Tim Lilburn (b. 1950) was born in Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada. He has published nine books of poetry, including To the River (1999), Kill-site (2003) and Orphic Politics (2008). His work has received Canada’s Governor General’s Award (for Kill-site), the Saskatchewan Book of the Year Award and the Canadian Authors Association Award among other prizes. A selection of his poetry is collected in Desire Never Leaves: the Poetry of Tim Lilburn (Wilfird Laurier University Press, 2007), edited by Alison Calder. Lilburn has produced two books of essays, both concerned with poetics, eros and politics, especially environmentalism, Living in the World as if It Were Home (1999) and Going Home (2008). He also has edited and contributed to two influential essay anthologies on poetics, Poetry and Knowing and Thinking and Singing: Poetry and the Practice of Philosophy. He has written at length on Plato and thinkers in the Christian contemplative tradition, such as John Cassian, Teresa of Avila and the author of The Cloud of Unknowing, in the belief that a resuscitation of this tradition may have a decolonizing effect in the environmental politics of North America. Lilburn has been a writer-in-residence at the University of Western Ontario, the University of Alberta and St. Mary’s University, as well as the Regina Public Library, and now teaches in the Department of Writing at the University of Victoria. Previously he had taught philosophy and religious studies at the University of Saskatchewan. His work has been widely translated and anthologized. His most recent book is Assiniboia, an opera for chant in three parts, sections of which have been choreographed and performed by contemporary dance companies in Canada
Names Of God
for William Clarke, S.J.
1. Love At The Center Of Objects
At the pentecostal core of matter, a fire wind
whirligig, centrifuge of joy,
is You, Love, a lung
pumping light, auric squalls
inflating eyes in my skull’s raw coal.
Ssssssst. My bloodstream and the midpoints of my bone hear fire
gouging the inner face of flame. Which speaks.
“Dress, bride, in your blood’s maroon gas,
oxygen feathers tipping each bone blue; on the red knuckle
thread desire’s compound carat;
moth skip, heart-kamikaze, and explode
vaster, vaster in the inhaling charismatic glow.”
2. Allah Of The Green Circuitry
Salamu, my Lord. Salamu alaikum.
You are here
for my synapses whip and sparkle
like lightninged willows,
are in tumoured air storm’s throbbing,
are wind’s ululation to my steel-shod nerves
dancing them as dust-spooked stallions.
Runners of rain trellis fire
to earth. You ride the hissing flame,
Allah of the Green Circuitry,
to jazz with love juice the chlorophyll current
to flash sunflower, crimson, orange.
You live, ah, You
live to unflex in the crux of a woman’s dark ear,
pressing into mind’s white storm.
3. Light’s Gobbling Eye
O nourishing dark, O blank cloud,
You haul in my debris, compress it
in the stupendous clench of Your Heart
Light whorls toward You, a vanishing point
where perfection absents You; whorls
toward You, screwing
itself into its shadow core,
letting its socket eat it. O dark gravity, we decry
though the shimmering particles stampede
with greased monomania.
I, now, feel the suck, tide
of light raking over bones, unsnarling
from joints of thought and feeling,
until I whistle into what-I-know-not,
riding the bright shaft of self
into Your infolding, gold-splintered eye.