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Dylan Debelis

A Lama Sits with a Murderer before Execution


The two of us sit outside the Oklahoma churchyard,

cross-legged in filth.


We listen to cardinals tear the crabtree twigs apart

and weave a nest inside the belfry.


Our eyes are closed.

The sun licks our bare shoulders

as the heavy wing of night lifts to prayer.


We see eternal mystery

rest on the lanterns that lead across the road,

to the hospital ward.


We feel spirits leave prisoners’ windows,

like plastic bags caught in an updraft.


We have reverence for the fence posts

that mark the walkway, as we tiptoe


around newly opened tulips, to the courtroom

and the chair.



The Trauma Victim Meditates


Solar flares, black holes,

ant farms, magnifying glasses,

Noah and the Flood.


Pop Rocks, the ice cream shop

in Burlington, the preschool



Our aborted baby’s casket buried

at Hart island, the American flag

half-mast over Potters Field.


Leaves turning in New England,

sleigh bells in West Texas.



the odd silence of our walk-in closet,

when his finger no longer keeps

the rhythm warm.


The rising hum of a swarm

of wasps, my father

cleaning out rain gutters.


And between the curves

of my breath, I noticed

that it was snowing.


Snowing. What a strange thing love is

that it can swallow darkness.



Dylan Debelis is a publisher, poet, performer, chaplain, and Buddhist practitioner based out of New York City. A candidate for Unitarian Universalist Ministry, Dylan embodies his faith in praxis through his pastoral care and social justice activism. In sermons, writings, and worship, Dylan weaves grotesque worlds, loving embraces, and an off-kilter wit to lead the audience or congregation in a very unorthodox prayer.