American Dream

True to form, ol' Henrah keeps doin' whatever the heck he's doin'.  Finishing up another chapter (#3) in his latest irrepressible yawp - that is, Ravenna Diagram.  Just in in time for the 4th of July.


The flag, lacquered with encaustic
in Greenville, S.C. –
like a sand story
in Queensland, or mosaic patchwork

quilt (outside Ravenna, OH).
Her palm inscribes a circle
as she chuckles out the tale.
We Walbiri live on the ground.  So

dry in California – only
the Bridge keeps orange in
her shroud, Florence (thrown
into fishnet soon, my little tree).

Love is the criterion.
Your only manly mistake
was pride – it is to take
power as entitlement, my son.

E pluribus unum – tears fall
as rain from Manitou,
Black Elk whistles.  You
see the Mandan dancing – Jubilee

a joint venture, people.  American
Dream.  Not to be tarnished
by malice, nor the fish-
mash fables of the shellfish.  Someone

turtles through the brazen image...
flutes across my tables
of thanksgiving.  Seven Gables?
Stephen’s Gate?  Iris, in sage.


Flag on Orange Field, Jasper Johns


Bookends, fireworks

Finished book-length yodel Lanthanum 3 years ago today.  Here is the final entry for that.  4th of July something of a hinge for my poems.  The Coming-Forth-of-Julie.  Explosions in the hinterland.


Dreamsong scrapbook

Drawing near the end of another chapter in Ravenna Diagram.  This is the penultimate entry.  As  usual with my ancient habits of poetry-masonry, when I get near a finishing-point, the occasional, "found" synchronicity aspect seems to come to the fore.  For better & worse, I guess - you will have to be the judge.  (One explanatory note : my grandmother Florence was born on the 4th of July 1900.)


  i.m. Sir Nicholas Winton, 1909-2015

The wonder of such strange & serpentine
inversions – the fugitive figure
of a mote-motif (Apollinaire
in pipesmoke, say) turned adamantine

ground-bass.  Children of Nicholas
trained by tomb-cocoon
back to civilization –
little seedling-waifs to distant witness

stand for a hero’s welcome, basketed
in attic scrapbook (almost
lost).  So inside-out
(a Chaplin’s chaplaincy).  O helmeted

spouse of almond biosphere,
whose pergola or grape-
vine lattice lifted up
one speckled shadow, brazen spear –

sere monarch-leaf... to re-appear!
Wave-shield for life arrested –
lacquered, casketed
sybil of Sibelius, flown clear

in V-formation, still alive...
So Dante’s Florence, my
grand motherland, might be
a molting rhyme, prairie beehive

as forth from Juliet or Maggie’s den
Earth arcs one Saarinen
cat-grin – fireworks begin
to boom at dusk (Frisco, Ravenn).


the late Nicholas Winton, with one of his lambs


Ravenna Diagram

As testified by both Annie Akhmatovy & Wheelliam Bootler Yeats (not to mention Wally Stuyvens), nobody knows like they do how much poetry depends upon the foul rag-&-bone shop of the dump.  So I confess I am very obscurely fixated on a work of probable horoscopic Masonic garbage (if seemingly very diligently researched) by one David Ovason, titled The Secret Architecture of our Nation's Capital.  Ovason appears to have turned poor Henry Adams on his Educational head.

Adams, scion of the original American Presidential-Egyptian dynasty, built his own historical philosophy on the contrast, the dialectic, between the Virgin & the Dynamo : the feminine-poetic-Christian heritage of the Middle Ages (Chartres, Notre Dame) vs. the technical-scientific Chaos of modern Power (Washington, Chicago...).    Yet according to Ovason, the landscape, architecture & sculpture of Washington, D.C. emanate a controlling hermetic geomantic pattern, overlaid on the nation's capital by the Masons - a radiance of the constellation Virgo, or the Virgin - the Corn Maiden, the Rite of Spring, Pocahontas, the Statue of Liberty... all those images & psychic icons certain ecstatic-Platonic poets (unacknowledged legislators) like Hart Crane articulated and defended as embattled (in prosaic America).  Somehow the Corn Maiden got in on the ground floor of the national grain elevator.

So I wrote in previous blog post about my personal affinity for ut pictura poiesis - the idea that at the heart of poetry is this visionary-shaping painterly dimension.  Poetry, by way of its rhythmic sonic mesmerism, communicates wave-lengths of vivid images - drawn from life and adequately mirroring living (as opposed to absent, detached, prosaic, humdrum, depersonalized) reality.  In the long-poem project Ravenna Diagram, I reckon that, for me, Ravenna represents a kind of civilizational matrix for this particular sense of incarnational iconophilia.  The "venn diagram" of Ravenna Diagram is a visual image of the union of two-in-one, the sacred marriage of spirit & flesh.  As an historical phenomenon : as a pivotal event which frames one's sense of the direction of our future world.

There are lots of things going in today's excerpt, which cluster around these ideas, along with others... I can't go into them all.  The idea of the "lattice" and the "Path P" are allusions to the chi-rho symbol : the pneuma (Spirit) P rising (like the Ghost Dance) over the lattice of the "X"... the "Path P" also refers to "poetry", thinking of Dante, buried in Ravenna - whose masterwork was completed in Ravenna, and which features, at its very end, another venn diagram (Dante's vision of the Trinity as a mysterious set of interlocking rainbow circles).


If I whisper out of this backyard garden
& word went forth from Ramah
Rachel weeps... no more
a cricket shuttles through the iron

lattice – churring chi-rho, chi-rho
a pigeon croons là-bas
là-bas... labarum... abba...
baa... lambs on a radius go

round, skip stones, elliptical
(up to the mountaintop).
Rough clay lips elope
for steppes, ignite pyramidical

lens – Nile coming-forth-of-July
in one almond canoe;
wooden frame for yew
rainbow (adieu beyond river-eye).

Beneath an avalanche of violence
the lattice rusts, the eye
corrodes.  Still clay
will coalesce, in tinder hands;

Giuliana in her mossy coat
& frowning eye signal
another way; lips channel
shapes (mosaic, inchoate)...

Ravenna diagram, vertiginous cross-
road into Washington.
Path P, star-tangled almond
tree – here chariots bloom (manes toss).



I am the Goat

Ours is a golden age of verbosity and explanation.  There is a very smart geek or robot or app for every verbal tic.  I, Blogger, am a part of the slough.

I certainly love music and musicians, but I think I love painters even more.  Why?  It seems more awkward, excruciating and difficult (maybe because I am more of a musician myself).  It seems even more anti-verbal than music.  Painters are famously inarticulate, no matter that they are makers of signs, semioticians par excellence.

My 60-odd year career in poetry swamp might possibly subsist on a few basic touchstones - patterns which survive the various zigs & zags of enthusiasm & commitment.  One of these touchstones is ut pictura poiesis.

My mother in her heyday was mainly a painter, a potter, a maker of images.  & also a reader & a storyteller (to children such as myself).

Three poets who quickened me most surely & steadily : Guillaume Apollinaire, John Ashbery, Osip Mandelstam.

Painting the image.  The sonic image.  The mysterious fanfare.

I feel very strongly that the contemporary whatnot scene, the global blabbateria & confessional cannibal-fest, the photo-shoot, the selfie-group love-yogurt hut, the total hug machine & forthright commitment speechification party, the holy us-v.-them war, has very little to do with poetry, no matter how much it has to do with humanity.  Ut pictura poiesis in this environment is a way of stepping back a little.  The otherness will jar slightly with your Community Jar - but without otherness there is no togetherness, right?  Every schedule needs a goat.  I am the goat.

Telling it slant.  Telling it so slant you don't get it.  You just gonna have to look & listen for a while, like Oblomov lying in a Russian wheatfield.  Life is larger than Tolstoy, according to Tolstoy.

You are not going to "get" my poetry, America.  Summer is here.  Go jump in a lake.


The gray underside of these
dogwood leaves, clustered
over my head.  The blistered,
lingering pussy willow.  Evening’s

repose à Providence, which I
must exit before long.
Into the slough I’m diving...
weedy heartland (lake country).

Roger Williams’ apple-root,
Blackstone’s Yellow Sweeting
will remain.  A meeting
at Swan Point – starry circuit,

milky wheel (Pappy’s birthday
pivots on your mother’s
grave).  Some Vladimir’s
renunciation – icon of clay

starfish, her lambswool tracery
around a baptistry –
Boethius in ecstasy
after the rack is rolled away.

Uncle Henry weaves his spiderweb
out of one gold strand
of maidenhair.  Trebizond
cell for Guillem, Maximus – ebb-

tide for violence, with violins.
A child skips over granite.
Spinning, inviolate
djinn, dynamic Virgo (mason’s pin).


MRG, painter, potter


Grace Ravlin


The summer’s Sky-Reflector-Net
is replicated in a gentle
eye : matrix of the spindle,
mote where lattice angles meet.

From Providence to Paradise
a simple triple-step,
sideways & back.  Steep
recapitulation – say, Toulouse

to Matilda, Queensland to Provence –
by cavern candlelight;
those hallowed aliens might
be us; San Vitale’s green silence

the dawn of some Franciscan renaissance.
She is the tender sphere’s
orbit... her love inheres
in eggshell domes, the garden’s permanence

Apollinaire after the war
ash in his peace pipe
Georgina with ripe
plum   to hand   so far

from feral death’s-head   pride   spite
the nations sleep   their rage
assuaged   hate in its cage
for now   low flute   bonsoir, bonne nuit

Grace Ravlin sets her easel there
Overlooking George Washington’s
Garden   good evening, Cyrus
greetings, Rose   O somersault   sweet air


Grace Ravlin : Overlooking George Washington's Garden, 1922


Tin Mirror

All my poems are local, parochial, topical, occasional, & universal.  I can't resist the temptation to hawk & honk them from the rooftop, hot off the grill.  Por favor, please share if you like.  Xerox them.  Paste them on your mirror.  Gracias!


The color of those clouds, above
that soaring pine (her arms
flung wide, green Miriam
bedecked with cones) – vague echo of

El Greco, Michelangelo –
a bit marmoreal.
Disconsolate King of Coal,
Concrete... former Numero Uno,

about to send tears stumbling down
again...  So we sketch the local
monarch.  Him we all
know (Only-Two-Well).  Then someone

in Michoacán – Rosario Ocampo,
maybe – fashions a fine
tin mirror, sealed with twin
doves on double doors (closed, now)

& mails it to a mountaintop
in Galilee (just north
of El Grotto). The earth
is in travail, he murmurs – ope

mi puertaup periscope, Jésus!
Stormclouds part for a flint
moment (lightning) – slate,
smileEl rey ha muerto, vivez

le rêve!  From grassland salience
(Tower Hill, or Mount
Zion) her milkweed font
purls into sylvan stream (pine-sense).