Sweet William’s Conceit

By Edward Butscher

…our existence is but a brief

crack of light between two

eternities of darkness.

 –Vladimir Nabokov



To abstract an abstraction

(Emerson’s “fossil poetry”)


love is a verb, then a pronoun

the space of deep space between


you must extract the leech coiled

inside all cunts and cold cocks


(a flame and its fear-fevered

wick painting an SS basement)


to feel the full organ weight

of a rose’s fated fall.


Two sweaty, writhing human forms

jig-sawed into a single self


ape the orphan of their grapple

for adjectives to freeze passion


shaped from glistening body fluids

that smear separating cell walls


into the lightning-tortured wooden O

where an old man howls out his loss


a lashing noose of words to string

up the universe’s death sentence.



Edward Butscher is the author of first biographies of Sylvia Plath and Conrad Aiken, as well as shorter books on Adelaide Crapsey and Peter Wild, much criticism, and several books of poems, most recently, Eros Descending.

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