Thursday, July 30, 2020

In The Year Of Our Lord

In 1436 the gods of war

Changed their approach and stained their skins, their clothes,
Their reputations, and left the Roman world
For residence in gray geographies.
They bought clean papers, forged fresh fingerprints
From fish scales, and denied the love of men
A role in their affairs. They wanted blood,
Never a tough commodity, but chose
Abstention and the madness of no voice.
They broke their bows, inventing new disease
As more efficient and anonymous.
They drew bad dreams on hitmen fast asleep
And offered explanations via signs
Of nature—clouds and a chemical response.
It was a time of gravity and loss.
They raised the dead, then sent them back for good.
They ate their young and easily made more.
The story would end here, except that birds,
Disguised by night, concealed in brush by day,
Sang their way clear and called it parable.
Later the wise men said it was history.

Friday, July 24, 2020

Pastoral Care

Rough winds on premises to let,

And summer’s lease is triple net.
The cuckold goldsmith in the sun
Makes melting pots of everyone,
While Amaryllis in the shade
Regrets the choices she has made.

Her bowered beau regrets no more
The nights he spent in days of yore.
Though Amaryllis shine too hot,
He will be spent when she is not,
Which, he suspects, the flock has known
Since they were fleeced, then left alone.

And greener pastures beckon.  Soon,
She will exclaim, this prick of noon
Will feel his autumn felix frost.
Then she is warm and he is lost
In fields of blasted corn and clover,
Rough winds at hand, and summer over.

Friday, July 17, 2020

A Short Course in Theology

An old, 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.

Saturday, July 11, 2020

Measured Nautically

Nautical miles away, does that make me

closer or farther? I should look it up.
The dictionaries loom across the room,
as you lie over endless waters, measured
by any span, piratical or not.

If I could picture schools of kippers pushing
a v-shaped wedge of water on their way
to be your lunch, or hear the blue whale sing
Songs of the Psychedelic 60s, we
still would be stumped by distance. I am quite

as close as thought-waves. I could rig a gizmo
out of a curling-iron, colander,
extension cord, some rock salt, and my belt.
Where would you plug it in? Someone forbade
compatible power in our different lands.

I'll tie a message to a tuna, let him
slipstream currents, resting at fish stops. If
he pulls up lame, we're hopeless; watch for him
to greet your shore as tired as a dove,
bearing a stalk of salt-soaked celery.

Sunday, July 05, 2020

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.

Monday, June 29, 2020

The Weekend Gardener

You mock the flowers I can raise:
A grown man should find better ways
To sow his seed and harvest praise.

Mutual funds look good, and hiking,
Plumbing repairs, and mountain biking--
Hobbies manly and much more striking.

Adam gardened. Cain, who killed.
Onan bore seed, although it spilled.
John Ball revolted. First he tilled.

Let me manure. I fork. I spread.
Like harlotry, in white and red,
I raise commotion from a bed

For private pleasure, amply paid.
In shadow, color: sun and shade
Where Cain worked hard and Abel played.

Tuesday, June 23, 2020

Virgil & the Bees

appeared in Angelic Dynamo


we have rather chosen to fill our hives with honey and wax;
thus furnishing mankind with two of the noblest things, which
are sweetness and light.
--Swift

A flat gray stone absolved of dung and schmutz,
Warmed by the sun and near, not in, a grove,
Proximate to a meadow, not to sheep,
Unthinking sweaters on the hoof, at hand
Running water for sound effect: then sit,
And you will find the bees. Theirs is a mind
Unfit for your accommodating self.
Like physicists, they are absorbed by thoughts
Too pure and rarefied for you. They work,
The autumn ever coming, honey from
The dandelion and excrete a light
So fine it makes divine commedias
A piece of cake, a holiday of dusk.
He listens: you can see him move his lips,
No buzz, no hum. Hexameters like glass,
The shape of cells, coincidentally--
They were invented to store wisdom, wax,
And pollen effluents. Thus you have flowers,
He thinks, stung by the notion Dido walks
Amidst gray flowers she can never touch.