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Our first reader submission. Many thanks to Erez and his very erudite explanation of why he chose this poem. Enjoy!

To participate in the Send me a poem/I’ll send you a book celebration,
click here.

Lucifer
(Originally published in The American Poetry Review)

Two A.M. and we’re on Lucifer, arguing, drinking,
one of us a Believer. I say if that beautiful
light-named angel, once most loved to God,
fell, he must have kept falling into insight–
scattering his illumination, plummeting, coming apart
into a broken new deity, one that divides
as the woman’s face in darkness,
the man’s face in quick rip-slashes of light.
Starry dark: down and down She falls into her empty glass,
the night sky lights up with all He refuses to let go.

-Carol Muske

Erez’s Why:

Here’s the why we love the poem, and in tangent, why Poets and Writers also put her on their summer issue cover:

Can analysis be worthwhile? Well, here’s my take. Muske is a big fan of the 3D’s. Death, Desire, and Domesticity. If she could, she’d be Satan’s lover in this poem and die a second death for him. Perhaps even Lucifer’s counterpart in the poem, Starry dark, does die a second type of love-requiting death to foreground the limited version we have of His first, as I’ll attempt to show. She gives us the uncut version, if you will, for Believers only. Non-Believers need not read on.

The poem’s ‘one of us a Believer’ is Muske, I believe. The non-Believers are akin to the Republicans who watch Inconvenient Truth and still do not have sufficient evidence to act. Starry dark (hereon in Starry) is Muske’s doppelganger, a Believer who does have sufficient truth to act.

The poem ends with Starry’s reciprocal fall, and something of what Muske has called, “the imagination’s alchemizing of what we think of as ‘fact.’” The poem elides the initial argument it presents, truth v. biography (Lucifer’s), also an ongoing conversation the poet has broached in her two collections, ‘Sparrow’ and ‘Life after Death.’ These book titles point to what I consider to be the throughline of this poem as well: Falling and all its connotations. By changing the handed down narrative of the Devil’s fate, Muske presents the reader with both Lucifer’s newborn diety and his original–it’s a two-for-one. Starry and Satan are so to speak, dead and/or alive, since the latter’s old soul is spared by the former’s action anew.

It is almost as if something akin to the chaos theory of quantum physics holds to the poetics here: the outcome of Lucifer’s death is changed (the future act alters the past) by the fact of it having been witnessed. Someone–call her Starry, call her a Believer–observes Lucifer’s fall in the poem and like Democrats watching Inconvenient Truth, is “given and not given sufficient evidence” to believe in the Hellish fate of the world.

She, Starry, actually takes on His, Lucifer’s, form once He has passed on, so that both outcomes can coexist–His and Hers, Hers and His–truth and biography. He is absolved after Death, and She can still live with ‘all that He refuses to let go.’ She, is the one who through her own action foregoes the original version of the truth of His fall (the damning fate of his soul) and makes up a new one with Her ’starring’ as the lead role in His own biography.

Muske takes the traditionally accepted narrative of Lucifer’s fall as a limited version of the story. His passing on, His ‘falling into insight’ as Muske says, is made possible by Starry’s choice to go on with her own reciprocal living in darkness, content to be occluded from his truth, even the original version of his death. His fall from grace (read Death) is in effect subverted by hers being transcendent and of this give-and-take/my darkness for your light type of reciprocity.

There is a little bit of Hegel’s Lord/Bondsman domestic relationship going on here. And Muske has broken it wide open. Maybe, given the celestial ramifications of their souls, there’s even a four-for-one deal in the works. 4 x 1.

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