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"Poem for People Who Say They Don’t Pray", "Poem for Sylvia Plath"... by Nicole Tallman

Poem for People Who Say They Don’t Pray

This is a poem for those who say they don’t pray.

Poem is a prayer.

If you write, you pray.

I write to the light of the candle.

I walk with the moon at the end of the day.

Walking is a prayer.

I write with the devotion of a nun to her god.

I walk with the devotion of a monk to his vow.

I repeat: anaphora.

I chant: Oṃ maṇi padme hūṃ.

I say: Santa María, Madre de Dios.

I write.

I walk.

I pray.

I burn incense for you.

Frankincense. Violet. Rose. Myrrh.

I pray.

I drink wine.

Prisoner Red Zin and Rombauer Chardonnay.

I pray.

I write.

I walk.

I say your name.

You don’t answer.

I write.

I walk.

I drink.

I burn.

I chant.

I pray.

Poem for Sylvia Plath

TOO DARK told me I couldn’t speak to you through my Ouija Board, so I’m going to try to reach you through this poem. I want you to know how famous you are now and how many people adore you. My favorite poem of yours isTulips” and I also really love “Edge,” which is credited as the last known poem you wrote, but that’s debatable because Ted burned your last journal. That’s also debatable.

I also want you to know that there’s a 1,154-page biography about you called Red Comet and that your tarot deck recently sold on Sotheby’s for $200,000. Can you believe that? Can you believe that some of your fans take a trip to Indiana just to see your braid? Others go to your grave in Heptonstall to deface the Hughes name from your headstone.

You also have a bot that is quite active on Twitter. You probably don’t know what that means, but I think you may have liked Twitter and would have had a lot of followers. Ok, you probably wouldn’t have liked Twitter, but you definitely would have had a lot of followers. I would have loved to follow you.

I follow Frieda for you on Instagram. You probably don’t know what that means either, but it’s a place where she posts photos of a menagerie of pets (including 14 owls!), paintings, cooking, nature walks, motorbikes, and flowers. I learned from Instagram that she had a big art exhibit in London recently.

Frieda looks a lot like you. She has also published several children’s books and several poetry books. I want you to know that she seems to be doing well—in spite of it all. She still has your laundry box seat from the 1950s. She says she painted her feelings onto it.

Poem for Gianni Versace

For my birthday in 2020, I booked a room at Casa Casuarina to celebrate not being dead. I swam in your pool at night after everyone went to bed. I also ran up to the observatory to see if I could reach you through the red. You didn’t take my call, so I left you a heady trail of roses there instead.

A word from the author: These three poems are part of my Poems for People series. Others have been published in HAD (Poem for People Who Don't Like Poems and Poem for People Who Are Tired), Maudlin House (Poem for People Who Take Public Transit), and Marvelous Verses (Love Poem for Fire-Star), and one is forthcoming next week in The Daily Drunk (Poem for Paris Hilton).

Nicole Tallman is the Poetry Ambassador for Miami-Dade County, Associate Editor for South Florida Poetry Journal and Interviews Editor for The Blue Mountain Review. She is the author of Something Kindred (The Southern Collective Experience Press), and her full-length debut collection is forthcoming in the summer. Find her on Twitter and Instagram @natallman and at


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