger, who nicked it from The Way of the Pilgrim. It goes:

Lord Jesus Christ, have mercy on me, a sinner.

Like everything passed down through centuries of jumbled church doctrine, it’s somewhat obscured. The original reads: Lord Jesus Christ, Son of God, have mercy on me, a sinner. But Mitchell says it my way, and that’s what I started uttering under my breath every time I ride my motorcycle or stress about the future or wonder if she likes me too or brush my teeth or notice my tan in a mirror.

At first it was clunky. The cadence didn’t work for smooth repetition. But it somehow sleeked out to become an operable mantra, and I’ve been saying it frequently for a few weeks. Mitchell says the prayer “at moments … when the inner tranquility he’d been struggling to attain began to fray, to falter.

“Mitchell liked the chant-like quality of the prayer. Franny said you didn’t even have to think about what you were saying; you just kept repeating the prayer until your heart took over and started repeating it for you.”

Mitchell latches onto that idea because he doesn’t like the words. I like it because I still have qualms with prayer in general, and mystic bullshit feels preferable to materialistic petitions, especially at this time of year.

Siskiyou – Always Awake

I had been playing badminton for about two hours. I’m disgusting when I exercise. I sweat far more than is socially acceptable; if I don’t wear a headband, the salty discharge stings my eyes so bad I can’t see. My clothes, thoroughly soaked, cling to me, letting off a nauseating odor of bad eggs and ass. I pulled my left hand through my beard and flung a handful of sweat onto the court beside me, murmuring the Jesus Prayer.

I don’t know everyone’s name, but I’ve been coming too long to ask now. I just say hi and smile my stupid white smile and it’s never a problem. In my head, my partner’s name was Betty. She’s married to Gray Pants (people tend to wear the same clothes), who was in the middle court playing with Uncle Tony, who looks a lot like Chi Yuan’s mom’s friend, Tony. (It’s not racist to say they look alike if you can actually tell Asians apart.) Betty and I were playing Doris, this highly competitive bitch I take exceptional joy in shellacking, and Tetric. I’ve asked Tetric, an overgrown high schooler who shoots from the elbows, his name several times, but he just giggles through his braces and I still can’t make it out.

We should have won, but I could’t break out of a fugue. I kept repeating the prayer. It filled my head like a haze. Usually keeping score clears my brain, but in this case the numbers became futile flashlight beams strobing in the thickening fog. My legs were rubber. I continually forgot whether it was first or second serve (I absolutely loathe when others do this). I swung my racket and struck only air, the birdie falling lightly beside me. All the while, on the chapped edges of my lips, on the tip of my pulsating heart, the Jesus Prayer purred metronomically, a sentient mind of its own.

We lost, 15-13.

[Fuck Death / Keep Away The Dead.]

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