Featured Poetry

Brandon James O’Neil – City Adhan

Hinged on the image of Muslim cab driver finding a moment of serenity in communion with God in the chaos of New York City, Brandon James O’Neil’s “City Adhan” offers readers that same serenity. Juxtaposing the simple peace of prayer with the contrasting hardness and urban difficulties of modern day Manhattan, this poem suggests that God is everywhere and belongs to every single one of us.

City Adhan

In the merciful name of
one they claim is only—
hasten to prayer—hasten
to salvation and
with a brush
pulled from the side door
sweep this city curb—I
see the cab driver with his
pocket compass turn
himself toward Mecca, unroll
his carpet woven faded blue
and claim a space
amid exhaust and horns—
here he and Allah, most merciful, most
here, commune in praise

Prayer is better than
wandering these unsleeping blocks
mystified by Manhattan’s grid
counting each bus stop seeking
one going our direction
Prayer is better than
returning to our studio—too
small and too expensive—ordering
takeout after eight hours of
office space—dozing off while
Netflix asks if we’re still
watching Prayer is yes
better my brother of the book
as you bend toward the east our
communion deepens—although
I do not pray beside you
I too seek peace in streets where
paradise and the grave hold
the same lease
where beauty and ugliness, death
and new life grow over the concrete

I too pray here in the city where
God could seem so far if
we didn’t know Him to be
ever ours.

Brandon James O’Neil

Brandon James O’Neil is a poet and scholar from Rochester, Michigan. He has recently relocated to Scottsdale, Arizona after living on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. His work has appeared in Plough, Image, and Psychological Perspectives.

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