Thursday, March 30, 2017

The Ottoman Empire

I occupy this couch and think about
Decline this fall. For nearly 30 years
It ruled the room, and now its springs have passed
From mountains into gorges, great depressions.
Where are the wales of yesterday? I bought
A book, and all the change clattered away.
I changed a child, and look what that has done.
The subject people wanted to engage
Was war. Well, sometimes love. And never death.
Not on a couch, which framed all matters thus:
When we subside, how can we rise again?

Friday, March 24, 2017

And Then They Died

Ordered to make a narrative,
First you must say “First” and then
“And then.” It is by “then” and “when”
And “at the last” that stories live.

No princess unless “once there was,”
No prince unless “There came a day,”
No end until “They rode away,”
Whatever the red dragon does

Or sorcerer yellowed by spite.
Time takes them in and calls their dance.
Chronology bestirs romance,
Prompts it, promotes it, calls it a night.

Lovers insist the stream stands still,
Leaves never fall, the lion smiles.
Their collars droop, their Golden Isles
Occlude. They lie unchanged until

They can’t. And then. There is no next.
Overleaf, nothing, no pretend.
First there was then. And then, The End,
And then the tale is trapped in text.

Sunday, March 19, 2017

Forcing the Spring

The hyacinths break ground, the daffs,
All green, intrude, the tulips force
Themselves upon us, and the snow
Continues intermittently.
Nobody knows the bulbs I've seen--
Nobody knows, but Flora says
Ceres keeps her eye on me,
Calling to get a daughter back,
Hers to bestow. I am the dark,
Damp alternative. They text
Green, she and Flora, sharing the sound
The topsoil makes. Somewhere beneath
Contracts a kill--we mobile few,
We pink extensions of the air,
Rootless and conscienceless and blithe,
The swift disturbers. Give me back
My seedlings, painful Ceres says.

Tuesday, March 14, 2017

The Men Who Would Be Kings

We were a caravan, the score of us,
Camels and dogs and rugs. We infidels,
We passed for what we were, a flea-brained bunch
Determined to be wise, and if we failed,
Experienced at least. We heard that the sands
Turned ruby when they were wet, but they were dry.
Advised that the womenfolk were glorious
Beyond appraisal, we saw only men,
And they saw us and were not over pleased.
Far, far too many stars for urbanites:
We missed our meals and thought that we were brave.

Perhaps we were. A little foolishness
Is necessary for the gentle born.
Four of us returned, we four who returned,
We held our tongues and spent a year or two
Deciding what was dream and what was not.
It all was dream, the four of us conclude
And watch TV and nod our grizzled heads,
And some of them were probably attached.

Thursday, March 09, 2017

The Exclusionary Rule

"Newton's apocryphal apple"

I swear it wasn't. When the core decayed
on Eden's floor, the seeds took hold. The bole
blossomed and stained the air with pink, a whole
spectrum effect inferred from sin. It made
an atmosphere of perfume. And more trees.
They propagated emigres, and these

pinked England, and the apples fell and fell.
They rolled. They bounced. They made it into verse.
The bobby bowed and handed one to Nurse.
At all times they claimed sweetness led to Hell,
but emblematically. It was a nap
in symbol as he sat there. And his lap

bore stains which he could show you, because all,
at fruited feet per second squared, must fall.

Saturday, March 04, 2017

Farmer Brown's Village Play Set

This appeared in No. 1.


The world is not constructed as it might be.
A clever set of brightly colored blocks
could fix a lot; given a Providence--
a child's bad temper, adult salary,
carpet enough and time--the houses would
show smoking chimneys in July, a fence
a cow could lean against, and portable
tulips, which would display themselves where put.

And when the circus tumbled into town,
the teachers would be clowns, down at the Bank,
old Mr. Wheeze be wearing saffron robes,
have shaved his head and changed his name to Harry.
The cutglass parking meters could dispense
one shining nickel per velocipede.
The ringmaster and his lion would walk by,
talking of spangled tights and tenderloins.
A bigtop makes a 3-ring barn. The ewes
can pile pyramidally for the careful.

Our insufficient, firmly rooted world
needs pigs and saxifrage in every closet--
hang the expense. The roofbeam would be fine.
Poppies are just as good as coffee tables,
and better dyed, if tea-time is pretend.
The elephants, like schools, have principles:
give them an office, let them read announcements.
Take them apart to be put away at night.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Elder Than Springtime

He was the elder. So he had been told.
He felt it, too. So much to take on faith,
But this, not this. He grizzled as he stared
Into the mirror recollecting zilch
Of what made him the elder. And of age,
A twist of this, a week of that, whole years
He called to mind in no detail, except
The colors of the calendars and shapes
There for memorializing the months, like May
Bedecked with buds and always breasts, but none
With heft or veins. A birthday cake of shrubs
And columbines like candles, and the wind
Which did not quite extinguish them, but made
Counting unlikely. In the dark he saw
The eyes of March, a fall of fallen leaves,
But no one younger, elder though he was.