serpent ocarina


The king is carrying his cross
wearing his crown of thorns.
Only his mother mourns.
The restless crowd is at a loss.

So history plays out
on broken banjo string –
scratchy LP spinning
over & over the tethered Scapegoat

Song.  A narrow beam of rust-
red copper, through shade
of rock.  Copperhead
of light.  Serpent mouthing dust.

Tan sand (some Navajo camouflage).
Everyman, eaten
by ants.  Has-been.
Hobo, dreaming in a stream-montage.

Nobody.  Only air, flashing
like feathered wheel –
Thunderbird heel?
Lo, him – Kingfisher, splashing.

In the clay matrix, Morning Star
pirouettes in Paris
for Apollinaire.  Pax
lounges with Liberty, while from afar

twin pillars of a temple rise
in unison – an azure
octave, lifting her
amid dew-glittering, sea-breathing sighs.



all the way to Mt. Moriah


This weightless branch of butternut
floats in the August stillness
like palm-frond of Isis
in sky-barge of Cleopatra-Nut.

Earth grown deserted as a pyramid.
Nothing moves in silence
like Lion-Sphinx
crouching with a question on her eyelid-

casket – just for you, Orpheus-
Oedipus.  Your arcane
cane limps against the grain,
gone serpentine... a missing Theseus.

Where’s Ariadne then?  Arise,
light Jonah-seer, sweet
grey-eyed sister!  Meet
him in the wrinkles of the Minotaur’s

disguise, find him in the stone face
sleeping like a Roman guard –
motionless, Medusa-hard,
until your gardener grins in his place.

She’s kneading my clay now, adamantine
mother of amusement.
All the way to Mount
Moriah, she’s dragging my crown.

She’s molding the planet, children –
shaping this loafer into ships
of almond-bread, with those lips.
Those eyes are sparks for tinder-men.



where everything is born


When summer is a woven synthesis
of differences, a music
of what happens, homesick
Hobo thinks of Providence – yes,

Ocean State – that tiny place
where everything is born.
Microcosm, on a horn
of sea-salt... on a wave of seamless

grace.  There dreamt his dream
of mater Giuliana,
in her moss-green llama-
shawl (Francescan almond-gleam

within Ravenna).  Dante found Christ
in Beatrice’s almond joy;
hypostasis in our eye;
omnipresence of the Holy Ghost.

That fusion in Jerusalem –
gemstone of solid air;
communion of river
& sky great bridges ravel, hem

by curving hem (triplicate
unruffled grace).
Traveling eucharist,
friendship seal... rose safety net...

personification (into human
rainbow) of a humble
kiss.  Gold bumblebee,
sweet Henry-awk... sunken, risen.



the axis of the earth


The river moving through the cottonwoods
inspires Hobo-composer
to exceed his Oeuvre
Clumpy-Cloddy in the key of C.  Buds

trace their roots down limestone crevices
to seek that cave-lake
where dark streams make
ripples in a mirror-image (Beatrice’s

triune goddess?) in a palimpsest
of light reflections.  Mother,
lover, friend... your sister-
dove.  Affectionate witness –

Akhmatova’s golub-golubyanka
(an undertone beneath
the granite banks).  The wreath
Natasha flung into Fontanka –

today an angel, tomorrow only a worm
in the grave... only a promise.
Mary, in her distress,
beholds the gardener beside the tomb.

Hobo digs deeper, down his own
dream-channel.  Almond
eyes... the veil of Isis
in West Branch... curtains for Henry’s own

Clover, in Washington (where Adam delved
while Eve spun vortex-grief).
Vertigo in high relief
on Henry’s charcoal Chartres – shelved

Synagogue laid low, below Ecclesia
belies a Nazarene concord
older than Byzantine crossword
shaded by almond-Hebrew Bona Dea.

Keep digging then, my clod.  You’ll find
the key, within a boxwood box
where lies a bunch of keys.
A black Egyptian Queequeg pine-

box, layered with tattoos
of hero-griffins – figures
of hexagonal stars
that shine like golden bees... Who’s


there?  Out of the mirror-wars
of courtly kangaroos,
through shady fig trees
shines her diamond Southern Cross –

the double trinity of Black Elk’s
six-way sign.  An acorn
emerald, lightly borne
as crown of Restoration Day : melek’s

JFK : Zion’s Nazir out of Galilee;
spume-signal from an Ocean
State – whale-oil ensign,
anointed Son... clé-figured Charity.

That old medieval Paris of Villon.
Pigments of blood, limestone
& sky.  Stained-glass zone
of intellectual Aquinas-light – reason

& faith cross-braided, interwoven
in the jewel-box of Suger,
in the emerald sepulcher
of Wolfram’s wayfaring communion-

wafer.  Omnipresent grail
of equal daughters, equal
sons... Love’s universal
sea-supremacy – each heart’s high sail.

So the rod of Aaron blossomed
over Nile sandbanks,
& a bronze serpent yanks
all eyes to Hobo’s Bottomland

Jonah.  Out of that Okie Okean,
out of that Osage eagle’s
den, your clay-born angels
rise to foot their river-span –

a bridge of International Orange
pillared like Jachin, Boaz
in wisdom’s corny maze
of adamantine joy.  So rich & strange!

Whispered by the Sybil through
these gold oak leaves,
for everyone who grieves.
A comfortable acorn-dhou


down Nile, or Mississippi, weaves
her zigzag victor-wake;
from Jordan to Lake
Galilee, her circle rings the sheaves.



unbreakable chords


Your nostalgia for the aristocracy
of childhood, Vladimir,
I understand.  So here :
infantile tyrants bear it away

in sappy cerements of innocence.
Galla & her golden boy
& their brief beehive day
drowse in Ravenna, under silence

of mosaic stars; Dante too
sleeps there, still far
from his Firenze mère
the milky galaxy of midnight blue,

his babble-realm of splendor-joy.
A fluent melody
pours endlessly
from thine ineffable benevolence, Blue J;

a spiral at the cave entrance,
an everlasting sign
of all Creation
(ceaseless, calm, majestic dance).

Those unbreakable chords of Mendelssohn
at the end of the trolley line;
the sound of the violin
lesson, the neighborhood of children...

& the shadow of the Thunderbird
in the immense oak tree
the dark green sanctuary
of Morning Star   dolphin-shepherd


out of deep-twined memory
by the cistern heard
rose-enfolded Word
out of Ocean’s fond   Jonah-infinity

Instinctive fright becomes aggression,
dominance abets revenge;
since long before Stonehenge
each weak scapegoat endures oppression

& the tantrum of the infant
replicated by depression
each political occasion
filters through both mob & tyrant.

But it shall not be so with thee.
I have no wrath, the Ghost
murmurs; I am the Most
High Heartbeat, mild Invisibility –

indivisible reply
out of the crystalline
& quintessential Union
at the source of Earth & Sky.

I am your human echo, come to be
among you, in my realm
of love, mercy, wisdom
I am the Nazir, chanting out of Galilee.

& then I saw her, Jonah-Shadow –
wings extending over all
of Minneapolis/St. Paul.
Ghost-heart we feel, ghost-bird we know.



stone, water, light, fire


The agitations of a stone thrown in the stream
make ripples that become
a smooth continuum
of moving wheels.  One Gothic beam

draws light through stone and water –
blending elements
into high bafflements
of rainbow glass, mind with nature

beyond nature, reason with wonder.
Agnes – her exacting threads
trace Ariadne’s leads
through wilderness of sea & thunder.

Grant – his strange & strict constructions
spin a decussated
dream landscape – fated
black dirt looming beneath confections

of late sunset West Branch foliage.
Why, then, this mirage
of images?  The poet’s rage
wells from embodied fury – & her voice

– Arachne’s, Ariadne’s – is mortal
as that scar-calendar
of dread Coatlicue
unsnagged by force from Mexican corral.

Her poem is cast-iron Poseidon-net
straight from the furnace,
thus : a human face
veiled by the smoke of calumet


morphing brute fraudulence to peace,
transmuting blank white
voids to violet
& moss-green habitats of paradise.

St. Maximus Confessor, musing
monk, articulated
in theory what unfolded
in reality – fusion of divine choosing

with human liberty in understanding,
in enactment, as the spirit
moves us : radiant
tangle of wheels into a double ring.

All spokes are joined there, in the personal –
as in a room near Golgotha
babble turned glossolalia
& tongues aflame lit one bright coronal.

The poet chants out of that mental fire
& dances like a Nazirite
her intellectual delight
inviting you & me to join the choir

around that altar of a rolling stone –
a living hearth-fire
of the Earth’s desire
for equilibrium, once we throw down

the Minotaur lodged in our hearts.
Malevolent violence & lust
& greed for dominance must
be renounced... & so the dancing starts.





The wave-factor on a riverboat
differs downstream (or
up).  Rocking the shore
like thread of Agnes Martin’s Night

Sea.  & we are far from home.
Waves of corny grain,
of grass, of wheat... Main
Street.  Grant Wood’s metronome.

He lived four blocks from Henry Negus.
Farmer turned lawyer-
transportation czar
(bus co.) in Iowa City – is

my namesake (great grandfather).
Quaker-shlepherd genehaulogy.
American Gothic, see (flea!) –
straight from dry-humus bow-bent flower.

Arbor Day.  Planting families
of fanatics in the grass –
another word for pass
the ammunition, Grandma.  Crazies,

huh?  All-American.  Beyond
the scope of Scopes Trial,
Solomon... we’re all
afloat upon some stinkin’ frogpond

paddle-wheeler.  Gothic was light
pontoon (Jerusalem).
Grail-Sepulchre rim.
Gitchee-Pollen-Air, up & walkin’... right?