Weekly Poem: ‘Prayer for the Hanoi Man Who Waits for Breakdowns on His Block’


By Jennifer Richter

One like him on every block, a man
who crouches by his tray of parts: gears,
plugs, bolts, sprockets, cogs, his greasy
jewels displayed on slick black oil.
But this is for the man on Hang Bai Street,
the block before the lake–the man who looked
away when I walked past, who dropped his eyes
to hide the war of scars his body is.
Oh God, so much to fix. Give him, once
a day at least, a woman at his feet; give him
what it takes to fix her limping bike.
Forgive us all. Make his next world one
that doesn’t always fall apart around him.

Jennifer Richter is author of the collection, “Threshold,” winner of the 2009 Crab Orchard Series in Poetry Open Competition. She was awarded a Wallace Stegner Fellowship and Jones Lectureship in Poetry by Stanford University, where she taught in the Creative Writing Program for four years. She earned her MFA at Penn State University.