“Idol,” by Daniel E. Pritchard


The bulbous neck and pacified stare

twist off broad haunches of gold.

Its hooves tear at the pedestal below.

And it is because the chance is so rare

to look upon a god’s face,

even of shofars, even of melted tefillin and jewelry,

all the keepsakes that were carried

through desert purgation. Nothing

but silent landscape and prayer.


The splintered axel of our machine

breathing kicks and lurches darkly.

It brays in the shuddering trap

of twilight. And we are alone

clenching through the fire and the cold

as some human disease remands us,

tossing us into unremitting folds

of sand and salt and blood

in a mute landscape made vast


by tufts of sallow grass

low and sheathed in the wind.

Speech dries up like a cistern

at the first uncertain taste.

The heart, and whatever mystery,

hardens in its mold.

Back and forth through the camp.

Brother and friend and neighbor.

And you must not bow.


Daniel E. Pritchard is the force behind the blog The Critical Flame, Marketing Manager at Boston Review, and the curator of the reading series U35 Poetry at the Marliave. This poem appears in Little Star #2.