Journalism in Verse – EST. 2016


Ode to Kneeling [AUDIO]

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In yoga, it’s called anjaneyasana.
named for a cloud spirit woman
who gave birth to Hanuman–
god of strength and devotion
who tried to eat the sun.
In 1892, Bellamy wrote the Pledge
for schools, to ease post-Civil-War
fear of immigrants, only in his version,
the hand was outstretched in salute.
The young voices praised 
Until 1923, when it was changedmy flag.
to the flag. In 1942, they noted
the embarrassing echo of forced
patriotism overseas, brought
the hand down to the heart.
The heart, where we say what
we know is true, where we feel
our blood insisting: I’m here,
I pump, I breathe. Listen to your own
as you get down closer to the earth.
It is said that kneeling connects us
to the heavens. We kneel to worship,
to propose (from the Latin propositus,
to set forth.) Get down on your knees.
Black bodies left dying in streets
or fighting men’s fantasies in a field.
Leonard Cohen kneeled on his final tour,
dark green bowler hat over his heart
as he sang a million candles burning
for the help that never came.
I’m not the marrying kind,
but my ex did kneel when
he told me he had bedbugs and
asked me to love him anyway.
It is impossible to boast while kneeling,
all your cells break open in reverence
for something more. I’ve kneeled
in church pews in hope for something
more than the stuffy patriarchal room;
in hallways and driveways, begging
for my desires, for truth, to not
be abandoned. Looking for tiny,
precious things lost in indifferent tall
grasses. At 48, stubborn knees make
it harder to get back up, but
I hereby take a tired, boney knee
in allegiance to Kaepernick and all
who have followed suit. The heartbeats
are getting louder. The winds
are strong and the fires are spreading,
the waters are rising and we can
no longer close our eyes or ears.
Let the manbabies spit and spew,
all of creation kneels with you.



Caitlin McDonnell lives in Brooklyn, teaches writing at CUNY, and published a book “Looking for Small Animals” (2012) and a chapbook “Dreaming the Tree (2003).


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