Friday, November 28, 2014

Tales from Sycorax's Wood

Once split, twice shy, the tree
Will not disclose the plight
Of those condemned to be
Embedded out of sight.

They never speak of her.
Whatever once occurred
To make a prisoner,
No one will say a word.

Only the bark is warm,
In places bark is not,
And when lush Carpo’s storm
Shakes the wood, the lot

Of trees exempts such places,
No motion and no sound,
No sense of human faces,
Except the wetted ground.

Sunday, November 23, 2014

Mystical Truths of Astronomical Illumination

Who can believe the luminous moon
Is lit by the sun? Here? In the dark?
Science is not some kids’ cartoon,
Where falling anvils leave no mark
On trees who are singing in the park;
And the dish runs away with the spoon.

It glows because it’s happy, bright
With sweat and pleasure from within.
It romances the earth at night,
Wolf-whistles at the frabjous sight
Of you in bed, and shines with sin
At second hand. You light the sky;
The moon absorbs. What science knows
Ends at the treetops. Wonder why
At night, between the breast and thigh,
Your silver duvet glows and glows?

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

The Year of Cancer

That was the year of cancer, not much joy
And no goodbyes. I never said goodbye.
See you soon, they said. I thought, As if.
Everything people said seemed serious,
What time it was, the cost of buying fresh,
Rules by committee, modified at length.
That was the year a war began, but not
A war to end all wars, just substitutes.
Spring rolls served fresh in the winter seemed a joke,
Like statuary of ephemera
Or aged men in sequined suits who sang
Of love, first love, the kind of love that lasts.

Friday, November 14, 2014

After the Assumption

This appeared in Ship of Fools. I think of it as my Huck and Tom's Funeral poem.

When I assume the godhead, and the Church
Of Me convenes in outlets nationwide,
I shall expect to find your name. One day,
When your town comes up Now Appearing Here!
On My itinerary, I shall look
Down from my My eyrie, noting if you wear
A deferential cloche or picturebook
Chapeau; I shall observe your hemline, check
Whether the exposed thighs suggest a feigned
Passion for kneeling and a lure to stop
Your neighbor's vagrant eye. You'll bob your head,
But will you praise Me? Even as I drive
To heartland towns and franchisees who camp
On plains the wind godfathered, as I drop in
On rustbelt exiles flattering the days
They ordered sausage in their native tongues,
I shall reflect. What shall I think of you,
Singing with lips you kept all to yourself,
Who came to worship what you cast away?

Monday, November 10, 2014

John Ransom's Garden

Kicking the leaves aside, I find a garden
Waiting, pale and helio-thwarted, seeds
Gone wild, which hasn’t henceforth proved a guerdon
Sufficient to combat saracen weeds.

Oh, till us, quoth they, fork and petty plow
A weaponry that fallen earth believes.
With pail and can they may be good enow.
When weeds are yanked and die, sir, no one grieves.

Unto a flower root and stem aspire,
Which then will seed to make a root a stem.
To probe so low, they needs must hie them higher.
I like the parts best, still unseen of them.

Thus is it often, paladins unknowing,
Consequence witnessed. What inaction forces
Lies, time in earth. O lovely flower showing
Benighted us, the dim tree light immerses.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

Elegy Written in a Country Churchyard

This one appeared in the British magazine Candelabrum.

I started a list of what you never saw,
dead before Epsteins lived, dying while yours
wore roundheads, dead a long time, dead so well
your stones look more like sponge. I gave it up.
Who wants a list of cars and compact discs?
Who could explain epinephrine to the dead

and chronically short of breath? Still in their spheres,
the stars were not impeded by your lights;
but lacking National Geographic, you
never pinned up the Horsecrab Nebula.
It says here you’re not lost, but G N B RE.
Someone has trimmed this turf 300 years,

and still it wants to grow. The River Wye
asks no eponymous questions, flows while green
returns to grass, which is the epitaph
other grass grew. That they’d be picturesque
in increments of centuries would make
the dead rise, if they could. I wait. They can’t.

Saturday, November 01, 2014

The Sparrows' Fall

from These Denver Odes

At this week's yard sale
sparrows swap husks and hulls,
dry, but not amusing,
and they soon move on.

Next door's seed is new,
the last word in millet.
They beat each other up,
first doing no harm.

They will return. Ice
will dam their best bedrooms;
the cold will not comfort
their minuscule down:

and I'll fill their bath
regularly with hot
water, regularly
frozen in seconds.

A hard little life,
sparrows'. Precarious
hearts, what can they recall?
Listen how they sing.

Dumb little bastards.
Dry seed, cold empty beds,
taut untutored lifelines.
Listen to them sing.