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Luminous Great Mass

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Holy Trinity Airship
billows a

chrys-
elephantine
cave Louis Sullivan, Arch-
itect, lord master,
conceived of
in the hollow of power.

He swells.
I am his balloonist
balancing an azimuth

as earth-apse I
orbit, robed in
hot gas & leather

fastened by a yolk-stalk
of gravity to gold-
end onions nozzling heavens

whose suns are stomachs
with churches in their navels.

Each we are priests
as aeronauts at the vestibules,
& enter the cavity:

space, self, organ; celest-

ial nave
bellies

stars sailors name saints
and adore—

their egress is bitter
weeping, their praise pure
Russian form:

a cathedral,
my inner orrery.

Peter O’Leary, “Luminous Great Mass” from Watchfulness. Spuyten Duyvil, 2001.
Source: Watchfulness (Spuyten Duyvil, 2001)
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Luminous Great Mass

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  • Peter O’Leary was born in 1968 in Detroit, Michigan, and earned a PhD from the University of Chicago Divinity School. His recent books of poetry include The Phosphorescence of Thought (2012), Luminous Epinoia (2010), Depth Theology (2006), and Watchfulness (2001). He is the author of the critical study Gnostic Contagion: Robert Duncan & the Poetry of Illness (2002). As Ronald Johnson’s literary executor, he has edited several collections of Johnson's work, including The Shrubberies (2001) and Radi Os (2005). He lives in Berwyn, Illinois and teaches at the School of the Art Institute and for the Committee on Creative Writing at the University of Chicago.
     
     

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