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Tenebrae

By

Shame the light for what grief it brings
the eye, even shut: radiant
the slaughterhouse; phosphorous shells

bright, fed on bone and wedding sweets.
Damn the light—damn the glow of their
sirens, their liturgy of flag

to kerosene, torch to altar
and crossbeam. Praise instead the night,
its starless, basilica void.

Praise the black of ventricles, new
blood. Praise his holy ruckus and
jolt—this boy as echo, shadow,
high-relief. Glory be his mouth,
warm on the soft dark of her breast.

G

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Author Image

R. A. Villanueva’s debut collection of poetry, Reliquaria (U. Nebraska Press, 2014), won the Prairie Schooner Book Prize. New writing appears or is forthcoming in Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Prac Crit (UK), and widely elsewhere. He lives in Brooklyn and London.

Feature image by Robert Fludd. From Utriusque Cosmi, 1617. Source: Wellcome Library, London. H/t Public Domain Review.

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