a woman in a hammock


The earth waits, like the source of the Nile
on the periphery of the capital.
Behind its porphyry wall
princes perform their tragedy of control.

The earth sleeps, like a woman in a hammock
dreaming of a happy home.
Crowds gathered in the New Rome
to print their great seal on a marble rock.

The Minotaur strode back and forth
sleepless as a pumpkin seed –
his labyrinth a putrid gourd
of fireworks orange (Julius the 4th).

He fought the dragons in his nightmare sea;
he clutched the basket of his swollen
head; his world was stolen
from a woman’s arms – bound to tyranny.

Hobo droned his drowsy song in unison.
The earth still turned for him.
Saturn & Venus, in their stream
of light, grew calm.  Night was for everyone.

The enormous clay wheel spun her sarabande.
The great ship shrank into the distance.
A tiny needle in its compass dance –
the apple of the capital (in Hobo’s hand).

Her shadow was a cloud cast on the evening sky,
a handful of benevolence.
A mystery of loving Providence
instilled in hearts by art, with eyes from Aye.



Song of Songs in a snow globe


The twin foxes & three pine trees
on honeymoon (in a sweet
snow globe, in Norway).  What
use your Solomonic sarabande, these

loopy solemnities?  & the echoes
far into the motherland
Cahokia to maid’s Gravesend
your Adonai, my Adonis   a Memphis

trial by fire (intricate clay bark
buried in salt harbor).
O serious Nile laborer!
Nephthys, Dark Lady, mark

these fathoms of thy bottomland.
Snow was general over Ireland.
Strum the steel mandolin
then, Mary – plectrum in hand!

We climb out of the clay to shape
this Royal Arch, for St.
Latrobe & Son.  See the faint
wave-trace along its rim (crêpe

for a funeral train; flute-song
transcription).  Grain
melts into wine again –
the living man or woman prong

from earth.  We called it love
& swam into the circle
where snowflakes speckle
dark green live oaks (O crooning dove).



sketchy star-map


The idea of Janus.  Osip is born;
war saw.  The tiny hexagons,
whose bite is bitterness
& valediction, zigzag down

here, in our Cerealian Capital
(Pillsbury, General Mills).
Grandpa, in Saskatchewan
wills grain elevators toward the pole.

Above these winter clouds, invisible
Venus the flower-star
describes tobacco-petal arcs –
Gravesend’s Dark Lady – indelible

cartwheeling Corn Maiden – springing
& sovereign rite of way;
dewy washerwoman, our MVP
lifting the horizon over D.C. (washing

everything).  Verily... except a corn of wheat
fall into the ground & die...
Over the green pyramid, an eye;
red rose for Memorial Day (complete

now, finished).  Elvira, out of Ravlin
opera, spins toward blue clay
herself.  We go that way
with snowflakes, with January’s frozen

squeaky violin... we go together.
At our reed-muddy center
she alights on the perimeter –
Adonai cornucopia, our milky tether.


from David Ovason, The Secret Architecture of the Nation's Capital, p.190


so Pocahontas might emerge again


The timid sun blanches behind these clouds
of January dim.  The miniature
ice-floes speckle the river
as they move south.  Chilled Hobo nods.

Yes, Henrah, there’s sleep-work to do
in this hibernation.  Dream-
boats a-building.  My trireme’s
a ship-in-a-bottle (of Irish brew).

See through the glass?  A beauty she is.
A bloom of almond petals
like a round of Grumman metal
canoes (nickel-dime aluminum Kris-

Kraft, maybe).  Like a micro-tuned
pontoon bridge, bent
from Iron Range to Ghent
gildered from Gravensteen to Gravesend.

Henry slumped on a frigid cottonwood
stump, stumped.  The lantern-
bark in Hobo’s paw turned
green... little nef of oaken holly wood.

Cathedral Mary mine... he intoned.
Turn back the puny gangsters
of the bleakthese drugstore
Minotaurshigh Fraudulence enthroned.

So Pocahontas might emerge again
& roll Rebecca out of Gravesend
lifting her golden wave of corn
enchanted, vertical... toward Washington.



in the shadow of Notre Dame


To you who have walked with me
all along this many poem.
I would translate my diagram
of raven wing into quick algebra.

As daylight stretches into spring
I would head to Beltrami
a worn-out refugee –
Itasca hearts to weld by wring.

The Iron Range is as our life,
cold for sunrise, fire
by dusk.  Evening Star,
Dove-Bird, be thou my wife


whose effigy is coppery Peg
centered in Big Muddy silt
at Pentecost, green to the hilt.
Cahokia palm (with Easter egg).

She danced in the shadow of Notre Dame
a firebird, on 5/29
with flammable cardboard mural crown
for Apollinaire to remember (at the Somme).

& she wheeled across flat American clay
from West Branch, a circumference
of byzantine raven-sense...
to lift sad Earth toward the Realm of Day.


from a painting by Phoebe Gould


one foolish man & three Magi


Henry wakes from an old man’s nap
with a child’s sense of space
& time.  Heart’s relentlessness.
Here be the river; here the wide gap

between whispering grassland, distant sky.
Epiphany.  Three Wise Men
camel out from high Tehran
to find one homeless king, in a spare pig sty.

Tonight the belligerent intelligence of war
sent guided Minotaurs
heat-seeking vengeance.  Stars
were collateral damage (kids no more).

The ragged tent-flap & the drafty stall
are Henry’s flimsy turtle-shell.
His mind & heart a broken spell –
a wasteland shack, no longer fit for Grail

or Calabrian hermit-monk, or Parsifal.
Only bring me the gift, Melchior
of your toy myrrh-nef – your
river-sense, emerald, mercurial;

like a 4-leaf clover made of almonds
interlaced... like 4 canoes
bent to the whirlpool’s
mandala (Itasca spiral of palm fronds).

This Providence of tight-coiled J
anchors the Pacific Ocean.
Knots its rose-clay revolution
to a bottled ship – ensign of Milky Way.



in the entrails of the nation


So Henry hearkens to the sea-wash
over his meandered house.
From District C to Minneapolis
his terramara whorls, to Washington

& south to Frisco, lap after lap
of wave on wave, sea-green,
serpentine.  A Berryman
for Julian’s Bower (Juliberry nightcap,

mayhap)?  Osiris, in the entrails
of the nation?  Sleep, now
microcosmic river-scow –
everything grows smaller in the whale’s

rib-cavern, everything a miniature,
dioramic Minnesota (at the
end of the last knot, minute-
man).  Cold as a Viking vulture-

sepulture.  These bricks might save
the planet, Henry mumbles
to the museum baubles
in his sleep.  & then her hand will wave

to him, from waves of his dream;
Columbia the sister-dove,
his Tyche-tyke from above...
over the Father-of-Waters with a beam

of smiling light.  & suddenly the vermilion
shades atop Sunset Mountain
& the orange orangutan
threatening our rusty tub of human

communion (Old Ironsides to you)
are dissipated shadows
in a rosy dawn... & Henry’s
crown rests in her ark (shalom, J-rue).