. . . and around the bend, into the Delta.
In the evening, under the sign of Venus -
the old hobo, inverting his deep felt hat
(like character for lamb), full of manna

and sunlight. Fading into the crowd,
an unknown soldier (like hermit thrush,
like nightingale, like goldfinch) -
like Bluejay, solo, behind Shakespeare's Head

warbling, hidden in the Hermitage, his lonesome
tune. For a hidden honeymoon. Shshsh. . .
Persephone purrs a phi design, a river-wish
out of fiddleheads (in Neva-Neva land). Hmm. . .

. . . hmm. Overhead, a silvery W
(into the white night) shines for you


a figure for Beloved, or Jerusalem
(justice and Jubilee) - your goldfinch M.

And there, the search through delta-land
(for the wry show and tell of broken
vows, and vows unbroken - for the one
Eurydice, for Mary of the wedding-band)

comes to an end: where an almond spiral
in the snowy hexagon becomes a honeycomb,
and Pushkin the exiled star comes home,
comes home, and the nigredo of the fall

becomes the spring-stir of David's
Nazarean white-blue smile, or Nile -
with sound of whirring wings awhile,
awhirl, awhile. Cat's eyes (redivivus).

from Time Flowers


Every J-stroke spins a tiny whirlpool
into the slow current. So Hobo's needy
pilgrimage into a weedy labyrinth seeds
water with its offspring, unscrolled

schools that merge into a mazy matrix.
Lackland or Lackawanna, longing for pap
or papa, he paddles, curling, down path P -
half-man, half-something, worm or asterisk -

toward a double-breasted Venus, scratched
in primitive shorthand (like a W) across
his blinded sky. Primordial, coarse
hunger. Springs Epiphany - cross-hatched

and sketched by those two brothers (allies
now) drawn (by Leo) to Madonna's knees.


The star-node hums, the almond crossword
over hexagonal snow, dodecagyn Rhodes

Pent in a primal nest, a wedding bower,
garden of Cyrus or Solomon, in May-time,
at the end of May, as the breeze trims
petals sailing overhead - sweet hour

of flickering light and shade above the river
O my beloved. Before rivers tumbled,
or brothers battled - before God humbled
Babel, turned speech to dust. Forever

and forever, in the pregnant bud, the seed
renews itself, returning to its maker -
was (before Abram traveled out from Ur)
wild crossroad. Hobo follows your lead.


(note: a "J-stroke" is the steering-stroke in a canoe)
Powered by audblogaudblog audio post
Powered by audblogaudblog audio post Numbers 13 & 14 from the second chapter of Time Flowers, called "At the Sign of Shakespeare's Head". Written today, Walt Whitman's birthday. Happy Birthday, Walt -

(You can read along, in post to follow.)


I was captain of the soccer team. Specialized in penalty shots. We tied for 1st that year. I am presently important couch potato with tendency to nap.
Improved hgpoetics color scheme courtesy Stephanie Young. Hope she doesn't mind.
Responding to A. Alcalay's quote under Kasey's limetree :

Allan Bloom writes in Closing of the American Mind: a person can become an American in one day.
Wasn't vague, Bon Jourdan - I just didn't get it. Your inconsistencies were inconsistent with my contradictions.
My long poems an endless ball of insufficiency-twine. A recent section from Time Flowers, the sequel to the sequels that is supposed to tie together all the threads (ha ha):


La notte di Santa Andre trovai al fine della quadratura del cerchio e in fine del luce e della notte e della carta dove scrivero fui concluso, al fine dell'ora. - Leonardo da Vinci

At the end of the light, and of the night,
and of the paper on which I was writing...

his hand scribbling like a ball tumbling
left, and downhill, reiterating its broken

symmetry, surveying what unfinished
circumference on the diameter
of a vanishing point (spidery
spiral, infinite clue). Shshsh...

sound of raven-feather footwork (Genius
At Play
). Outside, dogwood flowerets
disintegrate into rainy night. Tacit
geometry (J to BD) undeciphered

into dust-motes. His last gathering scattered
everywhere. Only the whorling chalice hesitates.

* *

Unbeknownst, Love fortifies and shields
against the complicated tyrannies,
their mazed evasions, mockeries.
And from a spiral fiddlehead builds

springs becoming mammoth summer, streams
vast Mississippis out of baby rivulets
toward delta-home of serpentine returns:
O lightning worm-word, regal David's dream

and cry! There be angelic balances
at work in this, acumen beyond our ken -
plainness grows beautiful (La Gioconda's
unsymmetric smile's intelligence).
Poetry as language of desire & insufficiency (Orpheus needing Eurydice etc.). Broken symmetry.

Poetry as embodied language, pregnant. Inherently catholic and scandalous. Title poem from Way Stations:

The child honoring you in dreams,
embrasure of innocence, tender shoots
of early radiance - your figure
landscape, unfamiliar town, scent
of May lilacs along a worn road.

Not to be known yet,
only a heavy cloud pregnant
with summer rain
(iron mortality, rust
of decline not yet to be);

gathering up your skirts
you make your way, slow path
beyond the jealous decorations,
fever of scorn, offended pride,
dry branches crackling - a bonfire.
Article in Times science section, about how Neanderthals were not that different from Cro-Magnons (our ancestors), who eliminated them. Cultural memory behind Cain & Abel story? Greek guilt over Trojans?
Which means, no less, that the poem-person might want to avoid all blogchat forever on principle, keep a hemispheric distance from the whirl, keep quiet.
Fluttering about Flaublog. Reminds me of little lame Pantaloon-man's query/comment about whether there is something substantial in the connection between the work & the life in considering poetry - whether poets "teach" by exemplary life, not only in their works (at least I think that was what JK was pondering at the time).

Steve "owes me $15" Evans is right that the sociability of blogging tends against the solitude needed for some kinds of thinking & writing. Didn't "Shirley Bean" leave off blogging for just that reason? ON T'OTHER HAND, blogging cain't be rudduced to critical expository pose.

Seems to me more like a curious wallow in the realities of office downtime communication, an interstice which allows for expanded creative acting-up or self-presentation. Thus the pleasant VARIETY of blahgpo acts. Which to my thinkin' circles around again to JK's question. Jordan, by the way, sounds almost Sillimanesque in his defense of blogging as political (see "tense/unheeded" comments of yesterday). But is poetry political? Damn straight - so's the Pope.

I tend to agree that the poetry & the poet are inseparable. This doesn't mean we have to delve with vulgar curiosity into the biographical mulch. I think all I'm saying is that the "public informality" of blogging reinforces the presence of poet In Persona qua poet. Words are darn pow'rful, as my Uncle Ned used to say on the porch. Many authors have a curiously impersonal approach to writing - even poets. For them literature is a form of channeling - the results vary depending on talent & scruples. Blogging in an interesting way combines power (of language) & informality (diaries, letters, conversation). In that combination lies the odd feeling of personal presence & immediacy which blogging provides.

I realize I'm rambling. I think whut I'ma tryin to say is that deep down I have a hunch that poetry is NOT channeling - either of accepted power-hegemonic social discourses (cultural or subcultural), or of exemplary classic models. & why not ?? because deep down the person & the word are indistinguishable. The vocation of the writer transmutes or fuses person & word. The poet stands with her or his word to the end of time & none other's - the rest is echo chamber, channeling, feedback, follow the signs please. & the informal immediacy of blogging perhaps reinforces that impression. It gets back to what I was theorizing way back in Jan or Feb about poetry versus prose as illustrated by poetic NOWNESS vs prose MIMESIS.

Either that, or blogging is just another kind of ego tripping. That too. Shorter Wanted Posters Wanted, Shorty.
I can't stop reading JF Powers. I would say in my critical acumestitation he is 115.7 times better than Flaubert. He's not French but I won't hold it against him.


1952 for me, Joe. I thought 5/29/52 had a nice symmetry for the Big Day. - H.Grand Poohbah


Today is saint's day of Guillem de Gellone. One of Charlemagne's lieutenants, fought in Spain; memorialized in French chansons de geste. Entered religious order, founded monastery & school at Gellone, in southern France. According to some historians, descended from Jewish nobility from Baghdad who migrated to Narbonne. A distant relative, I think, I like to think.

William Blackstone was buried on Study Hill, Cumberland, RI on this date in 1675. The next day his property was burnt to the ground by a band of King Philip's men.

- "Talking of corpses," - the Consul poured himself another whiskey and was signing a chit book with a somewhat steadier hand while Yvonne sauntered toward the door -"personally I'd like to be buried next to William Blackstone -" He pushed the book back for Fernando, to whom mercifully he had not attempted to introduce her. "The man who went to live among the Indians. You know who he was, of course?" The Consul stood half toward her, doubtfully regarding this new drink he had not picked up.
- Malcolm Lowry, Under the Volcano

Malcolm Lowry lived in Vancouver. Yesterday digging through the files I found the first letter (I think) I ever received - a postcard from Vancouver, from my grandmother Ravlin. Colorized photo of twins in papooses. I was 14 months old. Tomorrow I'll be. . . sheesh.


Check here for detailed mapping of blog flows & swamp vegetation patterns.
Funny scene in JF Powers novel, Wheat That Springeth Green. Father Joe has new young assistant-curate, but Diocese didn't bother to tell him his name. Joe doesn't want to embarrass him by asking, or embarrass himself by calling the Diocese, so he calls the police & asks for the name of the owner of the curate's VW parked in rectory driveway. Police won't give out the info. Curate listens in from other room, leaves poorly-typed note (curate is learning how to type) later in Father Joe's desk: "THe info you re quested : William Aloysius Schmidt".

Then follows dialogue likes of which I've never read before: Father Joe, trying to figure out how to deal with this without giving anything away, pretends that the curate must have called for the info about a third party. Curate plays along (he only confronts Joe later). So the two of them have this straight-faced discussion about this make-believe third person. . .

Had to be there. It's a wonderful novel.


Eric Pankey has several poems stemming from blues songs.
Phrase in a John Donne poem : "slimy rime".
Reading 3rd vol. of Eric Pankey, Cenotaph. Also checked his 1st 2 vols at downtown Public today (For the New Year - no apparent reference to Auden - & Heartland). Something happened with 3rd vol (Apocrypha). First 2 are standard boilerplate MFA style (except better - subdued & careful - makes the simple phrases sound without excess. Both his parents were accountants (like GG?)). Poetry & money.

But Apocrypha was a leap forward. Weight of Stevens & Donne & Bible & Shakespeare - and he was EQUAL TO IT : the wit & design & language all in balance, quite extraordinary. Models of excellence.

Then something happened : some personal trouble or reaching some limit of inspiration. These 2 books following Apocrypha read like a record of spiritual impasse. The response was uneven : confession, slackness, backing & filling, occasional successes, depression & some despair. Hard to read without feeling pity & sadness, because he's honest, he doesn't fake (though he repeats himself sometimes), but the meditations are dry, angst-ridden. I feel like I'm looking at the limit of orthodox US expression here.

Curious to read the latest vol. (which crossed my desk & got me started on him), Oracle Figures.

EP. Exemplary initials . . .
See insane peroration of Bluejay in Stubborn Grew, pp. 87-91. Here the Ojibwa outcast casts Amurrcan Litachore in the shadow of the aesthetic Ass of the Providence Atheneum, a neo-classical private library where the most famous photo of EP (Edgar Poe, not Ezra Pound) was taken, not long before his death, when he came (drunk & disorderly) to Providence to woo & snake-oil local poetess Sarah Helen Whitman into marriage & a new American Literary Arsistocracy. The subtext is Notebooks of Arthur Gordon Pym, which pivots on race war fear & the Peter & Paul Islands in mid-Atlantic; meanwhile (1848) Thomas Dorr was in RI prison for inciting the Dorr War, a miniature figurine RI constitutional re-revolution over extension of the franchise - but only to immigrant workers, not to African-Americans (so same supported the anti-Dorr faction, the South County landowners & aristocracy). Bluejay rhymes Poe's racist southern snobbery with Pound's pecking orders in a general condemnation of elitist "Greek" slavery:

"O.K. Now lookee here carefully, now. De cussin
blasted shippin outa hell lands at Desolation
Island, see? Dem duded white pengoons all dressy

wit de alba trapses onna trapeezes widda net, see?
Anna black doorman o backdoor man, see
he holdin up the whole thing wid one pinky -
an it ain't even yarn. Odd, man - lamby-pamby!

- an he crost Atlantic belowdicks, chain up to a T.
Na square dat wid dem rocksaglory, right -
P an P, sturdy an steady inna middle ova tight
sea - upright, man! Like Pizza Polevaulter, key!

Heavin an whole inna earth, alright! Y'follow?
So hey I sieze you got deez double dabblin upside-
arse-o-cats, real hep, man! Formula Tide,
like washin oeuvre everthin wid words t'swallow

aplenty! So soak dis formula, Hen:
Q2 (-E2 - P2) = -J2.
See, you got yo EP an yo EP, both ovum laird
o' th'Catkills. But even they gotta peepee, man!

An they gotta drop they shots an tiss inth toilet
juss like you an me! You with me?
We talkin catshit! Iz all kinda murmuree,
lowdown, muddy an mutteree, backassed - an wet!"

Bizarre as may be, this should be understood in the narrative context of a Henry/Bluejay - Dante/Virgil catabasis or descent into Hell, in search of Henry's lost black cat, Pushkin, stolen on Halloween - the analogy being Dante's emergence from (a literary) Hell into Purgatory through Satan's ass (figured locally in Stubborn as the abandoned railway tunnel under the Atheneum & the RISD art museum).

"Time was I ain't shot my wad inta Yoi yet either.
But iz comin, man. We down among the trainin' ground,
the jailbait. There's Dorr down there, soundin
mighty low below the courthouse, a mere nether-

unworldly goose he is, too. An here come his whiteface
double, po ol' Poe! 1848 slidin like a dyin worm
down Benefit, shoes achin, head achin widda storm
a Whitman onna brain - yeah, the coal lady in lace!

Burnin coal, waitin by the window, lookin down
from the broken wall - one helluva Helen firin him!
Afloat in his mind he wander up to th'Atheneum,
get his blacknwhite ticklelily icon taken

with a crown to his brow an his eyes awry, forever
an ever. He was damned an good at them posterior
analytics - helluva chilly mathematical germcarrier,
Poe. Black n white everthing goes t'him - steer

for the po-po-Pole, amen! I mean, Dorr's dyin
bloated an blighted down in jail fo the franchise,
an Poe's upstairs brushin his teeth, realize -
dig Helen in the whitey semperequal sepulcryin

shame, man! She comin back like a ghost,
lil muddy, but o'clay! Cistern in the grounsoon!
Yeah, he play one limpin aristocat, that one -
that only lonely Poe, po man - evbody get lost."

Again this has to be understood in the context of the Orpheus story which frames Stubborn, & the Poe obsession with the "dead lady", and the fact that Dorr was being held in prison in a basement cell only a couple of blocks from where Poe was reeling insanely up & down Benefit St, & the fact that Rhode Island was deeply & centrally engaged in the slave trade from the beginning, & the fact that the "Dorr War" was riven by racism & Napoleonism (Dorr was often likened physically & politically to little Nappy), and the fact that the only RI fatality of the farcical Dorr War (a Massachusetts carpenter was also shot by mistake, standing in his doorway) was a bystander named Gould (one of my relatives). Politics is local.
Paul Valery : Imagine God, before Creation, turning to examine himself in the mirror (& adjusting his tie). Someone said, "God vacations in France." There you have him.


Reading a 2nd vol. of Eric Pankey, The Late Romances. Not at the same level of the earlier book (Apocrypha) but still many good poems. I'm sure he's too bourgeois for the School of Louditude (funny, Kasey!)

He's learned a Stevens manner that plays well, a trumpet with bravura & intensity, using the mute.
Stumbled upon a new poet, Eric Pankey (new to me). Read his book Apocrypha practically in one sitting.

This is incredibly good poetry. Out of Stevens, mostly, I guess, & Bible & Shakespeare. Fantastic poet. I don't usually find something I like like this. Am looking into his more recent books.


Phoebe flies to Rome today, for summer school further north. Same school her mother attended 35 yrs ago. La mia bella figlia. Dans les mains de la Charite, j'espere. On steep Angell St., into an art gallery at lunchtime. The show is "Italia", by Michael Sherman : watercolors & paintings, landscapes, cityscapes. Va bene.
Not fair to blame poets for the sad state of education, culture, politics. . .

& a lot of it isn't even sad.

Critical pincers.

writing poems
fame : 2 sides of the brain & a side of hash with croutons. A canna Makitcohere, chef.

Poem : indefensible heavy breathing. Quite an achievement in its own realm but easily dismissed.

Heavy breathing + acute hearing.

Patience & fortitude.

Careful with those pincers on onionskin graph paper.

Fair to be aware of the heavy angels on watch overhead : the angels of education, culture, politics. . . Miltonic sibillance on granite. . . Brodsky with a hawk on his wrist.
speaking of harmony, & Larkin, this Larkin poem was quoted by James Wood in latest New Yorker, in his very fine, beautiful review of Adam Nicolson's new book on the making of the King James Bible, God's Secretaries:


Cut grass lies frail:
Brief is the breath
Mown stalks exhale.
Long, long the death

It dies in the white hours
Of young-leafed June
With chestnut flowers,
With hedges snowlike strewn,

White lilac bowed,
Lost lanes of Queen Anne's lace,
And that high-builded cloud
Moving at summer's pace.

Wood's review is a mini-tour of English literary tradition, showing how influential was the music of the King James Bible. I hear Whitman too in these lines, another offshoot of Biblical music. (& had stopped to notice a white lilac earlier in the day)

I like the quietude of this elegiac mowing.


What's the positive term for "quietude" (Ron's diss) ?

Harmony ? Reading Bloom : he says (after Plato) that poetry emerges when reason enters music. He writes much about the relations between reason, passion, faith.

Or maybe : equanimity ?
Reading Closing of the American Mind. A great jeremiad. If he's right (& he is right about a lot of things), poets are "performing" in the midst of an era of extreme cultural & educational decadence & misdirection. The so-called mainstream/oppositional distinction is meaningless in this environment, a tendentious distraction : we no longer remember or comprehend the role of reading in the enlightenment of "souls" (as Bloom puts it) or the sustenance of American culture.
Monsieur Silliman ecrit :

"I've sometimes wondered if the ease with which the first generation New York School connected with New York trade publishers wasn't simply an accident of proximity, but also occurred at least in part because the NY School, at least until Mr. Berrigan showed up - and this really is Ted's great contribution to this tendency - did not challenge the paradigm that American poetics was a tributary of British letters, a paradigm that has been central to all variants of the school of quietude."

I wisht I could draw a flow chart for M. Silliman's stereotype-construction house of canards. It would start with some tweedy quietudinous Brit guy like Larkin emitting quietude rays from under his olde British Library deske, stunning all them well-published quietoads like the oily NY School into sleepy success & fame, until Mr. Berrigan clump along & mud his GRREAT Contribution, swingin Americoid poesie back into its rumbustious Americoke raw uncooked redskin rebbolushionerry tuff cookies that we really are deep down. Down wid School of Quietude ! Down wid NY Pebbleshires ! Up wid US !
Wrote yesterday about Bellow coming from generation that blurred fiction & autobiography (Mailer, et al.). But Ravelstein is done so gracefully, it's further evidence (in my book) that reality is occasionally fabricated in advance for fiction or art, that the model finds the painter.

Wonder if Valery has anything to say about this.
Finished Ravelstein. Bellow's character certainly not "effete", edit that out. Maybe occasionally peevish. & Ravelstein, the stand-in for Allan Bloom, not an "intellectual snob". He has the attitude of a big academic, screening out the students who don't make his grade, sometimes in an unkind way. Not the same as snobbery.

Started reading Closing of the American Mind. Wish I'd read it 10 yrs ago when it came out, & followed the controversy more closely. But then I just wasn't interested. It's a polemic. Am just getting into it. He sharply contrasts the older notion of equality based on natural rights, the basis of the Constitution & Declaration of Independence, with the newer ideology he calls "openness", which promotes the dignity & autonomy of diverse cultures over the universality of human nature. Very controversial at the height of the culture wars.


Reading Saul Bellow's Ravelstein. Because he's fun to read, most of the time, and because the novel is an homage or roman a clef of sorts for his late friend Allan Bloom, author of Closing of the American Mind. My curiosity piqued by Times article outlining the genealogy of the neo-conservatives around Bush & Pentagon "descended" from U. Chicago philosopher Leo Strauss (Joe Duemer & I talked around this a few weeks ago). Strauss, I think, is the character "Davarr" in the novel, though he's only mentioned in passing. Pentagon's Wolfowitz was a student of Bloom.

Bellow is "philosophical" in the pleasure he takes in big questions & big ideas, the way he addresses them both directly & obliquely, and the way he makes them accessible through humor, irony, and plain speaking. He comes from a generation of novelists that blurred fiction & autobiography; his character "Chick" is transparently Bellow himself. This leads to some self-indulgent writing, but Bellow's role, as a serious "thinker" in fiction, adds an extra dimension in a novel about a figure like Bloom, an educator so concerned with Platonic dialogue, the classics & the function of cultural heritage in thought & inquiry. "Chick" is the poet in Bloom's philosophical grove.

Interestingly, as Ravelstein is dying, his concerns turn from "Athens" toward "Jerusalem", as his conversations with Chick begin to focus on the fate of Jews in the 20th century. Through an episode about another thinly-disguised U. Chicago prof, a famous mythographer with a Nazi-sympathizer past (Mircea Eliade, I think), Ravelstein speaks about the Jewish sense of shock & isolation in a 20th-century in which the world seems eager to destroy them all; the great demonic ideologies of Stalin & Hitler, & the millions who gave their silent or vocal assent to them.

This reality underlies some of the multiple paradoxes in a novel about a Jewish classicist "invert" (his term) calling for a return to Western civilized values; another is the interplay between philosophical "clear-sightedness" and human cold-heartedness (Ravelstein's intellectual snobbery; the narrator's exhausted, somewhat effete disdain for the "rabble" of the underclass). Both characters come across as complex - humane & cold, warm & full of joie de vivre, hope, self-doubt. Not despair, though.

Is it possible that the neo-con emphasis (descended from Strauss?) on moral certainty, absolute vs. relative good & evil, could lead to a realpolitik in which ends justify the means (a sort of "moral hardheadedness" which is actually inhumane)? That would be an ironic twist. But I haven't even read Bloom's book (now I want to), nor do I really understand the innards of neo-con policymaking (sorry, Joe).

I wonder where Bellow came up with the name Ravelstein. Reminds me of course of my mother's unusual maiden name, Ravlin. I always thought it was a variant of Rawlin or Rawlins, maybe old french in origin? Dunno. Stubborn Grew & sequels are on one level a memorial to several Ravlins. The books were triggered by a simple elegy for my uncle James Ravlin (who was the same generation & could have stepped straight out of a Bellow novel), & turned into a complex elegy for his daughter Juliet.


If nobody hears the sound of a forest and falls in it, does it make a tree ?


Have been away in Minnesota for a few days.

May just stay away.

The Romans put a rose over the door to indicate "do not disturb" or secret, hence the term "sub rosa". I didn't know that when I wrote this old thing, back in the 70s.


Words kind as rain pour down
from mothers and fathers of gentle eye.

Bees have hidden in the hive's head
a little sunlight fallen on the field.

Small planets hover in the immense
blue Pacific of starlit. . .; morning

mumbles rustling branches of night
into morning glories, and a rose

resides, lightly bearded with snow,
on the ancient wall above your door.


My parents live near the River Road in Minneapolis, along the Mississippi, only a block or so from where they both grew up. Circles in nature.

The height of my novel-devouring period was when I was about 16. I loved the smell of a new paperback, lingered over its shape & size & lettering. Tin Drum, & . . .

May quit blogging & try to close that circle myself. Don't feel like this is my world, really, gang. Back in RI, sub Rhody, sub-sub-sub-librunque.


I think you'd really enjoy Nathanael West, Gabriel.


from the Projo yesterday:

"A $14 brooch purchased three years ago at a Bristol antiques shop has turned out to contain a priceless purple pearl, according to Alan Golash, a Newport antiques dealer."

Purple pearls come from quahogs, a Rhode Island treat. But they are so rare. This one may have been found by Native Americans, who used quahog shells & pearls as wampum. A 10-mm. pearl is considered very, very large. This pearl is 14-mm. The new owner is calling it the Pearl of Venus (Ben Franklin visited Providence once, bringing his telescope, to observe the Transit of Venus. see Transit St. in Fox Point.)

Providence has always been a jewelry capital. The Projo photo shows an enormous purple globe set in an ivory brooch with gold trim and an interesting octagonal design, reminiscent of course of the prosodical structure of Grassblade Light.
Webster's says "booby" refers to any of several small gannets of tropical seas; any of several American ducks; an awkward foolish person; the poorest performer or lowest scorer in a group. A modification of Spanish bobo, from L. balbus, meaning "stammering".

"babble", on the other hand, derives from ME babelen, prob. of imit. origin.

"babbitt metal" - an alloy used for lining bearings. to "babbitt" is to line or furnish with babbitt metal.

Which reminds me of this early prom, circa 1971:


"We have three now, we have three now, we have three. Keep those three."

"We have three minutes, ladies and gentlemen:
Jake, Maria, and Bobo of Minneapolis.
Jake and Maria are alone together
with the creek and the sun will watch itself
go down in a puddle, now watch Bobo,
he's going to fall,
do it Maria -"

compass dance. Jake, Maria and
being here makes it all so necessary to refer back
inside the orange for another point of view.
"This man is a. . . foot." A foot, yes, but
one of the best. He's not any kind of foot,
he's an ordinary foot. Leave him,
crowd, the summer will enjoy him -
he'll answer back with frequent, often
dazzling postcards, with details from his life
in toenail clippings, articles of hair, smiles.

"I suppose you're all wondering why I called you Herby.
It's an easy-going sort of name,
one which
you might as well throw away as construct into
subtle, silent postcards." (three, three, three. . .)

The kids in the front yard are playing statue.
It's a subtle, humorous game - several
domesticated animals join in too - the grandparents
play croquet or sit on the porch,
relaxing in the hot air,
in their friendly, birthday skins.
Dave, I'm thinking of changing my blog name to Melancholy Booby.
Nothing obvious will happen.
The medieval quietist-pietist attitude is unfashionable even in theological circles. Liberation Theology considers metaphysics & eternity to be unknowable categories. The Hebrew God is the God of freedom & justice & Jubilee. In radical Christian theology we inhabit a Lewis Carroll mirror-world of injustice, all our words colored by its falsity, already fated for dissolution with the coming of world renewal.

Curious times : militant Islam would impose faith by force. Militant secularism would rationalize its own dominations. Militant Christianity would proselytize by rote & verbal formulae. Militant Judaism insists on a tribal literalism. Militant Hinduism parades its superstitions. Militant Buddhism (?) dreams away the world.

The concept of personal salvation of immortal soul is for the artist. Artists are those who act in response to beauty in nature, or proportion. The idea of the Redemption, leading to the resurrection of my soul and of the whole cosmos - it's an artistic vision, a fictional plot. Epiphanies. Stephen Dedalus : "Signatures of all things I am here to read." (or something like that.) Whitman : the grass is "God's handkerchief, designedly dropt" (or something like that). The artist begins to read paradoxical Nature as suffused with signs of strange hope. Dostoevsky : "Beauty will save the world."

"Hope." Bob Hope. RI State motto. "Anchor of the soul." Sir Edmund HILLary achieved the summit of Everest on 5/29/1953, 500 yrs to the day after the fall of the last Roman Empire (Byzantium, 1453).

This theme of metaphysical resurrection through love informs the psychomachia, the whole plot, of Island Road.
Joe writes:

"Henry, if what you say is true, it is an even more cynical view of the administration than the one I've been advancing. It is the lie calculated & perfected. If it is true I expect to wake up tomorrow morning & discover that I have become a large insect."

Well, it's probably not true. (& for your sake, I hope not, Gregor.) Our exchanges are impelling me to look more closely at the neo-Straussians et al. There must be a worldview for American politics & foreign policy which is not so elitist & reactionary (in the sense of reacting against threats to dominance).

Have been reading Sir Thos. Browne, Religio Medici. Certainly not a political thinker. An amateur religious philosopher & essayist who meditates on the meanings of mortality, faith, salvation. Curious paradox comes to mind, reading him : there is no path to the betterment of world conditions without unworldliness.

How so? I guess it must be a medieval outlook - which differentiates it from the classicist worldliness of the powermongers. What is this medieval outlook? Awareness of human fallibility & mortality. Life in this world an illusory stage-play. Only relief is the paradoxical gift of eternal life through the project of soul-salvation. (This is a meaningless absurdity to many, and I hesitate even to post it here. You have to see it, recognize it in the fabric of reality, inwardly, to believe it.)

So the common good is balanced on a vanishing point : a Lenten awareness of our limitations on earth and our hope in eternity. The stereotypifying (Renaissance) critique of this medieval perspective is that unworldliness leads to fatalism & disinterest in world improvement. But there's another aspect to it : the same awareness leads individuals to moderate their pride, fear, vanity, ambitions and passions to a transcendent, charitable end.

So, enough sermonizing for today. Browne is a lovable writer, inimitable stylist. Makes me ready to read Donne's essays & Geo. Herbert. Boy do I sound like Ol Possum today. Maybe it's spring rain outside. Providence is full of flowering trees.


OK Joe, finished the Hersh article. Interesting resonance between the business about Plato & Strauss ("the noble lie"), and your earlier remarks on Joseph Conrad. Plato didn't care much for democracy, did he?

But again, it seems to me that Hersh is sidestepping the factor of Saddam in this whole game. It's my guess that before they went to the UN, the Pentagon people & others in the Admin. had assessed a number of different outcomes very carefully. & the decision to overstate the WMD issue, the decision to seemingly deliberately waffle in their presentation to the UN of rationales for going to war (I'm saying it seemed almost deliberately weak, in shuffling from one justification to another) - these were messages designed not to persuade the US public in favor of war, so much as a disinformation strategy directed at Saddam himself. This was the trap they laid : allow the UN to fibrillate; present obviously weak & sloppy evidence (the British stuff drawn from magazine articles, etc.); waffle in your rationales; let Saddam think he was getting away with it, encourage him in his intransigence. It worked like a charm, both with the French & Germans & Russians, and with Saddam. As I say, he fell right into it. We have to remember there was something of a precedent for this, in the lead-up to the Gulf War. Whether or not the US ambassador was deliberately leading him on, in that fateful meeting just before the invasion of Kuwait, it was an obvious example of Saddam's tendency to read ambivalence or signs of weakness as a go-ahead to follow his own grandiose schemes.

Did they have to do it that way? Well, Saddam was given his chance. He could have come clean starting with the massive report on his weapons programs in December 2002, which Blix declared far from complete or accurate. But he remained in character. And it may be ironic, if my scenario here is accurate, that this psychotic master of deceit was himself finally brought down by a Venus fly-trap of diplomatic illusions.
It's also interesting to think that Chalabi & the defectors & the Pentagon people KNEW that Saddam would probably stonewall. They set a trap for him & he fell right into it.
Joe, no, I hadn't read the Hersh article. I started it this morning. Yes, the circle of influence from Chalabi & his group to Intelligence & on to policy is weird & scary. But Hersh doesn't emphasize the Saddam factor. If, as the defector-brothers claimed, all the anthrax etc was destroyed before the 1st inspections, why did Blix himself continue to say that Saddam was stonewalling (in 2002-3)? Why not just produce the evidence detailing how & when the material was destroyed? But Saddam didn't want to do that. He clung to his secrets to the end & thought he could play the UN off against the US. Even if most of the stuff was destroyed by then, he wanted to preserve his autonomy - the OPTION to start up again as soon as the heat was off. That was a very bad choice on his part. I find him more weird & scary than Chalabi & Wolfowitz et al., & I'm glad he's gone (I understand that more than a few Iraqis feel the same).
I've changed the name on the link for David Hess's blog to "Rabid Imagiste". But it will still get you there.


Mustered on a blogroll, please. Hold the fleadom flies.

Noah U. Frumm Adamopoulet.
Astenographer Kozate'm.
Jumpin Jimby McBaseburl.
Ned Davis.
Davie Jefferson.
Ketch Heck.
Jonathan Seagull Butterfly Mayhue.
Oogle-Google Uhuru.
Rodwin Slimbermode.
Dick Lumbago.
General Lee Verboze.
Smite B. Eamey.
Kray Z. Muhtabollism.
Wheeze Buster.
Enwy U.N. Glood.
Jedediah Doomer.

Sir Thomas Browne was born on Oct. 19, 1605. He died 77 years later on the same day.

Recommended reading : Religio Medici.
Joe Duemer writes:

"There is a tremendous gap between what the administration said were the reasons for invading Iraq & the actual reasons on which they acted. Apparently, the purpose of this war was rhetorical--to demonstrate American willingness to project power preemptively without regard to previous international agreements. I take this to be a radical revision of America's role in the world. In the imperfect would we inhabit, which evil would be worse, to have left Saddam in power a little longer (while working for his downfall), or trashing the reputation of the US among our allies & even our enemies?"

As the man said, Joe, it's a matter of emphasis. You're being rhetorical yourself here, by reducing the Iraq war to "making a statement". The administration is serious about sponsoring democratic reform in Iraq as part of a strategy to push the Middle East toward much-needed democratization & liberalization on many fronts. I disagree about the "tremendous gap" you allege. As I said previously, the parameters of the Bush war on terrorism were made perfectly clear months before the US even went to the UN for a new resolution. & I believe they will find legitimate & serious evidence of WMD development and alliances with terror networks. There was very good reason to secure the oil fields, no matter who benefits from them. The failure to protect cultural sites was a huge mistake, but not evidence of massive bad faith or deceit. The argument that "because there are lots of dictatorships we're not bothering with, it's inconsistent to attack Iraq on that basis" is faulty logic, & makes no strategic sense in the context of a struggle against a fearsome terror adversary rooted in Middle Eastern networks & ideology (al Qaeda et al.).

Well, we are not going to agree on this issue. I think the position of total condemnation of the late war is rather weak. As I outlined toward the end of my last post, I think a stronger & more productive viewpoint could be developed, which accepts the reality of, & necessity for, a global war against terrorism, and which supports the project of confronting & holding to account both rogue dictatorships & terrorist networks, while at the same time closely analysing how the Republican Party is shaping that necessity for its own partisan ends (primarily, by putting the US on a perpetual war footing, "creating" useful enemies as a replacement for missing & formerly-useful Cold War antagonists, in the context of a go-it-alone global posture emphasizing military dominance). Democratic & other opposition parties could frame the war on terrorism within a different set of priorities, including global economic development, new diplomatic strategies, and an emphasis on social justice, civil rights & economic opportunity here in the US.


Here's a link to my own heart of darkness.
Pondering, while dawdling around pretty Fox Point (all the trees & flowers flow'ring), how to respond to Joe D.'s comments.

Not that anybody besides Joe & Anastasios is interested, but anyway.

Joe. Your statements coalesce around 3 points, among some others:
1) confronting "the lie" (ala Heart of Darkness);
2) the evasions of the Bush position before the latest war;
3) the relation between speech, dialogue & ethics.

I respond in reverse order:
3) In an ideal world, all problems will be resolved through peaceful dialogue & negotiation. But let's remember that in a non-ideal world, NOT ONLY do we witness the prevalence of the use of force & violence to serve selfish interests; we also witness the futility of language. We see false dialogue and timeserving debates carried on not just by the affected parties in a situation, but by 3rd parties taking advantage of crises by self-serving obfuscation & abuse of language. Sometimes "consensus" is impossible when you have the opposing interests of 2 or 3, meddled with by 15 other interested or "neutral" parties. For example, to read what happened at the UN before the latest war as simply a morality tale about US arrogance, is quite reductive; I think it is hard to deny that the stress of the crisis pressed France & Germany into hypocritical, self-serving positions, which underwrote Saddam's crazed intransigence.

2) I disagree with you that Bush Administration behavior leading up to this war was rendered ambiguous & murky by lies & hidden agendas. You seem to have 2 sides to your position : 1st, that Bush et al. have a hidden agenda(s); 2nd, that their vaunted "moral clarity" is in reality verbal cover for the unilateral use of force.

I think they have been pretty clear & forthright about their agenda. After 9/11, a global war on terror was declared; regimes engaging in terror, harboring terrorists, or unlawfully dealing in WMDs, would be considered enemies of the US and subject to attack. They had a difficult case in attempting to align the UN for war against Iraq, for lack of specific evidence of immediate threat; but I think their overall position was strong and convincing. The sanctions arrangement was a brutal failure; Saddam & his criminal mafia had ejected weapons monitors back in 1998; Saddam refused to comply fully with resolution 1441 (the 12000 pp document was a joke). It is clear in the aftermath that Saddam chose intransigence & self-defeating delusion, because his entire regime was built on oppression, lies & violence; he had no fallback position.

I think the second part of your argument (moral clarity as verbal cover), is more interesting, and leads to a consideration of your point #1): the supreme value in confronting "the lie".

There was an interesting article in the Week in Review section of the Sunday Times, about the genealogy of the Bush neo-cons from philosopher Leo Strauss. Somehow, when disciples of Strauss like Wolfowitz & Perle move into power positions, the philosophical notion that ethical absolutes are just that, and were outlined clearly for our civilization by the ancient Greeks, gets elided or translated into a concept of political "realism", wherein power or force can be projected in an aggressive way as long as the moral purpose or aim is clear and correct. This is not that different from the traditional "realists" of foreign policy, except that the latter were maybe more circumspect about projecting arrogance along with power.

The whole situation seems extremely new & complex, & doesn't lend itself to snap judgements or finger-pointing from any side. There is some truth in the analogy between the challenge represented by Islamic fundamentalist terrorism & state tyranny (Iraq, Iran, N. Korea) combined with weapons dealing, on the one hand, and the challenge represented by totalitarianism in the previous century, and I think that those self-righteous ones who don't want to sully their moral platitudes or their knee-jerk hatred of the US government with considerations of historical reality, are not really engaging in any useful activity in the realm of foreign policy. Another side of the equation, however, is the imbalance throughout the world between stable & rich 1st-world democracies, and the poverty-stricken regions of the Middle East, Asia, Latin America & Africa. Here is where the severe limitations of moral self-righteousness and a concept of national security based solely on military might become very clear. It's mirrored in a domestic policy which has found a way to equate "moral realism" with social darwinist individualism and laissez-faire.

& this leads me to a third aspect of this whole situation that interests me, and get's at the notion of your point #1 (confronting "the lie"). I think it might be good to look at the Straussian world-view of the power-playing neo-cons, not in isolation, but as an element of Republican party politics. In other words, it's USEFUL to develop an aggressive, power-projecting foreign policy grounded in the "moral clarity of Western democratic tradition" - since it provides a raison d'etre for a national party with a somewhat narrow demographic base, in the absence of Cold War stringencies.

Maybe I'm moving here in the direction of a John Kerry : attempting to combine a forthright attitude toward terrorism & dictatorship, on the one hand, with a demystification of a (partisan) politics based solely on glorified "force projection", on the other.


Clear response by JD (on Fri. 5/2) to my remarks on the war directed to Anastasios.


I wonder if G. Gudding has ever read The Dream Life of Balso Snell.

Nathanael West, a.k.a. Nathan Weinstein, went to Brown U. His sister married SJ Perelman, another Providence/Brown satirist. Does GG realize mulch of his themes etc., his "Theory of Ass" etc., are already in ovum there?

Does the West realize that when it refers to "the West" it is really referring to Nathan Weinstein???

The Dream Life covers most of the foibles of writers & would-be writers & bloogers.

"'Oh!' Balso exclaimed, carried away by these memories of his youth. 'Oh!' his mouth formed an O with lips torn angry in laying duck's eggs from a chicken's rectum."

Mr. Gudding late of Fargo or someplace out there, fills his tank in Providence, before making the great Westward journey.


Here's part of the passage from Stubborn. Do you reckon the infinite-dimensional continuum? Datta. Dayadhvam. Damyata.

There was a line - so that the generations live.
The perpendicular of purple death.
A parallaxal pyramid - wrath
(raging) rearified, in the infinitive: to give.

The source of all the rivets of the domes
of Justinian - True Cross,
Hellenic, Palestinian - the Jews,
the jotted Giotto-ghettos of a million Romes.

The line (an X, a circle)
- wonder of synecdoche.
One left-out gypsy -
solitary - oracle.

Bends against love-bubbles in the clay -
a pen-cone pinecone - equable
through fearful Hell.
De materialibus ad immaterialia.
I wrote too much today, & sometimes I am an old bluenosed meanie. I will write with chalk 100 times on the Duke of URL.
See Kasey's comments on Ron's reading.
I don't think Ron Silliman quite understands the H.D. poem, though I'm glad he pointed to it.

He overstates & overrates both the fury & the personal.

I see the poem as a balance, a conjunction of opposing forces. The poet is contemplating the contrast between the furious moralism of the Greeks (this woman betrayed her Greek husband for a Trojan & "caused" the 10-yr war) - a kind of ugly moralism - & the physical beauty of Helen - a kind of amoral beauty. These opposites form a tragic "bind", which the Greeks would like to resolve by putting her in the grave, and which Helen defies by her continuing presence - IN THE POEM ITSELF. By becoming a container of the beautiful, the poem then takes on a contemporary resonance, a kind of implicit attack on American philistine moralism. So it circles around on its pivot of balanced opposites.

Ron recognizes what he calls the "controlled" fury here - but (oddly for a Language poet!) he turns it into an occasion for speculating on the emotions & biography of the poet. I don't think that's the issue - I don't think H.D. is expressing her "fury" - she's expressing a tragic sense of life - & the agon - the "bind" - which motivates the uncanny charisma, the fascination, of works of art. Yes, of course we can always extrapolate personal aspects - but I think too often they are over-emphasized. Critics run to explain WHAT H.D. must have been furious about - something in her personal life, some social injustice - & by rationalizing the poem they only continue the philistine process of dismissing, marginalizing, & missing its IRRATIONAL (or supra-rational or inexplicable) beauty.
That's actually me from State, Anastasios. I work in the Laundry Div. under an assumed name (Chauncey Quzzeemious P'oblique). Nobody else reads our blogs, so you might want to invent some imaginary friends soon too soon. Too. Soon. Like maybe Url Shay D'Ottcomb, one of my "heros". Or Ladybird Dropsing, Queen of Later Florida.
Addle your links.
Thinking about the Cantorian infinite-dimensional line, come to think of it, there's quite a bit along those lines in the 3rd chapter of Stubborn Grew ("Once in Paradise"). It's a chapter about painting, perspective, Berkeleyan-Romantic vision, etc. Wish I had the book here, various stanzas. . .

There was a line, so that the generations live.
Source of all the. . .onion domes,
.. . million ghetto'd Romes.
. . . of the infinitive : to give.


A point. Then a line to the end of the.
Forms frame for all the others.
The other colors.
De materialibus ad immaterialia.


The point is in the line now, Dino.

De-materialize a bus ad?

(I know I'm mixing this up. Will post corrections when I can.)
It was a good day to walk to India Point today. The grass still green, the leaves just coming out. A lot of activity in the harbor : tugboats, dredgers, freighters. I bought some mini-binocs just to watch them (feel free to notify Homeland Security). There's a Russian sub there, used in film "K-19", now a museum, complete with Soviet flag etc. : the Julietta 484. The center book of the Big One, Grassblade Light, is an octagonal Russian-style poema, plotted on an Orphic search (by way of Petersburg) for my cousin Juliet. Sort of like Kafka said, sit on a park bench & the world will come & lie down at your feet.

Translato-logorrheia : Stubborn Grew et al. happened because one day I was able to pick up a Mandelstam mask & put it on.

Rhode Island has more hair salons per square inch than. We're a very small very Big Hair state. Passed one coming back on Hope St: Hairoglyphics. As I may have mentioned already a hundred times, RI Statehood Day is May 29th. The state motto is "Hope". Bob Hope & I share the same birthday (5/29). He's the stand-up, I'm the sit-down.

Grassblade Light has 7 chapters in 8 sections. Each section has 28 poems of 28 lines each, with a center poem of 64 lines, making 29 poems total, in a [14/1/14] array (there are variations - it's a matter of broken symmetry - but the total lineation is almost exact for each section). The poem moves generally from RI to Russia to the Mississippi delta up to MN (the "North Star state") and back to RI. The central chapter 4 is a double chapter, 2 sections centered on a single line : Love is our North Star high up above.
Give - sympathize - control. Datta dadadaavadhyavhddaada bada-bing.
there goes Cap'n Gould, flogging the poets agin. Call me Queeg : I'm all alone, in another dimension. Add it to your links.
The normative = the humane imagination. Sympathy & ethical response in conditions of crisis & ennui & powerlessness. The Just One will suffer calumny, spite, slander, malice, hatred, treachery and violence in order to stand beside the weak & utter the truth. What's that line from the Bhagavad Gita at the end of the Waste Land, Anastasios? "Sympathise - [something] - Control" . . . (I guess it's on your blog)!
Anastasios, asking me to respond to a news article about shifting Bush Administration positions on the nature & extent of Saddam Hussein's weapons program.

Before the war, I defended it, here on the blog & on poetry lists; I let my forensic instincts have their way. One motive for doing that was my sense that poets were opposing the war in a knee-jerk manner, a reflexive anti-government attitude which had little to do with the actuality before us. This reactive attitude degrades the role of poetry too. Of course there are lots of roles for poetry. There are always the new new brutalists & the advocates of toy poetry, finding ever-new ways to celebrate poetry-as-subculture & cottage industry.

I'm not against this, don't get me wrong. It's just that walking around Providence last night in the spooky moist spring haze, with all the cherry trees & magnolias & azaleas flowering, thinking about my crumblous, desiccated "career" in poetry, I felt the ever-recurrent determination that a poet must try to speak to public questions, face the pressure of the time & articulate it in the poetry & the essays. The models that came to mind were Auden & Brodsky. I know so well how alien this & these models sound to the nuvo-bohos of the bloggy set.

So, you will say, isn't that what we are doing? No, it is not. I guess I would go back to early days of this blog where I was writing about "metaform". I think poets have to find ways to synthesize & correlate & enunciate a coherent & capacious RESPONSE to the issues facing the world. I like the way Joe Duemer seems to be aware of this, though we disagree on the politics a lot. But a POETRY-response is not yelling on the internet or protesting in the streets or even pamphleteering, even though these things also have their inherent poetry!!!

What comes to mind for me again anyway is also this notion of the "literary absolute". Have been thinking lately that maybe it's analogous to Georg Cantor's & Godel's notion of infinity & the "continuum problem" & the "incompleteness axiom" (if I've got that right). There are these different levels of mathematical reality, and some levels are incommensurate - sort of unapproachable - using the tools inside particular "ordinary" systems of math. So I think of the literary absolute as this poetic capability - a synthetic articulation - which is incommensurate with both the ordinary levels of talent & desire to write, and with the coordinates of the literary industry & all its subcultures. Another aspect of "Pushkinism"?? Is this a flanking chess move?? But do we perhaps NEED some such concept (literary absolute) if we want to maintain a "normative" literary-civilizational culture? Do we want to maintain such a thing? Do Americans even understand or accept the notion of "normative", sustainable culture or civilization? Sustainable would have to include self-critical, dedicated to an ethical absolute (not the same as the literary absolute, but maybe analogous).

An aside : took home from the library Elena Shvarts' 2-vol collected poems, published in Petersburg. Old-fashioned 19th-cent. heft of the volumes. Looking at her lines with their hieratic Cyrillic, their bold but firm syntax, dashes & periods. Oddly, the poem I opened the book to was titled "Poetica : More Geometrico" ("more" - sea? death? method?). Mathematical literary absolute a kind of authoritative articulation of Person-in-Civilization, an image at the root of liberal education. . . AND beneath this the notion of absolute devotion/vocation to THIS line, THIS phrase, THIS text & no other : the finality of writing : inescapable, uncanny aspect of the literary absolute (see Emily Dickinson). Mandelstam [paraphrasing] : "reading the poem we enter into & share the poet's death". Poetry is serious, serious fun. Frost : "a game with mortal stakes".

Anastasios must be thinking I'm evading his question. WAS THIS WAR JUSTIFIED? I don't know. . . it seems too early to base such a judgement on the current results of WMD search. I feel like my mother, who told me she wanted to keep her mouth shut (hard for her) at the neighborhood coffee get-togethers, because she felt so oddly unconflicted & optimistic about the war in Iraq, & this was very out of step with Minneapolis opinion (not I suppose with Dallas opinion though).
Apropos the Confidence-Man : reading the paper last night, I noticed the legal phrase used for the criminal charge of passing counterfeit checks is : "uttering and publishing."


The below was written under the influence of The Confidence-Man, His Masquerade, and the thought of Chateau Latour 1900 about to open on 1 Jan 2000. (PLEASE note the mobius-like inside-out rhymes, AbBa.)
something from the Orgone Box (of July) (with some spacings between phrases missing, as usual) for May Day :


Dr. Neil De Grasse Tyson is laughing
(kneeling in de grass) as he scampers down
a spiraling ramp of time in the renovated
heavens of the Hayden Planetarium (falls

the length of a football field at Victoria,
they say) (the ramp represents 13 billion
years of evolution) plucks a liberal
hair-width from his visitor’s head (cave

drawings to Now only one three-thousandth
of an inch on this walkway) but will
uncork a Chateau Latour 1900 (with a twinkle)
to celebrate the flow of time (south, north. . .)

as the Fidèle glides into St. Louee
with another boatload of Flying Fools
and the gyroscope oscillates between Wolof
Ndar (near the mouth of the Sénégal)

and that clay-clad fur-trading guest
at the mouth of a wild Missouri
(from Great Lakes to the Gulf) (we resume
on a raftered board of information, staggering

from Huck to Jim and back to Finn again)
and one lucky fellow from nearby St. Paul
debarks, he thinks, for Paris in 33 laps
a man in cream-colors sudden as a grinning

griffin doubly doubtful, you know
him best astride that albino fifth mare
riding into the incredible roll-call of the Ram-
rod ironclad hoarse hi-ho silvery clay-borne

moor. . . that sileage mariner or masked
moron who wins the day with a myrrh-bullet
that wounds but does not kill (tolerable well
I think you know him flighty Viking scam-

divine semi-bateau or smorgasbord)
his I.D. was an island donnybrook
for many a gnomon sheared from the corps
legion and foreign to us all, Cappy (Sargasso

is as good as mine, I guess) Swede?
Great Dane? Some serious kid on the lam?
With a side for existence (Bacon’s moll)?
Underneath the stones and ridicule? Deuce

or Jack? Demure, with marked cards on deck?
Dimly lit lying on a bed of ruses
severe (a little irritable devil –sure,
sometimes) still he wore the drastic keds

inside out, sprinting those finnish loins
around about a decade be-shipped at zee
spun back through a dawn-spout (easy)
countertop crisscrosswordwise (like a snail-

shell on a leash) and carrying the clay-
coated Mexicali canopy midnight to Monday
with one hand (an eyesore) One happy demon
parsed with another innocent city-of-lakes

gaudi-looped gondola our double-U
booted sunny dung-beetled scarabified
rosetta-scrolled Popeye-rusted fiber-
optickled ghoul on a bender

sabled and speared first to steal
forth from that gilded Juligan’s chest
of seven myrrh-dropped home-stretched
boxelder cicada shells upon the waters

and dance Babe the Blue Ox or Ruth
amid the corny aliens after a Homer run
(from big J-lie) (to Jubilee-rumor) (by
way of a tricksy prairie bee) to third.

And there through those heraldic bronze
St. Louis Cathedral western gateways
curled like swimming agates
inwards and signifying “monkeys”

my keys, my keys, O Mon through the
intolerable clashing of egos (and Mr. Gell-
Mann’s routine and obnoxious legendary
put-downs) through the seemingly

intractable symmetry-breaking dispersion
of theories and regular Regge poles and
so on on the throne experimenters (sloppily)
jockeying particle accelerators (up to 20 billion

electron-volts) and the cold fusion of wars
of words the privatical pride of little swords
and hoards of awards on family rudders
oared undergound the narrows of old saws

and sorrows of old Noah and all his waves
and drafty spoons in the inward parts
of the country through all the traps
and the satraps the unpropitiated vows

and the brown gods almost forgotten
implacable watching and waiting
there in the curl of two
crossed fiddleheads a target nef:

smaller and smaller in your palm
gleaming softly ruby and green
like a foursquared loop rung
from one ladder-stem and marbled

like the steps of Oz at the gates
of the Emerald City a handy green
houseboat toto in tornado and Grendel-
gloomed hidden and lucky as a stage-

coach for Atahuallpa on the 29th
slate footstep of the following month
(his octopus depth-grammar, submollified
and cupped for a last millwheel

in Cuzco) ah John John the piper’s son
playing his Andean crane bone
wingèd like a fluted nacreous nob
or happy cap of Shakespeare’s dad

a nonsense duo route of many-coated
rainbow ink across a sunny turtle’s back
aloft now Spirit of St. Louis Lucky’s toot
so sweet to Notre Dame decoded

ink incredible bibliothèque of farther queues
for young men should be old explorers, and
clovers, circling prairies of young bees
that’s my Danish nutshell, Socrates