I heard those ripened, muted swoons, although
that was no kiss—a dagger sunk into my chest.
What use authority if it cannot impose
a hidden will? The songbird, let her muse
the painter in his cavern, his mettle at the test,
while she flickers here for me, beyond sorrow
and contrition. We are all caught between tides,
like urchins sprung or crabs denied a nook
from ravenous waves. She’ll paint him a tale of flight
on a ship of words. I offer the blight
and bliss of wronged conviction, what the good book
prescribes for elevation. I am the night that hides
nothing, confesses the hunt, enables nature
purchase in the soul. To love is to endure.
Ricardo Pau-Llosa’s eighth book of poems will be released later this year by his longtime publisher, Carnegie Mellon University Press. His poems have appeared recently, or will appear soon, in Ambit, The American Journal of Poetry, The American Poetry Review, Birmingham Poetry Review, Blackbird, Boston Review, Burnside Review, Colorado Review, december, The Hudson Review, Island, New England Review, Salamander, Stand, and Virginia Quarterly Review, among other publications. He also writes art criticism.