teaches great books at Southern Illinois University Edwardsville.
His first collection of poems, Metaphysical, is ready for a publisher.
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Illumina tenebras nostras domina.
(Lady, illuminate our darkness.)
—motto on John Donne’s portrait, c. 1595
How the crystal sparks and sways
nestling above her breasts—
that light and flesh, if not one,
at least may dwell as friends.
Those slender curves, the way they cross,
ankles, calves, convergent thighs,
the lambent body shining through
black nylons stretching sheer and tight.
Oh let me trace those slides and turns
with ten searching fingers, each tip
a little tongue of fire lapping
the darkness to a golden haze.
As a child frays the feather’s edge
then smoothes it back again,
I’ve touched my finger to the flame
and felt your beauty burn.
Question for Wyatt
Old Tom, which was tougher to bear,
desire forbidden, affection scorned,
fire running the body’s length
so hot it singed the soul, and yet
the pain uncried, the secret swallowed?
Or the cold fact of fire spent,
the ghostly ash that keeps its form,
till touch dissolves, breath scatters,
and nothing remains but the gray silk-
en smudge on trembling finger tips?
Originally published in Poem, 2002