its talons are for real


We moved through a smog thicker than coal-dust
filled with angry cries.
I couldn’t recognize
my guide, only her humming through a gust

of wind.  The moon was a copper disk
printed faintly rust-green
over that desolation –
like a hovering fingerprint, a mask

for Queequeg, Abraham – a penny
for Liberty, glinting
from the dark well (hinting
freedom, good will, where there wasn’t any).

A doubloon for Mammon flickered so
below shrouds of the Pequod
many an aching tattoo would
echo in blood that talent for woe.

Marine Corps taps (trompette marine).
Memory shapes emblems
like coral wreaths... drums
weave light fleece mandala, copper green

& gold.  Like an iron spring wound
taut into infinity,
one Mendelssohn memory
emerges from my swampy ground –

the ancient plow we found, Heidi
& dragged back home together
through April weather
(iris blooming like a peacock’s eye


out of dead bulbs that never die).
The tarnished metallurgy
Iron Age surgery
some Raven-shaman shall (with high

& fluting Light Warlpiri) bring
might lift our eyes again
to one galactic common
wheel, that voices in Ark-Argo sing –

Hagia Sophias in Yezidi throng
to harmonize their peacock
tongues, & nations flock
to chime each footnote of a brazen gong.

The Word flies backward so, before Babel.
Its talons (like a raptor-
seal of olive-arrows) are
for real – to carry us from Hell

to Paradise, fledged by free will;
its almond eye (above
the pyramid) is Love –
forever fair & kind & true, until

the splendor of infant Creation
shines like Sacajawea
from green Equadoria
justice & liberty combine

in meek Franciscan poverty
to weld the planetary
flora into Primavera
sunlight-gold... bright solidarity.


Minneapolis Star-Tribune, 3.21.17

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