An excerpt from The Prayers of Dallas

Poem by Frederick Turner

The Prayers of Dallas is a portrait of the city, composed as a mosaic of fifty different voices, each a resident of Dallas, each in his or her most private moment; speaking to whatever is their own ultimate Listener—God, Jahweh, Allah, the Buddha, Krishna, Evolution, Humanity, the spirits of basketball, nature, re-election, and so on. Out of these meditations a story slowly emerges.
 
 
Marvin Jefferson
 
Lord, when the Carlton snags one of those congresses,
It’s hard on the back with the books that they carry;
And bellhops are way below graduate students,
And graduate students are lower than low.
"Postcolonial Studies" this time, but I’d rather
Have doctors or salesmen or government lobbies;
Professors are bad, but the worst are the fellows
Who want the poor ethnics to get liberated
And treat us like peasants when they’re at conventions:
The dumb ones who have to be given directions,
The cold ones who don’t have a smile for the proles,
The ones who’re allergic to something or other,
The ones who give orders like the Queen of the Ball,
The stickler, the toady, the flirter, the foodie,
The Vegan, the job-hunting crawler, the Prince,
The slob, the complainer, the clothes-horse, the nerdie,
The one who’ll talk baseball to show he’s a homie,
The faker, the climber, the lion, the whiner—
Professors who think that a tip is a quarter:
I’ve got enough now for a phone call to China.
 
The only one though who I liked was that Arab
Who gave me ten dollars to carry his bag,
Who said he’d be speaking about Homi Bhabha,
And wore a real suit, not suit-jacket and slacks;
Now why would he bother to talk to a bellhop,
And why was he trying to send off a fax,
And why did he leave, and not schmooze with the others,
And what was he doing with little Ms. Sax?
 
 
 
Prof. Michel Sayyed
 
Addressing out of the postcolonial condition the postcolonial subject itself,
—if this bellman function agnized the second person subject
—which is at the same time the first person
—number one, the liquid half that turns the waters yellow—
"You" bring to a conclusion what cannot be concluded
as being conclusive.
Addressing, again, this subaltern subject,
addressable only by fragments in slippage as "My" "self"
decentered of its own agency because un/re/cognized
as a decon/structor of agency
and thus as disseminator of its traces to the disenfranchised,
the "insulting bellman", the so to speak yaller octoroon
"unhappy with his tip" his pourboire incommensurate with his servitude,
locates "him""self" as collaborator with the expropriators,
as self-colonizing and thus as object,
as bought property of the oil city
and thus as appropriate "victim"
of the sacrifice that is to come.
"Carry my own baggage"
shifts as always already the burden of agency
from expropriator to expropriated
and therefore invites removal
from the category of the organism to the category of the inorganic.
Mirroring therefore the inauthentic subject structure of the expropriator,
this subject "flashed out a tenner" as would the british imperialist
and in the exchange gained the ass/
umed name of the engendered subject
in whose arms You lie.
 
(This redneck city is shit. I can’t wait to get back to Columbia.)
 
 
Joyce Parker deLong
 
He’s at his easel now, the poor poor dear,
My passionate and silly chevalier;
At least I’m safe now for a few short hours
From sentimental sulks, unwelcome flowers.
 
For heavens’ sake, what do they want of us?
Why must we jump when they get amorous?
Why when I practice cello, must he slink
Behind me, kiss my hair, what must he think?
I was brought up in Yorkshire, where we don’t
Believe that sighs will get you what you want.
He’s got his models—but I’ll take his part:
He’s never tampered with them, bless his heart.
Maybe the sight of all that nakedness
Makes him forget he pays them to undress.
 
And now, Lord, I must really concentrate
On getting all these concert doings straight.
Music is pure, unlike Ave’s mess of paint,
Eszter Gyarmati is a kind of saint:
The Myerson is where she ought to play,
Dallas should honor its great protégée.
The guvnors of the Fed Bank down the street
Will all be there, a thousand for each seat;
The lovely couple who invented Java,
That architect who’ll get us Calatrava
—I’d better check the snacks and the champagne—
Litton and Borok—phone them up again;
Somehow find time to practice Mahler’s third—
Now why must Avery be so absurd?
 
I’ll ask old Corey Hardin over, that might do;
They’ll drink a bit, discuss a bad review,
Play the great artists, snort and disagree
And mark the failings of society.
And maybe one day Avery will see
Just how much love he really gets from me.
 

Ismaíl Hilal
 
It is the call, it is the call, my soul:
Allah calls, I answer with all my soul.
 
Thou, the compassionate, the merciful
I hear you in the darkness call my soul.
 
I walked the streets of this murderers’ city;
A demon beckoned, almost stole my soul.
 
I am pure, the whore I do not pity;
Nothing evil now can enthrall my soul.
 
Soon on the skyline will bloom the bright palm;
The house of blood-money will fall, my soul.
 
The moon will shine on the wrath of Islam;
The world will know Ismaíl Hilal, my soul.
 
 
Miguel Herrera
 
Seventeen roofs, Señor, and seven weeks;
You sent the hail but broke Enrique’s knee;
Señor, you bless us with a thousand leaks,
And curse us with my best man’s injury—
A hundred thousand bucks if I agree,
But Señor, I can’t back my guarantee.
 
But there’s Consuela with her crooked tooth,
And my Gustavo’s next tuition due;
And in Jalisco, if they tell the truth,
They’ll lose the house with Jaime’s IOU,
So Señor, tell me what I ought to do,
What do I owe to them and what to you?
 
That old casita, my abuelo made:
The pine tree and the flowering magueys,
The grapevine trellis with the deep blue shade,
The dry palapa-smell on rainy days
With Lake Chapala fading in the haze,
The roast lamb in the Easter holidays.
 
But Dallas is my children’s children’s place;
I’ll be their grandfather, as he was mine;
And even if it means I’ll lose the race,
Until I’m sure I’ll do it, I’ll not sign.
Before I put our honor on the line,
Send me a roofer, Lord, by half past nine.