Thursday, July 21, 2016

Apollo in a Bowler

Speaking of Apollo --

Maybe he rolls 297. Maybe

He knows perfection is for men. He breaks
A branch off Daphne, drops it in a pond,
Dammed if he does. He leaves his tie askew
And burns Morocco on the morning drive.
Champagne explodes because he smiles, but she
Is rotting from the inside, laurel leaves
Losing their lustre, borne on Boreas,
One landing on his hat, as though it were
A ribbon for a boulevardier, a trophy
Won at a county fair from mortal rubes.

Friday, July 15, 2016

A Short Course in Theology

An old poem. It appeared in The Ball State University Forum.


Nobody ever said that God was nice,
only that God was God. Picture Apollo,
that's Phoebus Apollo, flaying Marsyas
for the considerable crime of piping
as well, he'd said, as any god. How heinous.
What hubris. Whistling all the while, Apollo
peeled epidermal curlicues off of
the living sinner in his dextrous hands.
Now wonder what your friends' child did, that he
died slowly of a brain tumor at six,
first going blind, then losing all his hair.

Sunday, July 10, 2016

An Ad for Astra

To what are we fastened, luv,

As if you didn't know?
A woolly mastodon of pain
With braces on, for show.

A dancing clam, a rhyming slug,
A logarithmic cow.
Oh, set your sights on shiny stars
By night, by God. But how?

I think not, luv. The rain it rains
On aching necks and backs.
And what will come will come. For now
You'd better not relax.

Tuesday, July 05, 2016

Devolvus Still

Devolvus, underground, preserves,

By lying still, his fraying nerves.
Yet in the sun, his brother walks
Above, and steels himself with talks
And chatter, as if they were kids
And wonted. And no mom forbids
One’s shoes inside or singing loud
Or hamming it up to please the crowd
Of featured hangers-on. If he
Should wish to lie there quietly,
Devolvus doesn’t say or swear,
Since he has time to spill and share,
By wit, by verve, by joie-de-not.
What was that punchline? All forgot.

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

The Norman Inquest

This appeared in Plainsong.


King Harold had an arrow in his eye,
Which made his princeps difficult and gauche.
It bumped the mirror when he tried to shave
And hung up on his undershirt. His thralls
And churls inclined to sniggers as he passed--
Those bobbing feathers. Polity declined.
He bore sharp pain, like megrims, and he'd miss
The stirrups, if they'd been invented yet
(1066--he couldn't quite recall
If Saddler had made stirrups, though Clyde's Dale
Was large as life), and distance was too hard
To calibrate--he fell into a well
And had to be winched back up like a bucket,
A frog stuck in his jerkin. And the rot,
Decomposition in his nether parts:
How difficult to saunter like a king.
Then language withered like a hag-hexed crop.
Most third-declension verbs were hard to follow,
All Norman now, as if the iron head
Had tweaked all 3 bones in his inner ear
And no more freemen could decline a king
And field was just as hard as fealty.

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Independence & Resolution

for Douglas Wilson


Listen, he said, the sound of flies
Above the riffle, that bodes well.
The old man sat, in sad surmise,
And thought of revelation. Hell,

He told us, when the world was new
And we ran guns and gerunds sang,
I watched the mountains turning blue.
Ecclesiastics never rang,

And girls were disappointed I
Moved them along. Now I can hope
That when my grey habiliments die,
The Queen will wear a dab of crêpe.

The music of satiety,
Which has no wings and does not grow
In memory, plays endlessly
And only strikes the notes we know.

Saturday, June 18, 2016

How Many Going to St Ives?

I left my Muse behind, by accident,

In Fountain, where the air smelled like a sheep
Had sold his birthright for a mess of wool.
Retraced my steps, I did, but someone else
Had knocked her off her pins, her legs a sore
Temptation to a certain sort of man,
And she went with, the trollop, keen to be
A siren singing and a whistle blown.
I am reduced. My songs sounds like the sea
Might sound in Fountain, where the land denies
There is a sea, where shepherds say that guy
Lashed to the mast heard what there never was,
A song in silence, hoping he would win
Her heart, who never had a head for love.