Unlit Delight

nicholas karavatos


Dark voices ripple the air. Open eyes

in the steam, see no bodies but throbbing

hearts of red-hot rocks in a pail.


Cloudy Valley warms her breasts around the bonfire

at Willow Creek. The opulent possibility of nipples


dreams as clear as the stars in black beds of fuzzy sleep.

The dark reflections of all the creatures I have imitated


since the first fuck of my DNA. Steady as she goes

within the cracking whip of evolution. To kiss again


the nutritive milks and honeys of outrageous fortune

mingled in crotches and mouths, in the initial contacts

of Sistine fingertips.


Atmospheric pressures of the underworld

send messages in my thoughts. Nowadays

drugs take effect with indiscretion.


I move through rooms with my expository

stare. I close my eyes to argue with time.


Music saturates my stillness with motion.


I’ve done it to myself. I’ve done it to myself.

I’ve done what I needed to do to myself until long after

I should have stopped. I’ve had more than a taste to choke on.

A sun rose. Flowers from one grave to the next.

Wounds palpitate in asymmetric patterns


of the unforetold. I knew myself a luciferin child at playtime.

How like a god I took my trip in rushes. Showstoppers


stuck in my throat with no jugular blade escape.

I unlatched shutters with moonlight. I felt for

the grooves in the dark and found another lid.


The first loss is a forever loss.

Shifting shafts of tinted light. I walk

with a staff of life between my legs

and then I die.





Nicholas Karavatos is a lecturer in creative writing at the Arab American University of Palestine – Jenin, West Bank. In spring of 2018, he was a US Ambassador’s Distinguished Scholar to Ethiopia. From 2006 through 2017 he was an assistant professor at the American University of Sharjah in the United Arab Emirates. Nick is a graduate of Humboldt State University in Arcata and New College of California in San Francisco. Of his 2009 book No Asylum, San Francisco Renaissance poet, novelist, & musician David Meltzer writes: “Nicholas Karavatos is a poet of great range and clarity. This book is an amazing collectanea of smart sharp political poetry in tandem with astute and tender love lyrics. All of it voiced with an impressive singularity.” Poet, novelist, playwright, art critic, and scholar Kevin Killian writes: “Nicholas Karavatos points out that there is ‘no asylum’ anywhere, in a figurative sense, because even the parts of the world in most opposition to each other are bound up seamlessly in a net of shared reference, sensual pleasure, and invasive, sometimes assertive media. And misunderstanding. He is a prophet as well as a poet—maybe the canary we’ve sent down the coal-mine.”