The Lantern Man

by John Blair

     There was in every hollow
     A hundred wrymouthed wisps.
                         Dafydd ap Gwilym (trans. Wirt Sikes, 1340)

And so we are strange
news, and justified. Milton’s
Satan came unctuous

to Eve crested fair
with joy like wandering fire
to lead her tempted

home, to flyspecked bulbs
and skin flaking into dirt
and generations.

Our lights are not so
bright or so compelling, more
ignis fatuus than

morning star, more soot
than burning lamp in the short
night of our long souls,

more, to our cold shame,
chrome plating and greasespark
than lightoftheworld,

lit with low wattage
wanting, old news, bad checks, lies
about how bright we burn

and in what quick fires.