Add it to the quaint & curious volume


The spectre of a raven, carved
in ink above the dusty
door, the door to an abyss
beyond the evening river

Nile.  Rehearsing my remorse
once more... so toss
Einstein to 529 (Lorenz
aggression-transform) – on course

toward decreation (Eddington eddies
echo in papyrus
reeds).  He’s US
(a relative, at least) – voice-

breeze through checkerboard fabric.
& Raven, O... her shadow
dove into my gray
memorious blender-alembic –

clouds of milk or milk of clouds
from whence the winking
spectra bee.  Keening
I owe... I owe... Iona sods

& Iowa rows (dappled Columbia).
A stone in the corner of
RI... reunion-trove
fallen from sky.  Cornucopia

plumb with casket (evergreen);
plum turtledove
binding with love
clay child & jealous heaven.



Shakespeare's acorn


This circle of 7 emerald palms
(with 8 red dots across
lifelines) was pressed
by hand – an infant hand, Phoebe’s –

under the guiding eye of Grace
(in Providence).  Now
I set my cup (micro-
mosaic from Byzantium) in place

atop these marble squares, that trace
brass compass & sundial
of Roger Williams.  Trial
by English fire (Coke’s carapace) 

was his – to bring the Narragansett
word for liberty
to London (& to me).
The sovereignty of good, in its

vernacular incarnation, is
one global, crystalline,
turtleshell acorn –
Shakespearean lap of happiness

(skullcap, human Golgotha-dome
worn meekly in Ferrara
& Venice – Ravenna,
Providence...) – What cheerWelcome,

warbles Canonicus, chief
Shaker under raven-
falls (Columbian) –
his handshake stronger than belief.



Big Rabbit & the Can-Canute


Winter.  An imperturbable water-serpent
flows smoothly south, under
the presiding MN-arch
(Peace Bridge).  Cloud-blanket (quiet, lambent

silverthought).  Ice-glancing light
of North Star State –
each ray will penetrate
the sixpack hexagons of Snow Rabbit

– that giant Bigfoot totem-ghost
Sophie & Phoebe rolled
to quasi-life (backyard).
Some Hiawatha Teotihuacan (host-

figure, phantom King).  Messiah
is a butterfly.  Love,
Love, and be loved, beloved
Bumblebee – amen, selah.

This glossy lala glossolalia
is like a peacock’s choral
cry, or agate-spiral
Saverin-Canute, out of Iona

(green Columba’s jaybird hymn).
At the spare crossrood
of naked servitude –
Boethius, Maximus, beaten

senseless – there Polaris burns,
& melts into the heart
of summer Ocean.  Start
your laddie-dance, lass – Roy returns.



The old poet is a tramp

                               The old poet is a tramp

Something there is in me that loves
this heavy railroad bridge.
Like an Osiris-ridge
of rust the gyrfalcon oar-hovers

in the antique poem by the worn-out
Beat (Muskeg Al, or Jerry
Don Teo).  So very
wistful, warbling his old trompette

marine beside the drowsy Miss...
You have to be a hobo
just a little, Jo
to know.  How mutterland is bliss.

She reaches timely tendrils now
deep through backwaters
of still memory.  Neighbors,
children... chicory, mosquitoes... O.

Evening stretching infinite
farm roads toward sunset.
& you, caught in a net
of yearning (fluttery disquiet).

She’s your Dream, old trampoline.
& I would have you meet
my own familiar fleet
amigo – invisible yet, still gone;

warm shadow, like a humming bird
who beams from evening sky.
Love is perfection (sigh).
A misty rainbow, Hobo said.



Chess problem


Husks of cicadas, limestone shells.
These layers, a palimpsest
of leopard skins (East/
West).  Serpentine spells

(Alph to Yezidi).  In graven
hieroglyphs of human
dream – Solomon
& Shulamith (Ferrarese garden

bond).  A Mendelssohn mandala-
afterlife, of local
equilibria... after all
the Pharaohs have their sway (selah).

Battle of shade & pictograph
resolved by wind.  Cool
breeze, troubling pool
of sunken barge (regal riff-raff).

Vernacular archaic culture
architecture – simple
transmission of ample
gratitude for being.  Pressure

on the king (of everything).
Grey humming bird
omen signals absurd
sacrifice (pawn for nothing)...

his baby steps (Gypsy to Jew)
toward one wooden
nature morte (amen,
amen).  Reed mat, sheik.  Me & you.



In a Scattergood world

                              i.m. Robert Treuer

Back East, in Rhode Island, the big snow
coming.  Thinking of William
Blackstone, hermit-pilgrim – the
one who went to live with Miantonomi

& the other red-men.  To the House
of 4 Pines – under
cartouche of Little Bear,
North Star.  Out of Nazi Austria

sped a peregrine, by grace of God
& pity of strange braves
(Scattergood saviors,
anonymous donors... meek just good).

To a tree farm he fostered (in remote
forest).  Led into circle
of silent First People,
tending ashes (sitting shiva).  Little

prow of acacia, rocking near Itasca-
Nile... your upside-down
fire-drill will drown its
candle in stony Minnehaha.

Sigh, winging out into grey sound
(b-flat at midnight).
The musicologist
from Florence mutters back to ground

just so – back to the pigeon-clay
of primordial, steadfast
Bee (until the last
dragon of Sheol fades away).



The Hiawatha


I carry Sophie through the snow
to the summit of Tower Hill.
She says, It’s magical
(prodigal 2-yr-old). & so

it is.  That conical moss-green
Witch’s Hat crowns
a Yeatsian limestone
keep (prehistoric submarine

barnacled with biomorphic
hieroglyphs).  Isis
the octopus gathers
her segmented sea-worm (limbic

bronze phosphorus monarch child)
in streams of time – before
the 9th planet was born,
or knowledge-tree known (wild

afterthought of smoke-signum).
Chicago Hiawatha
arrowed here, truer
than rue – trained consummation,

like soft carnation in Quaker lapel
(hexagonamatrix).  Rule,
Scattergood Friends School
your West Branch harbor (charitable

agape) a hostel in a hostile time.
Justice for orphan, widow,
refugee.  Praise be, grey
catenary icon (9-twined lime).


Tower Hill (Prospect Park, Minneapolis)


Celestial canoe

Today, most curiously, is the birthday both of Edgar Allan Poe, and of his literary soulmate & would-be bride, Helen Whitman.  I've written a lot of local-historical poetry about them, & other local Providence things, which you can find here (best to start at the beginning).  

Edgar Poe was fading fast in the late 1840s.  Yet he had hopeful & grandiose dreams - of marrying Helen, of starting a new literary journal, of instigating an American cultural Renaissance.  It all came to nought... or not.  Poe, in characteristic ghoulish (Baudelairean) fashion, achieved his aims - after a century or so.  His Providential ghost-bride (Whitman) came at it from another angle... yet they reached the same goal.  (Walt was the only literary figure of note to attend Poe's lonely funeral.)

Early tomorrow morning, a rare alignment of planets will be visible on the North American east coast.  (Search below for confirmation.)


In the Rock, the library, in Providence.
Snow’s hexagon glissando
falls on Whitman-Poe
birthday.  Athenaeum lens

(blind flash of mercury & lead)
poses twin agate lamps –
of seahorse hippocamps
& dread.  Envisioning (not-dead).

Dust-labyrinth of pupa-pharaoh.
Curious mummy-volumes
Oedipus exhumes...
– Eureka!  I have found you,

Madeleine!  In mold of lichen
Venn diagram (Raven) –
Martian crossroad, Jovian
Juliet-canoe... (shade of Ferrara sun).

Saturnine Henry disappears
under the alignment
of these stars’ bent
light palladium coheres

& spheres revolve (toward Galilee).
Into Newport Holy-Land
sail Jack & Jackie... Helen
Whitman... Eddie Poe.  One shy

brown bird, conducting lilac barge
beneath cedar boughs;
bearing between twin prows
her dewy double-ewed grail-charge.


Providence Athenaeum


MLK in memory

Time only grows on you.  48 years ago this April, a gray, rainy Saturday, my dear friend Tom Fleming & I joined a long memorial/protest walk for Martin Luther King, pacing slowly through Minneapolis.  I remember circling Lake Calhoun (Calhoun...) - everyone in a somber mood, but walking & talking together - a public ceremony, an opportunity to meet others, neighbors, fellow citizens.  

20 years later, Tom would be gone, a victim of the AIDS epidemic.  But we were there that day.

Have been reading Iris Murdoch's little book of philosophy, The Sovereignty of Good.  Of course, MLK was a sort of sovereign of goodness.  A great witness to Murdoch's fundamental idea - that the Good is a substantial, unified-if-various Something : a spiritual entity known deep within ordinary people of all backgrounds.  A shared thing, a public thing, a common good, a universal benchmark - the one goal of human striving (out of our own weakness, wrongness & disgrace).  The thing we hope for, a something hopeful.  This is one dimension - a philosophical aspect, you might say - of the spiritual testament & legacy of Martin Luther King.  A hopeful call for justice, & shared happiness : the equal dignity of all human being, under the wings of infinite blessing & grace.


Only an unpretentious oil
beside the door, my mother
painted, 50 years
ago.  Backyard.  Spring soul

of morning, golden-green – the glow
dappled with jet-black
flock of starlings, yakking &
feeding there (framed by two

young oaks, & the backs of houses).
Bring your gift, starling,
to the altar of everything –
Ocean River, inexaustible goodness.

O parallactic mercy of
these diamond facets!  Water-
falls of liberty – your
moral law, Dove-

cote!  Who moves through Memphis stone
like mild summer breeze
or shady swing-trapeze,
to milky matrix of the human

sun.  Love’s stern ethos is
a camouflage – justice
for joy – ray, source...
O King of Arthur St., she sees

you!  One glance of moist radiance
out of the Black Sea book
of Always... there, look!
Her garden summons (Peasant Dance).


Backyard, Arthur St., early 1960s (by Mary Gould)

Old man Boethius


In the ash-gray sky, where the ravens drift
in the Bruegel scene, over winter
panorama – harbor
& skating rink, riddle & gift...

In remote perspective, the raven’s eye
reaps furtive memory,
most ancient flame.  We
walked together, you & I

down the dawn street, in spousal light;
only a pigeon-murmur
echoed our passage there.
The hearth’s full of embers (life is night).

Old man Boethius steps out
his syllables, each
vowel like a cherished
peach.  This radiance will cast

doubt into shade (beneath pine branches
where salted gratitude
savors his fortitude).
Beatrice-Columbia suddenly launches

into sweet aria of praise
when Jonah surfaces
from dove-grey eyes
of everlastingness   Apollinaire’s

fumes   filter into laughter
War to End All Wars
a cloverleaf surprise
renders mercy on earth   hereafter



Henry's Sheba (down south)


This gaunt, towering, aged pine,
adorned with a scattering
of obsolete Christmas
lights, draws a straight sober line

lifting its crow’s nest to point
of perihelion (invisible sun
behind galactic one).
My ghost-ship creaks with accent

grave along her seventh wave
(sky-reckoning) – southern
constellation, borne
on Magellanic surf.  An octave

mutely unfolds – an origami
Chinese lantern, spun
outward (on tiny silken
struts) into a diamond Chi-

Rho maze – Rorschach figure
of raven, or monarch
brain (Venn-Neva wreck)...
my spider-path, or Chartres lure.

Eurydice of Dream Song,
Henry’s Sheba down south.
Proceeds by word of mouth –
transfigures saturnine keening

to hopeful whistle.  Chickadee,
junco?  Woodpecker –
rousing Ravenna nature
morte (ligneous crucifix-aubade).



Cirque Planetaire


Gray coal cars thunder monotonously
across an old iron bridge.
Only a local image
in midwestern bleak.  Your poem will be

allegorical, of necessity
since an Earth so various
is only one of a series
on parade (sparkling panoply

du Cirque Planetaire).  Italian sun
is as a brazen shield
above scarred poppy field;
the moon a candle in Pavian dungeon...

Poema Sacra, Dante’s testament
รจ tutto didascalico
a climber’s manual (to go
from shady gloom to cheerful summit

of Rose Mountain splendor).  My sun
rides low in winter sky,
chanting How Not to Die
in plain & soulful Minnesotan

(Ojibwa).  The dream of history
breaks open at its heart.
All-human upstart
hills (Superior, or Tuscany)

fill nets of silver phosphor –
your soul’s a philosopher
in love with twin Mirror
Lakes (Justitia, Amor).


The Sovereignty of Good


A beautiful moon swings low over
frigid freeway, tonight.
Distant rays (twice-refracted)
illuminate roadside snow.  Up there

floating, one sharp sigh, one smile –
dark rondure of tennis ball
cushions his gradual
descent (unique lunar profile).

Substance of illumination...
State of Union, tonight.
President sheds late
bright emanation (station

on the way).  Recognition
of a mission, Everyman –
Goodness is this, right?  One.
Gaze upon prairie space (the sun).

Pursuit of happiness.  By we
the people.  Recognition
of a transposition...
humble oxymoron-man (of thee

I sing).  He play the target-sign,
a threefold ground zero
premier.  Mysterioso.
Ford Theatre (Dallas denouement).

Roger Williams tracks into the woods
to huts of Miantonomi.
Is finished, sez he –
snowing again (beatitudes).



Crossing the Rubicon, again...


The river across the street still flows
under thickening ice, ceaseless.
Its lesser tributaries
(Minnesota, Minnehaha) also

persist – all of them subsiding
into Ocean River
finally (only a quiver
rippling Time).  Julius is sliding

a handkerchief across his brow
in 49 B.C.
The die is cast, sez he.
Yokels on Rubicon blow

tubas now – let War decide.
World empire in his grip,
peace is ordained.  Slip
the noose over each parricide

(Brutus, Absalom); the father’s
kingdom will be certified,
et ratified, in blood.
Shadow of a kingfisher

rotating in graffiti’d alcove.
Boethius & father
(Symmachus) share
fort et dur... Ravenna love-

keen (after bronze millennium).
Time’s universal –
history’s rehearsal
for a mangy star-profundum


deeper in the soul o’man
than Solomon arrayed
or Emperor betrayed.
An agate, tossed in Jordan

sand.  Halcyon day (of almond
shade, & waterfall).
Life’s good, is all –
big benison de tout l’monde.

Reaches through the harvest of
your Martian scythe, O
Death, to something more –
the milky Rio of the Blest.

It is Beyond.  It’s over yonder.
Everywoman’s Eridanos,
Poe’s Eureka.  Moses
glimpsed it in his heart’s far

island (yours, mine) – soul
liberty’s Belle Isle –
Eternity (only
a smile from here).  Glows, whole.

There were 4 rivers flowing
out of Eden, toward
House of 4 Pines (word
lost on the wind).  All knowing

& loving, all doing & being
gathered in a khipu
knot... arc of yew
over limestone grave (one spring).


Minnehaha Falls


O ye porcelain princes


Arctic air is bearing down now
on this middling Midwestern
flatland plate (limestone).
No sea-breeze moderates the snow

though I remember dockyards of Duluth
in water colors.  Seagulls
recollect their coast
with scraping cries.  Boaz & Ruth

wend for us all – we ramble through
strange parts, returning home;
Kuala Lumpur’s steam-
bath sealed a wedding (one from two).

Love knits together contraries.
This is old wisdom, Sophie;
providential strophe
swung from your native city.  Rhody’s

ambient orchestra – a certain
mildness in the air,
a temperate clarity...
O ye proud porcelain princes, hearken!

Loveless disdain for one another
serves not to patch up
my cracked American cup.
You bicker with your own twin brother.

Stiff little Nutcracker king, your white
hair flows like rain from grey
dove’s eye.  Pluperfect Roy...
a rose ellipse (enfolding day & night).



Drowsy motion of the river R


The immense raincloud stretched like serpent
or shadow of raven-
wing, on an evening horizon
over the Pacific, just past the unspent

abyss of Golden Gate.  Only here
ice scales an ever-brooding
Mississippi – black Earth blood-
stream (like Nile in winter mirror).

My Neva-Neva land folds history
into an origami crane –
an ever-moving terrapin
lapping on a chain (of clay).

A flower clambers from those rings –
a million-pillowed peacock
Rose, whose eyes flock
van der Weyden faces (channelings

of worm-warp smiles).  Lyre-kings
hung like Christmas bulbs
from every thorn; their clubs
thronged in night circles, chorusing;

the Word was crumbling, in a whirlpool
(Ocean River, circulating
echoing Hector ring)...
‘til Joey the Calabrian (my cool

collaborator) sketched an eagle
plummeting – flipped
up a fresh crust, dipped
in wine & snow – lifted his bugle...



Complex of the six directions


Everywhere a vector-vortex,
a 3-dimensional crane-
liftoff.  A diagonal plane
of tracer-tracks – trains, trucks,

jet-like chariots surround this
Shriners’ hideaway, where
limping children play.
Mute manger-haven, beneath curious

folksy lunar scimitar 
insignia. Granddad’s
old Buick neighborhood.
Born on Epiphany, you are

a kindly prehistoric whisper-
star, remote but bright.
Hum beneath black-white
acrid mercury bath – Big Dipper

trench-canoe.  Grave air-casket
you portage over your head,
smiling beyond dread
fumes of one Martian marble planet...

So every local khipu-knot’s
a complex of the six
directions – Shakespeare’s
skullcap, Pushkin’s troika-stop –

your eschatology through tundra,
mangy Everyman.
Lambent beatitude, then –
shaggy speech, shepherd apocrypha.


John Ravlin, Boundary Waters Canoe Area, MN  (1940s)

Woods behind Shriner's Hospital, Minneapolis


the plain senselessness of men


Poverty is the best education.
Lady Poverty
& sister Poetry
are twins – identify with a long line

of holy fools, primitive peoples
punished into meekness
by most extreme duress.
Fort et dur (judicial phase).

Abe Lincoln with his Choctaw cheekbones,
Black Elk, Roger Williams,
William Blackstone... hymns
in the wilderness (breeched from stones)

float toward a gray middle ground
of sky.  Shy of names –
since the herm what frames
this Percy-dervish meadow-go-round

of constellations... only Manitou
will do (for some).  Great
Spirit.  Big Wind.  A late
night pathos, sifting through

cottonwood, magnolia.
Only the geometer
of beatitude & bitter
pain.  Familiar Maximus-Bertha

who rises (bulbous) from the plain
senselessness of men
like airy turtle-dove
machine – kind, moderate... humane.



New Year on the river


Nothing will be exactly as predicted
when the poem sets out,
like this ice-hung behemoth
heading south (serpent-conflicted

Mississippi, Father of Waters,
Rio del Espiritu Santo)...
& as the prophets foretold
I will make all things new (stutters

Moises, making noises like
Elijah, taking off).
Hart, like emerald elf,
leaps toward her ruby Rubicon –

somewhere beyond Milan, Miranda
(Paris, or Trebizond)...
my aerial’s magic wand
fails here, even (lost memoranda).

Only I know that steed King Richard
sought in vain – Pegasus,
rough burr-man mule (Francis) –
drums like a hidden Thunderbird

in his own battered, broken heart
(Earth’s fleet beatitude
within his grasp).  Rude
hut, strange tent, Somali hurt,

forsaken boat... the Mediterranean
salt will keep each relic
Antikythera mechanic – as
my Redeemer liveth (unforeseen).