Philadephia harbor


Stewart’s old print of Philadelphia harbor
(1821).  The great shade tree
by the shore, so peacefully
imposing.  What’s America for?

The benign bonheur, hovering over
our intricate pursuits
of same.  The one who loots
forcefields of dominance, mon frère,

may never find this canopy
of feathery leaf-
grace, hopeful belief...
for we the people brook no satrapy –

relentless justice of the golden rule
the frame of human dignity;
law’s equilibrium of equity
our guarantee of commonweal.

My own boat pilots back to Mendelssohn
so slowly, through such vast
flat riverlands.  Her mast
a pine tree split from almond Someone

cloudy shadow of a smile (O shady oak).
Your heavy clay, Coatlicue –
the chilly violence you
still portray – fired to a silver spoke

as fine as spiderweb, becomes a sign.
Your limestone epitaph –
a serpentine & fractal staff
fractured for us, broken for bread & wine.



those double doors


Those double doors of the Baptistery
in Florence, where Alighieri
was restrained from returning.  He
might have admired the mastery

of Lorenzo Ghiberti – that golden river
of perfection, surging from
Eden to Gesthemani... some
inscrutable summa of Prime Mover

spoked in parables of heartbreak
& confusion (Miriam, lifting
both hands in agony).  So bring
what you have to a blindman’s break-

fast, to her Thanksgiving feast.
From the belly of a whale
came Jonah whole & hale
as dolphin-breach (O swift grey beast)!

The linèd forehead of Leviathan
is like your own... therefore
be not dismayed.  Footsore
mule, flinty thin Prophet Stan,

your Livingstone (still at the Nile)
holds firm against the flow
of time – your steadfast glow
upon the brow of them who show.  Smile,

Indigo!  Passage to more than blue!
– these equilibria
of gyroscape... mute
mutualità, below the soil... deep rescue!



How to be God's friend?


The lifesaver : a fruity ring
invented by Hart Crane’s
father.  Across the plains
yawing wind-wagons roll.  Something

akin to Grant Wood corn, maybe –
an icon.  All’s figures,
counsels holy Zero
Summer.... Burchfield parody

(complete with feverish Light-
in-Gale).  Deep swampland
heartland, over sand-
fly latitudes.  God’s outa sight;

Dad’s a kind of Kingfish, generous
in all the wrong ways.
Those were the dog days.
Rain... unlikely hymn (so mysterious) –

another author, just beyond the pale.
Moses climbs from his dinghy
ready to shake that thingy –
waterspew from Rock (a Word, set sail).

How to be God’s friend? ask
the Friends.  Williams hectored,
but he left on record
how to walk humbly (high shellfish task)...

Friends gathered in a Rhody cave.
Silence is best response
to Charlie’s dalliance.
Our Author is a friendship trope – to save,

not to condemn.



I am what I ham


The night train rumbles like a ghost
of iron over the bridge
over the river.  Sage
Minnehaha, Hobo loves you most.

He’s lying by the muddy bank
trying to clear his head.
Everything he’s read
demands – who am I to thank?

The driftwood spines of shattered books
surge downstream, sink.
Think, Hobo, think –
a deadman’s glancing you posthumous looks.

Twin humps in winter refuse
under the lamp-green
of young leaves...  Scene :
pillars try an almond (Moses, Jesus).

Through teenage foliage coheres
the rust-brown iron magnet
of one (hold tight!)
modal mine of shifting gears –

the rocky profile of a personal friend,
who’s center’s nowhere
& who’s hairline is (look there,
Horatio!) nowhere near the end.

A sibyl croons from the ancient world
whose prince is dancing
naked by the prow.  Sing,
mickle dam... like slingshot hurled.



one Coke hand


High fan of infant cottonwood leaves.
Their light-green spray,
pale sign of spring today.
Come late (come early May).  Cleaves

to the swollen river – spewing snowmelt,
winter flotsam, garbage.
Nature floats this mirage
of metaphors... for what the Sibyl spelt.

Your sister-dove (Jeannette-Columbia).
Shade of Beatrice –
plumb-bob Eurydice,
sounding the depths of Sheol (ephphatha).

On this day in 1775
Little Rhody broke the tie
with Mother England.  Die
is cast.  The wasps have left the hive.

Still an ineffable spider-bridge
dangles its catenary M
between two pillars.  Hymn
of Wisdom’s unbreakable pledge –

octave uniting heaven & human,
person to person – one
Coke hand, spun
to Ocean State... wide chordal span!

Your mirror of primordial Sea
(reflecting golden doors
of Baptistery) pours
lilac-joy – Love’s ripe To Be.



be manifest, be imminent


Nestled in his city of rivers & bridges,
hidden in his cabin
of Lincoln logs, alone
like that baby screech owl (wedged

in his cozy cottonwood hideout)
Hobo will contemplate
his May-time temperate
zone, his mild creation, riverine, remote.

Knotted by Amor – like an Incan quipu-
net, like a ruby bud
of that burbling Word
afloat so murkily nearby (his Brook of Q).

Ahav-be-manifest – be imminent
as hale touché-scapegoat
whose royal honey-kismet
soldered Okean to oak – bent

light to leaden doomroad (East
to West).  Jerusalem
gleams in the sun – shalom,
shalom to the returning one!  A feast

for the soul of yon American
blindfolded rambler.
Holy fool, shambler-
yurodivy, from Voronezh to San Fran

you’ll meander, like an old river
& mumble of a Union
equable & all-human –
soft Tuscan hills, moss-green forever.



all glory, laud & honor


The homeless Mandelshtams – Nadezhda,
Osip – shelter in the Hermitage
beneath a Rembrandt image.
Theotokos with Child – da, da

the yellow-black goldfinch, perched
upon his pudgy palm.
Invisible museum
in the mind.  Like Hagia Sophia (arched

Argo of a million eyes) whorled
in one prow... her kelson
Love’s bright apparition –
equilibrium of peaceful world.

All glory, laud & honor...
the sensus comunis
of common good is
at your service (humble, poor) –

Franciscan mule of stubborn heart
whose fast is doing
(in twilight fast fading) –
out to the glimmer-rim of art

back to the ember-glowing hearth.
The honor of the civitas
so shaped by selflessness
into a form of equity – in truth

& mirth, transparency... your wings
in flight, O Tyche-Liberty
humble Columbia (Black Sea
to Golden Gate) Nadezhda brings.



rolling logos contest


Like the 1001 Nights, or a man
facing a firing squad
who just keeps talking (odd
bird – Cassandra in a coal mine,

prophet without honor) so
I go on.  Smoking
bloody forest of broken
ships – keening keel of Argo...

who can lift the great acorn
model Constitution?
Strong whiff of glue,
my son.  The safety net is gone.

Impalement of the nations
on Stalagmite 17.
Thin poets bleed between
the cracks in their creations.

Somehow the acorn is a lightweight
coracle.  Behold an order
older than disorder –
Aurora Borealis, lifting slate

steps up to bonfire (Milky Way).
Your molten magnanimity
from nothingness – to be...
becomes a Minotaur’s nightmare (hey

yo).  The absence of a Someone,
croaks Crow (Solomon
anti-authoritarian) –
presence of a maze (swamp season).



limestone eyelid


The smoking poilu, in his pink turban
like a blasted basilica
bent over Ravenna
marshland.  Many thousand gone.

His ferrous requiem for Texas heron –
wings on migration,
Zion to destination
unknown (indifferent shotgun).

A ghost dance of repetitive waves.
Arthur in Otranto,
Geo in Ferrara...
Micòl & Black Elk (lead-gray graves

in crowds).  A quiet cemetery
full of new-mown grass.
They Shall Not Pass.
Heaven & earth... won’t fade away.

The Magdala Stone... hasn’t figured
yet.  Her equilibrium
of magnanimity (come,
stay!) – like rain over the weird

Mammon of idle selfishness...
a motive for release.
She’s coming, Orpheus –
returning, Willy – rose of Inverness

or little almond tree – Mary
shedding lambent grace
or Jenny Falcon-Ace –
Love’s fiery knot (bright quipu-tree).



domestic hellenism


Imagine a humble Rembrandt world
(domestic hellenism, say)
where everything is (replay,
rusty Super-8) revealed –

unsealed, familiar testament
wherein you were sown
amid Grant Wood corn
(Birthplace of Herbert Hoover), bent

beneath pewter thunderheads
like wheat long-planted
at a battlefield (wind-
harrowed silos, homesteads).

By the rude bridge that arched the flood
– the wordspan, carved against
despair (Grace hastens
with her furnace-lamp... slight lift of mood)

here once the embattled farmers stood
– measuring early earth,
where your Dream (4th
of J?) becomes flesh & blood

& fired the shot heard round the world.
Ariosto in Ferrara,
say – that avian eye
on tyranny (Limentani’s branded

heron-lid).  Poetry is resistance
against the Emperor
of pyramidal distemper;
Concord... Voronezh... (buoyant equivalence).



ship of wind


A prairie fire like a freight train
fed by wind (your searing
Word).  Not for hearing
but for doing... here it comes again.

Will cauterize your poetry
to cinder of Egyptian
barge.  Lips burn
ice friezes (hay society).

A replica of ancient Greece,
delicate, peevish...
stern Rome’s thievish
siblings (disguised in fleece).

The Pilgrims’ covenant of winter
light – bewildered, free –
a broken redwood tree
(toppled by Oldman’s greedy splinter-

group).  The milk train of the nations
merges with its blistered
rails.  Longfellow heard
rain fall... Berryman damnations.

Who shivers like a flame against
the edge?  Is it Henry
hisself (decrepit Limentani)?
The canoe in the garage (All Saints’

Day shrine)?  Her candle, wavering
above extinction... hum
of rock-dove (columbarium).
Rose bridge of lips, life-savoring.



Reminiscences of 1865


Today we recall the tall gaunt pioneer
with Peruvian cheekbones.
His fifth scene atones
for all that blood shed in anger

at the righting of wrongs; his brief turn
by the Gettysburg graveyard
consumes, with a perfect word,
our kindled rage in bright compassion.

The creaking panorama of all wars
since Cain killed Abel, here
slows, crawls... Ford Theatre –
whose British farce on Yankee manners

stumbles from play to traitor’s hour.
Dusky similitudes...
old King of the Woods
hung from an oak (in Raven’s power)...

the tragic pattern rotates on a string.
Tyro, dangling puppets
tangled on parapets,
shuffles the script – the play’s the thing.

Your clear-eyed servant laughs his last,
cries, Come to my Thanksgiving
feast!  An overlay of evening
wash soaks its river of papyrus bast

in crimson, indigo, & brown.
Still life.  Peto.
Reminiscences on Yew.
Grey feather you must make your own.


spring crucible


Yesterday your birthday, Papa.
92, mild ghost.  Sun-wheel
set at Swan Point... seal
of a woman’s self-extinction.  Ah,

woeful calendar (Coatlicue).
Strife of father & son.
Friday black sun,
aboriginal sin (hey ey

yo).  Here in Minneapolis
snow, interring April
in one wide hexagonal,
preserves a buried man in ice

(Resurrection Cemetery).
Henry ascends the asphalt
path from heart’s tumult
to frozen Father of his Country.

Washington Ave. Bridge.  Yet
(wobbling, wavering
within your shadowy
ring of flame) – dawn’s pale promise!

Man’s faithless diffidence his own
life sentence, we
depend upon your mercy
to raft us into Libertas again –

mysterious Jonah in the “33”
(Mars’ den) whose hum
breaches delirium,
wind-bred to share (Nazarene glee).



tutelary loon


The river rifles arctic blue today
beneath nippy April wind.
Hobo his way will wend
downhill, ahoy, with the current, hey.

His notebooks stew in crumpled chaos,
like a Burchfield swamp in June –
half cricket calendar, half jejune
palimpsest (July stinks Janus).

Bleak melancholy in Ohio.
Spooks in lean eaves.
Storks bundling wet sheaves
across the ‘30s.  Good material, O.

Hobo looks up from bottomland.
He holds an eye-in-hand –
muddy Cahokia (one grain
of sand).  Just Clay’s j-jug band.

These bricks are 28 feet thick.
A pyramid, almost –
only Hunky Ghost
(Ho-Chunk) could make this stick-up

stick.  Like Killers of the Flower
Moon.  Getch’r Manitou
(just one gris dollar few)
before she get you.  Evening hour

now.  Mire-flowering almond tree
out of Voronezh (or Galilee) –
your mural crown, Tyche.
Hyacinth madeleine (waiting for me).



for Martin Luther King

          for Martin Luther King

Late April snow.  A blinding white
50 years after Lorraine
Motel.  Memphis, again.
River-Land, seeking an Ocean State.

Rich port-of-call – the 51st, maybe?
Lost Black Sea pebble,
gray whale in trouble
(silent in the silence).  Who is she?

Grace filters into Providence
through stubborn darkness.
Rose Island light – less
diamond than dawn translucence –

only a signal for a wayward eye.
A Chartres chart, or maze
from Notre Dame (haze
mollifies her frozen sky).

The sleepwalkers smolder through smoke-
machines.  Father & son,
their colder war passed on –
unfriendly history (life’s but a joke).

Still roses bloom, in Galilee –
galactic Okean
become a local pond;
folksinging Nazir calling me

to dance, & calling you as well.
Deep spring’s Unknowability
leaps into charity –
a little Noah-boat skims out of hell.



mumbling toward spring


To trace the plummeting ellipse
of these post-Easter flakes –
the hexagon each makes
a microcosm of the temple’s

lightweight, hollow honeycomb.
Awaiting his parousia...
ghost-dance Messiah,
Nazir out of Galilee-to-come.

Far-off tumult of primavera.
Genesis of purling springs.
Pale intermingling things
in punished neighborhoods (era

of Pharaoh, or Caesar).  Signals
from an early cave, or tomb.
Eternal vault (the womb
of patient Lazarus, of Jonah’s wails).

Natasha’s limp.... Clover’s marble
Isis-veil.  The keening
eye of Magdalen (far-seeing
heart).  A Galilean stable

where animals & refugees
breathe the same air.
Earth-time halts there –
her catenary thread a breeze

lifting twin pillars (Alpha &
Omega).  Planted so
in graveyard snow...
grain of renewal (to the end).


painting by Nancy Hart


with Grace (in memory)

                  i.m. Grace Tagliabue (1922-2018)

In that heavenly kingdom of Como, or Maine,
his ready bird-feather
will already be there
with you, Grace – to bring peace, to make plain

the origin of the Cosmos in love & joy –
his valiant light-heart
casting out fear with an art
like child’s play.  & you (his chief toy,

rest, dream) would be there, too –
answering love with love
from the deep, from above,
tracing that birdsong in robin’s egg blue

& loops of moss-green watercolor.
Since poetry – imagination –
is manuscript illumination,
you chose to let John’s words flower

like parchment flesh in a bath of rebirth –
& as time slowly waltzes us
toward our last contra dances
you help wash our feet on Earth

& ready us for that elfin circle-dance
in the kingdom of children &
animals & grains of sand
all sparkling in the galaxies... entrancing

Entrance to Eternity (your linen
wheel of emerald palm-
prints... infant calm
babble of Phoebe)... heaven’s amen, amen.

    with grace, from Grace, by grace 


the Ides of March in its idea


That brilliant peacock-feathered eagle
Joachim fingerpainted
on parchment (ancient
plummet out of Calabrian ingle-

cave) figured the Holy Ghost –
monarch of the air,
white-haired regal raptor
rapt to avenge every Tuscan boast.

I marvel at the prestidigitation
of the priestly mind –
the Akeda, a double-bind,
knotting its pivotal vocation

under the shadow of those gilded wings...
that mountebank YHWH
in his coyote way
the widerruf of pyramidal things.

Folktales & myths were a defense.
Mechanism of the nurse
to lullaby the curse
& soothe the children in their tents...

they builded better than they knew.
The king is dead, long
live the king.  Bong
sounds the gong – old Caesar’s through.

Absolute control is crumbling.
Even now, the axe
is laid to the root... don’t
ask.  Meek Joachim is mumbling.



speech after long silence


On Ghiberti’s “Gates of Paradise”
(bronze doors of Alighieri’s
Baptistery) mute eyes
read open palms as messages –

clouds’ condensation (mist & spray)
solidifies in glints
of angels’ footprints.
Cerements & shrouds (all hands... away).

Sauntering winter by the river
leaves only this ladder
of snow – bronze adder,
subterranean shiver (moon-silver).

Anonymous Zaccheus of Topsfield
fined for making friends
with Indians &
Quakers (150 years ground

on, before the Revolution
bent the tune).  We are
the salt within the Rio
del Espiritu Santo (many thousand

gone).  We are the Lenten corn
in a maze of amnesia
to the horizon (hallelujah).
Old Hole-in-the-Sky – buffalo-shorn

tepee – pyramid cathedral, aye.
Dark matter between Bear
& Lyre; grey mother,
Jonah’s poncho (oaken sigh).