tender as a safety net


The cloudy voice of Okeanos
over snow-muted farms
hums Dakota charms
for fettered waters (under us).

The boredom of the barbed-wire
borders will dissolve,
disintegrate.  I have
a dream, sang Memphis Fire

into the tumbleweed.  Chalk lines
drawn from Grand Forks
to Santa Fe, these marks
scored by tornado, Time refines –

files into church basements & barns
bent cedar spines, weathered
by old sand.  Spare word
spun inside-out by drought yawns

into dappled pastel yarns – gray
background looming, warped
onto rainbear cube (tarp-
tepee tender as a safety net, hey

ey yo).  The fluted planes of brave
Dove-Turtle ring like wave-
tongs on your heart – weave
future pastures from a lichen grave.

Like some drab village near Drobdorf
transmuted by these panes
of plumb green-violet... the lion’s
eye, her peacock metamorph.


Lyonel Feininger, "Village Church in Thuringia (Drobdorf)"
Weisman Art Museum, Minneapolis


Rhode Island was purchased by love


The last of the autumn thunderstorms
crashes through town,
hail & sleet coming down.
Quick whitecaps fleck the enormous

imperturbable Mississippi flood.
Bridge-work almost done,
the sturdy crane-&-pylon
men climb the sweat-&-blood

iron stairs up to the ridge
just one more time.
Labor is no crime –
titanic force poured to the edge

so that a featherweight robin redbreast
might perch atop a flange
of international orange
and warble good, better, best

into her indigo infinity.
Good will is balance, justice,
equanimity.  Who is
the man untouched by vanity,

cupidity?  I will hold him close
in my heart’s treasury,
for he alone is free.
Not price nor money could have purchased

Rhode Island; Rhode Island was purchased
by love.  Understand, Sophie,
this ocean mystery
of your first scallop-skipping space –


the star of Rhodos-Liberty
crowned with a ring of palms
sealed with a steady calm
handshake – confirming equity.

Guide of young Roger, ancient
Canonicus – father
& son : the grace to weather
every gale of greed, any fraudulent

unknotting of their pact of peace.
They step like lambkin twins
from a kayak circumference,
an almond eye, figuring Providence;

the planetary hearth of promise
knife-beaked Raven spied
beneath his southwest glide –
Cautantowwit to cedar wilderness

like monarch checkmating to Mexico.
Primordial Ragnarok
& other nightmares lock
the curse into a seeming cul-de-sac – so

your peace which passeth understanding
like a limping child’s sun-
yellow gyroscope, must turn
upright again – Ravenna plaything,

gather us into the river dance
drowning Man’s arrogance –
evergreen presences
surfing Ocean Stream (taut spring romance).



hen hides under blanket


In the muted Bruegel colors now
a raven’s-eye view circles
round twin Mirror Lakes
in Mendelssohn, so long ago.

Heidi & Holly, Jamie Freeman –
kids in a panorama
skate across my retina
from a Flemish Ice Age (Union

Pearl, foundered in frozen cup).
Laertes, will you drink
with meI think
not, yet... & so I take it up.

How gravity spins round the Sampo,
Longfellow – how Minnehaha
eddies through Edina
like a maelstrom over Nanabozo

– silly wabbit in the old cartoon
of Manitou & Redman –
stormcloud, lightning (Hen
hides under blanket, ‘til monsoon-

tornado trundles off to Canada).
Rabbi, Rabbi... Raven-
priest, Melchizedek... when,
O Wind, will this wallowing miasma,

lethal raincloud, lift?  A voice
from hurricane murmured –
when the agate here immured
in North Sea tears, as in a vice


floats into primeval Paradise
upon a simple kayak-word
out of the lunar hoard
of acorn-candelabra : REJOICE.

The train rumbles over the bridge
in the iron night, in the rain.
I won’t be back again
until Ferrara meets the Iron Range

in a poem coming down from winking
Starry Night.  Those whorls
are fingerprints – pearls
whispered out of Ocean, drinking

planets, orbits, icons, emblems
drawn from infinite thirst
for a milky source (first
taste of infamous black diadems).

Bears navigate a starry circle
over Berryman.  The stone
crypt glows in the bone-
castle.  Jessie Ophelia will

step down from the riverboat
beaming for Minneapolis.
The sky is gray, is
Minneapolis, St. Paul... c’est tout.

In Mendelssohn the Mirror Lakes
are ripples ever-new.
You’ll understand... you
live there (little rings an iron makes).



only Ophelia remained


A little Hamlet, on remote planet
in Denmark, was troubled
with Mors – he stumbled
as against a stone, to understand it.

Pebbles flung from anxious Hell
pinged against his helmet;
a pearl-toothed kismet
glimmered from the poisoned well.

It was a union greatly to be wished.
Its whorl unfathomable
shone... like Luna in a fable,
agate Leviathan (unfished).

A curse enclosed it, like a shell;
a nightmare of the sea –
a beast called Jealousy
clutched, rang it like a bell

from bottomlands.  It was his grail.
The angry Minotaur
grunted through Knossos-tar
in the crusted mirror – you must fail.

Denmark was full of hardened criminals.
Only Ophelia remained
to pluck the sweet Beltane
of innocence (from sordid halls).

Hamlet stepped up, to meet his fate.
He smiled into the teeth
of Sheol – sensed beneath
basalt of gladness, past debate.



cold reflective casket


They’re readying the great Webb Telescope
to spy on deepest space,
remotest time; a Falcon-Ace
of 18 hexagons – unfolding envelope

or massive sunflower of minstrel mirrors,
golden Land o’Lakes
lenses.  Infinity takes
a very cold reflective casket (yours,

Ophelia).  Meanwhile, down here below,
some Leopardian teller or
Poe-boy bookseller
must trace Columbian fall of sparrow

into bleakest night, last
trumpery.  O quintessence
of hollow volumeHence,
3-Card Monty – hateful guest!

As if the door to honey-milky
Providence were locked,
foredoomed.  A thousand shocks
in sovereign succession, so quickly

hammered to an Irish skull...
Earthquake, heartbreak.
Ophelia is in the lake –
my center sinks to muddy soil.

Sun gleams in fireplace of camera,
her little room on high –
her lampblack like a sty
in prism orange (strange negative aura).



rivers keep on rolling


A clear day toward Thanksgiving.
Light on slight mantling
of snow, along the slanting
Mississippi (wave of returning

gravity into the mouth, the Gulf).
There is a magnet
in the heights, a great
Pole Star, that rotates over Beowulf,

Black Elk; there is a matrix point
for all our muttering,
for crazy flotsam drifting
to the sea... a limestone font.

A child climbed from a light-lapped cave
along a spiral trail –
a thread from beryl-burial
to emerald grail (one sea-swell wave).

Beneath grey-wingèd clouds she rose,
called forth by whisper-smoke
of Earth’s holm-oak.
Her name is Imago, her echo flows

into the planetary sarabande –
stately processional
(spring, summer, fall)
to Morning Star, at seasons’ end.

Her name is Liberty, she rides the prow
of every soul – bright salt
of gaiety – the glistening vault
of Ariadne’s crown gracing her brow.



Blue Planes

More bardic prep. Just getting started. folks. You can read the poem here.

Joy Dialect

This instructional video illustrates how not to set poetry to music.

& yet a bard has to start somewhere. The actual poem ("Joy-Dialect") can be found here.

We're getting our act together & taking it on the road.


RAVENNA DIAGRAM becomes 3-dimensional object

Dear steady long-suffering readers of HG Poetics,
this is just to say
that you can now read the
seemingly infinitely-long poem
Ravenna Diagram
in book form -
in the comfort of your own unscreened cabin,
cave, or hobbit-hutch (or apartment).
Volume One (books 1-4), that is.

The tome is a physical object now, for sale online
from Lulu Books, here -
and from Amazon, here -
and maybe from other places I don't yet know about.

Volume Two (books 5-8) has also been written -
much of it has appeared on this blog -
I'm waiting on results of some magazine submissions
before I put out Volume Two - probably early next year.

The projected forecast for Ravenna Diagram is 20 books.
I don't know if I'll ever get there,
but so far, so good - it's been a fast-running, babbling brook of a poem.

Thank you, dear friends.  Cheers & adios for now -


you cannot buy free soul


The weather is alchemical,
the mix is changeable
& lethal – Lear will fumble
through the hailstorm, inconsolable.

The air is saturate with salt.
Even the snow is bitter
as flat vodka.  Better
to butter up the mayor, Walt –

don’t you think?  I don’t.
His orange head is swollen
full of bloody poll-pollen –
he likely toss you to the Don.

Phosphoric Osip fingers his Commedia
for signs of figlio
della figlia... down Rio
del Espiritu wend lilac, willow, etc...

Dumb Cordelia keeps her counsel.
Won’t corrode the word
filial with a coarse reward.
You cannot buy free soul,

dear heart – & salt is cheap.
Cotton bolls is de termite,
but woe unto de spite-
docta, who sow to weep.

I see a Solominka mincing
on the edge of a knife,
a precipice – fine
Ravel for violin (pining).



setting out toward the 9th


The last of the crickets, in their silver mines
among dun stalks, pipe
to each other, under a ripe
& misty Bruegel sky.  Hobo Henry’s lines

distend toward hibernation.  Soon
he must contend with bumpkin
men, their jealous trumpetin’ –
all Caesars of the earth, again...

that agèd guild of frozen snowmen
Knossos harbors in the maze.
But now we know their ways –
cowmen dividing up the herd end

up dividing up themselves, as they began.
He flecks his oiled horsehair
to spike the nightmare –
cloud-grey dove’s-eye view, the human

magic lamp, Okie dream-songe.
& like a baby ape emerging
from the cave, he’ll sing
the Sun of Love, très riche, étrange

Apollinaire’s trompette marine
will flute the sweet bass
threads, an Ariadne-lasso...
YAMB-WHIT-YAM (so coralline,

full-fathomed now).  Kind eye
of Psyche, manifest
to fire the clay – to test
the relativity of acorn wigwam (A-OK).



light along the river


Morning light along the river,
where naked cottonwoods
lean toward the sun.  Ides
of November.  Hobo will shiver.

Still the grand yellow-green crown
of the willow sways in the wind.
The golden fans pinned
to the gray sidewalk (Egyptian

gingko sails) are royal palms
& roses strewn before
the laird of Jonah-lore –
coaxing his leathery alms-

mule into Jerusalem.
The weather is a kind
of global newsstand;
clouds mass like seraphim

to hear the briny sailor’s pipe
screel far & high at last
its elemental blast –
solo trompette marine, for ripe

world-winnowing crabapple-fall.
Thanksgiving’s on its way.
Manxman’s great Day
(Pink-Orange International

pi-squared to double you)
is hallowed with a lantern
glinting in the quern
of every hamlet’s plummet blue


eye of ocean-grey curlew –
Atlantic ouragan,
Pacific clockhand
spinning from the deep toward you.

An octopus?  An octagon.
A Chinese lantern, great
icosahedron.  Agate
lamp of Psyche-Libération

who lifts from indigo Rhode-harbor
morning threads, to Porta
Aurea – jasper Jenny
with a sprig from Davy Jonah’s arbor

(locket of bright copper hair).
The deep drone is no longer
doom.  Heart grows stronger
in the stars’ high midnight lair.

The child who moseyed to the shore
of Memphis Nile is borne
upon an Isis-horn
along the Milky Way, & more –

the red-white-blue American
turns black-orange-green
& back again (foreseen
by Queequeg on a slick oilcan)

& we will celebrate a Turkey Day
like peacocks in bald eagle’s
nest – Hagia Sophia’s
almond fan, one tout-monde roundelay.



the rooster crows at dawn


Moss-green & rusty brown, the shades
of veritable November.
Carapace for a fire
of leathery hearts, when autumn fades –

hopelessly stained & cracked, like
little nations stewed
in sour grapes – each rude
philosopher of One-&-Many stuck

on stiff prongs of mutual destruction
(as if our differences
were so many instances
of envious violence).  Someone

disconsolate, like moody Hobo,
comes to his dead end
sans lover nor friend.
The bridge beckons, the river flow...

it’s then that her grey shadow
curves to be with him –
grace of the seraphim,
milk of galactic commingling Rio.

A yellow-black monarch skims south
like nature, figuring rebirth;
her beryl-fiddlehead of mirth
lifts Hobo to the vernal mouth –

where dark Sophia & the turtledove
gather in Providence again.
The rooster crows at dawn
on city walls... an early aria, up above.


Henry Bard has second thoughts

The ghost of Edgar Allan Poe troubled my sleep, and I awoke feeling reservations about the gaudy bardic proclamations of previous post.  Perhaps there are two deep currents in 20th and 21st-century poetry : 1) the urge toward engagement, fellowship, judgement, passionate witness; and 2) the urge toward imperturbable detachment, disinterested objectivity, the autonomous perfection of the art work.  You could say Whitman is representative of the first impulse, and Poe of the second.  David Jones across the Atlantic, another great modern exemplar of the long poem, wrote some wonderful essays in defense of the absolute freedom of the artist - as artist - from social/political requirements.  Art has a moral purpose, and forwards human freedom and dignity, simply by fulfilling itself, by working out its own quest toward integral beauty, in free association with the manual arts, applied technology and useful crafts.

It seems clear to me that I have wavered through my writing life between these two poles, between Whitman and Poe.  It's why my favorite American "bard" has always been, not Ezra Pound, but Hart Crane.  Crane's Bridge is a national paean to American culture : yet the poem is so dense and "overdetermined" with pure poetic resonance that it is always more than whatever abstract or paraphrase is applied to it.  The Bridge is multidimensional and recursive, self-referential : you could say the poem radiates the free-standing beauty of an achieved work of art, an "end-in-itself".

Also the serene formulae of the early-modern poetic movement of Russian Acmeism gave me examples of possible integrations of these two poles (call them the aesthetic and the political, or the communal and the individual...).  Gumilev and Mandelstam found a mediation between revolutionary Futurism and reactionary or detached Symbolism : by making poetic works of integral, pure and free art, by following, revising and fulfilling artistic traditions they had inherited, the Acmeists produced an art of and for the people.  "The Word is flesh and bread. It shares the fate of flesh and bread : suffering" (Mandelstam, from the essay "Word and Culture").

Yin & yang, systole, diastole... the poet goes out singing, and comes back again - to work late, & in secret, at the smithy of the integral poem.

This may be another partial explanation for my marginal presence on the contemporary scene.  I've been too busy working at the forge.  My massive unread poems are an effort, in part, to bring the American long-poem enterprise to some kind of artistic, integral fulfillment, on the model of Crane's Bridge and Osip Mandelstam's life-work.  Island Road, Stubborn Grew, Forth of July, Lanthanum, Ravenna Diagram...  It would be somewhat ironic if someday critical reception picks up on the idea that the American national epic has been fulfilled by a contribution from Soviet Russia.  But don't call Putin or Trump : Mandelstam and Gumilev speak from a completely other Russia, the Russia of Pushkin, Chaadev, Tsvetaeva, Akhmatova.  The spiritually-free Russian psyche, so radiant with balletic grace and deep chords of solemn harmony.

Gateway Arch Monument, St. Louis


Henry Bard is coming to your town

There's something in the air... aside from the global authoritarian regressive New Brutalism in the political wind.  The last few weeks have seen an odd configuration of events linking folk/pop music and poetry.  The Nobel Prize for "the bard" Bob Dylan, the death of Leonard Cohen, and now the publication of early poems of Johnny Cash... the scholar Christopher Ricks' and others' identification of Dylan with archaic oral-poetic-bardic performance in ancient Greece and elsewhere...

These phenomena - coinciding with the sudden intensification of the political/cultural crisis of the West - got me thinking about the concept of the bard, of bardic poetry, and in a personal sense, about my own situation as poet.

There's a book I keep returning to, by Jeffrey Walker - Bardic Ethos and the American Long Poem (Louisiana State Univ. Press, 1989).  Walker's thesis, in a nutshell, argues that Whitman established the parameters for an ambitious, bardic-nationalist role for the American poet; that Ezra Pound, WC Williams, Hart Crane, and Charles Olson were foremost (among others) 20th-century inventors of a new bardic poetry in the Whitman mode; and that certain shared assumptions of these poets also forecast the limits and partial failure of that particular enterprise.  Walker's is a very detached, critical, cold-eyed analysis of these poets : he shows complete respect for their ambition and inventive power, while at the same time illustrating the central flaws - going back to Whitman himself - which hobbled their efforts.  These flaws cluster around a kind of spiritual elitism - an assertion of cultural values at odds with mainstream American life, despite their proclaimed allegiance to populist-egalitarian ideals.  Whitman's call for a new American literary (bardic) elite was translated by Pound into political authoritarianism, echoed in WC Williams' and Olson's denigrations of electoral democracy, and Crane's tragic vision of the flower of American culture (emblematized in Emily Dickinson, Isadora Duncan) drowned under a surge of crass philistinism.  In his final chapter, Walker decisively contrasts the alienation of Charles Olson, as would-be cultural exemplar, with the rhetorical and spiritual capacity of Martin Luther King, to express basic American and universal values.

Walker's analysis is very acute & necessary.  Yet the limits of his thesis tend to obscure the actual, contradictory, and in many ways egalitarian and democratic messages and impulses surging through these poets.  Whitman, after all, produced a body of nationalist poetry whose moral center is Abraham Lincoln, and whose strident attacks on the corruptions of the Gilded Age constitute a defense of the American (democratic) Republic.  The legacy of Pound, on the other hand, is much more ambiguous.

But it would take more than a blog post to deal justly with Walker's argument and his valuable readings of these long poems.  And my original impulse in posting today is slightly different.

The constellation of "folk-bardic" events this fall suddenly got me thinking in a new way about my own efforts and failures over the past 30 years.  What, exactly, do we mean by the "bard"?  Is there such a thing?  Is there a difference, now, today, between a bard and a poet?

There's certainly a New-Age stream out there trying to revive "bardism" based on ancient Celtic sources and traditions in conjunction with druids, mysticism, etc.  I suppose this to some extent echoes the Romantic era's enthusiasm for a semi-mystical notion of the the ancient bard (Ossian, Taliesin, etc.).  Also there is a genuine literary interest in Wales, Ireland, and Scotland (and perhaps elsewhere) in the lost cultures and skills of ancient bardic (oral) poetry.  Yeats was a great figure in the renovation of the image of the poet-as-bard, as both visionary and crafty minstrel.

And the stream Walker identifies - the American long poem, from Whitman to Olson, et al. - has certainly evolved as a distinct, iconoclastic dimension of the larger American poetry scene.

It was while surveying (in my preliminary sketchy way) these things that it struck me how much my own path with poetry has veered into the long-poem/bardic stream.  It began in the early 1980s, with a curiosity about Ezra Pound - an interest in the capaciousness of the Cantos - the possibility of broadening my own style, being able to "include history" too (Pound's definition of epic : "a poem including history").

But what I'm puzzling over is how my absorption in this effort over 30 years - and the writing of at least 9 book-length long poems - has kept me marginalized, fairly unknown, unable to make a dent.

The main responsibility for this dilemma, no doubt, can be laid at my own feet : the limitations of my own themes & vision & style, the "professional" mistakes, the unimaginative & distracted (& often comical!)  efforts to break out of obscurity, etc.

But the thought occurs to me that perhaps something else is going on also.  Perhaps we can hypothesize a real distinction between bard and poet.  And maybe the American literary scene - both the culture of prestigious magazines and the fashionable canons of academia - has crystallized, has institutionalized, around poetry/poet, as opposed to bard/epic/life-poem.

Maybe - in different ways - both magazine culture and the collegiate order of the "program era" are inimical to certain aspects of "bardism", such as :

a) the bardic investment in large, ongoing, serial, epic, ambitious "life poems" - difficult to excerpt for magazine consumption.

b) the bardic willingness to fuse the poetic, the literary, the rhetorical and the performative.  The aim of the bardic poem is not simply to be a beautiful, self-sufficient, autonomous aesthetic object (such as all MFA programs and strictly "poetic" careers are designed to produce).  A bardic poem, as Walker points out, has suasory (persuasive) designs on its audience : it aims to "spiritually revolutionize" both individual reader and culture at large.  This is not a goal easily taught or pursued in the college classroom.

c) and (related to (b) : the populist, "folk" dimension of bardism - its desire to speak "of, by, and for" the people.  Its openness to unfashionable notions of "national unity", "national purpose", "national history", "national ethos", "national culture" - and a willingness to offer dramatic-performative representations of same (the long poem in its epic-heroic mode).  Clearly, any poet who aspires to such a bardic enterprise would have to address the American audience as a contrarian, a dialectician, a prophet - standing up to debunk the jingoism, racism, and chauvinism of crude "America First" ideology.

I've really just begun to think through these notions.  Beyond Walker's bardic Pleiade, many other poets are worth studying for a bardic counter-view : H.D., Vachel Lindsay, Jay Wright, Lorine Neidecker, Louis Zukofsky, Carl Sandburg, John Berryman, Lissa Wolsak, and the ghost of WB Yeats...

But this is a whole new way - for me, at least - of thinking about American poetry : that there might be an objective cultural distinction to be made between "poet" and "bard"... and that the contributions of all these figures does not define the effort of the long poem, but only serves as instigation toward what might be achieved in future.  It's a path to be cleared...

Meanwhile my own neglected massive poetical-aesthetical-historical-spiritual works are out there, visible in the swamps of blogland, in the dark corners of Amazon books.  & I realize I need to change and revitalize my own practice, to get out there and read & perform & strum the old harp.

Mr. Bard steps out


bard owl hoot-yawp


A dark mandala, with its threads of gilt
glinting in sepulchral gloom.
Brown recluse home
or poison farm – Potemkin-built

for subtle, shady beast (forma
tricorporis umbra).
Yessir – USSR – Usura
rapt the hack machine – some worm

robbed all the banks in Hungary
sincerely, your servant
left with Nada (she went
under).  One black-wreath memory

laurels a World War grave,
limed with gold streaks
of tears.  Leaf breaks
hearts; stubborn moth digs nave.

Infinitely gentle, infinitely
suffering thing... Rabbi,
rabbi, your symmetry
of gravity pulls toward a parapet

or pole-star magnet – anti-matter
mutter at the gate
of timespace (intricate
constellate icosahedron footpad

rabbit-patter).  Yellow gyroscope
for the lad in Ravenna,
wheeling through Gehenna
into turtleshell domicile – Hope


Diamond southern bells – milky
over Memphis, chanting
out of slave-haunt... (sling
your wide human boomerang, Psyche).

Fraud loops fey pebbles into flagging
factories, for vanity –
haughty coyote-
greed howls babble onto bragging

piles of glare – why do the notions rage?
Out of a quiet well,
a widow’s mite will tell
another rustic peony tale.  Osage

cheekbones of Lincoln-Logos shine
in the fiery human sun –
Rhodos-Colossus Woman
radars an omnipresent beryl-pine

from silver harbor.  The retrograde
cannot delay reality –
their bubble-polity
will burst (too much steel air) – a Maid

of Orleans, or Land o’Lakes
shall lead the ring-dance
in a crayon trance
& sketch a reciprocity

of snakes & ladders, golden eagles
& grey turtledoves.
The peacock fan of Love’s
dominion flares... green acorn-angles.



radical carrot


All the dry seeds go back
into the clay, like these
on their wand of wheatgrass
(like a gold cattail against a black

park bench).  A nut curves over the sky
for this brown recluse (Hobo
on his own West Branch).  So
a midnight Isis took her milky way –

a stone skipped into Petersburg to say
all things are equally beloved
in the chaste eye (earth-
shaked adamant Columbiad of Liberté).

The hungry crowd rages for opportune
justice – the pumpkin man
bugling Promised Land –
& like the ravenous orange trumpet-vine

we cling to dreams of Mendelssohn
& good old days...  So let
the radical carrot
root deep in Galilee – a love so alien

& corny, only Beats & donkeys
out on Frisco Bay can see;
for you just as for me –
as for Akhmed, Aunt Bea & Weldon Kees,

each everyone – this equity applies.
Let go the superflux!
yawps Lear, & let the buck
stop herebehold Pacific Gates arise.



down here on the ground


A red-tailed hawk shows white beneath,
sloping high in the cobalt
blue – pivoting afloat
on air – freewheeling in the teeth

of chilly blows (from Canada).
Down here on the ground
clay thins to the grind,
shatters like ice – power’s arcana

plates a hard face on the mirror,
the barrel.  His scapegoat
brands our feet by rote,
his toothy mustache splinters the car.

In the cosmogram from Amen Corner
another bird hums
through dusty spokes – drums
emerald beryl-wings across your

grave circumference, Columbia.
Your adamant cheer, Mother –
whose fleet flute-font rings here,
rings there, rings over yonder... ah,

brave wings!  Braiding Ocean River
with an Esperanto-Roma
hums into the matrix – shiver

these bony timbers onto sparkling
shores!  Nested in Galilee,
a grafted refugee
on new-found land... thrush, darkling.



he talked in sign lingo


Late crickets from low crevices
scree high morse code
along the River Road,
mourning what vanishes.

The trestle bridge shoulders its iron
rust refrain.  Hobo,
Henry rehearse their slow
converse – where’s Bunny Rabbi gone?

He talked in sign lingo, for fun;
smoke signals over Pipestone
bearded the Old Gray One
whose windy glance was made of sun.

The bards were babbling nonsense
around the Ink Palace...
forgive their lack of grace
whose pride is their inheritance.

Meekness is the key to peace,
a mule named Franky said;
our mutual Day of the Dead
fringes each cot with golden fleece;

both enterprise & government
rest on bone shoulders
of the poor – our diverse
attitudes were never meant

to drive us to unpeel the Union.
Pensive eyes discern
gray beech limb’s copper urn
of reconcilement (smiling veteran).



Another Jonah

tomorrow another American vote


A solitary bald eagle, by the shore
of Shady Oak Lake
surveys us as we take
a warm November walk, where

kids went splashing 50 years ago.
28 young men,
adored by one young woman
from her lonesome Whitman window...

Tomorrow another American vote.
Steeped in the mud of Brown
Decades, Walter was known
for sharp talons, a monitory note.

Writhing oaks & the dark river
seem to conspire toward
iron & blood – another Ford
Theatre, in Dallas, forever & ever.

Apollinaire, after the war,
released one thin smoke-
column (a silver rook-
feather) toward North Star.

He mocked up Brooklyn fancy-flights
for Walter’s funeral – Walt,
who traveled (trusty salt)
to Baltimore, for Poe’s last rites.

Eureka! I have found her – Psyche,
with her agate lamp.
She climbs out of the damp
stream like a Jonah from Milwaukee


lifting her mossy torch, sweet Liberty.
The copper sunrays circling
her brow are reinforcing
for the mind’s soul freedom – see!

A ring of sparks around her tall room
spoke the wheel of Union
to the local Human –
truth & justice, woven on a loom

of reciprocity (affectionate
acknowledgement of friend
& neighbor, refugee &
stranger).  Dear Walt, I tip my hat!

The Rio slips across her limestone floor.
Time’s womb, an acorn shell,
spirals an eddy-swell –
an infant turtle at creation’s door.

Gold flecks the curve of smiling threads
anchored on air... your grave
ghost dance, your wave
on wave of feathered blues & reds,

whitecaps – flashing bright angles
through a raptor’s eye.
A raven dawdles in the sky.
Night battles echo – blindness mangles

hope with sour hatreds, fear...
& yet grey-eyed Columbia
may draw another Jonah
gasping from the deep – lift clear.