Lukyanivka, Ukraine: 25 March 2022: destroyed by russian army wooden church of XIX century — Photo by Oles_Navrotskyi

Poetry by Kelly Jadon: “prayer tongue” + “hidden”

prayer tongue

by darkness’s carefully concealed cloak
concisely, deliberately
they came for us
without world’s watching
for the men
who mothered another tongue
behind bailless bars
wishing, wailing
withering and
each line of footfallen feet in formation
for death’s bullet to the head
my minutes minute
i knelt
upon filth’s furtive floor
to petition, to pray, as priests propose
taught in tender times
when gardens grew green
and olives oiled early lamps
within worship’s wallish wellspring
where incense swung
drifting above eastern domes
reverence reared
outside church hall
even my children
chased and chewed chickpeas
yet immature, yet green upon the branch
even these
the reverend, the priest
could not provincially protect
my lips lingered at Christ’s cross,
at Stephen’s cause
forgive them,
for they know not
what they do”
my lips’ language languished
as Greek
συγχωρέστε τους
γιατί δεν ξέρουν
ό, τι κάνουν
before cell’s barabbas bars
a guarded guard
guide to a last supper
slowing, listening, uncontinuing
his maternal tongue
as my solemn solicitation
he, by birth a Greek
me, by new birth, in Greek
nothing impossible
not chance
not fate
for these with guns and death and fear
from tongue-tied, war-torn ravages
learning giving as given
i alone left to home
to the Orthodox church
and language
which helped preserve my life
and lived to glorify God
because of His conviction
“how can we kill
this man
who even now
prays for us?”


 my brother and I were whisked away by gun gushing soldier salutes we remaining remnants coming from galilee’s guard Branch’s boyhood boundary where hunger hewed and gnats did gnaw inside sleepless pillowrestlessness just up the wind-walked hill from virgin’s well

death lay silent as ravaged village bodies pits piled ditches dug prepared as hidden unholy earth concealed clutchings we placed we prayed we covered faces, friends, feet never to smile, nor sing nor kiss us again

head’s hair curled scalp-tight crusader-marooned by birth by fear by foe trauma-turned frost-white overnight never again to see its hidden hue 

About the author

Kelly Jadon is the author of two books of poetry, including To Taste the Oil: The Flavor of Life in the Middle East. She has been published in several literary magazines and anthologies. Jadon writes various types of poetry, including ekphrastic (to complement her art), memoir, and biographical. The poet is a graduate of Spring Arbor University with a degree focusing on poetic literature and has studied poetic writing at The University of Iowa. She has been married to a Greek Orthodox believer from Nazareth, Israel for 33 years and is a mother and grandmother of Orthodox believers. You can find the writer online at