stone, water, light, fire


The agitations of a stone thrown in the stream
make ripples that become
a smooth continuum
of moving wheels.  One Gothic beam

draws light through stone and water –
blending elements
into high bafflements
of rainbow glass, mind with nature

beyond nature, reason with wonder.
Agnes – her exacting threads
trace Ariadne’s leads
through wilderness of sea & thunder.

Grant – his strange & strict constructions
spin a decussated
dream landscape – fated
black dirt looming beneath confections

of late sunset West Branch foliage.
Why, then, this mirage
of images?  The poet’s rage
wells from embodied fury – & her voice

– Arachne’s, Ariadne’s – is mortal
as that scar-calendar
of dread Coatlicue
unsnagged by force from Mexican corral.

Her poem is cast-iron Poseidon-net
straight from the furnace,
thus : a human face
veiled by the smoke of calumet


morphing brute fraudulence to peace,
transmuting blank white
voids to violet
& moss-green habitats of paradise.

St. Maximus Confessor, musing
monk, articulated
in theory what unfolded
in reality – fusion of divine choosing

with human liberty in understanding,
in enactment, as the spirit
moves us : radiant
tangle of wheels into a double ring.

All spokes are joined there, in the personal –
as in a room near Golgotha
babble turned glossolalia
& tongues aflame lit one bright coronal.

The poet chants out of that mental fire
& dances like a Nazirite
her intellectual delight
inviting you & me to join the choir

around that altar of a rolling stone –
a living hearth-fire
of the Earth’s desire
for equilibrium, once we throw down

the Minotaur lodged in our hearts.
Malevolent violence & lust
& greed for dominance must
be renounced... & so the dancing starts.





The wave-factor on a riverboat
differs downstream (or
up).  Rocking the shore
like thread of Agnes Martin’s Night

Sea.  & we are far from home.
Waves of corny grain,
of grass, of wheat... Main
Street.  Grant Wood’s metronome.

He lived four blocks from Henry Negus.
Farmer turned lawyer-
transportation czar
(bus co.) in Iowa City – is

my namesake (great grandfather).
Quaker-shlepherd genehaulogy.
American Gothic, see (flea!) –
straight from dry-humus bow-bent flower.

Arbor Day.  Planting families
of fanatics in the grass –
another word for pass
the ammunition, Grandma.  Crazies,

huh?  All-American.  Beyond
the scope of Scopes Trial,
Solomon... we’re all
afloat upon some stinkin’ frogpond

paddle-wheeler.  Gothic was light
pontoon (Jerusalem).
Grail-Sepulchre rim.
Gitchee-Pollen-Air, up & walkin’... right?



how to say hallelujah


The poem reaches like a zigzag vine
through thick vernacular
toward the actual here
& now (woodpecker in a pine).

Turbulent nation, giving birth
to glossolalia.
How to say hallelujah
in Osage, in downtown Fort Worth?

Don’t ask Dallas.  Some holy fool,
some mendicant small-fry
tried to catch Caesar’s eye
before that scapegoat kicked the stool –

you know the rule.  I’d’ve marched
if I had to.  The heat
made everything complete
hell.  Our very words parched

on our lips, like crackling cicada husk.
Some said he was coming back,
some just nibbled hardtack,
but all agreed – he could really busk,

back in the day.  Seldom was heard
a discouraging word, when
he blew that harp.  Listen,
disconsolate hearts.  What appeared

before you on the road to Emma’s
echoes again like dew
before morning – will do,
will do.  Old haunts of summers...



like spinning Jenny Gyre


The late-May lilacs are long gone
but light grey limbs
& the green leaves rim
the grass with shade yet, absent one.

The sound of an ocean softly seething
in the branches overhead.
Is she alive or dead –
my sainted, tainted Juliet?  Still breathing

somewhere?  Imago or Imogen...
merely some ghoulish Ravlin-
Gouldash revenant, then?
Some Beatrice-crystal-Poe routine,

arising ghastly from dank ditch-ravine?
But no... a memory
lifts all azury
from sparkle-spray beneath benign

leap of wide Golden Gate.  Almond-
eyed sprite, a-whirl
like spinning Jenny Gyre
balanced on catenary wire... light bond

that ravels tout le monde... infinite
undisplaceable safety net
& cloudy calumet
confirming universal concord... so be it!

Grave knot that tightens less & less
toward infinite regress
of infinitesimal kiss
(minute atomic balm of tenderness


merging without mixture or separateness).
Maximus once limned it thus,
the monk who bore witness
(with loss of limb) for concept Orthodox –

incarnate knot of human & divine,
united unlikeness – like
that tomb slab, a limestone block
marked by what seems a breaking line

but only seems; the two are one
in one Person, of three
in all; still guarantee
amid the waltz of turning sun & moon

of Love’s immoveable eternity.
Out of deep matrix
of Ocean – intergalactic
scheme of merry stars in that sea...

inconceivable conception of
all origins (harmonic
correlations, thick
with measureless & dancing life).

The Manitou all people know,
Aquinas wrote.  The God
who dreamed this serenade...
we meet you in the shady slough

beneath great knots of wild grapevines
beside the muddy Jordan –
down by where solitary John
once cast a seine for Jonah (safety lines).



conducting veinous electricity


These three mud-clay homunculi
hung from pink ribbons
in my tent – lumpy remains
from some Dance of Death?  My

mother must have brought them back
from Mexico (mud-angels
to guard her potter’s wheel).
Coatlicue of Quauhnahuac,

adamant Madre of encrusted Time!
Out of your bottomland
whirls eye-in-hand –
out of Monk’s Mound’s perennial slime...

Clay muscles rolling stone – conducting
veinous electricity –
out of nothing come to be
loaves loafing from the oven (rising,

singing).  A moss-green Isis by the Nile
(or in West Branch) you
rain your rivers blue,
compassionate Magdalen – your smile

lifts Jesús from the grave, raises
Enrique from the cemetery
too (some ordinary
day on Earth).  Hobo Jay cleanses

all hearts, rinses eyes with river-clay –
sighs, EPHPHATHA.  From boulders
God can lift up equal daughters,
equal sons... just look at buried Henry-manqué!



Reasoning about the existence of God tonight ?

Back in my Caesar salad days, I used to ham it up on the old blog almost every waking slumber.  My forte (whether by music, poetry or pure verbiage) having always been improv - "uniquely suited" (as they say) to extensive bloggification on all matters pertinent and impertinent - I was having a field day every night.

Oh well, enough about that.  I've been reading - trying to read - an extremely dense and philosophically technical book by Denys Turner, titled Faith, Reason and the Existence of God (Cambridge UP, 2004).  It's one heck of a meatloaf.

Turner is defending against an old traditional challenge to St. Thomas Aquinas.  He's too rational, he's too philosophical : and as such, he veers too far toward the "natural", the secular, the humanist, the agnostickal, the pantheist, etc.  Turner is also challenging those contemporary theologians who have basically surrendered any rational argument for theism, on behalf of an interpretation of "negative theology", apophaticism, & so forth, which disallows rational argument on behalf of mystical (post-rational?) faith.

I'm not doing Turner justice, and am bowdlerizing & totally messing up what this extremely logically assiduous scholar engage is trying to say.  Nevertheless, I'm on his side.

After working through, very carefully, the alternative mentalities of Kant, Bertrand Russell ("the world is just a fact") and a few other prominent agnostics, Turner comes around to defending, very obliquely, very elegantly, the logic of Aquinas, regarding the one most basic & most profound children's question at the heart of philosophy and religion : Why is there anything, rather than nothing?

Sit back and think about it, quietly, for a while.  La vida es sueno.

There is no simple "positively theological" answer to this basic question, as Turner makes clear.  Negative theology, "apophaticism", is inherent in our reasoning itself : because we know we cannot explain how God has produced this intricate dream-cosmos.  The question ends in wonder.

Which leads Turner, and Aquinas (and me) back to the delicate distinctions of the Chalcedonian creed.  We know God only through her manifestation as the conjunction of differences : the human-divine Person... "without separation, without confusion..."

Love manifest as infinite mystery, gift, harmony... and, in the end (at the center of interplanetary melody) - victory, glory, law, fulfillment, redemption.  Star of Redemption... promised land, "kingdom of heaven".

Don't ask me to explain.  Bird has left the cage.


the poem is a sort of Edicule


So then, the poem is a sort of Edicule?
My allegory’s all unglued.
Runny gouache, stewed
river clay.  Some no-count school.

The building, trembling in devolution
shored up like a veteran
with iron-rivet skeleton.
Metamorphosis by desperation.

My babble-model of the cosmos –
molded on a mini-dome
within a dome (Jerusalem-
fond matryoshka doll).  The keys

to a box, where lie a bunch of keys.
Over meleki limestone
slab, one forest olive-green
icon.  Your madre of collapsing gaze

rains down (with her clay ointment jar).
He is not here, he
is not here.  She’s
muted as trumpet, or Morning Star –

an eye-in-hand, an ocean tear.
Light blazes (calmly
coruscant undying day).
He is not here, he is not here.

Wind mews in muscular oak tree.
They’re up in Galilee,
maybe Cahokia... you’ll see.
Inventing deeds of agape – live poetry.



only Osage land


July... all the baby flags.
Every bright young lamb
tuck to torment in Vietnam.
Lyndon moon-face – how it sags.

Hubris... alien, demonic force
unhinged from humility
(vomitgreen parrot pity).
Folds bomber-wings in remorse

after all.  Neither national
nor international;
only irrational
(November’s double coronal).

I’ll finish off this work in progress
now, Columbia –
OK?  Oklahoma’s
only Osage land (but I digress).

& poetry?  Is just a conversation
among singed beans.
You joint it, Henrythin,
to ease U-Haul into elation

(somehow).  That OK.  The heart
is made of meleki limestone
(royal).  43 lamps shine
down upon them groove.  What

now, Henry?  What hum?  What ghost
flit as yum turtledove
‘bove fry Friday pirate cove?
What smile lightum up (coruscant host)?



ledge of regal limestone


The cool dry tesserae congeal
in Sant’ Apollinaris –
dance, coalesce
into high figures of a royal seal.

Exalted features... recognizable.
Your neighbors (Limentani).
Riding bikes to the sea
to get away from scent of stable

(Mussolini’s racehorses).
That was then; this
is placid Minneapolis.
We’re not like them, of course (off-course).

The constitution of a human pledge
blazons these images
from pencil-boxes... pages
scratched out.  Natasha’s ledge

of regal limestone – living rock,
streaked honey-colored
marble.  Moss-layered
icon, limpid under chopping block.

Our covenants of disputation
rest on implicit ground;
Rhode Island in the round,
an Ocean State of transmutation.

The bond of love is clean as salt,
as plain as day.  We are
redeemed by holy fire.
The one you seek has left the vault.



stone for bread, bread for stone


The soupy heat slouches toward
July.  Flesh sags &
drips, we’re breathing und-
erwater.  Jonah’s gone overboard.

A billion fins of fans rotate,
create more heat.  Hobo
lies flat under a willow.
He daydreams of an ancient date

by Highland Water Tower; the whole town
spread before them, just
beyond the graveyard.  Lost
her name somewhere.  Don’t drown

me in false memories, he begs.
Canova’s statue (broken)
of George Washington
writes its own ave over his crossed legs.

Farewell, Columbia.  Guard well
her statue in the harbor.
Beggar not they neighbor.
Muzzle Nero, tripping up from hell.

That shimmering seine, the veil of Isis
shrouds the face of Henry’s
Clover.  Out of bleakness
of the grave, young spring may rise;

beyond the azure of the Golden Gate
one facet of euphoria –
one artophoria
of stone – revives... brings light to fate.



conversation for kids


The Hebrews found a verbal replica
for Pharaoh’s pyramids.
Conversation for kids
(& sheep, & goats).  It was Jehovah

came to intervene, to interview.
Some saw an Oedipal
triangle – shadow wall
of mud-baked bricolage (dream stew);

some saw trois anges, craning down
from Paradise – to speak
with Abraham, Sarah, Isaac
(that lightning twin would play the clown).

The pyramids are office towers.
No one will explain
how so much pain
depends on callous fingers (ours).

The just one wears a diamond pin
stuck through the heart –
IN SUMMA SUBTILIS (wide-eyed dolphin).

The Middle of the World, he said
& made the sign of six
ways (willow sticks,
or cottonwood).  So truth’s inbred.

Her little pearl of rectitude
is portable – rides
water as a cheek glides
tears.  That’s all (beatitude).



yodeling in Mendelssohn


The mind is like a little mirror
& the word is like
a mirror in that lake.
We skated there, one ancient year –

across the icy glass, Heidi.
In Mendelssohn, sweet
neighborhood (complete
Garden of Cyrus now, in memory).

A melody of day-lilies cheers Henry
Hobo (by the Mississippi).
He might be somebody
you know – booked into penitentiary?

Sol.  Solo.  Absent Sheba
browses in another aisle
(archived in old Rhode Isle).
Her ship’s in search of Colchia

lambswool – seamless gold web,
mute mutuality –
griot reality
lofted to laughter (on Mount Horeb).

Square triangles of pyramids
fit into portable log
cabin logarithms, Mag.
Your stone’s a tiny tablet, hid

beside that lake, in Galilee –
a solidarity
sodality, a party
writ on water.  Fountain, artistry.



by the long slow delta-mouth


That line of poplars in the Corot distance
like on the way to Ravenna
or along the Seine, Papa
– no, only the topmost branches

of a simple sycamore in Providence
– no, just a maple
in Minneapolis.  O ample,
inexpressible, tongue-tied inheritance!

In the heart of the heart of the country
maybe.  Where anguish lives
alongside hope – conceives
the origin of time-&-space, Henry –

this wilderness of unfound, foundered
land.  This knotted maze
where a wood casket will blaze
(portable grail, marine crossroad)

the suddenly articulate harmony
of an integral universe
like that scene on a vase
when Isaac, Ishmael & Melpomene

leave town together, shaking tambourines
a procession to seashore
on the blind side of Minotaur
throwing down scimitars, carbines

for their Thanksgiving celebration
by the long slow delta-
mouth   at the seething O
& ah   bright flash   of seraph exultation



O day-song of a day


Some ancient Oklahoma sage
knows life as integral
& whole.  A round corral
of circle dance (light wind on stage).

One heartbeat, straight from Manitou.
John in the river, calling
each to prayer, & fasting –
washing clean (life to renew).

The little red plastic lawn chair
Sophie uses catches
the sun.  Minuscule edifice
subject to ridicule, she will suffer

small kids to be comfortable here.
Her persecuted refugee
will be your judge someday –
the heart of old Bluejay casts out fear.

Some perfect day in June, she’ll come
for you...  Shine, raving dove
from Resurrection grave!
She’ll ask what you have done, she’ll sum

you up.  And it’s not too late
(amid these arcs of oak
& pine) to add your spoke
to the wheel of penetrating light –

to hear Natasha’s whispered promise
in the ear of Mandelstam
& join the rapture of a psalm
clasped in her kiss within a kiss.



American Gothic


This light foam of wild spring clover
on a green hummock, like
a burial mound, back
to the river... O my Irish rover.

& only the plain brown smock
on a Quaker wife
(with the quincunx life-
crux) remains – to lead the flock

in a morris dance (slim track
to paradise).  American
Gothic.  Meridian
through cornland, by the clapboard shack

which was Birthplace of Herbert Hoover
where a Belgian oasis
for inscrutable Isis
echoes the cenotaph to Henry’s Clover

(the other Henry, in another city).
Wind wafts through green
montage like a has-been
Hobo, wheezing dew (for pity).

Hard to make a go of it, under
them glum St. Louee flying
spirit-flings!  Crying’s
no help – you have to be Apollinaire.

The spray, the veil, the rosy foam.
The train, the backward boots.
Minotaur, with his galoots.
Ariadne with her pigeon, humming home.



bring it all to bear (she-bear)


This Hobo, then – who he?
Lounging by Mississippi
lumpy, caw-caw-hokey
groaning accidentally for She-

Bear – as for primordial Iris.
Great purple monarch,
Theodora in birchbark –
like unto Micòl, or MLK (who is

& was & will be, by the light
of Milky Way).  His Big
Rock Candy brig
like a Black Sea barred-owl frigate

slants downstream, toward Colchis
or N’Orleans golden fleece –
& that arc, that St. Louis
centerpiece, shaped an L for his

Osiris lance (his buoyant flatboat
horizontal).  Troubled in mind,
some perpetual blind
haunt (old King Unfort, behind his moat).

& the whole American Dream lies
like dustbowl wasteland
of frosted heart, hard hand.
Sleepwalkers, unredeemed Henries



yoked to their stock.  An iron band
for an age of iron years,
until they can weep tears
again... up to the waist in river-sand.

Providence is in our eye,
he mumbles to himself.
In Ocean State – elf-
green, Rose Island red... (sigh).

Immaculate, born from the sea...
baptism for Columbia,
the Jonah-Dove.  Selah.
An overlay, a palimpsest... a little tree

of life & liberty... an ark
bearing a covenant
of loving-loyal parent,
child – for you, America.  Embark.

Into the open sea of universality,
where the human fingerprint
whorls to its fundament –
that knot of radiant mutuality –

the heart’s own ruby (in a sapphire ring).
So melt the iron with a diamond
flame, graft flowering almond
to the great oak’s mistletoe, & bring

the limping Hobo-King into her limpid
shade, moss-green & grey...
Hagia Sophia, who shall be
statutes of Liberty – dancing, embodied.



hummingbird hum


A ruby-throated hummingbird
zips past my hideout
like a Feirefiz out
of Wolfram.  Parzival inquired

at last – What ails thee, unstrung king?
& tears of fellow-feeling
poured from that Grail-thing
wrapt from all eyes.  Dovewing-

featherlight, yet penetrating stone –
translucent as stained glass
above tall quarry-house
of God’s emerald-&-ruby throne;

& waves radiate from your Ocean-
Shadow, like the flowing beard
of an Ancient of Days.  Mild,
domestic weather.  We are all children

of one family, Turtledove coo-coos...
Come into the Riverboat
of Paradise, & float
upon a Fontegaia (green, chartreuse).

Dive into Dream River, Orpheus,
Eurydice... the River King
is on his dais, chanting
the origin of everything (in caritas).

We are all offspring of a Thunderbird
who lights the way with lightning –
guiding tears to clay, shaping
these bones into gemstones (flameward).



not kingly oak


Not kingly oak, nor prescient almond...
just some pale cottonwood.
Moon milky-green, for good
measure.  Shedding vagabond

fluffballs – like poetry, or
cotton boles – bales
for Memphis, N’Orleans...
spry limbs bent into hangin’ tree.

I go into jags & eddies, dried
pemmican.  Downstream
from vinegar dream-
sponge (where the Bre’r-man died).

If the Word were truly a fluffball of light
I would be acorn coracle
green mote on miracle
worker spinal curvature (bent wight).

It gleams through red Pipestone
peacepipe – an emerald
happiness, turned gold
as sunshine.  Welcome, Everyone!

Translucent presence of a place
for you, before all places
cling to timespaces...
a nest for omnipresent Falcon-Ace.

Benevolent breeze, that moves these leaves
to waver into swing-time
antimatter – chime
morning with Hope (sings in the sheaves).



serene enchantment


Springtime earth bears a secret promise
for that unknown child
somewhere, today – mild
summons of the midnight stars

foretell the coming of her Magi, too.
May burgeons toward her
flowery grand fanfare
beneath its vault (red, lilac, blue) –

a royal seal of lilac coronation;
within that dome’s one
multiocular panopticon
prophetic voices merge in exaltation –

serene enchantment of perennial life
blooming toward light itself
(O fragrant almond staff
sprouting sweetness – beyond all strife).

The infant nested in a great oak’s shade
smiles in soft seaborne air.
Ocean will prepare
her Restoration Day – as you were made

in the beginning, so shall you be again.
Shining in Paradise,
where all the rivers rise;
gemstones of blazing men & women

awakening from mind’s blindness.
Under an azure-orange arch
they sail... grail-search
fulfilled – Love’s everflowing happiness.



Whitsun yodeling


Hobo goes with the flow of things,
he sinks into the green
entanglement of vine
& grape, the stream’s faint ripplings.

His logos is a Lincoln knot
scratched into driftwood
while Turtledove cooed
overhead (so reads Coyot’).

The knot binds everything, as with
her singing spine, the Argo
bound over il Mar Nero
Noé’s noeud of adoration (myth

turned moth turned monarch seal).
Echoes from a cave
one vanished brave –
Love’s breadcrumb, who became a meal.

All come to bloom in memory...
as the canoe in the garage
scented with Micòl-image
breathes again inscript in Bassani.

A grail of dew sprinkles the summer grass
with Hobo’s oasis-gems;
yearning no one condemns
uplifted where it shall not pass –

into that monarch-realm of dark cedar
where a thrush warbles
& salt breeze marbles
lilac dusk (by Po-Boy River).