speaking the poetry of dense & difficult


In the late afternoon, old Emperor
Henry the Ghoul lies abed
beneath the wallpaper’s red
roses (spread by his late father

for his mother).  The sun is not a god
nor is his Uncle Ez,
despite the pitchmen on the rez.
Frayed tribes will not succumb; Benito’s rod

is not benign, nor ever shall be.
The motorized dream, from
vortex of survivor-shame
after the panoramic slaughter-sea

of Ypres, Somme, & Meuse-Argonne –
like a neoplatonic fantasy
of utopian autocracy,
with phantom Isis Medusa-icon

wailing like siren out of Empyrean
over the shattered spectacle
of your culture-chronicle,
Ezra – so who shall have the succession?

The special providence of a sparrow...
the goldfinch aptitude
for simple gratitude.
& when the Eternal comes, you will know,

Osip (along the axis of the earth).
The covenant of love
donated from above
for good – so we might share it forth.



just a particle of grit in the poetry gears


At the Arboretum today, the lightest
waves of pale green &
pink float over the barren
hills.  Pasque flowers make their violet

& furry nest.  Soft spring.  Far west
the Golden Gate flings waves
of steel over sea-caves.
A safety net shall be our rest –

all-purpose, drifting down from heaven.
From the Mother of Lights, from
Abba-Zero – coral hum
of Orizaba requiem (all the lost men

the sea shall render up again).
Ezra in the bughouse eyes
his Alexandrian apotheosis.
Spews hate & spite – riptorn

Osirian comedian, on glitter-stand;
& Henry has his Memphis
milkman : buried blackface
Pip-Pip (colonial ampersand).

The gravity-slide into darkness
is not so unavoidable.
Non spatio, sed sapientia
Anselm whispered; heaven’s kiss

is like a speech balloon, or Nile airship.
The kingdom’s for my child,
not for the Emperor, wild
Mary piped (basilica pavement slip).



you seek your inner Notre Dame


This April sunset behind the trees,
like a rose & phosphorescent
robin’s egg.  Fundament
of natural radiance; architectural breeze.

On Île-de-France, in the river Seine
a throng of men & women
flung boulders toward heaven –
to celebrate the feast of their communion

& the miraculous feat of that
lumbering flight.  The chill
granite yawn in the hill
where the dead man lay (requiescat)

like a counterweight to their primordial
joy – its hollow barrow
(familiar dank & narrow
room) will serve as reconciling grail

when we have gathered for the wedding
in the flowery vale of Cana,
& amid the hubbub-haha
Mary murmurs – Now, my son, bring

out the wine...  We will not build
another Notre Dame.
& yet our rivers are the same.
The Rio del Espiritu Santo is filled

with rosmarine passion of light –
invisible, unchanging,
radiant, enlightening
fiery indomitable apex bright.



Good Friday poem


The oak we put into the ground
last fall is budding now.
& on the third day... how?
On this I muse like Uncas Pound

here in my octagonal hut
of scrawny cedar. 8’s
for Easter, numerates
relate – Creation’s è finit;

when the dark goggles of infinity
stood upright (a snowman
merging into green
spring cloverleaf).  Might be.

They say they saved the high windows
in Paris.  Where simple light
grows warm, exfoliate
around the Lady of the burning Rose.

Wheels, wheels... the suffering peoples.
Is Providence intangible?
Life but a negligible
haze, wisping stark silo-steeples?

These sprinklings of amber glass
are darkened with maroon
shadows.  Limbs of someone
hovering so close... a beaming face.

Then I shall know, even as I
am known.  Even as
this acorn opens, grows...
sturdy communion of a melting sigh.



egalitarian cathedral


In this rough wooden octagon
in the backyard, wrapped
in frayed mosquito nets,
in mid-April, Henry will try again.

The anniversary of Abe Lincoln
rhymes with a shock in Paris.
Notre Dame no longer is
bedecked with lilies for communion.

Entourée de flammes ferventes
Apollinaire, at Chartres
peeks through his bandages
back toward her... makes his lament.

This humble cedar hideaway.
Chaste April light.
The massive stone takes flight
from every heart, with equal sway.

Like a fool in a mystery play,
a cloddish egalitarian
circus, is the Son of Man.
Anti-king, anti-autocracy,

he rides the shoulders of a donkey
(Henry’s stubborn mule
from Berryman misrule
locale) on Muddy journey to the sea;

he’s Jonah, prophet of humility
and poverty, flung to America
to give the motherland a caw
lift a palladium for Lady Liberty.



Providence ca. 1980


Somewhere in the archives of the sea
the salt preserves a memory
of miniature incestuous Providence
beneath gray dandruff caverns of asbestos

mingling with cigarette puff-clouds
where caffeinated VISTA crowds
light up the Brown & Sharpe building
to hash out next year’s organizing

plot.  The State House marble sepulcher
will grudge them their rotunda for another
Machiavellian tear-jerker, or mystery play.
Castaways will show.  Henry will have his day

– Shelton, that is (St. Francis of the street).
O sea-rose waif, that rock and sky make sweet!
Dream swells your impulse for the public good
and flings a grace note (orbic neighborhood).