like a walnut brain


Wide lonesome chord of milk-train horn
across an Osage plain.
Lilac & star, American
crowd... shy bird calling the not-yet-born.

The microcosm of a Maximus
is like a walnut
brained by teeth.  That
worn brown face, in Omaha bus

lounge, spoke quietly.  “I am Dakota.
I’m a man.”  The poem
lifts a sign toward home,
that’s all.  The sum of Ariadne-

maze, malevolent eye of Minotaur
is in the skin-swirl
of your fingerprint.  Roll
back into the vault then, sailor –

shed each blow of monster violence
until you find the mild
eye of the typhoon-child –
immaculate origin of Providence.

I see her hero stepping through the gate
of stone, one hand held out
on a wave of love.  Light
scout, scouring the root of hate –

defanging that lamprey of predatory
malice, hostile cruelty –
injustice clamped on history.
With Coke & Blackstone whispers : Now be free.


India Point, Providence


One golden witchetty grub

Once again, I countermand my own resolution... the urge to share is hard to resist.


They’ve found a fracture in the stone
unnoticed before.
The Holy Sepulchre
is buckling beneath the weight of its own

chapel.  & the confessions have
at last made common vow –
the alpha & omega
of restorations.  Centuries of

soot from votive candles must
be wiped clean; the vault
shored with titanium bolts
& stabilizing mortar, all the dust

blown free – for a strange energy
is here.  The Holy One
has set his seal upon
Jerusalemthe seal of a kiss (hey

ey yo).  Blind King Oedipus
is pharmakon – both
curse & cure; an oath
of the Aranda limns a sacred circus

for the Origin beyond hunger
& prey.  Man is both Man
& Grub; one handspan
joins them, sacred totem-pair

distinct without division, separation
or confusion.  Would
you return to the Wood
where, riven-branching, all began?


All the world’s a stage.  The Totem
glimmers in earth-cavern
like a mémoire of perfection;
handprint of omni-profundum,

quiet & invisible as wind.
The hand carves a circle
over gray sea, pearl
of adamantine quiddity – your mind

& heart, your soul, my wounded Psyche.
What will they find then,
beneath the slab?  One
golden Witchetty Grub?  One Nike,

linen, soiled by jogging Time?
I think they might unveil
a lost fresco – pale
replica (by Piero) of the same

design that, through the Ice Age,
lifts the crocus.  Stubborn,
indomitable baton,
both crozier & calumet – rage

will not overwhelm your calm beauty.
I think of Late Romances
revolving into dances
all around the Globe... O, we

have not yet seen the final act!
Ineffable victory
of meekness... it shall be,
because it is, always.  O blooming Fact!



like waves of the sea

Occasionally I'm going to disobey my own resolution, and post new poems from Ravenna Diagram.  Happy Midsummer Day...


Spell me the poem including history
if Providence on earth
blooms, Rhodian... Arthur
ever returning, like waves of the sea –

mesmerized & mesmerizing,
in disguise (as George
the gardener).  So merge,
now, emerge, with enterprising

pioneers of happiness, your
boon companions, in
loon-call theremin
borne toward a Lake Superior

of dreams – one cup of fresh water
lifted to the moon
of manna-honey – one
mute field note in the Chronicle of Mutter-

Patter.  A flimsy paper nautilus
skims her light pinnace
over the sea-surface –
her brood chamber full of caprice,

her Ocean State a colony
of Turtledove Cloud-
World.  A dream-word
sang out of a rooted cedar tree –

so old, Time had forgotten her;
so strong, her smile
threads from green pillars
outlasting the Wars to End All War.


Ode to the Two Panama Canals


                “Gatun Lake’s level is currently at 81.75 feet, the lowest
                  on record for this time of the year,” the advisory said.
                                                              – New York Times

“For Man, Lacan explains, a nap is a Plan,”
declaimed le Docteur, smiling through his mouth-
toupée.  Martinelli fidgeted; he frowned.
“But an Alp is not a Map,” le Docteur (retrieving
his bone) barked, pleasantly.  “Lacan, Lacan!”
Martinelli complained – “Enough fitful conceiving!
We have no Alps in Panama!  This is South
America!”  The doctor’s office drowned
in sunset crimson (penthouse easy chair, divan).

Stumps of cypress peeked from Gatun Lake.
Rainfall was low; the people’s lips were dry.
In Panama City, Authority was out of town.
Tugs waddled tentatively through the locks,
testing the new routines.  “The Bohemian Rake
is proving useful in emergencies – shocks
to the system are to be expected” (wry
humor from our seasoned pilots).  Drown
Your Sorrows @GuppyCabana!  Salt Milkshake?

The new neo-Panamax behemoths
struggle on the uphill climb.  Old boats
were designed for any weather; these lunks
were built to be actually larger than the ocean.
It can make for difficulties.  National cloths
(flags) end up bumping into low-flying wren;
sailors die of old age crossing from floats
to bunks; giant ship fright syndrome (GSFS)
– a mode of Lacanian paramania-sloth 

mothballs many experienced seamen, before
they are even old enough to Man Overboard.
Just today, a Chinese super-blob christened
Large Ship (Tortugan colors) scraped itself
so bald on the starboard knee as to require
a complete soap-down (Polish Every Shelf!)
and as of today, two weeks later, a hoard
of destructions keeps its crew from Darien
for another week (at least until today).  Scare

stories like these spook international investors.
They collect in London, near Waterloo Station,
& count the oil bubbles that collect like flies
around the rainbows of the bubbles in the oil
that collects like gas bubbles from a Morse
Code info engine (old-fashioned tinfoil
type w/pink elephant-cake, called Mammon
– used in films such as Oil Bubble Rainbows,
starring Omar Sharif).  “Lacan – he bores

me!” complained Martinelli.  “I need stuff!”
His dream-flock of advisors waited, meek
as a collection of hubcaps, shining badly
in their eerie suite.  “We have the money,
your Excellency,” offered Twinglit, bluff
as ever, like the Wet Cliffs of Dover, knee
by jowl with his owlish advisor, Scuttley
Shipley of Scotland.  “What’s wrong, honey?”
inquired his wife, Toeniall Delendo-Muff.

“Is the yacht okay?”  Bobs her bouffant
toward the windswept film poster, from
Cuernavaca.  Under the shadow of the Liner
(Queen Elizabeth of Bath XIV) she files
herself into a small pile of clippings (faint
headlines featuring her husband as Crocodile’s
Crumbcake) and begins to tidy up some
leftovers from the funeral (this was her
finest hour, not Martinelli’s).  Old Paint

was the name of her favorite pony; the whole
City of Panama loved that showhorse filly
like their own flanks.  You could pour concrete
around all four of her dainty hooves
and she would still outrun every international
vessel you could flip her way, because
the concrete we bought was an absolutely
incredible feat of quadruple-booking, complete
with sub-microscopic fractures (intentional)

which will allow Toniall’s beloved steed
to trot alongside even the magnum monsters
of the deep with no fear of plunging suddenly
due to earthquake or stock quirk through
muddy lips of Gatun Lake – Life’s high meed
being nothing to the Bible (many tickle you
for fun, but sin be not in our thesaurus).
Camels will thread needles, Martinelli –
but not you Pacific.  Try Panama weed.


*Note : this poem occurred after collision with an article by Walt Bogdanich, Jacqueline Williams and Graciela Méndez, which appeared in the New York Times on Thursday June 23, 2016.


The Best Translation of Akhmatova's Epigram

Anthony Madrid is one of those rare birds who listens in to the fine mesh of subtle rhetoric, syntax, metrics & style - the nano-landscape - of poems.  His brief article on translation & Akhmatova's famous sarcastic epigram, just published at the Paris Review website,  is a good example.

I think perhaps he slightly exaggerates the difference in tone between the first and second halves of the quatrain.  Akhmatova's powerful persona could mediate & blend both the archaizing poetickal "high style" of the first half, with the earthy directness of the second : she did this often.  Her poems are littered with the Ancient Greats, not merely as references or allusions, but by direct address : she could "naturalize" the most magisterial, heightened, exalted strains.  Still, I think he is correct & perceptive to note the satire on traditional patronizing male attitudes toward female poets.

Here's my own version of the epigram into English.  I reckon I have preserved something of the original meter & rhyme-scheme.  I have a little more Russian than Anthony, I think - though not much more; & anyway that's no guarantee of a better translation.  I just happen to think mine is the best.

Could Beatrice like Dante compose?
Or Laura glorify Love's fiery rose?
I taught the women how speech flows...
but how to shut them up - God knows!


A Word to Readers

A bout of illness sometimes offers opportunity to steer necessary change of course.  I've been laid up for a week or so, & through the fog of discombobulations began to see things slightly anew, or anyway askew.

For long I've had a reasonable rationale for putting a lot of poetry, & ponderoskings about poetry, here on the blog.  I won't rehearse the wherefore all that? right now.  It would require a book-length tapeworm to unwind all real & supposed motivations & feelings about my own sitch in the American poetry landscape (FYI, see prev. 8-zillion pp. of HG Poetics).  In any case, I shall retain all that for the Paris Review interview and the New Yorker profile, both of which are looming on the event horizon, no later than 3026 I am told.

But this week I came to the conclusion that there is no alternative for the American poet, no back door or sideway entrance, whether by street minstrelsy or digital rhizome-megaphonics.  There is a longstanding marble-columnar Establishment building (made up of many buildings) which houses American poetry; it is maintained and sustained by a combination of internal memos and laying on of hands; it is not evil, corrupt or malicious - it simply is what it is, the Establishment.  And there is no route for the American poet other than the most direct : that is, to face that central verbal Building-Complex, and direct one's work directly toward It, and await Its response.  As the old Sunday School song maintains : You can't go over it, you can't go under it, you can't get around it - you've to to go in through the door.

Why would any poet (other than yours truly, Don K. Hotey) imagine things this way, doing things this way?  The only valid reason would be Unity.  That is, if & that there really exists a kind of unity - a unity of the human imagination, a unity of the art of poetry, a unity to the sense of beauty or rightness.   If all our individual strivings under the heading of this art actually nestle under the aegis of some shady, comprehensive unity - then we ought to be forthright in our efforts to sling our work toward the general public, the established organs, the leading Judges of this particular field of endeavor.

I can hear the uproar and the cynical chortling.  Is the Great Refuser suddenly become the Great Kow-Tower?  Is the snarky Rebel now turned toddling Toady?

My answer to that is : I'm not suggesting uncritical obeisance to the standing Arbiters of Taste.  One makes and expresses one's own taste.  Nor am I suggesting the aspiring noodlehead abandon his or her fellow struggling little-magazinites (sounds like a microbe) and aim only for the Big Screen.  I speak only for myself.  I myself need to throw my toys toward the editorial Bull's-eye at the center of the Island of Reception [note arrowed metaphors], and work harder, and take my chances.

So I decided, during my bedridden week, to lay off publishing my poems immediately to blog.  I'm sorry to bid this partial adieu to you dear trusty comrades & faithful friends (this means you, Olive Oyl).  & for anybody who just can't get enough of these mesmerizing, stupefying masterworks, I do think there are actually a substantial Matterhunk of my poems present on record, for perusal & re-reading.  Hopefully they will remain live here for a good while to come.

Hopefully I won't change my mind on this until tomorrow, at least.  In the meantime, here's one more "occasional".   In future I will most likely be posting other kinds of messages - not going away.  Hi-Ho, Silver!  [waves cowboy hat, rides mule toward Chanhassen]


Day after Father’s Day – at cusp
of springing summertime.
Anxious children climb
steep query-spirals – must the Ship

break into toothpicks, battered by
cold 40-ft slaps (off
the Tongue)?  Mozartean buff
Fathersare they foundering& why?

Some stately turkeys ornament
our neighborhood.  Their very
carriage molts each scary
Bronze Age snood toward merriment,

that used-caruncle dewlap glare
to bustle of 18th-century
quadrille heroine (stray
boa-feather in Ben Franklin’s hair).

Down its ravine, the river-myth
is inexhaustible, still
spills, inscrutable (al-
most), its copperhead glide.  With

wattle-basket coracle, Huck Frisbee
heels for civilization.
Skinny levitation,
Aesculapland shaman... – Hey,

there’s Beatrice!  Pacing slowly,
lifted above herself,
a white heron (sylph-
crane) sure-footed, shadowing me –

long-legged flier in the reeds,
like feathered snow come
from gray clouds.... amalgam

She says: your frigate’s scraping shallows,
that is allThe ring
of Ocean overhead (sing,
choirs of pilots!) is harmonious;

your houseboat made of Lincoln logs
is under beanpole Abe’s
Euclidean bien sabe.
His moral compass counters rogue

waves, waves of dead shark-plugs
with a fertile proposition,
proven (fractal fashion)
through o’erlapping pliesPersian rugs,

matryoshka dolls... onion peals
from domes of ever-deeper
& dove-subtle cheer...
‘til liberty for all becomes the seal

of human Union (universal,
malice invisible,
o’erwhelmed by charity for all).

Doubloons of humanism shine,
winking in mud-banks
near St. Lou.  So prinks
the Rio’s evening Rose (yours, mine).



facet of the grey sea


Now vales of Maia give away
to peaks of June, plains
emerald after rains;
gold Ghana-threads of yesterday

(encircling Hermione,
her Perdita) are knotted
in one polyglot,
shade-silvered whisper-crown.

The dream-song of that melancholy
painter in the corner
(Henry Coroner,
or Richard Parking-Lot) might be

a facet of the grey sea’s matière
portion of the human
globe (octagonalmond,
arched like Nut over the pearl-

sphere of the earth).  Hearth-sign
of futurity, through sleep
to an oasis – leaping
Minnehaha (Hobo river-mind).

Someone smiling in an acorn cap
shadows his Georgia garden.
Some apple-orchard man,
repairing limbs... his milky map

renews the face of day.  All things
woof dawn, old Prospero –
it happened long ago.
Her cartwheel (spun of gold bee-stings).



where friars met the chiefs


Like a round dime tossed in a round
lake, hermetic lady
(Mendelssohn, or Galilee)...
the circle of clans closes on a mound

of blue-white clay.  With a star
beneath pulsing waves,
to summon all the braves.
Rêve-dream, song-songe (de la mer).

Smoke rises from Pipestone, where
friars met the chiefs –
an old Amerique (Lief’s...
Hennepin’s, Marquette... le voyageur);

Rose de St. Louis, Annie
de Texas... Jessie O.
from N’Orleans – down below
rim-sleep (full fado, Ariel).

The fumes are gray & sinuous
veins within rose
windowpane (chartreuse?) –
where a rustic yokel stems the breeze

like mast in steady gale.  He’s
smiling (thick mute mule,
dumb lamb).  You’ll
toss him in a hole – he slappim knee.

The frost hurls stern memorials
across blank mirror-ice
(in Mendelssohn).  Yet twice
& twice, bright eidelon... (loon calls).



in Aleppo


A green kid from Appalachia
gone to fight in Fallujah
– someone explain?  Aya,
BabylonO generations!  A

late-night flashback (this time
not a war zone) – the stone
cave, the Mezzo-Eon...
the wooden man (half-lamb,

half-king) splayed on an axle
of Lebanon cedar.
Adam, 2nd mate (bare).
In Aleppo, the shells relax

theological distinctions
(strange how disaster
nets cousins together in
dense swallow-clouds).  Sons

remember their angry fathers
in another atmosphere –
benign, complacent weather,
a constant world.  Who bothers

to refit owlish waste places?
Earth presses toward
obstructed Adam, stymied
Eve – each watchful heart races

to reach Yezidi Paradise
(jade Peacock Angel,
over the next hill
from Sheol).  Sol breaks the ice.




in a land of Gerrhi


Light cottonwood fluff-motes drift
from high green vaults
along the river, Walt.
Thy hobo-hymn floats like swift

Scythian swallows   over the steppes
Gerrhi   in a land of Gerrhi
gray   milkers of mares
Geloni   like Jonah   swallowed up

& cast-off   by the sea again
like an exiled raven
scouring   the salt-sown
slate   for breadcrumbs, broken

limbs, dry vines   any sign
of home, of motherland
Guillaume would understand
Colossus of roses   tall man

grown meek   bemused upon his own
Bermuda   who bears a little
salt-bundle   close to heart
lifted six ways   a hexagon

grown octagonal   a diamond
have salt among yourselves
& plant   peace shelves
atop green Andes   condor-monde

Thus crooned the shuffling friar
under orange garage door
over grey sea-floor   as
poplars, nigh Gellone   signed, Ephphatha



Minnehaha's moccasin

                             i.m. Edward Lewis Peckham

Step lightly in my mother’s house,
whispered a tiny elf
named ELP – himself
a watercolorist (a yellow lady’s

slipper’s footprint left the forest
on this day).  Cypripedia
reginae – Minnehaha’s
moccasin – graced this wilderness

as well, making a pair for Joy
& Beauty (graces
almost three).  Time paces
seasoned out of winter, so employ

your dancing shoes, fiery Hiawatha –
roll like Polar Bear
around that pinpoint star,
sing like a loon, like your happy

father (Thalia-glad).  Nature
& Manitou join hands;
a Turtledove blends
sea-sounds, all about green Eire;

urn burials, gardens of Sirius
swim synchronizing
rhombs on monarch wings
(a rugged Paradise for ladybugs)...

one dance-call through spirit-wood
or jadestone flute
sows dreams of Camelot
(like waves of wheat around a vineyard).


*Note : Edward Lewis Peckham, Rhode Island artist and naturalist, painted a watercolor of Cypripedium parviflorum - Yellow Lady's Slipper - on this day in 1866, 150 years ago.  See illustration here from the Rhode Island Historical Society.


Black holes have rings of light straw hair


                    It’s the past that tells us who we are.  Without it
                    we lose our identity.  –  Stephen Hawking

A raven carried heaven-manna
out of the ark to lonesome
Jonah – him just come
from under the whale-rib (manna

overboard) stranded on sand
off Galilee, RI –
& it made him cry.
Those crispy cackles he couldn’t

understand – like low gull-talk
sent through a black-
hole paradox;
light straw climbed an orange rock

from the event horizon up to
null infinity –
it was all catenary,
looped in one wave-smile... – who?

Gravity? – or Grace?  Eurydice,
maybe.  (It was her cave.)
Spoiled meat you crave
is portioned by division – say,

two doves for every plowman’s mule.
Queequeg in his casket
(like a scrimshaw trinket)
penned our sempiternal Rule –

each rustic Penny in the well of night
was tender out of love.
Her vernal sparkle-trove
is polyglot – Euphrasia (eyebright).


Monk's Mound (Illinois)


the principle of the epic poem


A monarch sails transparent air
over a sea of grass
toward Mexico cedars.
June hums softly into summer

orchestra – a Symphony
of Ocean River (flutes
by Apollinaire).  Broom-roots
of harmony brush copper tympani

with nervous splendor.  The principle
of the epic poem – Hart
Crane’s plangent part
for solo Jonah (sailor’s pipe)

merges with cat-gut chords
of choral hymn, Atlantean –
sagas of Everywoman,
Everyman (adze-edge word-hoards).

A stone spun from heaven... King
Tut’s meteoric dagger,
sanded to plow much bigger
meadows.  Star-fields of the tongue

flicker from familiar cave –
shape speech to love,
vault from worm-grave
to groves of cedar (almond nave

upon a flame-stream, evergreen
to save).  Pine-needles
tingle with seedling-
cones; wings fan (bright V-formation).


Lake Vermilion (sunset, 6.5.16)


from the rubble-edge


She came from the rubble-edge of tracks,
my little Jessie, O –
her father gambled so,
her mother sunk low, like a parallax

of sallow sun.  Harsh raptor features,
scavenged palimpsest,
thin gewgaws in a needle-nest –
indifferent lights, long-distant stars...

– as if the morning held no lamp
for choppy grizzlies, salt-
&-pepper crowns.  O Walt,
where be thy warm palm nowThy camp

amid tin canvases o’ cheery braves?
Jonah & Jessie, splintered
by the sea, had wintered
in the bottomland, like jasper leaves;

no voice of kind encouragement,
no ring-dove warbling
could break the iron thing
that iced the whole whale-monument.

Only one bright prong near St. Louis
promised their release –
an upturned kayak, Miss
Virginia (airy gate to happiness).

Slant waves of sorrow wash across
the little pine deck, Jessie
sang, but comfort thee
my soft cathedral floats on moss.



all aboard the Midnight Sun


O Lady walking by, in black
jacket & yellow skirt,
you lift me from inert
& vacant thought into a way-back

memory-milieu.  The Promised Land
of sunlight at midnight
is nest for monarch flight
& viceroys too (you’ll understand

when we get there).  The Milkweed King
is Hobo in disguise –
the motherland is prize
for steady Jim (gone huckleberrying

with Oblomov).  He walks gently
into rabid disputes,
young Nanabozo – toots
his horn – Rabbi-clown, my

Hiawathee Bigfootprints
of Peace; he’s taken down
in order to rebound
into renown, like Printemps

Spring-Rain Joan, or Franny Cricket
(she of jingling anklets
in the cedar dusk).
There’s earthy scent beneath the musket;

there’s a penny in the well.
A dinged wingèd profile
traipses from the Nile –
elopes from Memphis (into Israel).