Chris O'Carroll

 Chris O'Carroll is a writer, actor, and comedian who often finds it difficult to distinguish between light verse and serious poetry. A native of Cambridge,  Massachusetts, he has performed on stages throughout the United States. His poems have appeared in Avatar Review, The Barefoot Muse, Folly, Iambs & Trochees, The Melic Review, and other print and online journals.



If your touch truly set my skin afire
And your embraces made my flesh explode,
We’d shy away from sex. We don’t aspire
To real combustion; metaphors encode
A bliss we are still learning how to name,
A story we have not the words to tell.
Our tongues (O, lick me with your tongue of flame!)
Taste paradise yet summon tropes from hell.
We both know S&M is not our thing;
Napalm and branding irons aren’t love toys,
But when I feel your kisses sear and sting,
How else communicate such scalding joys?
Engulf me in the furnace of your bed;
O, torch me, torture me, leave me for dead!


Mistrust metaphors,
resist their lure.
They loll wet-lipped,
perfumed, scantily clad
beneath the streetlamps
of the poet’s town.
Their breath in your mouth,
the pressure of their flesh on yours,
will promise you purer perceptions
than any you’ve known.
But they’ll squeeze you
a terrible fee
for the visions they show.
You’ll never get out
of the red-light district alive.
You’ll never lie belly-to-belly
with perfect truth.


Even that brilliant bad boy Baudelaire
Sells it short. Artificial paradise?
Real molecules, real brain cells, real delight –
There’s nothing artificial anywhere
In that scenario, though jive to spare
In all the fables spun by all the priests:
Houri love nests, Valkyrie-catered feasts,
Winged harpists fingering celestial airs.

The sacred ceremony of the pipe
Is fragrant beyond all the fantasies
Of Happy Hunting Ground, Elysian Fields,
And every other otherworldly high.
God’s goodness flowers in this chemistry,
This bounty from the garden of the real.


I took a vow of nakedness and hid inside my skin.
I took a vow of innocence; that was my gravest sin.
I took a vow of reverence. Whatever gods may be
Commanded me to trade it in on a vow of heresy.
I took a vow of mystery; that was my only clue.
I took a vow of abstinence from everything but you.

I took a vow of true and false; I was trying to hedge my bet.
I took a vow of yesterday. Is it tomorrow yet?
I took a vow of conquest, which is how I lost the war.
I think I took a vow of certainty, I can’t be sure.
I took a vow of clumsiness; you tripped me with your grace.
I learned to take a vow of ecstasy in your embrace.

I took a vow of torture, but I lost track of the pain.
I’d take a vow of lunacy if only I were sane.
I took a vow of recklessness; I did it on a dare.
I took a vow of suicide till I gave up on despair.
I vowed to take a million vows; in the end I took a few.
I took a vow of loneliness, but I reckoned without you.

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