This Picture of Mine (Taken in the Shadows)

Let not my minde be blinder by more light[.]


Churches are best tor Prayer, that have least light:
To see God only, I goe out of sight:


Then, as if he would have sold
His tongue, he praised it, and such wonders told
That I was faine to say, If you’had liv’d, Sir,
Time enough to have been Interpreter
To Babells bricklayers, sure the Tower had stood.


Who invites an ostracism only to depart,
this worldweariness is a sickness
without remedy which appears when all else, for

us blood is but condensed rust, a tincture thrust by
your fingers into and out of the
treasury of my chest, my heart, when weakest, best

serves to colour what no better my otherwise
wealth of words can depict, this picture
of mine taken in the shadows takes from my first

silence a single breath, though not my last the most
subtle & meaningful yet, ruinous
in her beauty mercy visits me only in

secrecy, an immensity of light who sits
in the corner of a small dark room,
a chorus of bristling photons whistling, ‘I can

do all things which are not against my nature or
the nature of the matter upon
which I work,’ trading anecdotes for company,

passing out pieces of my Self like hors-d’œuvres, more
interested in making a state-
ment than making friends, drinking the flame I am him,

my cinder-block heart split like scenes into venom
on film, two wholes where, in the serene
emptiness of those cavities, valves or eyes or

pieces of my soul could be, as audiences
blind themselves with safer evasive
pieties, knowing my reputation, that I

am a terrifying gentleman, a miser-
able riddle foregoing my own
ancestors’ ultra-English heritage of one’s

unspoken emotions, a poet performing
even when I am not writing, out
and spoken, in control, this is expression not

without conscience or consequence, elusive, yes,
an asymmetric flawed master whose
work is unselfconsciously presented for the

benefit of those who cannot handle it, while,
with one finger to my lips, oh-so-
Harpocratic, making a secretive Chi-Rho

blessing my heretic expletives obscured by
chiaroscuro’s consolation
concealing the corners of my jocund smile, stone

wearing fog for a halo, self-censorship is
worse than death for him who understands
the unflinching temptation to be seen and so

sensational, to be heard but not understood,
thick-skinned and -headed, committed to
my peculiar concept of integrity I


will never compromise, no matter what, you who
want to speak through me, can god hear the
voices I hear, rearing their loathing talk like some

forgotten portent’s walking abortions stalking
thoughts in my head? Like every one
ever mentioned in the record of scripture, I

never asked to be a prophet and to this day
take what I say as conjecture, this
picture of mine taken in the shadows adds yet

another brick to the Tower of Babel, this
confusion of my true intent with
talent which I live as if it were an aching

affliction not readily remedied by the
sages’ apotropaic magic
or sated by its constant need for attention,

when I disappear my light brightens, wisdom some-
how tracking down my experience
hiding in darkness, bringing purification

in a place of torment since the soul is a late
messenger, a fate’s strayed traveler
stranded where it waits, when it no longer needs the

body it leaves, knowing full-well the skull itself
is an ossuary, a bone-box
for thoughts, the skeleton a coffin’s frame on which


nature hangs its shame we throw off when no longer
its awful pain we can hold, a weak
structure we call on, stolid, only this & nothing

else my shape depicts, fading into shade clothing
of flesh to protect from the burning
brilliance of its shining this soul of mine biding

its time within, since prayer is a handful of sound
filling the air with what it cannot
grasp, this is my sundown, howling, I can only

be influenced by relics older than I am,
in my element outside of my
distance, an exile mouth that tastes like June, old school,

unamused by youthful fools, enemies bugging
me undoing its folding of lips
in this tasteless meticulous costuming

of saints, caustic script written ritualistic
cautions mystics against confident
audacity, too much of which reduces your

spiritual poverty to a proverb with
a slippery laugh, presses against
glass what seems beautiful but wastes every kiss

its admirers pay laid down like compliments on
a grave, washing away with inky
indignation a name whose face remains unchanged.

1John Donne, “The Litanie (I–XIII): VII: The Patriarches”, [Line 8], in “Divine Poems” of Donne: Poems and Prose[: Selected by Peter Washington], published at New York by Everyman’s Library in 1995; page 182.
2Ibid., “A Hymne to Christ, at the Authors last going into Germany”, [Stanza 4, Lines 29–30], in “Divine Poems” of the same edition; page 175.
3Ibid., “Satyre IV”, [Lines 61–65], in “Satires” of the same edition; page 100.