"Can you enter the great acorn of light?"


This heart-shaped leaf from cottonwood
dark green & silver-gray
may float down other rivers – say
the Don, by Voronezh... or Eridanos,

through Ravenna (north of Hades)... &
each windblown plum sails
off a shakedy limb, whose spiral
roots corkscrew (like S.S. Normandie

propeller) down into a labyrinthine
seine of mounded knots...
a weedy sea-change (plot
of plots).  Black Diamond is crystalline –

common as salt; an octochoron,
regular, complex;
cubic prismatic Rex
or tesseractic honeycomb (acorn

beanie, maybe).  From her, La Paix
like some Hermione
dances to life again – see
there!  Her coracle – l’Éternité!

My raven-tesserae form nature morte.
Venn diagram for Orpheus
bent to his Beatrice-dust
in Adriatic backwater – ‘til brought

up short, like Slocum, John (Shaker
Indian of Puget Sound)
or like Black Elk, who found
her sun-spun gyroscope (stung-sweet Makar).



her smile shall win


Sultry evening in the Twin Cities.
The earth.  My mother’s kiln
stoked like Jersey landfill
with Dante’s willful souls – at ease

like oil on fire.  My moss-green vines
climb the gazebo skein.
Oblomov lived in vain
& died, sweet gentleman.  My light declines.

Oblomov dreamt a febrile dream,
icon of idle summer
grace.  Her lips murmur
& tickle his ear – Awake, Sunbeam...

Dante, shaken, shudders with Love
& epileptic ecstasy;
parallactic Ocean Sea
& shadowy Argo up above,

Emperor Henry on chariot-throne
of Rhodian charity.
A band of silver-grey
light-thread knots chords – the drone

of universal B-flat (Kingdom Come
with trombones, clarinet
& flute) – At Last.  FIAT.
Oblomov lifts his balding dome,

his heavy lashes... orange twin
pillars hold one Ariadne-
loop.  Pacific naiad?
Juliet?  La Paix?  Her smile shall win.



your fluent kingdom


Old river the color of rusted iron
you beckon me back before
shell-shocked histoire
humaine (long nightmare drill).  When

we were as flint people in limestone
hideaways, under
the glare of Viper-Vulture
in his ice-eyrie.  The repetition

of trauma exudes a pearl-shell
palimpsest (le Roi
est mort, vive le Roi) –
one slight Gennesaret wave-swell

is laved to Pietà massif, circled by Rome,
lapped by typhoons (of bursting
tears).  We are thirsting,
River, for that fluent kingdom

where Ebionite & Nazarene,
snake-handler & Sioux
shaman – every blue
highway mutt, sadsack has-been –

every humiliated woman, each
weakling sissy-boy
undone by bully
chants of dominance – might teach

a new lesson.  How once that marble
lifted into cloud...
one dove-grey noeud
vitale (breathing AMOR into dead fable).



casket from Samarkand


Crusaders racing to the Tomb,
an historical pinpoint
in 1099.  Where He went
at 33 (a little room

for some great reckoning).  Daggers
in the eye turn every way 
shark swordfish play
for nightmare realms, & beggars

follow San Francisco up a narrow
fuse (to blessedness).
Stigmata (foolish meekness,
humble mulishness).  A wheelbarrow

carries mild infant Majesty
into his palmy kingdom,
spiky Jerusalem
(sea-rose of sandy history,

Rome’s  crabapple).  The viney mind
demands firm scaffold,
grid to climb, hold
fast – casket from Samarkand,

mercurial chasm, golden
kaleidoscope... meanwhile
one half-moon wafer-smile
of blinding white sail’s sudden

eminence rides on gray wave –
the plummet of an eagle
etches his grave seal,
marking 1132 (full fathom five).


Dartmoor pixie cross


Lament for Philando Castile

shadow of a shadow


A raven stitches broken arcs
over Lebanon cedars,
through layers of cinders
on sands of Galilee.  These marks

print tracks, embed the shadow
of a shadow (of
a shadow).  Whose love
cooled into bottled borders, crow-

foot scars?  Etched into sealed eyelids
the guardians of sleep
administer fear, & reap
nightmare (endless cycle in the Cyclades).

I have no wrath, hums the writhing
wheel of flame – my smile
will melt stalactite guile
until their funny bones come lurching

from the humus... rows of soldiers
thrown from stone, their hearts
wrung into speaking parts.
Her modulation wove its sutures

out of the basalt lid of night.  The ocean
gathers all its woe into
moist glance of pain... you
hear her sigh.  Love’s Jonah-sign

one silver thread – gray clouds,
gray sea, gray gull, gray
dove... & every way
her wing turns (lifting raven-moods).



make it new


Herman riveted to crow’s-nest,
Dante wearing out
his shoes... Weldon, forgot
by Golden Gate, & Berryman, a crust

of snow beside the limestone bank.
Moon rose from sea
with magnanimity,
night’s passionate gravity... & sank

these antithetical children of the sun
beneath immeasurable Ocean-
wave.  Matrix of one
twinkling eye... stuttered translation

from sharks’ dogma to Cutty Sark
sped rondure-eloquence –
an Ocean River sense,
human inheritance (almond birthmark).

The old salt bears his Southern Cross 
as shark-tooth earring,
tattooed heart.  The singing
shrouds (sea-urge, wave-moss)

remind him of Jonah, lost infant
of the crew – of Jasper,
& Francesca too – Ariel
in Ravenna pines (al fresco fundament).

Make all things new.  An emerald gong
plumbs planetary tides –
sun-shimmer plies
Gennesaret to Tuscan hills (all-human song).



Euxine seagull arcs


The old watercolor over the mantle
in my mother’s house – the twin
gray fishing boats, the brown
warehouse, the whitewashed walls.  Gentle

Gloucester, Massachusetts (Grace
Ravlin pinxit – Grandpa’s
cousin, from Kaneville, Illinois).
Soft clouds, the upright crosspieces

of lank lanyards (still sea-green
harbor, granite walk).
Thinking of another work 
lone lady at Mount Vernon, culling

flowers for George Washington.
And of another Maximus –
not Gloucester’s famous
philosophe, but Maximus, blue unicorn

who sketched with Euxine seagull arcs
on stumps (his amputated
medium) one delicate
& sibylline solution.  Sparks

fly upward from the hearth of Love
– fly outward, penetrate
wolf-packs of gulag-state.
This heart simmers like kiln-hot stove

or croon of turtledove, hidden...
violet in tall field grass,
cricket near an underpass.
Willow by slow river (Magdalen).


Grace Ravlin, Gloucester Harbor (ca. 1928)