1.23.2019

the public good is an intellectual thing




WHATEVER HAPPENS
                                                      i.m. Sister Pat DeMoully

Hobo, that disintegrating Henry
sank into Mississippi
bottomland.  Big Muddy.
Like Lucius with his wayward donkey

rescued (finally) by Isis-Psyche.
The mule wanders Badlands.
Civic twilight (all hands
off deck).  Some refusenik-refugee.

Henry recalls the Brown & Sharpe
machinery complex
where young Rex
mingled with VISTA volunteers, harp

tuned to Dionysian thunder drum.
Green genius JFK
chanted (head all bloody)
Camelot concept.  Whole sum

of common good (an intellectual thing)
for young collegians,
braving their joy-dance
from campus triangle to iron ring;

the commonwealth is worth defending
whatever happens to me
(beam, solidarity).
Like Sister Pat in Jonestown, bending

from Minneapolis to Mississippi’s
veritable excess poverty.
To be there, every day...
a live-oak Galahad, touching the keys.

1.22.19

1.22.2019

I stir the Pythian gumbo of Apollinaire




BRONZE ANNALS

The Palladium forsook Byzantium
on a Black Wednesday
near Pentecost (hey
yo).  In the old Orpheum

Theatre (off Hennepin) Stravinsky
leads Ballet Russe
to rude cathartic truce
around the bonfire of a galaxy –

a human maypole (at the end of May).
She’s only Morning Star.
The young Apollinaire
is debonaire... they waltz away.

Salt sea-wash on another shore
throws up a Kennedy...
Melchizedek?  O, he
will pass through temple walls before

bronze annals of the oak tree close.
A little emerald windlass
winds your thread, Theseus.
A Selkie off the Newport coast,

a water-sprite from far-off Ocean...
laving heart of Berryman,
& salty Hart (Ohioan);
lifting Juliet from self-destruction.

Ineffable ark of Vierge Ouvrante,
imperishable human smile –
Love’s gentle campanile,
lofting aforesaid acorn-infant.

1.21.19

1.20.2019

to Nathan Phillips




GREEN HABITAT
                                    to Nathan Phillips

The Mirror Lakes in Mendelssohn
were smooth & clear – were
mirrors of the weather,
mirrors of each other (twins).

Your mind’s a mirror too (cloudy
today, with intimations
of its limitations).
Looming earth, a child’s infinity...

In his mandorla of Ferrara
Giorgio hooked the canoe
against a garage wall (you
remember, Micòl?).  Observe, selah

its simple elegance & rightness.
Mirror of itself –
bowstring of Guelf
& Ghibelline.  O blessed senselessness!

I surmise the one you call Jesus Nazir
arose not in hothouse of fear
but a rural atmosphere –
full of parabolic melodies, limpid, near.

The Son of Man... the Son of Man...
not him, but you – & you...
like Hagia Sophia in a crew
of galley slaves.  Their submarine plan

winks from searchlight eyes – their fleece
the gold thread of Ariadne,
knotted in Rhode Island
Black Ships (ocean’s milky matrix

                      *

poured from ineffable Promised Land).
In Siena, insouciant Pax
lounges by sober Justice
in the fresco of Good Government (hand

of Ambrogio).  That thread from beyond
exotic Trebizond
plummets, au fond
to Minotaur’s despair – demented Roy

Dumonde; yet we are gathered up
into another summa
body – solidarità
of Love’s affectionate grail-cup.

It was not price nor money could have
purchased Rhode Island;
Rhode Island was purchased
by love.  So step into the rawhide nave

of Nathan Phillips’ Wakan Tanka
Spirit beyond each sullen
pond of identification.
Spring winds the rust of iron rancor

into another, more spacious America –
florid green habitat
of Uncle Weaver Rabbit,
Auntie Corn Gatherer (limestone Columbia).

That mud-brown mirror harbors hidden
depths.  & yet she’ll float –
Nile-Isis, river-mote –
your eye-in-hand (nearby, Cahokian).

1.19.19

1.18.2019

inside the coracle




UNBENDING PINE

You hear the rustle of a spring
in the moss forest;
in the immaculate nest
inside the coracle.  Outside, nothing.

Milton tutored Williams in Italian;
Roger taught John a mite
of basic Narragansett
collecting firewood around London

to banish winter at the poorhouse.
Here in January ice
beside the river, ICE
is on my mind.  The Emperor’s

in league with Herod, every infant
trembles for her life;
Virgo is mummified by strife;
grieving, she murmurs her dissent

from frozen exile on external heights.
Meanwhile sweet Providence
searches for evidence
& Lincoln coins... irrevocable rights.

Your imago, moss copper-serpentine
(between Son of Man
& some unbending pine
of immeasurable heaven) is Washington

redeemed, again; your Virgo (hovering
ethereal triangle
o’er Spotsylvania) might mingle
with Virginia clay... Jonah, recovering.

1.18.19

1.17.2019

to restore a soul




SECRET WORLD

To restore a soul, to mend a broken heart
out of the wells of memory
for relief of misery
for your grace we pray.  A crane bone flute

keening her lonely call might still redeem
the wind that carries it
on the storm-clouds.  Fiat
lux – though the darkness loom.

This primitive wooden Vierge Ouvrante
unveils her secret world
with a copper hinge.  Old
masters of le Verbe significant

carved, flickered into form
a buoyant microcosm
within her oaken beam –
a human shelter from the storm.

Cicadas buzz amid burnt branches
of a poem framing history.
It is a mystery.
Isis on her throne, Ariadne’s hunches,

spider-Minotaur in his plangent web...
the sacrifice of innocence
behind a screen (some dense
thicket of Pig’s Eye Social Club).

The wind is clear & clean tonight.
Whole homesteads rise
toward ordinary Paradise,
warm lips forging a female Paraclete.

1.16.19

1.16.2019

leaves of shades




ALMOND PROW

Snow was gentle over Rhode Island
on the birthday of MLK.
It fell on tenement & highway
& on the gravestones (Irish & Italian)

near Mashapaug – where Narragansetts
warmed by winter fires
sang for their ancestors.
Henry remembered how sun sets

there, flaming the cauldron west of town –
suffusing with rich violet light
(flower of Ocean State)
seven hardscrabble hills.  Raven has flown.

Memory like a lonesome sepulcher
is quiet as the dust.
His loves (merged in one ghost
dance) circle Blackstone’s Catholic Oak.

& he walks by dark brooding Mississippi
through brown scrub
like Hobo in an empty tub,
or Orpheus without his head – see

the Maenads turn to friendly tadpoles
wriggling alongside, as
he wails downstream?  Alas!
High in his Ravenna dome, haloes

of milky starlight crown a shepherd’s brow.
Mosaic over Memphis
(or Atlanta)... Isis
enthroned, or Miriam?  Jonah’s almond prow.

1.15.19

1.12.2019

ancient West Branch watercolor




CURVE PRONGS

Everything gets more simple
in old age.  Trust me.
Thanksgiving pumpkin pi =
two stone pillars, plus an ample

roof.  Henry Mewl, hee-hawing
NNW (out of Apuleius)
checkmates template Isis 
planted in West Branch (settling

in river-bronze).  Like that watercolor
Mary Negus limned
in high school – skimmed
from unlocked memory (her

Grant Wood brain, a dusty library).
The curve prongs back to earth
west of St. Lou. – Ft. Worth.
Van Cliburn Plumbs to Victory.

I was walking up from the Mississippi
this afternoon, & met
(in Voronezh sunlight)
an ancient babushka, smiling at me.

Thinking of Nadezhda, & of hope...
of Mary Magdalen,
who witnessed Russian
irony in the garden (roped-

off Gesthem – Tsarskoe Selo).
The dream song blinks
until your lighthouse winks.
Wry rosy Providence (all systems go).

1.11.19