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).