Leah Mueller

Thoughts and Prayers

My stepfather got a postcard
from the 700 Club
a month after his suicide.

The televangelist urged everyone
to call a toll-free number
for prayer healing and
a free “Jesus First” pin.

He claimed to have a powerful
and intricate communication system:
gunmetal cables, shooting prayers
towards the almighty at speeds
faster than sound or light.

My stepfather lived in rural Illinois,
a place where prayer was
common as pie. He drove twenty miles
to buy beer in the next county, free
from the Church’s vigilant eye:

drank his liver to flames,
body slumped against the couch.
His strap always near, ready
for punishment. The beating
worse if you flinched.

My stepfather didn’t believe
in guns. He chose fire instead,
a dress rehearsal for the Afterlife.

One morning at sunrise, he
doused himself with lighter fluid,
lit the match. His hair burst
into flames. The twilight sky
radiated with furious burning.

My stepfather got a postcard
from the 700 Club
a month after his suicide
and his widow turned it over
and over in her hands, wondered

where the hell the pin was.

2 thoughts on “Leah Mueller

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