at the close of a year


The weathered flesh-tones of the Franklin Bridge
her twin brows arched with wonder
in the imperturbable splendor
of the winter sun.  You give me courage.

Not the one or the other, only
but the concord of the two
in three.  What ravels you
& mekindling of Dove, or Bee.

Sophie brought me a handful of shells
& an acorn, from Rhode Island.
A child’s gift, out of sand –
at the year’s end, from sea-swells.

& it came to me, at the close of a year
that Earth itself is the ball of clay.
Your mother’s wheel, for a day
& a night... Time unfolding, free & clear.

That fortitude of Roger, in his Providence
was planted by one adamant law –
the human well of love & awe,
the infinite heart, your recompense.

The jovial star beams on its balance-point.
The sense of rightness Osip felt
comes like your sister-dove; eyes melt
frost with twin rays of hearth-fire.  Scent

of your presence, walking beside me, Hobo
intuits, hearkens, turns –
out of these graven Grecian urns
quick water voices, chorusing.  Lamps, glow.



your glance will not be replicated

Nadezhda Mandelstam
          to Lena Archer & Barbara Swanson

This falling snow at end of year
seals all our doings
& rememberings
with soft imprint of upper atmosphere.

Each snowflake is a face, or signature
disintegrated from the sky
from Ocean’s continuity
come down to live, to die – to melt, unsure

back to the common spring (indifferent
& all-encompassing).
Watch generations passing
with the calendar.  Grandma, bent

to join her friends again (under
the ground).  & we are left
to plow along... to heft
the load she bore, so bright & clear.

Your glance will not be replicated
nor your smile rehearsed.
The gentle ones, who nursed
each flower into breath, are translated

beneath an arc of sapphire sky
into their immortality –
embrace each earthy
being-born, each learning how-to-die.

There are these women... limping
over the frozen steppe.
See how they leap
now!  Lifting off... (on seraph wing).



like an 8-ball in a canyon


Thus the poem is a free agent,
loosed from its cannon
like an 8-ball in a canyon.
We could go on – what they meant

you know.  Dante was getting on
when he stopped by Sant’
Apollinare.  The slant
of loneliness caresses its panopticon

of painterly rainbow eyes & forms,
afloat overhead
like a Macy’s parade
on Thanksgiving Day (enormous

helium balloons of adoration
under an umbrella
of matryoshka nesting-
dolls, like an infinite function

in rose granite aegis, arcs-
over-arcs).  In her eyes,
the grace of God buys
time with molten agape-caritas.

Jesus emerges from the cave.
Mary faints in the garden,
dream bent back again
to Gödel (his suspended-7th grave).

Her incompleteness theorem
is like Easter in 2020,
always there already
(gleaming ring, undying diadem).


the mural crown


This silvery light of a rainy day
in late December.  Neutral,
nested in its gray scale
along a standoffish Mississippi

(little Big Muddy).  Icons of vagrancy
are history.  Only
tell me, who is Tyche
now?  Who wears her mural crown of clay?

The mural crown is a martyr’s crown.
Seared semaphore of Liberty.
Tom, within his sanctuary
clocked by King Hank’s automaton.

& you, speechless ancient mother
of my tongue... Oaxaca pot
with 4 legs & 4 faces, hot
from kiln – my sis Jonah (there is no other).

A hidden life, in high green alps
of loving consciousness.
Where our union of Succession-
Restoration comes in great gulps

of transparency (over gnarled rivalries,
distempered lunacy,
frustrated tyranny...
Narcissus in the burnt oak trees).

All history now, Henry.  We drank
life’s Honigwein
with Weinsteins, in
torrid Odessa... felt unfathomable thanks.



Neva serpent ocarina


One might say mathematics is a matter
of cascading functions,
with parenthetical canyons
in canyons (as at Vladivostok, or the Matter-

horn).  Rivers flow this way,
then that way, back,
forth, clattering
from Hackensack to Housatonic (May-

November).  So the game of numbers
is a mode of streambed too –
your Itasca-sprung Rio
del Espiritu (time-numbing mine of hours)

whose ceaseless surge bends past the prong
of Louie’s Gateway Arch
that budgeth not (March
to September), stills the monotone like a gong

of bronze.  Thus Mrs. Slippery, crowned,
extends her clayborne banks
beyond New Orleans... her phalanx
of ‘gators flanks her onward, azure-bound;

so the analogy of brazen serpent
lures this goldfinch dream
into Leviathan trireme
wreathing America in mist, unspent –

as when a dervish Morning Star
raveled Guillaume into her web
grappling Jonah (fledgling pleb)
into the shimmer-seine of River R.


Osip Mandelstam's final i.d. card (internal emigre)


Ravenna is a potter's wheel

painting by Mary R. Gould, born 12.26.1927


Hobo moseys down his usual shore,
thinking of the finish line.
Plays with his river-sign,
his spiral hut of shoreline lore.

Someday there might be an algorithm
for the eyes in the mirror,
the project of the logosphere
curved beneath Beatrice-smile... leaf-skim

fluttering in Pentecostal glossolayea
round those pillars of Diana
stolen for Hagia Sophia
by Justinian (Solomon, I have outdone ye).

The builder’s signal of completion, the flag
of a little pine tree
planted like perfect akme
at the apex.  Unknown Soldier’s Rag

of worn linen.  Shakespeare’s cap
of happiness, he said,
that buried pot – not dead,
not even sleeping; where rays overlap

into a solid beam (centripetal matrix
of a million eyes).  It is
finished, this Poe-biz –
seraphic wayfaring Eureka-box

of pinecones, green acorns.  & the canoe
of flowering almond ribs...
your singing coracle of orbs,
suspended in accord from sapphire-blue.



what child is this


The empty duplex is quiet tonight
though not completely silent.
Drumming in the basement –
Khaled rehearsing our old duet.

From different corners of the same planet
immigrants & refugees
hasten to the Twin Cities
as to gemütlich haven or warm magnet.

& history is like a palimpsest of pelts
trapped in somebody’s woods
before there were neighborhoods
or streetlights – only raw scalps, rotting guilts.

When we were that City on a Hill
of our imagination –
special paragon of Creation,
establishing law-&-order by God’s will

on earth.  But it wasn’t so beautiful.
The Magi rode by camel
across a parochial hell
subject to Herod & his trumpets (terrible);

the angels remained invisible, mostly;
& both the Ark of the Covenant
& ironclad Ship of State
came to resemble that drafty, mangy

manger itself.  Where Mary lay
& her shivering baby sighed
& Joseph almost died
of inhumanity.  Hush little baby, don’t you cry.



your barbecue of fibs


& how could that heart-shaken man
(Jay Berryman-Osiris) dive
from a bridge, the eve
after Epiphany?  Say, Jack Ravlin –

Granddad – 3 blocks from your house?
& on your birthday?
How?  Evil holds sway
as dream molts into parody (inverse

remorse, or nightmare fallacy).
Estrangement reigns
when Minotaur maintains
the lie that makes untruth reality.

Demonic hatred be the coin of death.
The grass stuffed in the mouth
was greed gone south
coffered Osiris longing for mere breath.

That auctioned ship, Old Ironsides
the Constitution of a rifled
dream – must she be stifled
by unruly piracy?  The manger hides

her refugees in the hull of your ribs,
old mothership.  Your heart
where 13 adders start
is like Coatlicue – your barbecue of fibs

is just begun.  Your John Paul Jonah
swings his wordy covenant
over his head (adamant
evening, stony crossroad... hallelujah).


like a transparent crane-bone flute


Under Siberian pale-blue ice
tiny frozen spirals form.
Where memories swarm
in whirlpools, counter-clockwise –

Hobo spring of vagrant musing.
Follow me down, she
murmurs, toward the sea
limpid ocean floor of everything.

The coil of wet clay tightens, slowly.
Welterings of catkin passions
merge beneath an old man’s
glaze (welded to an osier orrery).

It is the Mississippi bottomland
of errant, febrile heart.
Hot kiln, or upstart
flinty flare; centripetal lampstand.

The bare simplicity of San Francesco
floats like a transparent
crane-bone flute –
an air set like a feather in the flow,

a bubble in the world of local trials.
Love the Lord your Wakan Tanka
& your neighbor, Raven Caw-
Caw – this call melts all frozen wiles.

So the clay wheel rotates slowly,
turns inexorably north
south east... & forth
to high Pacific gate – lofting her Liberty.



like a phantom of spring


Slouched on the couch, Hobo is
near the shortest day.
Earth’s winter way,
making her rounds – stoic old Miz.

The river like a froze French drain
her Via Francigena makes
past dirt-bent snakes
of old St. Lou.  Where Jackson

Quick, somehow, came from – pilot
on Yankee hospital ship, 1863 –
late father of Jessie
O. (caught fever, like as not).

Full fathom five, Jessie, thy father.
Like Jenny’s mother, too,
huh?  Little tree (cedar
or yew).  See my ghost dance gather.

The natural round is in the clay
& waiting for that Last Day
each grieving soul will say
O help me turn another way.

This lambent presence in the window
like a phantom of spring.
Persephone, in a ring-
dance, leapt over the fire, so –

lifted by droning hum of living
& dead, out of clay
wheel, through the Gateway –
wave-crest prow, loafer’s Thanksgiving.



only piano in town


6-yr-old Sophie curls up in the lap
of grumpy old Grandpa
to listen to Grandma 
read us the story of Jingle Bells.  Slap-

happy Mr. Pierpont, of Medford Mass.
watching 12 skating sliders
skim frozen circles (laughter’s
elves) runs next door to Mrs. Waterman’s

– only piano in town, to test his melody
& the rest is history
she’s ready for bed, isn’t she
Sophie’s growing up fast, Henry

The tall Norway pine at the prow
of the duplex, like a mast
climbing up toward one vast
frosty galaxy, with its Xmas lights in tow

(Grandpa’s dad’s project once, long ago)
they don’t glow anymore
but the duplex lies at anchor
like every ark, Egyptian barge, Ferrara canoe

like every nave, like every churnagogue,
like every Celtic coracle –
round as a 4-leaf miracle
of Columba, or Mayflower Compact (ship’s log

of covenanted sheep’s union);
round as lightswept dome
of Hagia Sophia, or home
sweet home (clay barn, Mississippian)


small icon, a gift of Elena Shvarts, poet of St. Petersburg


come here, baby Minotaur


Love is the end & the beginning.
Cave-artists in Sulawesi
drew pigments from red scree
for their wild pigs, dwarf buffalo (zing

go the arrows of the sacred hunters,
therianthropes).  44,000
years in burial mound
(palm-prints on wooden posts for pointers).

Desire in soggy adolescent clay
molts to perversity
or rises to chaste clarity;
smiles of mothers & fathers slay

the stony-hearted Minotaur
with a burl of soft air
(light for the maze-lair).
Love circles back to where you are.

Come here, baby Minotaur,
you’re going to dance with me.
Concrete comes from the sea-
sand; this milk is from a star.

I’myeh spirit helper, Jonah Raven.
Take this clay, spit
into your hand, & roll it,
mold it to your eye.  There’s Ocean-

Ouroboros, glowing in the deep.
That’s Milky Way, that’s
Morning Star... your heart’s
a coracle, Cordelia (wake beyond sleep).



bateaux of old Louisiana


It was 50 years ago now, Julie.
We were with the sleepers
in a dream, the jumpers
on a fogbound bridge – our odyssey

a sleepwalk of necessity
from day to day.  America
was manifest, a replica
of heaven for the taking – see?

This land was made for you & me.
But you & I sank down
into Pacific depths, my clown,
so young, so sad, so gone.  Ahey

ey yo.  It’s in the bottomland
or on the ocean floor
you’ll find the coral door,
the seashell, Pearl – your eye-in-hand.

Like Joan of A. moored to a smoking pyre
or O. still singing in Leviathan-jaw
bateaux of old Louisiana
meet like rose petals in a western choir.

& the Word-made-light, that sank into the clay
sprang up again, as speechless gift
in the dome where every tongue will lift
& feed upon her painful vine (his dying-day).

Our ghost-dance, Julie – tiptoe in a dream.
JB whispers, Eurydice!
& circuiting the dome with me
hums from Rez graveyard in a Joan A-frame.



train to Boston


Hobo follows his instinct to the river.
A serpentine circulation,
labyrinth – heart’s burn.
Romans might haruspicate the liver

of an ox, or note the forays of a raven
like smoke-signals overhead;
Hobo lingers with his own dead
Providence photos – train to Boston

or that old blind man who walks the plank
straight off the cliff (at Prospect
Park).  Ghosts intersect.
Eurydice in San Fran hits a blank

wall of blue salt water.  Prince Henry Hal
uproots the better part of soul
to be the bard imperial –
shelving himself with racks of Fleurs du Mal.

To be refuge for troubled consciences,
Rhode Island was.  & was.
Hobo works with materials
by eye-in-hand (fate-lines, hunches);

commissioned for a wedding-song
of earthen pots (Cahokian)
& Morning Star – where one
Virgo-conjunction plants her Gateway prong

the Rio del Espiritu Santo will merge
St. El with Muddy Waters
& Ravenna’s virgin martyrs
with a N’Orleans fanfare... cosmic splurge.



signum of yearning


The simple poem sets its seal on the day
(signum of yearning, lack
& bronze heartbreak).
It doesn’t create, but confirms, I say –

tacit equipoise of universe,
with roaring hearth
mirroring each heart
in Milky Way (our fiery nurse).

& of that translucent softest koinonia
the poem’s just a line.
Graven tattoo or riverine
El (whorled conscience of Columbia).

So when the Rabbi hums a restoration of all things
we understand what he means
& feel it in our bones –
sunlight in the kitchen supersedes all kings.

Liberty-tyranny-liberty; light-dark-light...
your Florentine chessboard
migrates its word-hoard
to Skye, & beyond (stern Ocean slate).

Your buoy rides the moiling salt
like a lucky pawn
become kingpin again;
Hamlet swings the doom-bell... halt,

who goes there? – solo Ophelia
hoovers up all Denmark
from her West Branch park,
& Evening Star glows like Astraea.



the otherness of the poem


The turning year brings its anniversaries.
Sunken ships in the harbor.
My fleeting image of an arbor
green on the slope at Golden Gate – Julie’s

last day (her father Jim’s birthday).
Today the sun glistens
as if through Temple linens;
pearl beyond price, merciful Gateway...

The otherness of the poem is merely
the cosine of a conversation,
Cuz.  Light trinity of sun-
moon-star, embedded in clay lips (dearly).

As America is balanced in the scales
by a feather from Byzantium,
so a Pipestone eagle-drum
summons a kingdom borne on wing-sails.

Covenantal arc of steel
at navel of the earth;
gangway to spoke-berth
coralized beyond our iron wheel.

& from a pearl-eye in the mandorla
light beams to every hamlet-
brig across the planet –
melting the blood-red wax of Danelaw

& Washington, pouring dark wine
into each muddy river-vein,
lofting all-human
fellowship again (curving J-spiral sign).



bridges of Hennepin County


So many bridges flung across this river
like stitches on a wound –
their heavy iron-concrete bond
knitting a wintry Twin Cities together.

One thing is welded to another,
like the almond in a Venn
design – Cahokian
canoe of koinonia? – out of mother-

clay, spun wide... like risen bread,
or galaxies of diamond fire.
So lights flash over limestone
mire, through night-black thunderhead.

& Hobo, hunched beside the riverbank
is like the shadow of Henry
as Henry is of lowly
Galilean king (his incognito prank)

– as are we all, in that high diagram
checkering light across a dome
in old Egyptian Byzantium
(proof-stone of perpendicular wisdom).

Like Hagia Sophia with a million eyes...
rimming the twin-bent boughs
of swelling arcs (in Voronezh)
where East & West, mud-rings & skies

are melded in your almond lips’ ellipse
& God & Imago
& world & Churnagogue
are sanctified, sealed with a kiss

of peace (pax, agapeWakan Tanka);
where Rio del Espiritu Santo
whispers I love you so
& Hobo walks with sister Joan (Columbia).



Byzantium or high Armenia


Light snow cascades into December dusk.
Each flake a brief memento
of infinity.  Drifting so
far... from a distant world.  Ask

& it shall be given unto you,
intones the snowy-mantled
priest (Byzantium,
or high Armenia).  So the seed grew

amid its granary of full, deep faith.
Here in Minneapolis,
first snow is ceremonious.
A sanctification for the dying earth,

a last light blessing to the forehead
of a fading year.  I think
of Roger, leaning at the brink
of the Terrace... one hand lifted

floating over Providence spread out below
& miming his canoe’s prow –
an equilibrium of high & low,
of holy & mundane (Jonah-Hobo).

& Henry, tilting on the pivot-point
of Berryman’s rail (Washington)
is rescued from oblivion
by a mustard seed of restoration... faint

hexagon of gold sky-fire, transfiguring
the babble of his broken tongue
to chaste vision – sprung
rite from Ravenna (almond wing).