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.

Monday, June 13, 2016

Please Take a Moment to Locate the Exits

King of the Night, he is.  He doesn’t like you.
He doesn’t like your backstory.  Your charm,
Like Bottom’s bottom, isn’t something special.
The mists of midnight blow away.  You stand
In the Aisle of Target, looking for your shoes
On shelves of mouthwash, rodent spray, and cans
Of 3-in-1.  King of the Night, he says,
“Wet cleanup on Aisle 7, where the lute
And zither sale  has just concluded.   Please
Exit the store, and, listen, don’t come back.”

Saturday, June 11, 2016

But no tote bags

I am considering a pledge drive for RHEpoems.blogspot.com. The goal would be to raise readers, not money.  Perhaps I could raise some minor Cavalier poets, although they're probably afflicted with I'll Read One of Yours, If You'll Read One of Mine Syndrome, and theirs are all about ale and girdles.

Wednesday, June 08, 2016

Civis Romanus Sum

This appeared in Plainsongs.



The immigration man will let you through
Because you’re white and smell okay, but not
So Customs, who keeps profiles on a lot
Of funny types, including some like you.
You will feel funny, if he wants you to.
You’ll act as though your Henry James were hot.
That biro is suspicious. You forgot
All that old stuff, which looks like something new

When undeclared. So make a speech: I deal
In artifacts of the mind. I’m odd. I write
At painful and eccentric times of night.
I smuggle into books a way to feel.
I bear impediments of no appeal.
I am a citizen. I transport light.

Thursday, June 02, 2016

Ideal for Ferns

Last time I went out on the town they didn’t

Just rent my room or box my books downstairs,
Pamper a pauper’s feet with my worn socks,
Or give my parka to a banker’s brat.
They sold my dog. They shot my desk. They dialed
My radio to Sister Carmen Todd,
The Bride of Pop. My mom declared me dead.
“He’s dead,” she said. “I do declare.” They made
My car a planter: somehow, they observed,
A hatchback is ideal for ferns. They mist
The ferns. They painted my pine bedstead white
And hung some Jesus where I used to sleep.
His eyes will track you if you try to rest
There now, but no one will. They mist their ferns.
The air must turn the color of balloons.