J. Fisher King


April rain soaks the riverlands.
The cottonwoods are green
with a mossy sheen
(a milky spray).  Giuliana understands

her little boy’s harmonic joy,
winding up his yellow
gyroscope (so
imperturbable, this balance-toy).

Ravenna sifts backwater Time.
The hollow tock of wood-
pecker, carving a shed
for screech owl (minima sublime,

incognito).  Little gray on gray
tree-rings of Okeanos –
oscillating Knossos,
Minerva-maze.  Flute-bird (in clay).

A copper Jonah, lifted from the well.
Dusk-rose, Venusian.
Seal of the Son of Man
like Hamlet’s ring, in wax (fell

Icarus, from labyrinth
– the ship sailed on).
Trials of the paragon,
the paradigm.  Blue hyacinth

of Shaker spirit, trembling
Will   I am
Alpha Omega   home
in my petroglyph   assembling


light stars   on the horizon
Thunderbird ghost-
dance   round pivot-post
of early souls   lifted from prison

At dawn in Providence, the light
gathers gold   atop
the dome   What cheer,
Netop   the independent soul   bright

spear   at petrel summit of
this Camelot   simplicity  
a brave’s priority
to choose the good   be led by Love

J. Fisher King   Ancient of Days
as it was   upon a time
at the beginning (lame
limb   violence bears away   always)

& the smile of quiet eyes & lips
the canoe in the shadowy
garage   Ferrara iron
burgeoning almond   Natasha limps

toward her vault   in Magdala
Gesthemane   April
umbrella   of good will
the given Earth   the rose mandala

a fingerprint spiral   of gratitude
Thanksgiving feast   soul
liberty   constancy   whole
serene   uplifted   Rhody-rood



paradise thirteen


An eagle gliding motionless
& swift under the rain...
a message from the sun
outside my window.  Inverness

beyond the clouds, it says.  Dauntless
Dante beheld a double wheel
like Charlie’s Wain, meal-
sifting Hamlet’s dead-end eddies

into Ariadne’s crown of yellow
maize (Paradiso XIII)
at the center of the sun;
Dominican, Franciscan, we shall go

along with Beatrice too,
into that Minneapolis
where incognito Jesus
is a twin St. Paul (aboard canoe);

from White Bear Lake to Resurrection
Cemetery, we’ll unbury
Berryman & Mary
Magdalen right now – a Raven

intersection at Jonah & 4th,
a Jubilee bird-fest
out of the cosmic nest.
Jerusalem is raying mirth

from every corner of the universe;
the gray hide of a mule
hides one God-Jewel
gold-sprinkled fiery agate-cosmos


spiraling like fingerprint
of Everywoman, every
man.  The ordinary
ferris wheel begins to glint

with light most cosmopolitan –
green emerald of soul
freedom (personal
live-oak of Okeanos – constellation

of the Showy Lady’s-Slipper).
Be careful how you tread
this living woods of dead
leaves, sprouting crocuses – your

difficulties are not partisan,
your cures are neither red
nor blue.  The crownèd head
of King George, or the plowman

trampled underfoot by Mammon,
or the young stranger, mortally
undone by poverty,
her kids tossed into pauper’s prison

by our favorite mythologies...
we’ll mingle in the great
grain elevator matrix,
where the brightest of celebrities

& most anonymous of soldiers
meet.  Before the stars fall
through the vortex – Love
wingspans our last full measures.


the tender green


The tender green fans out in sprays
now, over the trees
by the river.  Hobo sees
a little rise, like an Indian grave (Scythian?)

through cottonwoods – a salience.
Here Mrs. Sippy Nile
meets the 4 Grail
streams – Po (Eridanos),

Avon, Neva, Voronezh.
The raven is a dove
by day.  The paths of love
merge in a lattice-nest (collage

of gray clouds in circumference
of radar palm) where Jonah,
from the salty eye
of hurricane, flutes wholeness

(restoration).  My simple stick man-
woman, caved-in
charcoal Job, has been
the universal algorithm – toon

of Empire or Democracy, depending
on the rope they knotted
(quipu linen, rotted
on the mountaintop).  Swaddling

kid, Vallejo baby.  Lincoln
logs cradle the guest
fresh from wilderness
of ruin (arc of Constantine)


lit by milky Okeanos
whence a black stone
fell, judged by no one –
Petersburg akme (nostos).

Impenetrable wisdom of
Columbia... the dove
of liberty, hove-
to – an alien corn-trove

in that placid Atlantic harbor,
lifting her copper torch
of caritas (scorch-
welded like a bolted nut) over

the twinkling arbor of a bent planet.
The nations tremble, the old
Winnebago starts cold –
rumbles into mobile mercy-net;

Thunderbird circles to Red Wing
becoming human being
in the mirror of Sing-Sing
(bright angle of prism-thing).

She was woodpeckered to a tree
like some Raven-Bluejay
out Oregon way.
Crossroads of simplicity –

a monarch butterfly in Mexico
could not have sung better
with keel o’ green cedar
or almond in Quauhnahuac (ey yo).



in the still life


In the still life, when the sun goes dark
the absinthe green on the old
wooden door (color of mold
or holm-oak acorn).  In the park

by the lake, the sparse grass wakens
to an April sun;
& you remember someone
battling the ice (forsaken

minstrel-king, nazir).  A buried man.
Some twiggy unknown soldier –
stranded black-gold heir
thread-spun beneath Stalin hardpan.

The butterfly’s a Morpho blue.
Blue as Siberia
in winter, da (selah).
Listen : Quartet 15.  For you,

Nadezhda.  You, Natasha.  Through
& through.  A nature morte
très fort et dur.  Part
rags, part soft shoe, Corporal Goo;

part forever, like Francesco
dropping all his duds.
Back to his father (odds
even he’ll marry her, you know).

There was a war in heaven, in
your heart, your mind.  Jesus
the Rabbi snowballed thus –
blackballed in Memphis – sharkfin


razor between Hell & Paradise.
They call it history –
a dime store mystery
(Elsie in profile, in an oval vise).

It’s only poetry.  Someone will pay
for it, eventually
(Harry Hawk, maybe –
Our American Cousin).  A splayed play-

stub (Miss Understanding
Under Study) stuck
on a crossbar (Buck
Stops Here).  Eagle Has Landing.

Davy in the Detail.  Film roles
for everyone – all which is
inheres... Macbeth, Cortez....
Universe is empty (full of holes).

Must be that woodpecker, prying
for a worm – the dry mast
puckering (will never last)
to kiss the lightning (scrying

from a crow’s nest now, Cautantowwit).
Whittling toward Arthur Street
in Mendelssohn (complete
symphony to be determined).  Sit

down, Henry, in your Okie chair –
the nave is full of light.
Acorn shines bright.
The Rite (à Paris) is a sweet nightmare.



green buds are just -


Giuliana opens a ceramic shop
on Ravenna back street.
The “Old Man of Concrete”
surrounded by gray pots of slop

paints himself into a nearby corner;
Giuliana’s little boy
paralyzed (Guillain-Barré?)
plays with his yellow gyroscope.  Her

lover mopes, lost... (ambivalent
professional).  Red Desert,
Deserto Rosso.  Hurt
blooms in the sea-salt spring (Lent...

Easter).  Lofty kind eyes in shadowed
stone (Pantocrator, &
Theotokos) still stare down
from hollow warehouses (A.D. 600).

Green buds are just emerging here,
Psyche, Persephone
in center of the country
(Center, N.D.).  Land mass, a sphere

from sea to sea (theoretically) –
a glop of potter’s clay
in solar roundelay;
Palm Sunday to Good Friday (bloody

travesty, Ford Theatre).  Then
the turtle at the finish line
emerges from the brine
reborn – Rabbit in acute cartoon

(Metamorphosis at Minnaheehee
Falls).  Dante, Beatrice
step through the sun (hey
ey yo) astride Dakota prairie

hoisted on stray lambswool thread
like Vallejo’s poncho
(wheat-gold Paris gaucho-
robe)   or galactic Temple shroud

woven from smoke of calumet
& Camels   (veteran
Guillaume   a crimson crown
swathed round his beaming pate)

so Theseus & Ariadne   circle-dance
the gold pavement   grey Chartres


matrix   womb of silence
&   clear light   joy of the makers

On an upward path, the labyrinth
becomes a spiral, &
the Minotaur’s command
the envy of a shadow (absinthe

green).  Your quipu-knot records
an anchor weight – the rings
of one stone, tempering
the river-sweeps... only soft words

like flute-sounds, scattered seeds.
Stricken Giuliana,
limping hopeful Natasha –
Nadezhda, too – resilient reeds

walk in solemn palm procession
round the sea-wall
& the sparse green hill;
the bald truth of clay   passion

& its aftermath   high keening
sea-bell   through   seraphic blue
the ultramarine   (Pacific
hue).  Jonah   always coming, going

always being born   out of the waves
of infinite agape
lifts old sails   away
for Columbia   & Liberty   she waves

the light torch   over homely harbors
mangers of refugees
fleeing plaited Caesars
(their cracked saucer seizures)

as the integral of   furnace fiddleheads
the deep-sprung source
of Everyland   smokes Morse
code goodness   penetrating sadness

like undying Hope   into the arms
of Osip   or Goldie the Finch
your friend   in the clinch
of Hart’s woe   John’s alarms

the desolation of a lonely child
a hearth-star   shines for her
the safety net   saves her
Love blazes from the center   wild

onlie-Begetter   mild   trompette marine


meet & join

personal compass of Roger Williams


My snarling yarn snowballs thistle-
clumps of confusion into
the midmost of the Slough.
Incomprehensible green missile,

towing kisses from that acrid swamp
in Mendelssohn (whence
we dragged a canoe by bare
feat, Heidi, home – only to dump

it in the permafrost garage).
There are many jinxed
men buried in there, minx.
Path P was a chi-rho camouflage –

X murks the spit (twin cousins
rustling for windy blessings).
Oaky, salty Invernessings
hone your eye into a baker’s dozen –

thirstings between gold floor-leavened
loafers & a 14
April funeral (foreseen
but not seen-for).  The scene’s unheavened.

Then for heaven’s sakes, let’s have it,
Lucky.  Twelve’s the number
of twin seraphim (Mary
& John) & Jenny’s lost mint (Juliet)

– the mother rising in the leery
graviton – the hamlet
feeling mighty chary yet
(Blackstone on hold, with Roger steering


spins his compass toward the iron clearing).
West, Virginia, west
to Vermilion... yon felix
nest.  Gone dragnet spearing.

& yet the guyline mumbling
of poetry retrieves
a sense of limpid leaves;
the universal shuttling

of loom with lambent seraphim
conceives an agate diamond-
crystalloid familiar almond –
6 paths of Dakota Slim

remind the mind of Eagle-Heart
(who reigns by thundercloud
of humble Jonah-bird
O sages in the Super Mart)

that everything says meet & join
in lattices of give
& take   Seek ye   & Live,
that honey-dome   of stubborn pain

intones   my cousin Juliet
great-grandmother Jessie
Ophelia   madre de Jenny
listen   a gentleness, O jet

of Mississippi water   sip & see
the ghosts come back to me
in Paradise   a little tree
of Jesse   blue   (a juniper, maybe)



sleek as raven-eel


The last snow before Easter.
Sophie’s footprints etch
a squarish spiral sketch...
still photo (lento, Bruegelish faster).

From long distance, every
bird’s-eye view can fuse
with every other (sans
confusion).  Each waltzing orrery

links hands in Sydney – under those figs
whose natural majesty
anchors her panoply,
a fractal Dr. Octahydra (sky-digs

of Southern Cross, O dusky lady).
Bends toward akme
of the starfish now, Henry.
Meteor Hurtle Aboriginal Day.

The stone fell (odd fellow, ultramarine).
Fey otter – furry,
sleek as raven-eel –
into the gilded net of Saarinen

(Sibelius?  Some other fin).
Architrave swept (over
canoe).  Windhoover,
agile Harry Grizzly (buoy-woman,

boo-hoo – smoking Camel,
him calumet).  A Caliban
or Cain (Abel).  A Son
of Man – sad Prospero (blithe Ariel


is in the pine).  Where be the porpoise
here, Dauphin?  Your plow
scratches the surface now.
Her keen lengthens toward Paradise

(swell memory of Outremer).
The palm-lines slacken,
ease... shade thickens then
toward Wingy Rock (you know where,

Coatlicue).  The cedar forest
where the monarch dies,
lives.  Memorize
my speech, for its spooky taste

of dead bees (Finnish sacrifice).
There’s the arch, like
a prow (turn on the mike
now).  Spin the jenny, throw the dice.

Snow mantles the martyr’s tomb.
Green lichen dome
where breakers foam
from galaxies of Mendelssohn (home

run).  I don’t know where to go
from here.  The scared poem
swims down Rio del Hum
until your blues become a hollow

rhumba-Rome (flight-bud unknown).
Whispers vespers... purrs.
Her bop-team be yours,
egg-woman (inner-tube pontoon).



the law is not a sword


A timid April tiptoes toward
her Spring.  Gun-gray sky,
leaf-brown river.  Hobo’s eye
moseys from earth to heaven (&

backward, again).  Raven loops
his knotty diagram,
figures 8 a.m.
some eats (thin scraps he scoops

betwixt instinctual communal hates
of squawky flocks, nations).
Noah’s inflammations
Eli salts – warns, Don’t be late.

Fuming smoke signals just
add to his unease.
Alighieri aims to please –
his bones rest in Franciscan dust,

his narrow beak angles from spark
to spark.  Hearth-embers
flicker out drear winters of
scalding be-ice.  Imperial dark

is splintered by gold threads of light –
lamb-thin graphene ravels
the cave-mouth – mangy hovels
hearken to trompette marine (slight

return).  Apollinaire or Orpheus,
shepherds in New Orleans,
Ravenna... rustic scenes.
Under an overpass (U.S.


or Rus) refugees convene,
lean farmers share
their plows... while everywhere
stones ricochet like bayonets (mean

answers mean, unkind unkind).
The law is not a sword;
it is a binding word
uniting variable humankind

proceeds from love, & so returns –
one warm traveling lamp
from isolated camp to camp
where Roger & Canonicus trade yarns

& Edward Elk defends each Everyone
upon egalitarian
thread-frame (one golden
safety net for all the wobbly children

of sweet Manitou).  Cautantowwit
whispers a Narragansett
name over each hamlet-
nest in Providence.  Let’s eat.

The gathering of crumbs, wild grapes
& hobos has begun.
Mississippi sun
beams west, southwest... Pacific shapes

crest arcs of rainbow (orange, indigo,
azure & rose)... an Ocean
State anchors her span –
Hope’s incarnation (Jonah show).



that river road to Memphis


Again the baby crocuses
peek from the clay.
Blue as those starfish Mary
Ravlin molded, bright as seahorses.

The cottonwoods lean by the river,
hearkening to milder
time.  Spring child, your
mother flows to Memphis, where

one milky King came to his end
willing to walk that road –
real prophecy, he said.
Against our triple-headed fiend

(entrenchèd greed, malice & war)
to shape his earthy will
to one kiln-fired good Will
& forge a worldwide fellowship – soar,

mighty Martin, to that eagle’s lair!
Let your green trumpet sound
until a safety net is bound
with international orange there –

strong as titanic span & pillar
soft as a catenary
wing   shadowing gray
Ocean   in the sky’s wide azure

where twin doves from Mexico
open their double doors
hid among cedars
on a high hill   where monarchs go


so blinding sunshine grant us   second
sight   when we gaze upward
& behold   lenticular cloud
of mauve & rose   afloat   profound

over the wheeling ground   & fold
ourselves into that solid air
relinquish pride & fear
for spring’s renewal   as of old

your web of mutuality
yokes unknown soldiers trudging
to the Somme   frauds pledging
sacrifice   for unreality

just as they had in Vietnam
your solitary   freedom
walk   into Jerusalem
tattooed with beatific stigma   I am

coming like a thief, he said
so keep awake   the day
draws nigh   one April   Day
of Jubilee   when   rising from the dead

we’ll be that crocus   Kingdom Come
a long time coming   freedom
train   of joy & wisdom
supernatural glee   from heaven   home

to Earth   again   soul liberty
as promised in the whisper-
cave   of Galilee   your
clear light   ever-afloat   Eternity