Thursday, May 16, 2024

Brasso & Marble Cleaner

 I write this with a steel dip pen,

terribly old fashioned,

They wrote like this—remember when?—

painful and impassioned.

I don't.  They wrote on close stool walls

and phone kiosks and cardboard.

On creaking slats of cattle stalls.

At Metro State.  At Harvard.

They wrote and wrote and wrote and wrote

of lost wills and abortions.

At epic length.  By train.  By rote.

In whopping festal portions.

The pigs ate most.  The silverfish

six-stepped across the rest.

Frau Bluebird, fluttery and swish,

and very red of breast,

has carried off a stave or two

in rapid, darting trips

and mumbled them into a glue

and long dependent strips.

Sunday, May 12, 2024

As Every Schoolboy Knows


        Everyone knows that Plato

        in the tenth book of his

        Republic, proposed to banish

        poets from his ideal State

            —Sven Birkerts

It goes to show

what everyone knows.

Well below

The practical city

of laundered prose,

the tired and tatty

poets conspire

in solitude.

They set afire

pipe and cable,

They send up lewd

reworkings of fable

through manhole covers.

They mail out letters

petitioning lovers

to abandon their betters.

Everyone knows

they had to move on.

We heard in prose

the poets are gone.

Wednesday, May 08, 2024

His Secret Notes


In Book VII of The Secret Notes

of Constantine Colossus

he summarizes what he's learned

from his 4 o'clocks with kings and queens,

from his morganatic wife

who sold their son to sausage men,

from his large collection of poniards

jewelled and venomed, and long use

of gnostic texts and lemon inks.

Life is short and wonky-ish, he says,

our felicity at all times

frail. Roses fade, but grass persists.

Love is ephemeral, plutocrats,

like the beggarman, must sleep.

Still, gold ain't all that shabby.

My edition of The Secret Notes

is dented, as though I weren't

the first who threw it at the wall.

Friday, May 03, 2024

My Republic


This one was in Plainsongs, a long time ago.

To my republic immigrants arrive
with no fanfare of paperwork; they come,
and right away they ask to be left alone.
They want to go where yeoman farmers live
and beekeepers and Latinists.
Old maids
give them each maps and send them on their ways,
unstamped, unnumbered, all unphotographed.

In my republic each one makes a stop
at gift shops which sell baseball gloves and bats
with which they make their own ways to the dark
sinuous backroads of the heartland states,
thence to disperse to dry or forest places.
No one keeps count.
No one’s allowed to do so.
You’ll hear them playing catch in summer’s dusk,

trying to learn to act like you and me,
even the ones who exit tropic climes
in oddball togs woven from unknown bolls.
If not at first, then soon.
They must be just,
like us, and just a trickle, which is why
they all play ball, a sort of crowd control,
the only one allowed in my republic,
short on theologians, long on shortstops.

Monday, April 29, 2024

My Unravished Bride


Medusa’s head above the door

Has stoned the crows and salesmen, too;

But no one ever rocked me more

Than igneous, impassive you,

Though permanent now as headstones cut

With mottoes, there beside my walk,

So poets can imagine what

Art would sound like if it could talk.

Medusa once was fair herself

And drove the bright boys wild with lust.

Like you now, from her warden shelf

She flakes in petrifying dust.

Wednesday, April 24, 2024

Ferry Tale Ending


Tell me some more

About the shore

Where Charon waits

To greet the greats

And poor and 'twixt,

Randomly mixed,

A penny apiece,

Without surcease.

Is it hard and bare?

Do spirits share


Or try to flee,

Each dark shape

Bent on escape?

Do come ahead,

He tells the dead,

No woo, no warning.

No more morning.

Saturday, April 20, 2024

Lullaby In Slumberland City


While birdies slept and earthworms snored
And owlets stooped to swoopy flights,
You the Teen Queen Max restored,
With endless make-up, endless nights.

Our tygers pad the jasmined path
And cherries fall from green green trees
And all our dead lay down their wrath
As I awake through slow degrees

In shadowed rooms to unfilled beds.
The clock, the clock. Across the lawn,
In fact, the sparrows shield their heads
Till, chime by chime, they rouse to dawn.