Noisey Thoughts Ensnare Me, But the Silent Answer Lies In Him

by Jon Adler

Editor's note: the pieces in our Order and Chaos series were originally submitted to the Creative Writing competition as part of Interregnum XV at The King's College. The following piece won third place. It was submitted on behalf of the House of Lewis.

All of my thoughts are a constant buzz in my head

I want a muffler for my brain, I want them to cease

Shapes that fold into each other, messed up dates and places

A song I’ve heard before, but cannot place

The homeless lady on the train with a baby

That probably isn’t buying drugs 

With the money I should have given her


What if everyone else in the gym

Is as ashamed of their bodies as I am

Maybe everyone else feels like they 

Can’t find pants that fit either


What if we kissed, in the middle of the street?

I’m sorry I used to flinch when I saw people we knew

Out of the corner of my eye


To my own heart be true—

But what is this heart? 

Why would I trust it over another?

Am I sufficient within myself?

I know right from wrong, I am the only home I have

How can God be my rock in the storm

When He’s not here

There’s just me


I am here, alone

I live with others, but I will die alone

Without children

My love, a curse in and of itself

How can I listen for what God is saying

When all my prayers trail off in the middle, 

I see something shiny

Out the corner of my eye, and my mind darts to swallow it

My mouth is full of glistening rocks

That block the words that should come out of it

How can my words float to God above, when 

Such dazzling things hold me captive, 

My attachment to them pollutes my heart and soul


I forget more things every day than I remember in a year

I am constantly flooded by the small beauties of the City 

I remember but a handful—

The snail at 96th Street

The manatee mosaics in the Houston Street station

The inexplicably ornate Canal Street post office

The beautiful Orthodox Church in Greenpoint

The green angels of Grand Army Plaza—

If I treasure them in my heart, 

Will they protect me from ugliness to come?


It’s not unique to have a short attention span

I just have no excuse


I think about the things I consume

Without giving back

My dumb vampire lips

Sucking in sights and songs like so much blood


The people around me have their own swirling multitudes

I know I am not special 


Yet here we are

Going to college

Working at coffee shops

Taking broken trains to internships and classes, 

Neither of which guarantee us a thing

Everything is a boring, boring gamble, 


We are homogenous

I am bored with my work

And so is everyone else

The Creator of the earth contains infinite multitudes

I wonder if His train made Him late this morning.

I wonder what he thinks about our complaints.

Wouldn’t it be nice if he just answered them?

So we could all be happy?


Jagged lines I doodle in class

I draw on my phone, on the train

I gave up phone games for Lent, 

So I fill my times with drawings of shapes

That I’ll never use


For all I know, I’ll die tomorrow

In an unexpected collision on the 4 train

Between Barclays and Nevins

Will I be ready to meet my Maker?

I hope so

I should think about that tonight

When the aching voice that says to finish my commitments

Lets me off the hook for this one


Adulthood is just mindless repetitions 

Of the same damn things 

We’ve all been doing 

Our entire mundane lives


We are all collectors of our own scraps, 

Fighting over the garbage

That we think is valuable

Scraps of what we’ve learned

Scraps of filtered memories

Curating the museums of our memories 

For the only people who will ever see them: ourselves. 

Personal compost heaps

Festering under tarps


I cannot sit still in classes, I cannot sit still in church

The battery inside me keeps me in motion 

Writhing, like I did in my bunk bed the other night

Hoping my crying didn’t wake my roommate


How can I make sense of anything I do

I don’t even like the tattoos I gave myself

To zoom out for one second

I squint my eyes, because I want to see

Why do I want to see

It would give me vertigo if I actually saw it 


Moses glowed when he saw a sliver of God’s glory

Could I even say that I want that?


The lines of our lives, crossing and uncrossing -

I want this to be special

I want everything to be special

I want to freeze everything just how it is and just sit here

This is special, isn’t it? 

I wonder if I’ll remember this when I’m 

Old and cranky


What have I to gain from the cultivation of secrets

What a worthless, fruitless crop

There is nothing left to hide

What is left to hope for, but release


The things I have done in darkness are being brought to light

My opinion on the matter 

Has no bearing on the decision

They will be made known, and I will be made free. 


It’s time to face the multitude of fears. 

Even the best roommates will get married and leave me

The girl back home just married someone else

Even the love of my life doesn’t love me anymore. 

Yes I hate these things

Yes, they’re still true


And just like that, 

There is still homework due on Sunday night. 

Things that make sense are boring

But random things turn boring, too


I didn’t write this poem to be a prayer, but I think that’s what it is. 

My parched soul crying out

Dried up from my own neglect


Who is truly brave? 

He who tries the hardest

To look God in the face

Not to ask the question, but to steel himself for the answer


What is man, that He is mindful of us? 

Our senseless anger like a broken kaleidoscope, 

Shards of glass that make no pattern

I need the infinite glassmaker 

To put me back together

Or to tell me how He intends for me

To clean up the mess myself 

⬩ ⬩ ⬩ ⬩ ⬩ ⬩


Thumbnail image by Seth Trouwborst.