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.

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.