moss-green lamb-rock


Anniversaries, conjunctions... Latrobe’s
bell tower in New Orleans
& a birthday (Walter Whitman’s)
twine reverberations, stellar probes.

This lone outcrop in far north wood
furred-over with green
& phosphorescent lichen
mimes in lime our original Head –

primordial earth-ram (sheepish lamb)
upon the adamant of Time –
Isis, or Miriam –
Virgin bedrock of the bright I AM.

Inexorability of violent history –
labyrinth of Minotaur –
wolf-trap for who we are
spooled out in filmy, rusty tragedy

after tragedy – the pile-up of ’68
the green redhead in Dallas
the blue blackbird in Memphis
& it all seems endless – infernal hate –

O brazen, obdurate Iron Age
of malice toward all!  Only
the slant eye of poetry
mourning on a misty Montauk stage

might warble a different kingdom comin’ –
chaste infant equality.
Your hummingbird infantry,
Walter – your cherry petals, Benjamin.



surfing Delta gumbo

sketch by Benjamin Latrobe, architect


On this day, 200 years ago
Benjamin Latrobe won
the municipal commission
for the bell tower in New O. –

St. Louis Cathedral, surfing delta
gumbo (French-Indian-
on canoe-back of turtle-flotilla.

Oak Apple Day, Restoration Day,
Rhode Island Statehood Day
& many another day
no doubt (not far from Whitsunday).

In the well of the king, of the king who must die
(before time began?) shone
a shade of green pine
grieving... like an old Irish eye.

Luminous melancholy, just a shade
from joy – from the well
of well-being, when all
shall be well (amid all things well-made).

When frost of fright-scorn, the old
icehouse of sacred king
slides into melt... & everything
shines in right splendor of childhood;

when young ones in Rhode Island
or New Orleans lift themselves
to the light dowry of El
Shaddai – her pact of love and understand.



like Red Wing clay

Mary Ravlin Gould


My mother moves toward silence now.
Short wobbly steps
like printemps stumps
of Red Wing clay remainders.  So

I follow along now, too.  Two lumps,
like those she spun once
on a wheel.  Immense
maypole of Mendelssohn skip-jumps –

the way Rembrandt became his painting
(like seaweed-coated plank
of slick driftwood, anch-
ored in sand).  Memory, fainting.

I used to topple to the ground
in school.  An epileptic
pine, almost.  A cryptic
minor character, utterly unfound –

unbound within some fictional expanse
of 19th-century steppe
sunburnt peace-pipe
smoky distances (autumnal trance).

We thread the needle in a mummer’s play.
Ariadne draws the skein –
Dante’s oriflamme ancien
Parisian labyrinth for Beatrice

Jessie Ophelia, remembering her father
Jackson Quick, the river-
pilot, sounding Mount Ever-
Rest (full fathom 5/29... 29...) – Mt. Purgatoire.



in cedar spring


Hobo sauntering by the mother-river
with a pebble in his shoe
small stone, toe-to-toe
just for you, forever & ever.

It’s the mystery of history, he says
the authority of the source
headwaters, of course
Veritas caput.  & so his voice

goes modulated with the flow from there
as the sound wave of a whale
goes through a wave, to hell
& back – using echolocation (your

submarine eye, Osiris-sailor).
As the cathedral-builder
put her name in the floor
at the center of the maze, Jair –

that’s where you’ll find her grey-
winged agate (like minnow
in Rio del Espiritu Santo)
making the sign of a spiral J;

like a whisper out of the heart of silence
or out of Ocean River
circling round you forever
with those winking lights, intelligence

of love... because what was human & personal
is as close as your shadow
& adores creation – El Shaddai
in cedar spring (simple, loving, powerful)



the American dreamwork


The American dreamwork seems to grow
of itself, like a vagrant
acorn’s buried descendant
branches roots into veins of air, so –

leaving yourself behind, then
as in a park playground
at dusk, all around
echoing shouts of kids having fun

within the green lamps of those trees
& the circle of daydreaming
grownups, their evening
rest emerging at last – the iron wheeze

of the swing-set beginning to mesmerize
with its creaky metronome –
& you have a premonition of home,
like a matryoshka doll of paradise

or a houseboat nested in a boathouse.
American as they don’t get?
Anonymous as a planet
without name, yet – Isis, Osiris...

A figure stands at the dream door.
They put the body there?
Now it’s not anywhere.
He gone, she gone (to tell them more).

Hobo Ulysses glides toward New Orleans,
St.-Jeanne of the Delta,
Jonah.  Coracle fella,
acorn Cap.  Nave restoration’s what it means.



Down the Mrs. Nile


The slow green river is historian as well, 
moving with time from here
to there, yet always here
same as ever, with detritus of fossil

shells – eroding palimpsest
subject to misquotation,
willful erasure, mistaken
readings...  Observe that anxious,

fretful archivist – thin railing Ez
with his fistful of heroes
impaled on total loss
(a maze of smoking Flanders trenches).

Like a Minotaur in the bughouse
with his Schifanoia grid –
hierarchical, to put a lid
on greed, by force (his Musci-Louse).

What then’s this chaos of bad dreams?
Life’s horror-show?  Not so,
not so.  PAX.  What thou
lovest well...  After the steamboat schemes

Latrobe still floats his capitol design.
Cornstalks, tobacco flowers...
Virgo, with Isis-powers,
on the adamant of time, will shine –

black marble out of Nile (West Branch).
Not abstract or Pythagorean,
but human, Galilean –
shepherd in Ravenna – beaming avalanche.



articulated bagpipes


Last night, in the final French class
Charles explained to us
that intricate forest
of thousands of skeletal pieces

under the armor of the vast organ
of Notre Dame, somehow
surviving the late inferno –
a delicate spider of sound, within

the cathedral’s gray cicada shell
of feathery stone light.
Now, in my monkish hideout
of twisted cedar, a mid-May swell

of emerald sheen beyond the doorway
stretches toward Iona
or maybe Compostela
or Jerusalem... & scrawny face of Henry

lined like wood by age & foolishness
lifts to spring brightness
one wee dram of hopefulness,
mayhap – someone’s vernal Inverness.

It is the ordinary light of day
flashing through our human
imago, her chaste design –
what we might be, beyond dismay

in the conjunction of clear consciences
set toward a restoration
of the common good.  One
amid many – octave’s consonance.



unusual poem


Providence, a meeting-house of rivers.
Moshassuck, Woonasquatucket...
Narragansett alphabet.
Key into the Language (Roger’s

hopeful idiom).  Green valley space
for some invisible Seeker-
church – plain Shaker
chair for Eli, or Henry (grace

supplementing human nature
like a mild blessing
before Thanksgiving).
Can we do this, Roger?  Sure.

Providence, a circling campfire
of Renaissance persons.
Like a Rembrandt summons
to be humble (as St. Matthew’s ear

to voice of dark-haired angel).
Listen, proud Ferrara –
not to glose of Schifanoia,
but shade-garden of Bassani-spell.

The meekness of a soft goldfinch
will be memorial
for what was already eternal,
always.  As our Redemption is a cinch

for flighty heartbeat (underneath
the chain-link).  Grail-canoe
or eye-in-hand – you
fled into thin air, through Olmec teeth.



Mussolini shoals


Long way from stones of Notre Dame.
We haven’t that feudal allegiance
to a field beyond France.
Bright poppies blister over Belgium

where conundrum of Isis in Iowa
came from.  She is, and was
mysterium of Osiris
on the Mississip – Ezra’s mirror-delta;

hard marble fact planted at West Branch
in Herbert Hoover’s memory
(who would not have taken kindly
to any meat-locker Muss avalanche).

Ezra yodeling the alpine Swiss serene
of his muse Circe Clementine
Vichy (& all the swine
she mesmerized, so spotless clean)

erasing all that history of filthy usury
& black boys handing Bibles
through the bars... Abel’s
your bro, Ez – cain’t you see?

Ah... the shudder of absurdity.
Knife-stab in Marlowe’s eye
over the Jew of Malta,
of all things!  It cannot be.

It is.  Villon grins in your face,
King Flibberty-Gibbet.
Grimace may be safety net
for every reprobate.  O prodigal race...




golden lanterns of Osiris


May Day.  The ancient wheel of the earth
lifted on a pole of flowers
by a ring of skipping circlers
wearing flower-circlets.  Distant mirth-

song, childhood in Mendelssohn.
Light primordial.
From before the murky Nile-
punts, beneath waves of Heracleion;

older than those golden lanterns
of Osiris, Ezra
beaming from the deep your
imperial star-bar patterns.

Yet the axial pivot is not a dazzling pillar
but an imperturbable muddy
river, rolled into clay
by palms of your servant, Hathor;

into a ring or a bowl of Providence,
a lowly bread-boat
for carrying each soul-mote
out of its nightmare toward deliverance.

The soul is humbled by redemption
undeserved.  Not light
of brazen copper, but of heart
that passeth understanding, O my son.

Light from before all things, who smiles
into blue depths of rosmarine;
who leaps to Galilean
shore, sings out, & hoists the sails.