the family woodpecker


Quiet today along the river.
In the steep ravine, only
the Morse drum-talky
of the family Woodpecker

interrogates the oaks with hollow
query.  Where are you,
worm?  Job’s blue.
Ice-packed for the long, Nile-slow

Egyptian winter, thick with Pharaoh-
dolour, pyramidical –
ridiculous cyclical
suffering, encased in snow.

It’s not his fault, & he will tell you so.
O, if these canyons were
only in a book!  We’re
leaving – desiccated, delicate.  Don’t go.

The poet has her humors – she’s
devoted to them, wholly.
Lear’s wise Fool, she’ll
follow Boaz carrying the heaves

out loud, in sheaves.  The polis, too,
be uncobbled knowledge.  What
vaguely familial knot
of rivals, bickering horseshoe

favors for grubs, is this?
Not Man-Eat-Too-Much
or Minotaur – no, such
rapacity’s reserved for the abyss


of Pole Star Netherworld (Étoile
du Nord).  Little Crow
stood there, y’know –
with the Red Wing clan, in a potted bowl

of leers.  Stood with the scapegoat
as a prophet should – charisma
whirling in the twister-eye
(magenta bronze, the serpent-calumet).

Who sees him sky-hole in this mess?
Light imperturbable
as Mississippi burble
through a transparent lamb-lattice –

the holeness of that holy garment
parti-colored Joseph wore,
shellacquered semaphore
way under limestone sediment

of painful jealousies & wounded hate.
Her singular vocation,
musing on desolation
til scarred earth-pangs abate –

bored by a dream of early days.
Canoe of Camelot,
Lake-Lady’s thunder-knot...
the old bare dance, woodpecker maze

of placid Oak-Gal Day – a writ of spring
(St. Vitus 1913
Paris Corn Maiden)
that joins Creation to Thanksgiving.


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