Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these



This poem was first published in the journal West Branch.

“El Anatsui” : prominent Ghanaian sculptor, born 1944

“Anansi” : West African folktale character with Trickster qualities; often takes form of spider

“weaves diaphanous / Byzantium veils” : some of El Anatsui’s works are large wall hangings that shimmer with luminous colors, produced by threads, thin wires, bits of scrap metal and other materials

Something greater than fin-de-siecle Vienna...” : shimmering gold of wall-hangings calls to mind “Golden Phase” of Viennese artist Gustav Klimt.  Comparison framed in terms echoing Gospel text contrasting Jesus with other kings and prophets

“sinuous, sooth- // siring Solomon” : King Solomon, credited for wisdom.  Bible claims he authored thousands of poems.  The serpentine phrasing foreshadows allusions to Hart Crane in following stanzas

Makossa, Ebeano, Dark Sailor...” : evocative names of African beers whose bottle caps adorn the wall-hangings

“forlorn cells of Africa” : see Crane’s poem “Black Tambourine”

“amiable fellowship... diamond cobra” : fellowship of people of good will is source of the culminating “diamond cobra” (“wise as serpents”) of both human solidarity and beautiful art works

Solomon in all his glory...” : Jesus’ assertion that the beauty of wildflowers is greater than that of Solomon.  Glories of art returned to their source in nature and the earth

“field lilies, Flanders / epitaphs” : and the earth is also a grave.  Here motif of World War I first appears in R.D.

“Grandfather’s / brass shell, after St. Mihiel” : poet’s grandfather, Edward S. Gould, served as artillery captain in the AE.F.

“Copper wire, / steel helmets” : war contrasted to art, and El Anatsui’s use of these metals

“greater mettle” : pun on metal.  Creative art in a struggle with violence


Ravenna Diagram Reading Guide #8



“Hole-in-the-Day” : prominent Ojibwe chieftain who tried to rally tribal support for the 1862 Dakota uprising in Minnesota.  He was assassinated in 1868 near the Crow Wing Agency by a group of Ojibwe men.  Here, the raven is represented as a kind of “hole in the day”.

“left the ark” : Noah, on the ark, sent out ravens to look for signs of dry land

“Furnace... against azure” : raven in sky imaged as “anti-matter X-factor”, a metaphysical sign

“Oil-power” : pun on oeuil (French for “eye”).  Replays metaphorical changes on the “third eye” etc. of previous poems

“fodder for wretched // prophet” : the prophet Elijah was fed by ravens sent by YHWH

“Hovers / outside” : the spiritual otherness signaled by the raven

“Night’s black... one sphere’s damaged / grey” : the uncanny raven-otherness seems to return to earth through the back door

“One Rahab-hair” : the Biblical Rahab opened the “back door” allowing Joshua to capture Jericho

“In the theater” : poet sees muse-like figure or Dantean “old flame” in the Avon Cinema (Providence)

“Geraldine Fitzgerald” : lead actress in bio-pic (Woodrow) Wilson, and other films.  The “circularity” of her name, and its echoes of Ireland and JFK, are marked here

The hour draws nigh...” : by means of some alchemical movie magic, the cosmopolitan spirit of the film, and the actual presence of “Geraldine” in the theater, evoke this hopeful (Elijah-like) prophecy


Oh say can you see / by the Topsfield town line

& so the grand explication rolls on...



This poem clearly a rejoinder to the conflicted cul-de-sac of previous poem (“Black Peak”).  The aim seems to be clarification, but the murk only grows darker.

“Topsfield” : suburb of Boston, next door to Salem, Massachusetts

“Shaker plate / of light” : simplicity, clarity.  Memory of lakeside Shaker settlement near Lewiston, Maine

“one steady statute / of a dauntless ghost” : refers to “our W”, one of the poem’s heroes, Roger Williams (R.W.)

“O say // can you see / By the Topsfield / town line / Where Endicott / ripped / the King’s cross out / barehanded...” : national anthem transposed onto colonial Bay Colony.  The future Governor Endicott of Massachusetts was (at that time, anyway) an enthusiastic disciple of Roger Williams.  One day (in the 1630s) the excitable Endicott, inspired by Williams’ objections to King Charles I’s reinforcement of the Tudor “establishment” of a state-sponsored church, tore the cross out of his own militia’s Union Jack.  This was an early (and emotional)  expression of Roger Williams’ influential theory of the separation of church and state.  Very remotely echoed by Dante in his De Monarchia – the medieval version of a doctrine stipulating the separation of Pope and Emperor.  (Endicott, a resident of Topsfield, was next-door neighbor to Zaccheus Gould, the poet’s great++grandfather).

“Friend” : Quaker, Shaker

Twain’ll meet / Nought, around the bend” : some kind of prophetic cancelling of violent rivalries and conflicts (with a prefiguration of Mark Twain and the river)

Wauontam.  Let’s eat.” : a Narragansett welcome, to feasting (experienced by exiled Roger Williams)

“Tempestuous word... stirs up... chartered Concorde” : a lot packed into this stanza.  Let’s say the tempestuous and threatening prophetic word of someone like Roger Williams, in the 17th century, eventually grew and flourished into the “self-evident endowments” of the 18th century – the U.S. Bill of Rights – in some kind of constitutional alliance with France (“chartered Concorde”).

“Hip-hop’s // Charlie horse” : ambiguous image of a limping monarch (Charlie horse”)

“rocking, racking... icing on a cake of Peking / take-out orders” : the political concept of human liberty, originating in America with Williams, results in a challenge to the autocratic, lawless brutality of “Putin’s generic icing” and “Peking’s take-out orders”

“Aerial checkmate thing” : poetry’s inherent opposition to soul-tyranny.  Echoes of  Biblical Ariel (the Psalmist’s hope); and Nabokov, Montale (“checkmate thing”)


Ravenna Diagram Reading Note #6

Ravenna Diagram guide for the Perplexed continues, page-by-page.  This poem appeared a few years ago in the journal West Branch.



This poem has a nightmarish, abortive quality.  So many indecipherable personal references that one could make the argument it fails as a work of art.  But perhaps it stands as a kind of boundary marker, a warning of some real difficulties which lie ahead.  This poem was published in the journal West Branch.

“crows” and “oaks” : recurrent images

“Woods-Gerry” : the Woods-Gerry Mansion on Prospect St., in Providence, a couple blocks from the Brown University Library.  Imposing Victorian mansion on the crest of the hill, now housing offices and galleries of the RI School of Design.

“Persephone’s bee-day” : bee-day, birthday.  Bees of Persephone an image drawn from poems by Mandelstam

“Italianate” : we are back in the sphere of Ravenna

“archivo-kisses” : Orphic librarian-poet, with backward glance (fateful for Eurydice/Persephone)

“Marshland...” etc. : Ravenna pine-swamps

Porta Aurea” : ancient ruins in both Ravenna and Constantinople – translates as “Golden Gate”

“twin black / brows” : a kind of montage of beloved faces sharing this feature of black eyebrows, mirrored/merging in a guilt-ridden occhio terzo (third eye)

sliver-orecchio : odd image of “sliver-ear” (wooden ear? moral deafness?)

“black omelet” : the eyebrows and the third eye merge in this apocalyptic sign of the “black sun”, with pun on OM – Osip Mandelstam, who wrote a poem alluding to the Pushkinian “black sun” of Russian (and Jewish) history.

“ghost of a memory” : the kiss in the Italianate mansion has multiple emotional strata for poet (ex-husband of an Italian-American, one dimension of many)

“who lifts / twin wings” : are we back to the redemptive owl-flight of Minerva/Sophia?  or something else?  “six, eight” wings signals a “seraph” (also a recurrent image in Mandelstam)


Ravenna Diagram Reading Guide #5

Again, check previous blog entry here for more info.



Not much to say about this poem.  There is a sense that, from the opening poem of the book (“Potter’s Whorl”), the clay wheel is spinning in centrifugal fashion, sending feelers or tentacles outward toward themes and elements that will see further development.

“Camelot” : always in background is memory of JFK, especially his Irish and Newport connections.  And general issue of violence and sacrifice in human history (and American history).

“8-pt. symmetry” : has implications relative to Pound’s question about future epic poetry : “can you enter the great acorn of light?”

“cemetery, by the river” : Swan Point Cemetery, Providence

Ephphatha” : “be opened” : phrase used by Jesus in the Gospels as he puts a bit of clay over blind man’s eyes and restores his sight

saya-y-manta” : Spanish women’s robe which reveals only the face.  Mentioned in Melville’s tale Benito Cereno

“brave’s game (a furnace dance)” : again, a fusion of Native American and Biblical motifs (Dakota sundance ceremony; Shadrach, Mesach & Abednego in the fiery furnace)

“Tracks in the snow (redcap, lance)” : image drawn from Parzival, Wolfram von Eschenbach’s version of the Grail story

Ravenna Diagram Reading Guide #4

This be the next entry in Ravenna Diagram reading notes for Susan Brown.  Inquire here for more info....



Poem full of obscurities.  Stanzas 1 & 2 : we are back in northern MN winter landscape.  Raven/Ravenna.  Shakespeare’s “treble-dated crow” (Phoenix & Turtle) – which, according to legend,  engenders offspring by breathing – is flying back and forth.

“scrawny schemer.... Signature / of Cain-torn soil”  :  slight mingling of Biblical and Native American legends.  Raven, along with Bluejay, appears in some Trickster stories.

“something resolute... smoke-dispute” : a basic philosophical debate – what is Death?  What is Life?

“dissipating ghost-limb, drifting / wake” : allusion to parallels between 19th-cent. Ghost Dance movement and Christian doctrines of Resurrection

“morse code... remorse” : sound echo with Latin mors, death

“chancy chancery... So choose” : the actuality of death, its duel or chess game with life, motivates the moral conscience – what shall I choose to do, how shall I live, in the face of mortality?

Only way / is up, replies the smoke” : affinity between ghost, or spirit, and smoke – the “morse code” of Native Am. smoke-signals (& peace pipes)

“raven-laughter (hoarse / sneers)” : the suggestion behind this poem’s folktale dialectic is of something beyond cynicism or fatalism


Reply to a question re : Ezra Pound, Hart Crane

Susan Brown, my gentle interlocutor in this ongoing explication of Ravenna Diagram conundra, emailed to ask for more detail on what I meant (in the "Preliminaries") by my statement that in this epic poem (that is, in Ravenna Diagram) I was mounting a challenge to Pound's presentation of history (in his Cantos, his "poem including history"), with help from Hart Crane.  This was my response :

Quick reply, Susan : my sense is that Pound, despite all his Dantesque and Provencal medievalism, his knowledge of medieval scholastic theology, tends to deride and downplay the "Hebraic" dimension of Western culture-history.  There is a strong occultist dimension - the Eleusinian mysteries, Neo-platonism, etc.  Also the very marked Fascist tendencies, the Nietzschean(?) disdain for Jewish and Christian compassion.  Pound is not consistent : my "argument" with him is not very fair.  But it's there.  Pound's "poem including history", in my view, pretty much eviscerates the basic Jewish-Christian foundations of (at least) the Western dimensions of world history.

Another aspect of all this concerns Crane.  Pound (like Eliot in some ways) was a nostalgic expatriate living in Europe.  He was a political authoritarian, a reactionary.  Hart Crane, despite his Platonic-visionary leanings, was devoted to Whitman and the tradition of a mythical, futuristic America (Crane's "Atlantis"), rooted in democratic values.  This is, I know, a great simplification and idealization of Crane.  Crane has a special symbolic place in Ravenna Diagram and in my writing in general, which I won't get into now.  But the STYLE of R.D. owes at least as much to Crane as to Pound.  For I long time I sensed a kind of sonic stylistic affinity between Crane's idiom (his imagery and sound) and Mandelstam's approach to imagery, metaphor & sound.  Which (sort of) became my own approach to imagery & sound.

Ravenna Diagram Reading Guide #3

Notes for the long poem, continued.  Please refer to previous post for clarification on this project.


“UP NORTH” (p.5)

Change of scene.  In stanzas 1-3, description of wilderness lake (Vermilion) in northern Minnesota.  “Mnemosyne Point” : poet’s mother (Mary Ravlin Gould) christened family camping area after keynote word from Nabokov.

“Time’s wooden (4th
grade) ruler.  Not to break.” :  obscure reference to the history-pattern of the poem (contra Pound) outlined in the “preliminaries” section of these notes.  Pun on “wooden... ruler” : the metaphysical “ruler” (“King of Kings”) rules from “fleet of ragged little cedars” – or from the Cross.  Establishing hegemonic chronology (B.C.-A.D.) of western culture.

Also : the simple childhood memory (mnemosyne).  The wooden 4th-grade school ruler.

“Placeness of quiet places” : in this stanza the northern MN landscape is merged with the imagined landscape around Ravenna (cedar, pine swamps near ocean).

“One saturnine pedestrian” : Dante, also Mandelstam (who wrote about Dante’s “long walks”)

“snowbound wedding band” : Dante’s Commedia correlates, interrelates human and divine Love – the Orphic “wedding” with Beatrice (& divinity) in the Paradisal afterlife.

“stream’s bright ford” : the poetic “stream” is the passage between the two realms.

Ravenna Diagram Reading Guide : #2

Here are notes to the Ravenna Diagram poem "Lunar Corona" (p.4).  This poem also is not posted to the blog.  (See previous post for a link to the physical book.)



Poet seems to be confronting enigma of the poem itself, his own work-in-progress.  City of Ravenna, for long a remote, neglected backwater, is presented here as mirror-image of poet’s own solitary endeavor.

“Brown leaf... my neck of the sea.”  : poet worked for decades at Brown Univ. Library in Providence, RI – his “neck of the sea”.

“picture a forlorn cathedral...” : many such for many centuries in Ravenna

“Rothko Chapel” : first of many references to visual art in RD.

“gray memory... wheel of silence” : see Jasper Johns’ works in particular

“Osip’s selva os” : linking Dante with Mandelstam.  “selva os” : dark wood (see opening of Divina Commedia).  Os – short for Osip – mouth or gate to his own inward wilderness.

“Consul’s barranca : the ravine in Malcolm Lowry’s Under the Volcano

“My one and only... speechless trumpeter” : Chet Baker (another suicidal artist)

“Remote... (sans crown).” : Dante, buried in Ravenna, lacks the public bestowal of a laurel crown from his native city (Florence)

“flies / who?” : haunted Ravenna visited by owl of Minerva/Beatrice (wisdom)

“shady rainbow” : a transmutation of the purely subjective (“blind”) colors of the “personal Rothko Chapel”


Reading Guide to Ravenna Diagram - #1

This week my friend Susan Brown, scholar, translator and Fernando Pessoa specialist, asked if I might supply some reading aids for Ravenna Diagram, that infinitely long and equally obscure poem I am writing.  Her request was timely, as I'm approaching the final segment of that opus, and have taken a pause to re-evaluate and collect myself.  So responding to her request will actually help me do that.

I've decided to post whatever I come up with in the way of a reader's guide here on the blog.  Most of the poem has appeared on HG Poetics day-by-day, so if possible I will provide a link to the page in question.  Otherwise, the actual book is available from Small Press Distribution, or possibly you'll find it in a nearby library.

So here we go.  I start with some brief preliminaries, and then some notes for the third poem of RD, titled "Shady Banquet" (which unfortunately is not posted here on the blog; but maybe my notes will encourage some of you to seek it out).



RD is a long poem.  It is cumulative, made up of short poems which are added to the whole as they are written, and dated.

The long poem is a sub-genre of American poetry, with its own genealogy.  All kinds of poets have written them, since before the American Revolution, from Longfellow to H.D. (Hilda Doolittle) to James Merrill and beyond.

I trace my own lineage in this genre through Whitman, to Pound and his emulators (WC Williams, H.D., Charles Olson, Zukofsky).  But my closest affinity is with Hart Crane.  In fact I tend to juxtapose what I see as the stance of Crane against that of Pound.  

Why?  Pound defined the modern epic as a “poem including history”.  He traced his own lineage back to Dante, and further back.  But I’m absorbed by the question of “history” as well.  I base my sense of western and world history on different grounds from those of Pound.  So there’s a dialectic going on, an argument with Pound, with assistance from Crane.  

I am really not able to summarize what I’m doing with this poem in a few words.  It would be a mistake to try : there is so much that remains obscure about it, even to myself.  But there seem to be a few constant and recurring themes :

the emotional attraction of Ravenna – as the place Dante finished the Divina Commedia and the place he is buried; as the site of the Byzantine mosaics (which influenced Dante’s own writing); as the location of Antonioni’s mysterious 60s film, Deserto Rosso (Red Desert) starring Monica Vitti & Richard Harris.

an over-arching Orphic dimension, translated to America.  My cousin Juliet leapt off the Golden Gate Bridge in 1971, at age 19.  This psychic trauma seems to thread into all my long poems.  Here it becomes a kind of keynote for a search for spiritual response to suicide and the death-wish in general (including the fate of John Berryman, the poet of the “Henry” Dream Songs, who jumped off a bridge a few blocks from where I live).  Juliet becomes a sort of Eurydice/Persephone/Beatrice sign.  And this leads to further perusal of the archaic “feminine” underside of history and religion, and involves collisions between our American modernity and archaic native American beliefs & practices.

a re-imagining or re-visiting of theological/philosophical impulses shaping the Divina Commedia.  That is, I have my own leanings or conceptions about “transcendental” reality, which I try to address, gradually, incrementally, in this poem.  In that sense it’s a sort of spiritual journey, a “new model” Divine Comedy.



The sun stands still, as if held in the beak of dogwood limbs.  Time halts or pauses.

Northwest Coast Indian mythic image of Raven holding the sun (“the bright sheep-pelt” – golden fleece?) in his beak.

Raven – Cautantowwit – Narragansett main god.  God of the afterlife : carried souls to heaven in the “Southwest”.

Series of images from Macbeth.  Death’s ghastliness.  (A kind of warning to the “Orphic” poet entering these regions.)

“wind sighs through old / pinatas, where a star slips now” : the soul-star is now in the Southwest – land of Mexico, death, pinatas (battered birthday icons).  Southwest throughout poem is linked with annual renewal journey of monarch butterflies to Mexico (and sacred “monarchs” in general).

“So listen; hear” – poet or reader is summoned to continue

“Plummet into yon undertow / of marshland tombs” – the realm of Ravenna itself

image in closing stanzas of an elusive anima/soul/spirit – Juliet?  Beatrice? “skipping / across her melancholy / diamond”.  This introduces a recurring motif drawn from Pound’s lines in Cantos :  “For me nothing / But that the child / walk in peace in her basilica”


eyes of March


I took a little walk today
slipping over the ice.
The earth veiled in sadness
by violence & bigotry –

Christchurch & the world in mourning.
A bird-of-paradise
merging with Maui skies
ricochets low planetary droning.

The Ides of March.  Caesar must die
to instaurate the Empire,
bleeding for the crowd on fire.
Republican conspirators have gone awry.

The throne requires a figurehead.
The bronze serpent is nailed
on Golgotha – is hailed
Messiah, INRI.  The king is dead.

This frozen hollow by the brown river
is full of streaming sound.
Little rivulets, underground
where Berryman left town forever.

An old man’s presentiment of spring
is like a lost heartbeat...
& somewhere nearby, a sweet
selfless affection tunes her string.

We must delve deeper into this
my friend, my limping muse.
Natasha’s temple (Voronezh)
sings with a chaste eye (goldfinch kiss).



transcendental & irrational path P


The outer circle of this diagram
is drawing to a close.
The path P we chose
here loops into its ruddy oriflamme.

An old man’s line of numbers,
transcendental &
irrational.  Thin bands,
ketched for riding heavy combers –

sea-path between good & evil.
One people’s destiny
doubled in duality;
twin circles on their parallel


emerge (amid stars & stripes
& iron bars).  History
halts here : between Rimini
& Ravenna (Venice-Paris) overlaps.

The pilot at the wheel of Providence
eyes the prow of his canoe.
Her figurehead (1132)
blooms from the sepulcher – immense

Redemption, like a Stonehenge grail
from 44 B.C. to 4.14.
Melchizedek stands in between.
The plummet-eye of Joachim sets sail.



it begins w'Thou


If I had a mind like Aristotle
Augustine or Aquinas
able with calm patience
to unfold the metaphysical

origami of the whole
rose-petalled ensemble
of creation, mon semblable...
– shimmering Ocean River, roll!

Everything hinges on a little tree
– willow or almond,
sycamore, elm –
transmuted into living body;

tall ash, strong oak of poetry
spilling Imago Dei
(with verbal carpentry)
into an Argo-trimmed Horus-eye

of Providence.  It begins w’Thou.
Psyche’s agate lamp
winking through the swamp
of live-oak garlands signals true

(one if by land, two if by sea)
– leads on to victory
over my own frailty –
out of buried man, a new Henry!

Where the rose Venn diagram
of departed lips whispers
through golden calipers
a reconciliation of I am


& ever shall be (simple psalm
adrift over clay towers)
cloisters the eye’s powers
in immaculate seaworthy emblem –

mandorla (your birchbark canoe).
O light of knowledge
from beyond knowledge,
heart’s mystic bridge mirrored below

at River’s edge!  Whose Jonah lifts
dove-light from deeps,
& as a dolphin leaps
beyond Atlantic hieroglyphs

the figure of an infant Son of Man
bobs in her coracle
newborn – primordial
origin, eye of hurricane!

The free conscience, soul liberty
subsists within your peace
which passeth, Golden Fleece –
lamb of the Lammas loaf, mercy

& flame of lambent fellowship;
stone mosaics in Ravenna
& the tomb of Alighieri
radiate the scent... lambs skip

there, in the cradle of our limbs,
beneath the opening flower
of your glance!  O bower
& rose island – spring of river-hymns!



from Hecate came the Kali-Bear


Brrr.  Encased in winter nadir.
A word stings like a burr
in my ear, grown morbider.
Out of California.  Excalibur.

Poe’s gloomy recess.  Ceiling
flickering with Neva-light
(limbeck of Hecate).
Ligeia, Solominka... cryptic feeling.

Juliet, embalmed upon a wounded,
senseless word, while
murder dogs each exile
in a stumbling Republic – hounded

refugees are coldly wrenched
from their own children.
What will you do, Hen?
Keep chanting mantra, teeth clenched.

From Hecate came the Kali-Bear,
Blake, Brown, Black –
stuffed Russian Monarch,
Cuffy from the Arctic (Polar) 

Crowned with the crown & splendor
– like InαΊ½s de Castro, here
in the casque of my ear,
my dear; of violence the silky daughter;

his banner over me was Love.
Your coming-forth, Psyche-
Persephone – out of the sea
in Frisco Bay – out of the starry cove


laving the Golden Gate, your destiny –
Old Glory Red, & Irish
Green, & Maple Sugar swish
your seal, ex-Californ– Aieeee...

– over the Bay.  Bears baring
every fang, & bearing
everything – boars goring
every Tarquin – innocence betraying!

So follow Hobo Henry’s burro
as he burrows through
her barrow – thorough
ravishing of hollow tumulo!

She’s flown, sweet Thunderbird.
& like Aurora Borealis
hovers above all this
flag-draped befuddlement (light-ward).

Ghost-haunted Morning Star,
apotheosis of Sophia,
milky mosaic your dancing floor –

step your basilica sans fear;
the agate lamp atop
your Gate will not stop
raying back toward D.C., dear.

Columbia & Liberty will shine
their sister-lights within
your ark’s palladion;
Agape will this rage refine.



chaired in the adamant of time


Everything known beforehand, O
my prophetic soul
fate of gray pebble,
unknown soldier.  Black Sea, Argo...

those towering fig trees outside
the Sydney Observatory.
& inside, the orrery
projecting Southern Cross as diamond

(4-dimensional octahedron, or
great acorn of light).
A blue-green planet,
turquoise, emerald – your

dream-song door (hinge balanced
on a level’s golden eye).
Heirship of carpenter’s high-
beam ballet... tightrope (entranced).

A figurehead, chaired in the adamant
of Time.  Isis in Ohio,
Iowa... your Clover, so
low.  Lift her out of the slough, St.

Joan – lift her out of the grave.
A salience in St. Louis –
upturned canoe... Jessie
Ophelia, mickle gateway (moon-wave).

Behold, a child is born, Virgin
appears from heaven again;
my iron age turns golden
monarch, winged flower (human).



May Goulding at her Negus launch


So the double wheels of the Venn diagram
(a kind of astigmatism from
from Ravenna to home)
mesh in a translated spacetime –

East to West become Rome-Byzantium
Greek to Italian Catholic
Orthodox – majestic
Chartres to homespun NOLA Notre Dame.

I’m working on a bridge, sez Hobo.
Under that nature morte
(Peto, Brown Decades) – what
the flower of liberty became... oh no.

The lilies on the funeral train
(Gould was an engineer).
Abe Lincoln’s here –
great Julius Caesar’s ghastly coin

(one lethal copper penny).
The wheel slowly revolves.
Agony gradually resolves.
The quiet sepulcher (Gesthemane)

became a bargaining chip at the Crusades.
What molts the World-Ruler
from Ides of March to your
sweat-April soul-showers (the blade’s

Excalibur) is some indomitable eagle-
heart – bald as the snowfields
north of International Falls,
wide as the river south of Angola.


You mark the justice of the refugee,
the accurate perception
of the slave.  Moses-pontoon
or old Italian canoe... it’s simply

the humble carpenter’s sharp eye
encapsulated in a bead
of honey (life’s high meed) –
gold oval of air, its quiddity.

Like throne of Isis in West Branch,
or Grant Wood making space
for Herbie Hoover’s birthplace –
like May Goulding at her Negus launch

(a cup of ceremony from deep
Ethiopia) for Henry Flower
blooming nom-de-plume, your
lambent, flammable, unfolding sheep.

Rhode Island waits for you,
Son of the Evening Star;
little acorn-czar,
your birthday rhymes with Manitou

palladium of shimmering mosaic
merging with river-clay
to meet Oak-Apple Day
for restoration (JFK).  A wake, awake!

It’s Rooster Henry, dusting off
the grave.  It’s everyone
thinking the train’s long gone –
finding an acorn in a hollow trough.



only a sketch : Jozef Czapski


Only a sketch, a drawing, a cartoon.
Scrawny shivering prisoner
reading a book (Siberia).
This upright Pole, from a dead platoon

survived, somehow (so tall, so
innocent).  Budding artist
from Paris, now of Tashkent –
following Proust into gulag, ghetto.

Somehow.  Like mast on frigate.
Colors mime sky...
Poland, we must die.
Yet he shows up (seraph, implicate).

Survives.  Grows old in Paris,
having kept his conscience
into Moscow (blessed
nonsense... bunks his paradise).

Grace is the sign of something human,
intelligence the trace
of civilization, Falcon-Ace
(O hoary Horus of the hunted men).

Isis (in West Branch) is your mother,
Belgium’s deep divide
the humdrum Hoover prelude
to a splenetic Grant Wood war –

Virgo, we know not who we are.
Speak of the grain of wheat,
Persephone.  Complete
your D.C. scan (Henry’s North Star).


from Jozef Czapski, Inhuman Land : Searching for the Truth in Soviet Russia, 1941-1942 (NYRB, 2018)


inhabit they a shady arch


Henry often stumbles off his perch
in his high Henry Poem.
Just try to follow him!
The pinetop sways... the oaks, the birch...

watch his Memorial to the Future lurch
from Mr. Groggy to A Hobo
Lunch.  Need not be so.
The poem simply tracks a search

for common speech, O inarticulate
idiot of  mewl-wander!
Only this, to ponder :
the universe is personal.  Its Fiat

Lux is founded in immeasurable heart,
compassionate & lovingkind –
one courier-pigeon from blind
adoration bears more light than any art.

The glittering mounds in Minneapolis
are tiny frozen hexagons.
Rough flesh-tone limestones
harbor prehistoric ocean memories.

Henry, with help from sluggish Hobo,
knots a river-seine
for safety-net.  Someone
might need a heartfelt rescue (at zero

below).  Inhabit they a shady arch
at center of the earth –
Lips Monastery berth;
her mandorla was a canoe for March

to paddle into April confluence,
her lips muttered an almond
salience – jazz Table Rond
with sweet Melchizedek (her Memphis

echoes with his vernal blues).
Ineffable seine of mutuality...
sign for soul liberty
from one Pole Star (High Rocky News)

we share out like a Lammas loaf
raised in grain elevators
west of St. Lou
& buried secretly (beneath the roof

of the mouth of a cave in Galilee).
Hobo hands Henry so
his eye-in-hand.  Its glow
is pure lovelight – it whispers : See.

& he saw the glittering waterfall
of wheat-grains slanting down
across a wide Missouri-nation
into midstream of each & all;

he felt the dream-song melding chords
(Ojibwa river-springs)
within Dakota Red Wing’s
Thunderbird – he touched the threads

of word-music, a glossolalia.
As round a high room
agate-fire will zoom –
lighting the prow of old Ecclesia.


my circus is circumference


A camouflaged Eye of Providence
hovers over the pyramid
like an acorn emerald
planted in oak-leaf munificence.

The Geneva Drive is in Ravenna.
Its clock ticks in a circle...
twin circles... minuscule
mosaic tesserae resolve into Divina

Paradiso.  So Jesus-Orpheus the shepherd
pipes Eurydice
free of that ceremony –
Flee, Morning Star, into thy molten Word!

So Raven-Cautantowwit mounts up
like chunk of cave-shade
out of Narragansett glade.
History will halt here (full-stop).

The wheels... the wheels... from Sepulcher
to Joachim’s Eagle...
a 33, at harpoon angle
spins gravitation for a falling star

into reverse, Hartley.  Your 9th-month
manger – energy
transformer – tyranny
to liberty – Caesar to pigweed (amaranth)...

in our eye, blind soothsayer.
Dreamer.  Beware the Ides
of March, jewel!  The tides
wind up your record player


wrapping American wolf-hides
against endless winter,
before pale blue Easter
cracks the shell’s snowline... abides.

Two boats in Gloucester rock against the pier.
Twin meditations on a feast –
Thanksgiving yeast
to lift this clay into a Gaiasphere.

Light leaning down from high Polaris
filters into Catholic Oak;
Blackstone’s wheel-spoke,
planted in Pawtucket – ferrous

axle, trimmed by Roger Williams –
fortified by Edward Coke
to be King Charlie’s nook
when he eludes Roundheads (skipping exams

for exile’s exile – double-cross).
I’m whorling a rusty-russet
agate path, Juliet –
for you (muttered George Henry Loess).

Out of circuiting clay, no less...
out of the mid-month
warbling of Bluejay (29th
of May, no doubt).  Camelot is

something else.  The Lady in the Lake
of the Isles raises
Excalibur aloft... says
Hiawatha is a sacrifice (oak-thirst to slake).