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,

coloured cloud

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

to nothing.

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

this cannibalism, 

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, 

ears imploding,

riding the bright shaft of self  

into Your infolding, gold-splintered eye.