Splayed in the Nave (for Joe Donahue)

Beast, lurid with scripture.
Feast, putrid with nature.
Days. Days & calendrical days.

Aztec anticipations. Cataracts of fever.


Praise of the sun is ancient
avarice for nightless surfaces deep fuels
agonize with light
holocausts —: pure creative force. But the soul —
even yours Apollo — avoids sunshine; cool to the touch
it’s nacred with scheming shadow. You little pitiful conjurer
alchemically tinged. You pellucid daemonic maker
folded on the corners like
an important piece of paper, some
well-kept memorandum.


Arc. Rimes. Rice. Alms.
Claimers race camels.
Miracles: Chronos brushes the aluminum of myth, burring its sheen.
Manifestations: Magi coinages, cages of magic —: an omega
enigma. Then medical acts & the defiance of depth.
Gospels. A hag, agog.
And then at last language

A creation introit, titanic ore, aortic cantos, tiers

of rain, as in a particularly
disturbing dream.

A sonic image,
a reverberating thickening of sound.

My sons’ voices.


Spring’s lilac valve systoles of light pump through. Evolved
for the sake of respiration, the season is a heart.

A mammal’s startled


Lords —
you ruling the disturbingly animated depths
& you shades in the zero’s oracle;
you Chaos & you Phlegethon ruling night’s unechoing hollows
& you spirit forces in the void cone of sleep:
let me say the things I’ve heard,
what the massive sulking earth makes darkness from,
what numinous abyss it hides.
What’s worth telling.

Peter O'Leary (© 2009)