Bruce Black


How do You keep track of our prayers?

How do You keep track of
our prayers, dear God?

Do you have a filing system
and angels working as secretaries
putting each prayer in its 
proper box?

F for forgiveness or R for repentance,
H for a request for help, K for someone
who just wants to send You kisses?

Or do you alphabetize the requests
by name—each of us receiving
our own box filled with the prayers
we utter over the course of a lifetime?

And do the angels keep track
of how many You answer?
And what’s the backlog—how
many are still waiting for
Your reply?

Or, since You are God, maybe
You’ve designed a different
(more efficient) system—
maybe You listen to each prayer
as it arrives from the lips
of each person who needs to call
You for help, and maybe You can 
hear all our prayers simultaneously
and can answer each one
in the order it’s received.

Or maybe it’s like the Emergency Room
at the hospital, and You, like the
ER doc, have to triage the requests—
most urgent, urgent, not urgent—
and You answer the most pressing
prayers first, which explains why everyone 
doesn’t hear from You right away.

I’m not saying this is how it works, God,
or suggesting You develop a different
system. No, dear God, I just want to know
if my prayers reach You, and if You think 
I might receive an answer anytime soon.






Bruce Black is the author of Writing Yoga (Rodmell Press/Shambhala) and editorial director of The Jewish Writing Project. He received his BA from Columbia University and his MFA from Vermont College. His work has appeared in Elephant JournalBlue Lyra ReviewTiferet Journal, Hevria, The Jewish Literary Journal, MindbodygreenYogi TimesChicken Soup for the Soul, and elsewhere. He lives in Sarasota, FL.