like San Francisco vertigo


Henry’s inching toward the center
of his poem – bright high gyre
like William Golding’s Spire
(splintered, keening, full of ire).

In the Cathedral at Rodez, we saw
its balsa-wood replica
(like seedling, or amoeba-
virus) – Jocelyn’s vanishing awe

lifted to depths of infinite regress
like San Francisco vertigo.
Yet it shall not be so
with you.  Your realm is humbleness.

Your solar crown, a crown of thorns
your aureole a poor halo
picked up (after the show)
by crotchety vets (painful corns).

Somebody tell me where we’re going
with all this, Henry!
The acorn in an almond tree
makes not much sense; canoeing

(not a major sport in Italy) is
unlikely to resolve the fight
between the mining money’s might
& piping pioneers of wilderness

(attainted Oz).  Henry dozes
in his miniature oak tree –
a mythological Charlie...
& will he wake?  Check JB’s glozes.



cloud & catalpa, Minneapolis

Cloud & Catalpa, Minneapolis (Martin Johnson Heade, 2019)


Everything grew simpler in that high room
overlooking Jerusalem
when he added up the sum
& gave us his Thanksgiving poem.

The apostolic laying on of hands
was just an afterthought
Mary Magdalen taught
to keep the Presence each one understands.

The knot held.  The silverweb
floresced, in centaur arrow-
shots – from Antioch to
Thebes, up to remotest Gad-Gab

(Ethiopia).  Axled on coffin
of coffins.  Buried deep
as Noah’s ark.  Sleep,
King of Kings (like everything human).

This gemstone of the Southern Cross
shines like diamond
out of emerald
almond – mossy quaternion, grass

cloverleaf (in shape of heart).
That little tree will root
where all the branches start,
where all the rivers roll (sky-girt

perpendicular – little Everytwig
leaning against current)
– unto that iron agent
sluicing the Delta to a brazen fig


shriveled, dry (as is the way with figs).
Yet Wisdom is justified
in all her children.  Hide
now, O Man – Ouragan digs

into clay.  Rotating so solemnly,
she shakes the bone-limbs
from their joints, skims
lightly over coastal property

– only to uproot, destroy.  Bideth
nor roof nor door, Tornado!
Like the Iron Age you know
twisted to shattering shadow... Lilith-

Crocodile, climbing from Delta
to muddy matrix of 
St. Louis.  Scorned Love
twisted into dust-mandala –

substantial b-flat of the galaxies
stilled, played in reverse.
The little tree of Ursus
Minor – little star, catalpa’s

iris-blooms – starts wheeling
counter-clockwise.  Clover
culminates your
integral almond-canoe.  Sing,

Muse, Oblomov-grail of prairie earth!
The great wheel turns.
Jonah’s corn-maze yearns
Restoration... (Miriam’s rebirth).



serpent ocarina


Dante calibrated to the nth degree
the classic perihelion
of medieval civilization
simply to retrieve the smile of Biche

out of nine coils of Cerberus
& that sulfurous pit
known to Cautantowwit
who cauterizes death with raven caws.

More things in heaven & earth, Horatio.
We’re all caught up in this
wrestling match with the abyss;
there’s no detachment of the mind from woe

nor from the body’s final strife
– breathing with agony
at the crossroads (in RI) –
where Red River meets Sargasso Gulf.

So the poem of America embodies
Juliet upon the parapet
Ophelia with hairnet
(download Vertigo for double-whammies) –

the tensile span of every suicide,
waiting for someone to reach
them (eye-in-hand) – teach
HOPE to hollowed-out children (pied

serpent, surging back to Mendelssohn).
Observe the valiant
canoe, she said.  Plant
almonds, quincunctial.  Amen, amen.



a partial answer for Tom D'Evelyn


We are born as the story goes, in
medias res – through the hands
of the midwife, to lands
of motherly milk & honey, the Pine

Island of family circles... onto
the clay wheel of slow
seasons – rusty merry-go-
round, with its quaint iron echo...

& you recall how the sun casts a shadow
while the river floats an image;
imagination’s green sage
is always personal, someone you know

& so the circle of epistemology
whorls back to its source.
Whitman shaken by the hearse
Dante dreaming Beatrice

body forth reality – adhesive,
compagnevole, suffused
with ineffable Providence –
thy feather-light & graceful Love

the origin & end of Universe
O playful Alpha-&-Omega.
All poetry is drama
& all storytelling is your father’s

microcosmos; all wisdom is Hagia Sophia
beneath their human dome of light,
& that Gateway Arch might
mark the navel of your motherland’s Cahokia.



etched in vernacular


Dante’s rambles round the tamarack swamps
outside Ravenna.  Beached
hulks of Byzantium reach
toward the sea.  Inside, smoke-lamps

phosphoresce hieratic grandeur
(kind bovine gaze of Empress,
Emperor).  Alighieri’s
impressed – ecco l’ora serale

in those green sheepfold meadows
where Time does not run.
He pursues his martyrion
Crusader grandfather, circle of Mars.

He etches in vernacular his answer
out of deep parish history
to the welded Roman panoply
(Arcadian melody, Virgilian whisper).

I am a scribe who when Love speaks
hastens after, hearkening
noting everything down.
I haven’t heard from Bea in weeks.

I remember lips set with a grim reproof.
Down at the borderland
(Texas to Samarkand) –
Coatlicue, Tezcalipoca... beetling roof

of squalling Raven years.  Esta
su iglesia, Henrique?
She’ll be coming like Elijah,
not Europa, now (beehive witness).


woodcut by Mary Ravlin Gould

sounds vaguely French


Benjamin Latrobe – sounds vaguely French?
A British architect
tapped to repair, perfect
the Capitol (amid the stench

of swamp & burning).  Dogged by debt
& selective smear campaigns
sets off for New Orleans
to finish big water-works his late

son Henry had so blithely begun
(cut down by yellow fever
in September).  Ever-
green cypress can withstand the rain.

New Orleans doorways lead you back
in time (Edgar Degas
plein air sketches...
moss-green veneer, live-oak

with levee-wash).  Mississippi
spills relentlessly
into the blue & salty
Gulf.  Her sea-monstro be you & me,

O Jessie O.  L’architecture
de l’Amerique c’est plain
& simple, utilitarian –
only... we’d like to see that azure

Paradis, un jour.  Le bateau ivre
des pirates-frères, Lafitte...
en bas le bayou, sweet
Benjy.  Lisez ton ombreux livre.



the water-works in New Orleans


Old Hobo by the river again,
old mule, old Lear, old man.
Ponders the coiled span,
the tension in the plot called Heaven

Versus America.  Indifferent violence,
violent indifference...
What took you into silence,
Julie, at your blossoming – hence

into the shark’s eye of the Bay.
Like an arching jaguar-lunge
of International Orange
claw-marked with irreversible tragedy

your Bridge – hypnotic Taj Mahal
whose lambent shadow hums
of nut-brown kingdoms,
steep ravines for Solomon, Sheba...

The span tracks a continuum
he scans with tentative
crow-tracks.  To live
or die.  From the will’s ultimatum

of despair, your cul-de-sac of self-
slaughter – to the other pole
of faith, serene & whole;
with Stravinsky’s branded Sylph

leaping her epileptic scapegoat pyre
(in Paris, on May 29th)
– O Juliet, my May-month
sister-dove!... my black North Star


– his limping meditation takes him far
upstream, & down.  The dream-
songe, rivery-rêve, beams
her constancy, an equilibrium (wave-mère).

Her source, an Okean of galaxies,
a murmuring Milky Way –
your sempiternal Day
that never dies, your tree of many Jessies...

open your eyes, Hobo, & see!
This kingdom of canoeing
almonds pours – outpacing
Death with fins of Galilee-Ferrari!

Her mickle water-sprite keeps murmuring
like your sibling ghost,
shady elfin host
who climbs from a mandorla, humming

beside you (ahead of you, within you);
& like Latrobe the architect
following his own son to inspect
the water-works in New Orleans, renew

yourself – restore yourself, American! –
in that strange French-Spanish-
Cherokee dreamland.  Swish
go the eucalypus paddles... the plan

of Heaven is a restoration, so –
not slavery, but liberty –
your soul’s birthday.
Love Kingdom’s galaxies begin to glow.



dialect of high & low


Literature might be political.
The dialect of high & low,
the pyramidical Pharaoh
& Erich Auerbach in Istanbul...

slaves muttering (familial)
athwart the exaltations
of regal Lion-Suns
& River-Moons (extra-terrestrial)

their jocular contra-dance lingo.
Dantean, obsolete
vernacular (obsidian);
mosaic featherweight, grave Galileo.

Everything formed from nothing... out
of a pinhole in the universe.
Clay navel – Osiris hearse
called up by current, cattail flute.

Whorls of tree-rings mantle each mortal eye.
Isis in Iowa,
Blackstone of raven-sigh –
Cautantowwit, under the Milky Way.

The tacit origin.  Your motherland,
O King.  Incipient
restoration, air apparent...
transparent equilibrium (beatitude).

Near the steel vault of St. Louis.
In the seine of the fishermen,
over the Mississippi.  Sign
from tree-logs, Jessie Ophelia... always.



Hong Kong dragonfly


A Friday afternoon of breeze & clouds.
In Hong Kong, crowds awake
the legacy of Edw. Coke
& Roger Williams’ Providence – shrouds

brace the pinnace, steady keel
to sweep of choppy surf.
Aft the canoe’s curve
a foaming V for victory... for real?

A tiny splinter in the eye, or
Chartres-blue dragonfly
camouflaged by sky.
A Thunderbird (outpacing Minotaur).

Apollinaire, in his bright air-machine
waits on the universal sign
for Joie – like blue-green
pine... like jubilant Mary Magdalen

finding the gardener in cemetery...
like nothing else in Oklahoma.
The principle of hallelujah
is always a little ahead of you, chérie

the way Love leads always, pilgrim, toward
more life (the Way, the Truth).
Out of that cornfield, Ruth;
out of Beforetime plummeted the word –

& so we’re circling around this cave
like a bunch of prehistoric
Australians.  Your biopic
features an almond coracle, O dreaming knave.



let us come into your clay-borne presence


I see the radiant city on a hill
& Liberty in her harbor
& the Gateway... & ardor
burns, like paint – to make a mural,

maybe?  For one of our post offices?
Floppy Hobo in’s gazebo
full of summer, O
& stubborn weeds, ripe frailties...

& who will deliver us from this cauldron
of planetary woes?
Veiled Isis knows,
out there in West Branch – she’s not sayin’.

Her ghost throws a shadow wherever she goes.
O let me come into your presence,
Lord – let me see your face!
Joanie Magdalen grins... Light River flows.

Her uberous figure under Hooverville
remembers slow clay, &
quickens every which way –
warming the shoulders of your chill

& peregrine companions.  & gadzooks!
She spooks even the Tyche
inside Île de la Cité
tattooing her airy John Hancocks

to every labyrinthine burg on earth.
A little candle in your soul
flickers through mole-
corridors, Mayflower – brightens your berth.



no one will judge it

Bang Hai Ja, Naissance de la Lumiere, 2015 (part of a stained-glass project for Notre Dame de Paris)


Light-waves pulse from primordial Ocean State
from a weightless blazing stone
fallen to our temperate zone
from heaven – & no one will judge it

murmured Joseph, ye blessed stem;
the Word’s articulation
is well-water’s spoken
wheel (from Nowhereland to Bethlehem).

Our history, a contentious dream
scrolled on Möbius tape
pivots its bleak landscape
panorama on a polestar theme :

the plummet-stone, a river-pilot’s guide.
Her name is Providence.
She is each local habitation’s
hopeful capital – ghost by your side;

she is the sister-dove of Mandelstam,
rock-dove of gay Stevens;
she is the Jonah – Berryman’s
& Crane’s last lifesaver (she says I AM).

I see the shadow of gray wings of stone
stretch like a whisper now
from East to West, Glasgow
to Golden Gate; lifting each broken bone

from Frisco shore to some imperishable joy
like Hummingbird lancing the curse
& labyrinth of Homo Tyrannos
with one birth-sigh... her FIAT LUX... that Day.


in the gold realm


My friend Chris in New Zealand
emailed (on Ascension Day)
about that homely display
of bare feet, trampolining to cloud

in the Lorenzetti fresco (or
was it Philip Guston?)
under the superscription
of a proscenium arch.  Flower

of early Renaissance mind
echoing (if necessary)
your mirror-quality
of reality.  Who will so bend

the boarhound from the boar,
Raven from Nevermore?
Is this your last cigar?
Plein air puffs from a planet’s core.

Limestone shreds of the labyrinth
at Chartres were sort of a letdown.
Rough work.  All the gold gone.
The mower set out to mow... absinthe

green, moss green clasping the scent.
The emerald pentagram
shadowed in the sheep’s I AM
quickens the dead husks in a fundament

of everlasting life; & when the Eternal comes
it will be as we remembered
in the gold realm of childhood –
when time swells (the drone lingers, hums).