Dark Church by Joseph Donahue

$20 Verge Books (270 pages)

With its strikingly curt table of contents yet impressive physical heft, Dark Church alerts readers they’re in for both the cryptic and the questing—the next installment of Joseph Donahue’s serial “Terra Lucida.” Each of its four sections houses couplets of arcane reference and dreamlike imagery that stream through Kennedy’s assassination and Jesus’s suffering, past temples and tabernacles, into sea and sand, from Seattle to Istanbul. The celestial is pulled close in the melding of childhood memory, modern influence, and vatic murmuration.

As Donahue’s speaker plainly states, “This book is / an apocalyptic // theology of Dallas…” And what a beautiful storm it is to ride.


from “earth shadow”


Would this
.        enshrouding

were the
emancipation of

matter, would this flame
were        of the

spirit, this

ethereal, guttering
forth from

a paradise of
white ice.

.    *

Would the sky
mirrored the

earth, and in fact it does,
alive, now, with swirl of dirt, dark

smoke crossing
the ocean

in sulfurous
continents, ash

falling,       would
all places

were part of
an unfolding


.       flakes.

.    *

the upward

rush were angelic.
Would souls were assembled on

a mountain in

begging to
utterly fly up,

to and through
the gate of a higher

and final
.                 fire.

there were

a new body
for each.

.    *

that were

what you, too,
wanted, though you’d be

crushed, be dev-

all that

comes again, comes
again, but there is still the

joy of
.           that flight,

that ascent,
that forgetting, that

which you

crave, have,
in your

way circled
the earth

in search of,
.           that miracle,

that liberation, that
escape, up

through the
opening blown

in the sky,

the purified go,
where you are

just ash,

filthy, and
guilty, and adrift.

Posted by Alexander