The Atheist’s Prayer by Madeline Tiger


“The more I worked on assembling this collection, the more I realized how poems are prayers. These poems speak through visions and memories, through teaching experiences, folk tales, Biblical stories, and my responses to visual arts. Many of the poems are experimental in form and style; but the process is spiritual: the poems move toward what I can hold, and they teach me what to trust. It’s no coincidence that the title poem is a rush of language, a passionate declaration —of disbelief, and of belief.” —Madeline Tiger


  • Kind: Perfect Bound
  • Pages: 77
  • Language: English
  • ISBN: 978-1-933675-50-3


“In The Atheist’s Prayer Madeline Tiger never forgets, even in the most intimate moments, that “truth is …like the old inveterate river that holds clouds.” Tiger encompasses, with a tender embrace, a life made whole; her ministrations do not deny its sorrows, and she is glad to celebrate its hard-won triumphs. I don’t know when I have ever been allowed to contemplate the intricacies of the personal so unflinchingly and to understand that, beyond the window, there is a vast untempered world, a glorious one. It is the caring in these quietly intelligent poems which makes living in this world possible.” —Burt Kimmelman

“To read Madeline Tiger’s poetry is like flowing with the river of life itself… Life, love and death are her subjects— not the abstractions but the details, and she gets the details right.” —Alicia Ostriker

“I much admire Madeline Tiger’s poetry of observation, her keen memory and her holding of things dear… I also admire her poems of pure imagination, dreamy and scary… …she faces… heartbreaking experiences with the bravery of good music so that there is no fake comfort….” —Gerald Stern



crust of the new bread
a baguette the early morning man on his bicycle
carries on his back across town

he has no wife
he has never seen Paris, I must avoid the cliché
I must avert my eyes from

the scene in his rooms,
he is sharing his morning bread quietly
with a small dog

I mustn’t presume or
inquire into any loneliness, I must ride on
to the shore of this image

where molluscs and brittle Crustacea
shape themselves:
they are forced by long lines of tide and

into harsh crescents
the cutting edge of the sea


Madeline TigerMadeline Tiger’s most recently published collections are The Earth Which Is All (2008) and Birds of Sorrow and Joy: New and Selected Poems, 1970-2000 (2003). Her work appears regularly in journals and anthologies. She has been teaching in state programs and private workshops since 1973 and has been a “Dodge Poet” since 1986. She has five children and seven grandchildren and lives in Bloomfield, NJ under a weeping cherry tree.

Additional information

Weight 7 oz
Dimensions 9 × 6 × .25 in