looking out a window


I’m getting older, while the day’s
becoming lighter.  As
in Mary Gould’s last
watercolor (Bardsey Island, Wales) –

looking out a window from brown shade
of cave-like room, toward
April greensward.
Frail hand... pale grass, overlaid

with stone outcrop... old walls, old cross
(Romano-Celtic maze).
Delicate spring promise
from an ancient vault (Natasha’s

limping that way now, with me).
Her temple’s labyrinth –
sea-goddess, Amaranth –
only a sheep-door, west of Galilee;

only this frozen winterworld
all thatched with foot-
prints (near that ice-hut
where Henry’s burr-man hurled

like a cedar waxwing to mistaken ice).
Crabapple food for golden
beaks... spiritual gates, folding
for abject mortals (Minnesota nice)

into a paper bird from Paris, maybe –
Apollinaire’s turban
or Marianne’s tricorn
mayhap – dancing a crane-dance (starry


sacrifice) with shuttle-pagination.
Ariadne on the golden floor
rhyming with Morning Star
east of Cahokia – her crown of corn

lifting like Liberty (or Spirit
of St. Louis) for a
constellation (Columbia) –
gray-winged Jonah of an old planet

molting to Thunderbird out of the new.
Each Troy-town so will show
her Julia, Iulus, Juno –
or Sophie, prancing here and now

across the parapet of innocence
like dew upon the brow
of childhood’s rainbow –
O bright helm of human sentience!

Behold a Union, fused in fire & light
of soul-transfiguration –
people, ever-living, stony-bright!

You see that Gate as through an old
& shady window, in a bed-
sit somewhere (in the Hebrides?).
Old stones, light green, grass-emerald...

sprung out of the eternal vault
like Livingstone out of jungle,
where fiery spirits mingle
in a playful dance... – her statue, Walt!



quiet end of the year


At the quiet end of the year,
among the barn smells
a chilly infant wails –
a refugee.  Shepherds draw near.

He is king.  His mother is
queen.  His father is
a mule-driver (was,
anyway) – Vietnamese,

I think?  They live in Egypt now.
They’ve never seen Ghiberti’s
Gates of Paradise
that brazen lava overflow

to metamorphoses of fiery dream
and rock – sedimentary,
igneous, flickery...
roiling sun to spring, upstream;

they’ve never been to Providence
or heard the Rose Ensemble
whose violas tremble
with harmonious transience...

they live the poverty of innocence.
Light flickers in a manger.
Someone senses danger –
cows murmur, chickens grow tense...

enormous shadows of the monster-men
leer over flesh & blood.
It is the shadow of the rude
star burning in the last heaven


– the red star, bringing rectitude
out of the mild mien
of that child-man –
incarnate stony magnitude

heavy past sullen measurements
of every swollen tinpot
despot in his chariot.
Matrix of cosmic elements –

the figure of a man emerges,
burning in brazen tongs
and glossolalia of tongues
from every tribe.  Sea surges

multitudinous, incarnadine...
Ocean called universe
forging one verse
with arches (catenary, almondine).

So combers crested in a tower –
moonbright Witch’s Hat
tenting her desolate
oak-limbs (snowy owl’s bower).

Quetzalcoatl, brazen serpent,
lift each refugee of time
into your feathered rhyme
of flame.  Your flicker-tongue, sent

dancing into each soul’s paradigm –
the sparkling river, bent
back to its fundament;
Love’s cavern, salting every lime.



digging in the dirty green


The dirty green of the dollar bill.
Gardener George, earwigged
on one side (with a big
little Mona Lisa smile).

The eye over the pyramid (annuit
coeptis) on the other.
Levitating, mother!
Mammon, touching his limit –

a gilded pharaoh, forced to step
sideways (into the river-
sand).  Busy beaver
out of Illinois might be princeps

round here (nobody knows
til all the votes are counted).
We are all the Lord’s anointed
Preacher-Judge (siege perilous)

leers in the face of b-flat storm –
Cordelia, ascend
your throne, bend
everyone to teeming agape (love’s form).

The government shall be upon
his shoulder (right to left)
until the desolate bereft
& greedy soul relents – a human

Imogen emerges, lowly
& victorious.
Dancing the periplus
of Arg-Noah (144, aye-aye).



Traverse des Sioux


Down by the Minnesota River
choked with fertilizer –
shallow brown water of
Traverse des Sioux.  It was here

the white man stole the territory
with treaty signed in smoke
(fake handshake, mock
friendship).  We didn’t mean it – sorry.

Eleven years later (1862)
starved, dispossessed
the scar broke open (led
by blue, reluctant Little Crow).

Extermination of the buffalo
echoed the reservation
camp.  To build a nation
all these savages must go.

The lightweight arc of birch canoe
is like an eyebrow (wingbone
frame, sutured to one
Rose Island – lamp of Manitou).

We’re limping back to Providence.
The whole grotesquerie
of violence & perfidy
to be forgone (washed in the silence

of the sea).  Down Mississippi way
you feel a salty shell wash
through fingers... an eyelash
leach one tear, slowly.  Hey ey.



part of a panorama


You want to understand the metaphysical basis
of these innumerable poems-
après-poems.  Sherlock Holmes
might just as well (go home).  Faces

crowd the apparitions – bow
wet black petals
into wreath-portals;
Nile barge (or Venice funeral-scow).

Sometimes the dishwasher breaks down (just now).
Anton Gàg died young.
Paint fumes (bad lung) –
Bohemian lifestyle in New Ulm (& how

his seven kids survived, I dunno).
Painted Dakota braves
advance through dry sheaves
hungry for ground (1862)...

We’re part of a panorama, Melody;
some Mendelssohn concerto
swelling to tomorrow...
Nature renewed by grace (slow psalmody).

The flat river was calm today.
The bridge craned upward
in a mirror, downward.
Man & God in Maggie’s puffer, aye.

Aunt May (out of Glasgow) beset
my father (John Douglas)
with needless trials, alas;
the ship of faith already left the port.