May 24, 2021

“Lux et Veritas,” Four Sonnets by Claude Clayton Smith

“Lux et Veritas,” Four Sonnets by Claude Clayton Smith
Lux et Veritas 
—for Yvonne 
The light from all the stars we see goes on  
to other galaxies although those stars 
are dead. Where on earth does it end? In non- 
existent time? Does light lose speed like cars 
in neutral? Is “fading light” anomalous? 
Not quite. In empty space light waves maintain 
their speed until they interact with us 
or meet other resistance. Light does not distain 
a vacuum, but glass or water ebbs its flow, 
and Bose Einstein Condensate can slow it 
to one mile per hour. Black holes swallow 
light forever. All Nature does its bit. 
So where the hell does that leave you and me? 
The truth of light confounds eternally. 
B & B 
Let Basquiat & Banksy paint away, 
no cityscape untouched, four-handed art 
on walls and bridges, cement or brick—array 
of Day-Glo, long-tailed rats; vandals, one part 
anonymous, one not. Subversive rap 
or hip-hop punk, epigrams, graffiti dark—
satiric cryptic criminals so apt  
to cop your politics or style. No narc 
could get to Basquiat sauf Basquiat lui-même, 
while Banksy lives to twirl the torch—encore!— 
in English Undergrounds or worldwide streets. Can’t stem
the urge, he’s there for us, fifteen minutes more  
of . . . what? Expressive stuff! Astounding play! 
More is thy due than more than all can pay. 
To suffer mediocrity is worse  
than living large, than having everything  
or having nil—no art or manner, curse  
or cause that makes the morning sing,  
survives the day, consumes the month and year  
until, with decades down, you ascertain  
what failure is. Or triumph. Then what? The sere  
approach of death, with naught to gain or lose.  
The golden mean is meaningless. The gall  
of life is not to live. Paralysis  
of compromise or couch constructs a wall  
between uncertain death, uncertain bliss.  
The mediocre soul does not tempt Fate,  
and thus condemns itself—to wait. And wait. 

No unguents, ointments, oils or creams. No salves 
or lotions, viscous simples. Hold the myrrh 
and frankincense, and hold the gold and laves. 
Let Nature breathe upon your skin. Demur 
in all things possible. Physicians’ drugs 
and medicines are Hippocratic lies 
akin to those of missionary thugs 
who’d break your arm as soon as bend it. Sighs 
and tears do not aid healing. Faith alone 
might work as well. Placebos litter all  
the world like cancer in the marrow bone. 
What then? Become your body’s crystal ball. 
We grow to age, and age to cloud our skin  
with wrinkles, scabs and moles. And heartfelt sin.



Lux et veritas

Claude Clayton Smith, professor emeritus of English at Ohio Northern University, is the author of eight books and co-editor/translator of four others. His own work has been translated into five languages, including Russian and Chinese. For further information, see his website

Fictional Cafe
#claude smith#lux et veritas#poetry
1 comment
  • Joyce Acebo Raguskus says:

    I drink a morning cup of cafe’ and toast to you…
    It brings joy to me to read of your philisophical thoughts and grind and shove placebos out the door!
    Let us see into each crystal ball and look beyond the scars, wrinkles and moles and embrace the mighty of you!
    “More is they due”
    Hugs and Kisses for you! Joyce

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