The air so brilliant & clear today
beside the Bronze Age river.
The railroad bridge hovers
over its reflection – a light play
of diagonals, like water-spiders
on a pond, or cloud-feathers
above the Jordan, tethered
to a steadfast figure (Jasper’s
orant mariner, circumferencing
gray sea with shady palm).
That chanting shepherd, calm
beneath an indigo wheel of blazing
stars... one cheerful face beaming
from the medallion
in Classe (Apollinarian)
under darkened wooden ceiling
of abandoned ship, beached in pine-
swamp, at Ravenna’s edge.
Mere icons of a human pledge
so simple, local, omni-Byzantine –
ineffable mosaic sky
where Love bends waves
to lift us from our graves
into a metamorphosis kind Aye
above halo of tears you streak
with serpentine arches
agios agios agios
one river-rainbow in an eagle’s beak
Piero the geometer
graphed the perfect dome
(that marvelous human home
& winking sea of gray matter)
beneath the curvature of San Francesco
in Arezzo – a flock of swans
of radiant intelligence
about their Queen, before the portico
(Temple of Solomon). He’s hidden
as in a game of hide-&-seek
the wooden matrix (meek
logbox from Tree of Life). When
Helena comes to Jerusalem
she’ll draw it out again –
sliver from a lion’s
paw, grim rib from Adam’s
galley mast. Constantine dreams
his tiny golden honey-cross.
wells in the quiet kitchen... gleams.
Sweet psyche-legends circulate
around a forgotten rock
in Magdala. The flock
is scatter-gathered... salty fate
& jittery salts plank-walk the yellow-
black monarchs of love.
Their cedar treasure-trove
is one pine ark (Jonah chi-rho).
For a Tear is an Intellectual Thing
This evening light over the sink
& clutter of Mom’s pots
dish soap, what-nots
stillness of an eye that doesn’t blink
pupil of an unseen commonwealth
Lincoln-logos of a realm
Time cannot overwhelm
where Walter nurses back to health
Hart’s broken farfalla-tower
& Weldon finds his shoes
again & Berryman his
balance on that bridge O Flower
Joy Out of these winter fields
where Bruegel-raven zig-
zags over leafless twigs &
Guillaume’s pink turban slowly heals
Your graven images of gravity,
Henry my autumn fall
1132 a burial
at sea the perspicacity
of buoyant Jonah one grey gull
lights on a wave breathe,
Dove lift down from empty skull
my ashen diamond the snow skims
sparkling under the sun
& from bright gatherings one
Flamant beams whose warmth redeems
i.m. Fr. Jacques Hamel
You breathe a mist over stained glass,
like a cloud over Mirror Lake,
by the trolley road to Blake
(in Mendelssohn). Rouen, alas.
In Chartres nave, one dark gray
thread still navigates
J-whorl, on golden agate –
Ariadne’s Way (sealed crypt to Day).
Her catenary smile will make
a lazy loop through Space
in Time; her carapace
a turtleshell – sweet curve you take
through clouds like whales, Jonah –
to find an old mercy-go-
round anew. Like Jessie O.
on racy waterwheeler, sunray-
rain-bowed – Lady Liberty
an echo of Cahokia,
a salience of Royal Oak
(lips’ kayak lifting word to be).
Deep breath, Path P, Rhodos.
Out of a barbed-wire
cat’s-cradle (rust pyre
of Minotaur-empire) you rose –
winded with old George, the breadwinner,
& Maggie, of the veritas
caput – where Brandywine flows
into 4 Pine River (soul scout’s honor).
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,
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).
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.
Old river the color of rusted iron
you beckon me back before
humaine (long nightmare drill). When
we were as flint people in limestone
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
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).
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,
(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
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
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).
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
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 –
Gennesaret to Tuscan hills (all-human song).
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)
Cedar shade of Galilee,
staff of serpent-
skin, shed (leafing royalty
in vernal memory). Magdala
Stone of good deeds done
O spouse of rustic sun
& witness won... lowly Messiah
come & gone (& come again).
Time flowers on the lips
& salty fate slips
into diamond lantern (homespun
dream of overflowing glee) – a shout
of joy from a windblown seed
of newness sown (whorled
Jubilee) – canoe-galleon, afloat
round Milky Road (unquenchable
Eternity) – that lights
gold Magna Carta rights
welded in smiling crucible
of Manitou. So on this day
Canonicus & Charles II
framed (raven-spelt) new
Charter, for primordial Way –
experimental Restoration Play
within green cedar
fane – firm oaken chair
of planetary cheer (our Ripening Day).
Roger Williams Memorial, Prospect Terrace, Providence
* Note : on this day in 1663, King Charles II of England signed the charter creating the new colony of Rhode Island. Written, and sponsored (in London) by Roger Williams and Thomas Clarke, the charter pioneered a new form of government, founded on principles of religious toleration and popular sovereignty.
Hobo sets his sights on Ocean Sky
the cloud-boats drifting
high-masted spinnakers go by
The rusty syntax of the railroad bridge –
necklace for a queen
Galla Placidia, maybe... blown to the edge
of warlord chaos, courtier intrigue;
guarding son & heir
with the pale gold hair
(who will not see the Soo Line zigzag
into the forest, north of here).
The mosaic interior
night-blue with stars –
her mausoleum, like an eggshell ear.
Sea-light filters through pinholes
of gold. The grey matière
a granite made of air
hides pigeons, ring-dove souls
within its manifold (octahedral
Hobo finds his kin again;
the smile of cousin Jeanne will roll
a tensile thread out of the maze
of time & circumstance –
her light ghost dance
where mountains bloom (sheep graze).
American robin on my fence
I sense you are a friend
& neighbor – here to lend
your orange breast, for salience –
swell-sign of aerial fellowship
in gravid cave-adventure
(blue waves of chicory
pacing old roads, from Boston slip
to San Francisco). How your edgy
our grubby, wormy hates –
sclerotic, squamous tragedy
of shriveled hearts, rancid hypocrisy!
You diagram with song
a madrigal so strong,
so many voices in emergency
merge into blueprint buoyancy –
manifest (garnet clay
a ship-shape evening constancy.
Mute gesture from crow’s-nest G-ray!
Memory, beyond time
salts a Boethian rhyme-
beat... in quella Roma onde
Cristo è Romano. Staunch ruddy
the palm, the fiery gates,
Pacific O... – Eternity! is all his study.
Map of Rhode Island, 1780
I used to play a "tarantella" on the piano... I forget the composer (Mrs. Elledge, my piano teacher 45 years ago, would know). I grew up in the Mendelssohn neighborhood of Edina, MN (named such by its early settlers, musicians with the Minnesota Symphony). The tarantella has very ancient roots - it was originally an ecstatic, Dionysian dance meant to drive out the effects of a "tarantula" (actually, European black widow) spider bite.
The monuments tremble in the mind
like shuddering leaves... the dun-
grey flesh of Russian
olive shoots (wild weed you find
along grey highways). Clouds
resemble ships passing
(or sheep). An everlasting
turtledove of new beginnings crowds
grey folds to elegant mosaic –
peacock splendor, rainbow
tarantella. Help me now,
Ancient of Days – the mortal ache
of this wolf spider bite is like a prod
in the bull-dance arena.
I must rotate – ah,
Pocahontas handstand! – God
reward your goldfinch serenade!
Thunder & lightning speed
across acorn crucible (blade
pillaring smoke & fire upon hill
at Glastonbury, or
Golgotha). Now you are
whittled down to walnut mind-rill...
pirouette... red veins of iron
rivet into diamond.
ripple osprey, ranging (arak-golden).
Painting by Michael Gould (Elmer's glue & acrylic)
SMALL EMERALD ELEGY
Geoffrey Hill, Yves Bonnefoy, Elie Wiesel
Light at dusk across the grass
salted with white crosses,
poppies... graph of losses
rounding up the Somme. Mass
for the mass of young men gone.
On Cemetery Ridge
the plowmen made a bridge
of bone, unbreakable – and won
the day. Coraggio, amigos.
Time will shiver silver
when the last full measure flows
from infant veins, against the grain
of human servitude –
that dominant X (rude
chi-rho, nailed up in the brain).
In the barranca (by the monarchs’
den) the battered Consul
penetrated to the well
of Golgotha. His mind sparks
like the last firefly of evening meadows...
a small emerald octagon,
or 4-leaf clover – moon
over Eire, over the raging shadows
of the nations. Clue vero, Ariadne-
yarn. A catenary
arc, or smile – an airy
rack of clouds, threading the Neva R.
George Bellows, Rain on the River (RI School of Design Museum of Art)