Posted by: Mark Nielsen | May 10, 2007

Prayer to St. Annie Lamott

On the occasion of my recent reading of some of Anne Lamott’s work, while at the same time having work done to fix our well in Wisconsin, the following poem emerged. Maybe oil and water do mix once in awhile…


Prayer to St. Annie 


Hail Annie, full of grease,

Piss and vinegar

(Yet finally clean and bright).

Thou anointest my head

With ancient axle grease,

Fresh and forever,

But made to look dirty nevertheless.


My pump runneth over.


Thou art the patron of indoor plumbing,

The well that never runs dry,

Tapped into the great stream of Consciousness,

Into the grace that needs no soap nor pipe,

No wrench nor plumber,

Naught but myself and these two hands,

Two eyes, one heart, one head,

And a book.


Almost any book will do,

Often enough,

Though some are better than others,

And only one tops the list.

Beneath that,

Your own books rank high.

They are useful.

Though thin,

They are like telephone books for my soul:

The thick-with-love,

Totally free,

Multi-purpose booster seats

For my babbling baby spirit,

When the table is spread before me,

But I can’t quite reach my plate.


And when I need to call

St. Joe the Plumber–

Or someone to clean my septic

(My infected, filthy, underground innards),

To haul away all the waste

And dredge up the icky, smelly, sticky past–

I open you,

My faithful, accurate,

Holy soul-a-phone book,

And I find the right number,

Every time.



  1. I met Anne Lamott (for the second time, actually) at a book-signing a few years after writing this, took a pic with her at a Borders near Chicago. (Borders… this dates me…) She was sweet, warm, with wry humor and her usual politically and spiritually aware compassion. Since then, I see she and her son Sam have worked on some book or project together… the *same* Sam whose birth was profiled in _Operating Instructions_, the book that flung her into her diverse career in the public eye. Kids… they grow up so fast…

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