ship of wind


A prairie fire like a freight train
fed by wind (your searing
Word).  Not for hearing
but for doing... here it comes again.

Will cauterize your poetry
to cinder of Egyptian
barge.  Lips burn
ice friezes (hay society).

A replica of ancient Greece,
delicate, peevish...
stern Rome’s thievish
siblings (disguised in fleece).

The Pilgrims’ covenant of winter
light – bewildered, free –
a broken redwood tree
(toppled by Oldman’s greedy splinter-

group).  The milk train of the nations
merges with its blistered
rails.  Longfellow heard
rain fall... Berryman damnations.

Who shivers like a flame against
the edge?  Is it Henry
hisself (decrepit Limentani)?
The canoe in the garage (All Saints’

Day shrine)?  Her candle, wavering
above extinction... hum
of rock-dove (columbarium).
Rose bridge of lips, life-savoring.



Reminiscences of 1865


Today we recall the tall gaunt pioneer
with Peruvian cheekbones.
His fifth scene atones
for all that blood shed in anger

at the righting of wrongs; his brief turn
by the Gettysburg graveyard
consumes, with a perfect word,
our kindled rage in bright compassion.

The creaking panorama of all wars
since Cain killed Abel, here
slows, crawls... Ford Theatre –
whose British farce on Yankee manners

stumbles from play to traitor’s hour.
Dusky similitudes...
old King of the Woods
hung from an oak (in Raven’s power)...

the tragic pattern rotates on a string.
Tyro, dangling puppets
tangled on parapets,
shuffles the script – the play’s the thing.

Your clear-eyed servant laughs his last,
cries, Come to my Thanksgiving
feast!  An overlay of evening
wash soaks its river of papyrus bast

in crimson, indigo, & brown.
Still life.  Peto.
Reminiscences on Yew.
Grey feather you must make your own.


spring crucible


Yesterday your birthday, Papa.
92, mild ghost.  Sun-wheel
set at Swan Point... seal
of a woman’s self-extinction.  Ah,

woeful calendar (Coatlicue).
Strife of father & son.
Friday black sun,
aboriginal sin (hey ey

yo).  Here in Minneapolis
snow, interring April
in one wide hexagonal,
preserves a buried man in ice

(Resurrection Cemetery).
Henry ascends the asphalt
path from heart’s tumult
to frozen Father of his Country.

Washington Ave. Bridge.  Yet
(wobbling, wavering
within your shadowy
ring of flame) – dawn’s pale promise!

Man’s faithless diffidence his own
life sentence, we
depend upon your mercy
to raft us into Libertas again –

mysterious Jonah in the “33”
(Mars’ den) whose hum
breaches delirium,
wind-bred to share (Nazarene glee).



tutelary loon


The river rifles arctic blue today
beneath nippy April wind.
Hobo his way will wend
downhill, ahoy, with the current, hey.

His notebooks stew in crumpled chaos,
like a Burchfield swamp in June –
half cricket calendar, half jejune
palimpsest (July stinks Janus).

Bleak melancholy in Ohio.
Spooks in lean eaves.
Storks bundling wet sheaves
across the ‘30s.  Good material, O.

Hobo looks up from bottomland.
He holds an eye-in-hand –
muddy Cahokia (one grain
of sand).  Just Clay’s j-jug band.

These bricks are 28 feet thick.
A pyramid, almost –
only Hunky Ghost
(Ho-Chunk) could make this stick-up

stick.  Like Killers of the Flower
Moon.  Getch’r Manitou
(just one gris dollar few)
before she get you.  Evening hour

now.  Mire-flowering almond tree
out of Voronezh (or Galilee) –
your mural crown, Tyche.
Hyacinth madeleine (waiting for me).



for Martin Luther King

          for Martin Luther King

Late April snow.  A blinding white
50 years after Lorraine
Motel.  Memphis, again.
River-Land, seeking an Ocean State.

Rich port-of-call – the 51st, maybe?
Lost Black Sea pebble,
gray whale in trouble
(silent in the silence).  Who is she?

Grace filters into Providence
through stubborn darkness.
Rose Island light – less
diamond than dawn translucence –

only a signal for a wayward eye.
A Chartres chart, or maze
from Notre Dame (haze
mollifies her frozen sky).

The sleepwalkers smolder through smoke-
machines.  Father & son,
their colder war passed on –
unfriendly history (life’s but a joke).

Still roses bloom, in Galilee –
galactic Okean
become a local pond;
folksinging Nazir calling me

to dance, & calling you as well.
Deep spring’s Unknowability
leaps into charity –
a little Noah-boat skims out of hell.



mumbling toward spring


To trace the plummeting ellipse
of these post-Easter flakes –
the hexagon each makes
a microcosm of the temple’s

lightweight, hollow honeycomb.
Awaiting his parousia...
ghost-dance Messiah,
Nazir out of Galilee-to-come.

Far-off tumult of primavera.
Genesis of purling springs.
Pale intermingling things
in punished neighborhoods (era

of Pharaoh, or Caesar).  Signals
from an early cave, or tomb.
Eternal vault (the womb
of patient Lazarus, of Jonah’s wails).

Natasha’s limp.... Clover’s marble
Isis-veil.  The keening
eye of Magdalen (far-seeing
heart).  A Galilean stable

where animals & refugees
breathe the same air.
Earth-time halts there –
her catenary thread a breeze

lifting twin pillars (Alpha &
Omega).  Planted so
in graveyard snow...
grain of renewal (to the end).


painting by Nancy Hart


with Grace (in memory)

                  i.m. Grace Tagliabue (1922-2018)

In that heavenly kingdom of Como, or Maine,
his ready bird-feather
will already be there
with you, Grace – to bring peace, to make plain

the origin of the Cosmos in love & joy –
his valiant light-heart
casting out fear with an art
like child’s play.  & you (his chief toy,

rest, dream) would be there, too –
answering love with love
from the deep, from above,
tracing that birdsong in robin’s egg blue

& loops of moss-green watercolor.
Since poetry – imagination –
is manuscript illumination,
you chose to let John’s words flower

like parchment flesh in a bath of rebirth –
& as time slowly waltzes us
toward our last contra dances
you help wash our feet on Earth

& ready us for that elfin circle-dance
in the kingdom of children &
animals & grains of sand
all sparkling in the galaxies... entrancing

Entrance to Eternity (your linen
wheel of emerald palm-
prints... infant calm
babble of Phoebe)... heaven’s amen, amen.

    with grace, from Grace, by grace 


the Ides of March in its idea


That brilliant peacock-feathered eagle
Joachim fingerpainted
on parchment (ancient
plummet out of Calabrian ingle-

cave) figured the Holy Ghost –
monarch of the air,
white-haired regal raptor
rapt to avenge every Tuscan boast.

I marvel at the prestidigitation
of the priestly mind –
the Akeda, a double-bind,
knotting its pivotal vocation

under the shadow of those gilded wings...
that mountebank YHWH
in his coyote way
the widerruf of pyramidal things.

Folktales & myths were a defense.
Mechanism of the nurse
to lullaby the curse
& soothe the children in their tents...

they builded better than they knew.
The king is dead, long
live the king.  Bong
sounds the gong – old Caesar’s through.

Absolute control is crumbling.
Even now, the axe
is laid to the root... don’t
ask.  Meek Joachim is mumbling.