Dance of the Giraffirmation

Periodically, in the course of writing Ravenna Diagram - as with many earlier poems - I fall into a sort of dancing fit.  This results in passages which evince a certain air of enthusiasm, an affinity with poets like Whitman and Vachel Lindsay (Hart Crane, sometimes).  It's not a popular or familiar mode today.  But it seems inevitable, built into my poems - a structural dimension, which emerges (usually near the end or at some pivotal point) in the form of these bubbles or bumps or saliences or Giant Red Spots upon the very evenly-distributed & lattice-like design of the whole.

Anyway, here goes.


A poem might commence with this
little hawthorn tree
on Fisher St., fairly
overflowing with deep rose-red berries

like fireworks on the 4th of July
flaring & bursting in free
association – a liberty
of uncommon fiery wheels across midnight

sky – the pale stars in the background
steadfast lights, bespeaking
deep-down goodness (Hopkins,
maybe... Mendelssohn) – the silver sound

of a tender, melancholy trumpet
(memory of mourning dove,
her all-compassing love
that wanders wild, like autumn blade

of maple seed).  The streamlet of speech
emerges from wilderness
of your own soul – manifest
in scar-chronicles of flesh (we beseech

thee, YHWH, forgive our ingrained wrong);
the language snakes its way
along a jagged ray
of peace-pipe lightning (atlatl-prong

of brazen serpent) back to the source
rippling from limestone,
primordial marrow-bone –
a familiar voice, whose gentle force

you recognize from long before.
Comes with a question, like
a music teacher – Mike,
Jenny... will you try this score?

Do you know where you are?  Bright lens
(rose-red, white, blue) surrounds
her limpid lamp – sounds
stir from the keys – the earth sends

radiance from ground-bass depths
(a b-flat flint enchantment
striking flame – tent
flaring firelight toward the Great

Bear’s ring).  It is the sundance pole
that gathers every Morning


Star to Thanksgiving
from every tribe & people in the whole

wide Universe.  The Commonweal
of Cosmos-Wheel, the breeze
of Manitou through trees
in Lebanon, South Central

L.A. – a whisper through the pines
of Mississippi, Kansas,
California... Memphis
Tennessee... on any railroad lines

through space & time.  Even here
on Fisher Street, in Little
Rhody, her turtleshell
murmurs statutes of liberty (I hear

you, there).  Gray hawthorn branches
merge the black & white
of factional dispute,
pretentious politics – brace avalanches

of fanatics, stem the feuding tide;
her leaf-shades balance vision
with experience, precision
with that draft of lifeline magnitude –

fresh air of gratitude & calm
compassion (openness,
grace, charity).  Less
dogma, more enthusiasm –

where blossoming cities lift from soil
of civil equity,
brave ingenuity –
American can-do, granted to all

who will.  Old promise of a justice
overflowing, paid
in full – the freedom-chord,
rung with a joyful crash-caprice

of fife & drum, guitar & harp –
O let it roll down now!
That red berry you sow
in morning will be blooming bright C-sharp

by noon!  Song’s equilibrium
rests on her branch –
Love will enfranchise
multitudes (world freedom plumb).


Hawthorn on Fisher St.

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