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.


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