poem in memory of Mark Baumer

                             i.m. Mark Baumer

The poem’s wobbly orrery
of airy ore is self-
correcting, like an elf
inside a gyroscope.  Unwary

cheerful troubadour, he walked
barefoot across these states
joking at potentates
to heal a hurt planet – balked

by Mammon, Moloch (vanity,
acedia).  The white van,
an indifference machine
in seething Florida... such petty

wreckage snaps a sapling tree.
The jungle broods, silent.
Her gentle ape’s extinct.
Minotaur mutters his poetry.

We have not learned the lesson of
the golden bowl.  We tread
the fractures on a head
of Incan stone (grey mourning dove).

Coatlicue is raging at
her funeral.  Splinters
of daylight almost pierce
the warped crossweave – chariot-

spokes of angry Manitou.
Thunder comes soon.
The light’s deep green.
The land is ripe for tornado


when Francis ambles right past you.
A river of pink peonies
surges through cities...
salty labyrinth in Dallas blue.

Her pillbox hat, his scattered bran.
Unnatural shocks (that flesh
is air, too).  Gold mesh
of tangled fleece... your Ariadne-

champion.  All-suffering rabbi
who declares : the violent
bear it away   rent
robes of kind Melchizedek   mild

eye of Isis   throned in adamant
warm heart of Magdalen
at almond gate   Open...
Joseph’s weathered rainbow-garment.

The poem’s just an ornery gray stone.
The slash of Cain that clouds
its brow irks human crowds –
has not been stitched til now.  Atone,

Adams.  Icons through unworthy
lips break into clay
rivulets & melt away –
your only balm is Charity,

sole antidote to Jealousy.
Spring comes on mild
dove’s feet... her wild
breeze from the open sea.



on the verso


There were verses on the verso of 
the parchment, leaching through
like spidery veins (blue
robin’s-egg hen-scratches... mazel tov).

Imprimature of sovereignty.
Blood-red wax of Charles
sealing the 6-foot chart
of Little Rhody liberty;

beehive of ancient freedoms
rooted in that right
Coke labored to indite –
of persons to their own kingdoms

of thought, & conscience, & truth.
For Roger Williams,
riveting I AM
rhaptor soul Nazirim, forsooth.

Because that bird circling the oak
is like a thread that knots
the agate to the plot’s
ripe dénouement.  The thunder spoke

& stone rose   like a double-ax
out of the mountain-wave
laddering Jacob’s cave
a grail-casket   for sweet St. Max

whose dream became   a vernal tomb
across the womb of Magdalen
& made of Joshua   a wren
& Henry Sol   a hawthorn bloom



love & reason


Chris the carpenter, who came
to work on the kitchen today
grew up in Kentucky
(Louisville).  Stabled in the same

horse-town as cousin Julie, Uncle
Jim.  Heard the JFK
Inaugural, just yesterday.
Born in ’63.  Like a carbuncle

burst on history, his red hair
oscillated in
the wind (a Bruegel vine
for allegorical enmity).  Who there?

The difference between love & reason.
Conversion of the Jews
(persecution blues).
Crusaders, conjuring their notion

of Coulombe.  It’s about love
of the idea of love.
Been there, dove
that (through bronze dry ice dove).

Stone stumble on itself.
Luminous millwheel
like a cloudy meal...
ornery small emerald elf

in limelight (grey pebble,
desolate Black Sea).
No one care, see.
Is only poetry (silly rebel).



fault-line tattoo


Step by shaky step, lame Hobo
spirals the lead-grey hump,
an awkward salience – dump
or agate-hold?  He doesn’t know.

Like Doc Woodpecker, peppering
the old birchbark, testing
the ribs for air – a ring
of hollow knock-knock, worm-hurling.

The sap running... a red thread
of civet.  Venison
oozing from the cauldron.
There’s no going back to the dead.

In the splendor of the west window
a minute glass tear
bisects its mirror –
eggshell splinter twixt Église & you.

My almond diamond, mutters Hobo.
Ring around the rosy,
let’s all go see
Thunderbird (hear the wind blow).

Notes of a flute, along the river.
Ocarina in the woods.
Hums through stray moods
of autumn... Black Elk (Indian giver).

You trace the zigzag coral coil –
a Queequeg scar, knifed
into casket-crown.  Life-
line for Jonah.  Rachel’s whorl-oueil.



in the whisper gallery


My mater’s feet, that spun the heavy
wheel of Red Wing clay
dancing with gravity
to shape a starfish gaiety

for these galactic lunch plates, pink
& blue & white... her Ravlin
hands (out of that Iowan
earth Quaker Negus trunk)

were muddy with the garden soil
of Minneapolis-
St. Paul... O this
most plain midwestern gopher hole!

The soul stages a circus act
of spacy time, perchance –
her gyroscopic balance
tops an unknown Planet X, in fact

& dream.  Mary’s crafty fingers
rhymed those blue-&-white
starbeams with one fleet
bathtub tug... her name lingers

in flame & memory (Sophie).
Like Firebird in the Russian
symphony, my swan-
boat swallowed up Eternity

consumed by cigarette-smoke blaze
in Petersburg poet’s
birdnest (Elena Shvarts) –
pipestoned into a purple haze.


I pace your clay circumference
in sleep.  My blind alley
or whisper gallery
is domed – an acorn’s happiness

or Okie’s California – inward
mother-of-pearl, bent
parallactic as a mint
wrapper... green mirror-bird

soaring from rusty copper frame
into the theatre of sky.
Your crossroad, ply on ply
flexed on sine-wave of Ever-Same

& in the dust of the Ecclesiast
of human brokenness
inherited faiblesse
& all the suffering, from East to West

one mighty spindly tree, one pine
of cloudy poetry
swirls, fiddlehead – sea?
Transmodulation of the sign,

en face!  To pivot on the least
of these... gray wing
of Jonah, mutely lifting
from the broken shells... the Beast

stung by remorse (Guillem d’Orange)
– stick figure of the Son of Man
familiar, somehow – someone
you must have met, somewhere... étrange!



elephant burials


Snowflakes crystallize, unique
& elegant.  Mandala-
knots (of ice).  Then follow
the sun, like dew in a raven’s beak.

Into the rain, the river, Ocean.
Heart’s slow dilation.
Sunken beams of pain,
of petrified love... beyond reason.

Light tracks of salt, the tears
of trees.  Sacrament
of speechless element –
elephant burials.  Fallow years.

Inarticulate, dumbfounded soul.
The knowledge of the end
in each soft riverbend –
her fingerprint, on clay bowl.

Dreams gather, so.  The dream.
A curly wave of sheep
threading from the deep
time-meadows.  Trim trireme,

bearing a casket wrapped in fleece –
matrix of Paradise,
lifting each Jonah to release.

The air murmurs immortal Spring;
your friend is limping sweetly
by your side.  The tree
of Galilee is blossoming.