digging in the dirty green


The dirty green of the dollar bill.
Gardener George, earwigged
on one side (with a big
little Mona Lisa smile).

The eye over the pyramid (annuit
coeptis) on the other.
Levitating, mother!
Mammon, touching his limit –

a gilded pharaoh, forced to step
sideways (into the river-
sand).  Busy beaver
out of Illinois might be princeps

round here (nobody knows
til all the votes are counted).
We are all the Lord’s anointed
Preacher-Judge (siege perilous)

leers in the face of b-flat storm –
Cordelia, ascend
your throne, bend
everyone to teeming agape (love’s form).

The government shall be upon
his shoulder (right to left)
until the desolate bereft
& greedy soul relents – a human

Imogen emerges, lowly
& victorious.
Dancing the periplus
of Arg-Noah (144, aye-aye).



Traverse des Sioux


Down by the Minnesota River
choked with fertilizer –
shallow brown water of
Traverse des Sioux.  It was here

the white man stole the territory
with treaty signed in smoke
(fake handshake, mock
friendship).  We didn’t mean it – sorry.

Eleven years later (1862)
starved, dispossessed
the scar broke open (led
by blue, reluctant Little Crow).

Extermination of the buffalo
echoed the reservation
camp.  To build a nation
all these savages must go.

The lightweight arc of birch canoe
is like an eyebrow (wingbone
frame, sutured to one
Rose Island – lamp of Manitou).

We’re limping back to Providence.
The whole grotesquerie
of violence & perfidy
to be forgone (washed in the silence

of the sea).  Down Mississippi way
you feel a salty shell wash
through fingers... an eyelash
leach one tear, slowly.  Hey ey.



part of a panorama


You want to understand the metaphysical basis
of these innumerable poems-
après-poems.  Sherlock Holmes
might just as well (go home).  Faces

crowd the apparitions – bow
wet black petals
into wreath-portals;
Nile barge (or Venice funeral-scow).

Sometimes the dishwasher breaks down (just now).
Anton Gàg died young.
Paint fumes (bad lung) –
Bohemian lifestyle in New Ulm (& how

his seven kids survived, I dunno).
Painted Dakota braves
advance through dry sheaves
hungry for ground (1862)...

We’re part of a panorama, Melody;
some Mendelssohn concerto
swelling to tomorrow...
Nature renewed by grace (slow psalmody).

The flat river was calm today.
The bridge craned upward
in a mirror, downward.
Man & God in Maggie’s puffer, aye.

Aunt May (out of Glasgow) beset
my father (John Douglas)
with needless trials, alas;
the ship of faith already left the port.



we must carve a consensus


The Seekers gathered on the shore
of Providence River.
Canonicus (Indian giver)
steered them to festal hearth, & more.

Warm wholeness, understood by all.
We must carve a consensus
like log canoe, he says.
All flows from Manitou – not full

of vanity & pride, but like
a farmer in disguise –
gentle kenosis-
metamorphosis (Nokomis Lake).

The raging trickster flings flaming
orange bars into stream
burnt like a furnace-dream –
a grasping Minotaur, defaming

Imogen... moon-shadow (of the sun
of Man).  Eurydice,
Psyche...  Clover’s Henri,
en camouflage (homespun)...

Light on the river frames a simple
cloverleaf of spring.
Fond Pocahontas-swing
where fern unfurls (from ample

fiddlehead to wavy palm).
Whisper me back to you,
Morning.  The crown’s U-
turn rivets an oak bee-hum.



the ordinary Union

                 Eternity, O Eternity! That is our business.
                                                       – Roger Williams

She watches crows play in the sky
above her balcony.
Her dregs of memory
transmute to gaiety, give death the lie.

Cautantowwit was Raven-Lord
of Narragansetts.  Old
Canonicus told
Roger how dead souls were borne toward

Mexico, far off southwest...
Rog quilled it down.
That chief of great renown
was kind to him.  Knit wool is best

around head, limbs & heart
when winter ice descends.
I’m dreaming, friends.
One campfire (circling) is all my art.

The Red Wing river-clay is heavy,
as my mother knows.
O the harsh blows
that fall like thunder (Romeo, Julie)...

The body’s weight is catenary
Golden Gate (so
Jasper shows).  Blow,
Manitou... bring back the glory

of the ordinary Union.  It shall be
– when we return to Thee,
from sea to shining sea
uncommon good (benevolent Eternity).



11 million light-years from Rhode Island


They’ve found another habitable planet
just in time for Thanksgiving –
around Ross 128, winking
only 11 million light-

years from Rhode Island (quiet
little red dwarf, dreaming
on its milky way).  Wing
me back to Pilgrim days... what

legend for a habitable continent
will do, now that we seem
to have gone off the beam
as human beings?  Erect a tent

for native & for refugee?
Bring in the gratitude
we understand is owed?
Who will say grace for grace?  Who, me?

The source of wonder is a mystery.
Great Rio del Espiritu
begins as wellspring too –
the stream itself is but a simile

for that invisible soul-smile
we sense, walking along
(like an unearthly song
or ghost of melody).  That aisle

of poplars on a shoreline trail...
the morris dance we trod
beneath your dome of gold
sunlight, O angel of Emanu-El...


– as when Natasha’s limping stride
befriended one forlorn
poet.  Teacher, librarian...
Philology’s sweet sister-bride...

a soul-companion, by your side.
Flowers are immortal,
& tomorrow... is for all –
Love’s welling fountain will abide.

Autumn is in the air.  Ides
of November, by the iron
Eads Bridge.  Low sun,
harsh crows.  Temperature slides.

That legend of Thanksgiving Day
(tables for everyone,
Pilgrim & Indian)
echoes via dream-song roundelay –

Henry, Hobo – Hart, John Berryman –
Dante, at Ravenn –
Black Elk, Martin...
reeling in Psyche-Restoration;

bright Rhodos-Imogen of Liberty
harbored in moss-green
robes of copper sheen;
the rippling well of Lincoln penny

radiating hopeful trust (humility).
An arc out of river water
sparkles like dancing laughter –
morning dew splashing basilica (for free).