On a Broken Sea Shell
On a Portrait of Dylan Thomas
How It Is
The Worth of Art
Like a Flower
When I Have Rested
On the Street
The Old Place
Hymn to the Magic Giant
A Grown Man
Young Christian Michael
The Moon's Rabbit
Simonize the Cat
signs of a struggle
All Like a Cloud
Songs near the SeaFisherman
Triolet of the Fly
On a Broken Sea Shell
Ocean and Paleolith
An Imperfect Day
Seacoast at Night
She just sits there ironically pleased
to be paid to dine, a glass of wine if she wants,
fulfilled, check-listed and past,
while steps wisely the urban consultant.
Woe to the wind and the cosmic wheel withal,
I, that which is, the very it itself proclaiming,
ride charging in spite of and because of my history
becaused by each and everyone.
Ever free (not the molecule but the will), intelligence,
memory and perception create self in community.
Still, quietly, the surface, self-fascinated, attempts
hungrily to begin to embrace the unameable.
Mankind, the vector sum of all its influences,
my little bit too, how long wilt thy writhe and die?
The Smartest Person I Ever Knew
Sat beside me long enough to be noticed,
and then birded away
kicking gravel and shards of dirty detritus
and away in flight in history no more
died dead crashed, even lying for a time on the surface,
and then beneath the all-receiving earth,
of the earth again, that cinder
that features its atoms time after time.
All! Writhes the brief soul,
not in just the unacceptable instantaneous mortality of oneself,
that bit of the vast map assigned incidentally to you,
but in all the echoing song of your kin and kind.
Satan and Persephone
Persephone, dear Lady, daughter of Aegis-bearing Zeus,
unconsummated bride, wedded, untouched,
is the air as hot on the surface?
It is cooler, I remember.
In Your walks around this pretty place,
above the unbaptized babies bewailing their relative innocence,
in the milder circles of Hell, on better days,
does a cool breeze from the air above
ever sigh and sink into an upper cavern,
bringing the fragrance of flowering trees in bloom
and the song of the sparrow singing and clinging to its twig
joyous in its liberty, glad as rain to be free?
Aye, My Lord. I recall such things.
Tell me again, sweet Persephone,
pale and sighing in the shade,
yearning for a look at the cool moon,
mourning for what is soft and green,
does the breeze and its misty dew
ever blow in from the Corinthian sea?
Aye, my Lord, so I remember. Long ago,
Before You took Me from Hades,
Before Hades took Me from Zeus,
the Sea caressed the Land, Her breath kissed
sweet upon His rocky cheek, tender lips
whispered in His cavernous ear
while draping His mountainous shoulders
with waves of misty wedding lace,
causing clouds to drift in lofting ecstasy,
nourishing fishes, and inspiring gulls to flight.
We were the best of swans,
In the sheltering sky, ever blue,
from cloud to cloud soaring...
...gilded by the rising sun,
over wholesome oceans lapping earthen hills
greened with tender life and bathed by rain,
tears of dew shed by the morning leaf,
commonly beautiful, promising more.
Much nearer to Heaven than now.
Yes, Dear Judas, take a good look
at what you cannot have.
Flowers grow in peaceful tribes,
while within a dewy bell a bumbling bee
busily sips the nectar of its species' immortality.
How each moment follows another in delight;
how cautious one tender creature woos another;
how pretty the words that from the moment grow.
How blue the sky and cool the wind.
The laughing sea bathes the stranded stone,
sorting each and every sandy grain,
while on the shore a cozy nook is made
where a tiny mammal adores its little home,
saving its bit of food for when there is none.
Mammon? What do You say?
Typical romantic lacrimosity
unable to grasp or release its object,
utterly dependent on sentiment.
As if he could assume the precious fragility
of baby animals as an excuse for mercy.
On the sidewalk,
The cutest waif of an orphaned tribe,
Pulled a swallow from their mutual bottle.
She claimed home, here and now, and happily
Disdained distance, all dreams and consequence,
And the neat opinions of the nearly present.
But distant slabs of weather and I
Breeze through the square cut canyons.
She closed her coat to the winter world.
The hard groundís a bad bed, I said,
Unkind to bone and hide,
A wealth of shards, the final refuge,
The hungry maw of the all-receiving earth.
She looked up and blessed me
and pocketed my coins.
Someday not so far away,
Supplicating the unreachable sky,
Begging a kindness from the moving,
Through a face full of dirt,
Iíll offer a blessing to only bidder.
The lonely stars pale in the city lights
As I hike into the cold wind,
Remembering her careless eyes and curly hair
And her encouraging questions seeking long answers.
Stepping from the cracked concrete to rougher pavement,
I'm too close to the driver gunning his machine.
I might stumble beneath his heavy wheel.
His mind's far from my fragility.
What's a pedestrian's wish to tons commerce?
I give him leave, hoping liberality will save us all
While the all-seeing stars stare cold from the black and distant sky
Displacing my perfect memory of her.
Little in the world is kin to me and mine.
The small person's at risk away from his kind.
Peering, restless, bound to the
the brawny boy lunges against his chain.
Tyrants must fall to the brandished blade.
The dirty road thirsts for running blood.
Free, wind-sung, star-flung,
the body lunges against its bonds.
Deep within the pounding breast
the impatient heart challenges death.
Drinking the wind, the beast risks all for all.
Between the nucleus and the wall,
between the self and other,
exact and perfect individuals,
cross-cultural hunks of plasm,
turning from the larger body
and shaking their chain, releasing their song,
transmit and receive outlandish
communication from the cosmic brigade.
Strung out along the line of time, the mind,
chained to the fateful body,
with a gun to guard or a bowl to beg,
chatting with hunger,
propagating, evading, replacing,
until regiments are raised up to feed the machine.
Mid-empire, standing in our accumulation,
our victims' descendents peer from the twilight,
aching to slake their thirsty steel,
watching the old bone tottering unpitied into the wind.
It's the same path again in the ready
a steady stride in autumn's final blaze,
a moment in the long visit,
a pause to let the breeze feel my bones.
How the new son does strut
among the fallen leaves and the women
clutch their coats to keep their heat
while sparrows cheerfully bathe in the frigid water.
Remembered for their temporal beauty,
too common and too colorful, an annoyance to workmen,
the wind-driven strengthless leavings tumble
and huddle against the cold stone
as their dry husks rust away.
Just another useful fool each morning
trying to join the rushing world, wandering,
distant, I saw a man, old at first, shy,
ragged and slow on the littered walkway,
a bit of pride with legs, quiet like the rest,
a careful honor chauffeured by hunger.
As he took his seat they called him Baron,
cleared the clutter and litter on the bench,
and gave him a bit of bread. In public now,
they missed someone yet kept their thoughts.
He alluded to the dance of life, and I saw
her necklace of skulls and those teeth and their whiteness all smiling,
the harvest of men and the gracious waltz, the strangled sob,
what can't be said or seen or missed,
the bashful, impermenent flesh wooing and wailing,
fading and forgotten as new cells breathe deep
and for nightly pleasure leap from the day,
some lending name and number to the lone howl
that's mistaken for song before the long fall.
He buttered his bread and shook his head,
another nodded, and we all went on.
Here's to those who made temples from nothing
and those who didn't make it over the wall last night,
who didn't show their face at breakfast,
who will be thought as merely absent.
If I must rejoin the all-receiving Earth
and lay at last my cheek against her breast,
I will not weep for myself but for my kind,
fumbling surprised, eyes wide but blind,
fighting the current, wind-driven
like bits of water that wet the eye
before the vapor spirits away.
Competing with the city lights,
The stars blink lonely tonight.
Stepping from the cracked concrete,
Too close to the driver, gunning his tons,
Jumping the curb to crush my creature.
might stumble beneath his wheel.
Whatís a pedestrianís wish to a tractor hauling potatoes?
I give him leave, hoping liberality will save us all.
But whatís hope to the stars,
Staring cold from the black and distant sky,
No kin to me and mine?
crawling and falling through space and time,
a running bump jumped onto the path
to warn the busy walkers and talkers
who turned annoyed to the panting interruption.
He barked his shaky words
and someone took a moment from his friend
to reply "there is nothing new to know
but only things to sell and sell again."
Exhausted, all wound, realizing,
the never-knowing nuisance halted.
It has nothing to do with the flower,
which is just a fragrant curiosity,
a ruse of the hidden hunger
that beckons the precious flesh.
It has everything to do with the flower
because, after the flag is set aside,
after the beast is filled with blood
and the body bored with bolder business,
it begins to yearn to make another flower.
A bare breath looking,
a hunger shaped by encounter,
unfolding, disarming, complexing,
what wants to be seen erects itself to be seen.
Only, standing out, he differs,
an insatiable vision needing to move.
The useful fool lanking against the rail,
the outstanding features of her vision
carve a face on the bumbling boy.
Above, the sky connects the horizons,
hiding the cracks where uncertainty waits.
Her vision, his art reverberating,
between seeing and what is seen,
in parts sees him in pieces of time.
Beneath a shivering tree,
against the cold stone, startled,
judging the form fearful,
his eye snatching the motion,
he leapt in her direction.
On she fled, pounding the path,
glancing behind to the hunting eye.
Between the hills and through the woods,
wet in the running hunt,
driving deep in the rooted rut,
his creature's hunger chased
her giving eye's escaping look.
In the pausing and the peeking,
in the seeking and the touching,
turning in and turning out,
his odd sense wondered
as his prey flew away.
The sun, rising over the stone shoulder,
lording all that hunger,
seeks each in its shadows,
a brief motion,
all that flutters in the wind.
Sunlight warm upon the sill,
a petal blushing upon her cheek,
curling locks adoring the cornice of her ear,
big in the belly, she looks at her pretty feet.
He, child of the horizon, the traveling eye
roams in distant orbit coiling
in and around the dear corner of her smile.
Entwining moans yearn to be.
The struggle folds featureless life,
adding half a seed to where the blossom
beckons toward its inner curl.
She conceives a nation,
the muscling crew born in blood,
the giant-hearted merchant of meat,
the glimpse and clutch, our brush with life,
are all that saves what can be saved.
While she draws grace from my clumsiness,
easily turning her careful eye away,
I'm permitted to stumble beneath her gaze,
losing sustenance, shrinking, dismissed,
a kind of fool that can almost see himself.
As the day adds to the revolving month
that feeds the hungry year,
I long to shed my lonely weight
and see her dance with her favorite clown.
Of the precious things, I've the rest.
Of the diseases, love is the best.
Seacoast at Night
Always reclining, ever awake,
restless Ocean, your faithless friend returns.
Are you bored with memories of me?
Are those drifting lights your brawny boating men?
They sail your heaving waves with hooking poles
to drag your children's eyes to the morning light
while locked on land I await your grace,
adoring every drop and grain I can.
Ceaseless waves roll the knocking rocks around
and buff the battered crag with sprays of wedding lace
moonward white to wear the land to flowing sand.
How It Is
Each night I open the window
and the cold air spills and spreads
and the night spider might slowly creep
the careless floor on wicked feet.
Where I feed, my only foundation
is the remains of the original range,
the sound of its suddenness and volume,
the blood and bone of its thrashing victim.
The Worth of Art
As each cell winks in burning beauty,
the seconds ticking its time away,
the line plays its brief moment, turning,
trading living lies for a dying life.
Time and fortune tease the blessed beast,
which rejoices in its luck or curses fate,
while words, those sometimes precious stones,
if preserved, march for new eyes
that with new minds see or see them not.
If ever we uttered a word that echoed
our splendid creep and, wearying of the toil,
we slowed and ceased to grow,
and began to cease to be,
just put our memory on the shelf
for the curious to see.
Running lean, the beast scours the wood,
driving its bones to hunt the pounded path
for tinier lives hiding their desperate hopes,
accumulations praying for smaller prey.
Self-carried through time from milk to meat,
now driving its fire against the wind,
the woeful conscience gallops the flesh,
matter's craving eye amazed at the blur,
the starved child of the sun and wind and rain
shrugged from the strong and long-lived wild.
The moment, mourned or not, alone sustains
the long and lonely howl, all sight and sound,
the communal trudge, everything that can be known.
The waning moon sinks cold and dead;
the creature shivers in its dark and dewy den,
its fearful fibers needing the frigid air
while the ever-despairing mind, falling
in the quickening depth, prays for heat.
Driving its surplus to the edge,
to secure the central comfort of its king,
building and breaking city walls,
the human pack pounds across the land.
The unslaughtered press forth
while the wounded child, falling from the fold,
resting on the broken ground, weeps for himself,
for the sickness of the knowledge of his end.
On the littered plain, a man needs to glimpse,
dreading the end of his kind.
Was the battle won or lost?
Far from clanging steel,
seated on the curb in the morning sun,
bored with the length of his day,
the citizen searches his pocket for a coin.
How roughly the near waves treat the shore,
breaking the smoothness of the sand
while gently meeting the mist at the edge of space.
When ideals are matched with my tiny life,
it's as though a shadow is all I have
to keep me secure within your view.
Lost am I within and without the past;
I have only this moment to give to you.
I turn from my impermanent task,
unsettled in the chilling wind, the longing night.
As time changes, and you look out over
the restless sea, why should you ever think of me?
The sun's bright benevolence ruled the afternoon,
encouraging the heart to meet the skeptical mind.
To the hungry sea, the defeated land fed
its broken mountains' crumbled bone
while children drew a giant woman in its finest dregs,
wrecking the sifted perfection with their own.
Gulls bobbed beyond the milk-white surf
searching the endless churning sound of waves
for wide-eyed orphans swimming wild.
We dared touch this place, this ordered form,
scraping our names for the sea to wash away,
and then departed, our hunger in part relieved,
taking noted moments and leaving the silence
to the setting sun and cold and staring stars.
Lying between its quiet fields,
wrapped in words, the village sleeps
while armies harvesting beyond the walls,
will press the gates to impale the flesh.
Across the centuries the city grows;
stone slabs break from earth
and skyward spire to catch the clouds.
Sheltered and shadowed by walls of words,
the closeness of the crowd, our remembered art,
trying to see the distant burning,
emerging from wordless dreams,
I lift my eye to see the dawn
and turn my face to the smoking wind.
The child, distracted from her toy,
turns her bright face to the light.
Eos and Eschaton
In the dawn before he awakes, Eos
draws the night's curtain aside
and the rising sun sends its heat and light
through the hazy miles to brighten the room,
driving the shadow beneath its rock
and inviting each daylight life to touch the day.
She brushes her hair, red in the magenta glow,
the hall still echoing empty and cold.
She wonders what promise will free the air,
what new joy will warm the fulfilling day.
He turns in his sleepless fit,
hating the gnawing at the gate,
the distant thunder rolling.
From the high ranges he would descend
to take his place beneath the sun,
battalions of snorting horse hot for war,
death's engine tightly cocked,
his axe-fellows ready to follow the spear.
He opens his eyes in the light-shot dawn,
the dark door closed against the day.
Like a Flower
It's like a flower;
not the flower that I see below,
not the white-petaled grave-grown innocence,
but the reaching-out, the rock-breaker,
the water-seeker that can only see the sun.
As the windblown pollen finds the sensual seed,
the spire sublimes from beaten stone.
What's this complaint swooning upon the
this frightened flesh hiding between the sheets?
Having made nothing on your own,
having stolen a bit of sun for your little heat,
what artful reason supports your tiny sorrow,
what keeps your selfish and mortal misery?
If you really were a person
through which reality spoke,
would you assume such a shape
and lie in such a faithless state?
Go to sleep, my Little One,
and take your little pill.
Give yourself to dream
and wake in the morning, if you will!
It can take a long time;
the mind can babble on and on,
amusing the body with a bone,
while the cell in its tiny way
ticks the clock that thickens the blood.
And after you've dried and blown away,
and the wind disperses every shaky word,
I will creep to your cryptic cell
and whisper in your frozen ear:
'These bones'll n'er be clad in flesh again!'
The sea's curl struck the sand below.
She placed her fragility on the bench
and a morsel on her curious tongue,
regarding the gulls hoping for crumbs,
her enameled nails ornamenting her view.
Stretching his gaze from cloud to cloud,
dreaming out and over the chopping waves,
king of himself, the stuff of boulders,
a hawk's hunger, the soaring mock of gulls,
he dropped his eyes from skies billowed and blue,
from mountains green with meadows embraced by forest,
and wished to play in her tender mercy.
She assessed his strength, wondered, and teased a seed,
creating, bounding unbounded, printing memory
with words that remembered his dismemberment.
Will her day ever again begin with him?
When the moon sets full in the western sea
and the sun hopefully fires the eastern sky,
will she ever turn to him again at dawn?
The moment having lived in light is gone
leaving its print while
a milder hope scowls reminding books,
for a morsel to feed a hungry tongue
and watches the child teasing the moody sea.
The sea still waves its curling lace;
the foam boils from its desperate deep,
and the native waits alone
to king the land with stony sons.
Persephone and Hercules
(for two voices in alternating stanzas)
Look up from your feet. You may regard Me.
Above, where the sky lets fall its rain,
and cool breezes play with sunlit blooms,
you excel all men, those strutting mortals
fluttering above the road, neither settling nor flying.
But down here, you risk your soul in this depth
where despair looks high and gloom has no bottom.
More than the sky and the earth and the seas,
return to where the sun plays on meadows green
with running and tumbling children, where birds sing the triumph
of morning crowned by rosy dawn cherishing the birth of light.
From my toil to reach this place, You can measure my love.
Of the spirits, love is thinnest. Will you eat?
I've some pomegranate, sweet as blood.
Your light sustains me.
Yes, the flames are bright tonight,
in the fire's light the palace is grand;
the rosettes in stone let in the glow.
Queen of loneliness and sorrow, come with me.
I will protect you.
To all-receiving, many-named Hades, Deepest Angel,
Who brightens the Darkness for Me, I once offered a toe to tease.
He is My prisoner, as I am His. Love's falcon seeks its prey.
What sustains men through the creeping sadness they call life?
The hope of rescuing You.
One man's confinement or another's?
No locks close my door save mine.
Sunbathed peak, cloudy wisps,
a nymph echoing on the path, morning mist,
tender fruit hanging upon the limber limb,
drops of dew sweet upon the licking leaf,
I want for nothing your poets can conceive.
Of the nodding blooms, I love the narcissus most.
Its pale fragrance suffuses My majestic world
and, when I will, I see my sadness in silver pools.
The world is a gem hanging on a golden chain
I use to amuse clever demons and poor fools.
All for nothing at all. I give you the story to forget.
But what about the outer world and those who love you?
As the leaves, so your kind.
I'll crawl the ragged miles of jagged, smoking stone,
each inch of the grinding grade a reminder,
to emerge an only soul creeping the loveless earth,
unheralded, unseen by the conceited mask,
no longer turning in hunger and despair back toward
a love that never was, but into a world changed
from hope and glory to rock and sand and sea.
She is divine and lost: what chance has a man?
The world's stone is the mountain's
thrusting its skull through the exhausted tumbled ruin,
rising against the blue and whirling sky,
to face the grinding, driven ice,
and to yield a grain to wash to distant sea.
An ancient tree that clung against the slope,
its needles green to catch the winking sun,
its fibered wood braced against the wind,
had sent its eyeless root to steal from the stone
and now lies dead, winter wounded,
shattered on a boulder gray and dry.
Bones from the jutting crag plunge
to the lower valley lush with standing timber;
melted snow is caught in the rock's embrace.
In the lower meadow quietly grows the season's green
and wanders the walking woman's wondering wish,
seducing the breezy noon's pretty possibility.
Men bold and keen to woo,
gilding their brutish wit to win her eye.
She lounges on the ledge by the shimmering pool,
reflecting the pines growing against the blue,
wavelets glinting gold in the noon-day sun.
What lurks in the depths, far from the memory of men?
What creeps the cold bottom for its bloody meal?
What watches the sparrow's first flight from downy nest?
She peers at the surface, left mirror smooth,
her eyes teasing seed from the linking boy.
On stone stands the high-roofed house,
hewn straight to chalk-line to block the wind.
Driving the hunted hungry to scour the heights,
he breaks the land between the towering peaks,
plowing the dregs of defeated ancient stone,
scraping the shredded bone to plant his seed,
sending the sand to shore the distant sea.
He pauses a breath and sits beneath a tree,
the wind playing with the swaying branch
waving the distant fruit against the sky.
A grain is offered to the wave,
a bit of matter lolling with the flowing surf.
While the hunting mouth swims the hungry deep,
the writhing, sinking, dying run from death
plunges to join the deepest home.
Released from winter's frowning grip this
invites all hoping bodies to test the day,
wooing the bone and yearning breath to fling
all safety and care to the season's comic play,
and moving all the wind and wood to ring
with every song of every wingťd stray.
This precious joy for me I once more win
and see this lusty life again begin.
I amble over the hill and look astute
at cherries ripening red in the summer sun
and hope to taste each blessed, cherished fruit.
In eager chase of a taste of exciting fun,
every branch and leaf I'd maul and execute
until the springing tree would bare its skeleton
and I was full of the best of the ripened best
still sliding down to join the digesting rest.
I sent my fragment's keen desirous eye
to guide its hungry mouth to its next meal.
I hauled my belly to seek the gleaming prize,
to beg and rip and pull and strip and peel
from purest pleasure its husky tasteless guise.
And soon I'd prove the worth of what I feel.
I know on tethered bones my body's bound
for joy, ignoring my growing ignorant wound.
A woman walked the mossy cushioned path,
allowing only the wind to touch her hair,
while heavily with the laughing mountain heath
I stood alone, stained and crumbed and bare.
She carried dynasties in secret faith
in beauty's curling lace and fatal snare,
while I on solid stone still stand resigned
to yearn and muse, within myself confined.
When I Have Rested
When at last I rest my daily concern
and lay within the cool sheets sweet with you,
parting the darling sheets to make our nest,
the breeze rolls through the moonlit window
and, dropping my gaze, I permit my creature sleep.
Then the night's work ticks away the time
and as the sun opens its burning eye,
while the hawk begins to crave its meadow
and the sparrow shivers in her downy nest,
the new sky heralds the younger creature
born present, raw and famished.
As the haloed moon sets cold and full,
I guard the granite-shouldered road,
my blackened steel silent and ready.
Has the war been lost or does it rage from where
the sun will rise behind the moonlit peak?
As the cold moon hopelessly sinks,
the eastern horizon cracks with pregnant gray
and the first sleepy bird greets the morning star
rising bright in the turning sky.
Miles below, the cabin people sleepily turn
in pretended security, the slumbering family
tossing in fitful dreams of hungry fear.
This night will have its end; my bones must know
some heat, some simple daily medication.
Before the sun awakens colored life,
jiggling the heat back into my bones,
down the mountain I stiffly step and shiver,
rolling the gravel and crushing the fallen leaf,
staying the path as the sun reveals its fire.
I boldly think to leave the trodden path
as all the world begins to wake and stretch,
unfolding in joyous rescue from the night
that hides in shadow from the blue and magenta dawn.
The canyon keeps the night between its legs.
Against the granite the stream might dig a pool
where I could pause to drink and reason.
Fractured by forces that crush the continent,
the plutonic bones form the stony banks.
A fallen pine, yielding to death's slow victory,
would bridge for me the water modestly cascading
in relentless tribute to distant oceans,
cleaving the forest standing in ragged neatness.
Or would I wander around the broken mountain,
losing my way as the sun climbs higher,
free in nature, unchained by human law,
and fall, a nameless bone sunk in the hungry soil,
a lost shriek far from the busy crowd?
Was the war won or lost? Or was the procession,
the unending parade of conquest and refuge,
continuing its pitied march through time?
Are we made of war? Could I drink the water?
The sun is up and climbing higher; the moon is dead.
The husband leaves the cabin; the woman is alone.
I have never touched this ground, never tasted
this morning that, once touched, is quickly gone.
The tree lifts its arms to hold the sun,
to catch the rain and wind, to root deep,
wedging aside the stone to steal its strength
while the twisted bones of its father
lie bleaching, scraped dry by the deathless wind.
Hiding beneath the waning moon,
the wounded human species lies,
turning to lick its shattered leg.
Yellow toothed, it rises to howl,
to clatter the scattered rocky crags,
oozing a splash of failing life
slipping red from broken bone.
Red blood on the black rock
drips down to the dark chasm
beneath the bruised and raving beast.
Born warm from animal foam,
eggs cling to keep their heat,
fearing the raving wind above.
Sheltered warm within their home,
the soft bodies discover each other
and move in careful silent beats
that pulse and yearn to name the stars
coldly burning the night above.
In the wilding dark the thighs entwine;
itches clutch to dance 'til dawn,
heaving and groaning to bear their own.
The moon briefly lights the cave;
eyes are wide to see the shades,
to see another's looking face
and on the wall to scribble the chase.
To arms! To arms! the beast cries out,
calling their bodies back to the breech,
pressing their legs to the running hunt.
On the body the armor is buckled;
in the hand the shaft is borne.
To the field the frightened flock is driven!
Down from the hills the horde is howling!
On the Street
Except the paths in the park
where I am the intruding abrader,
the surface grades grit my sneaks.
I noticed a figure climbing the hill.
Pitching down the hill in tiny skids,
I give her plenty of room on the sidewalk,
bowing my head a little as if examining
the cracked concrete for modest treacheries.
Not that she overlooked me; she looked at everything
when I wasn't looking. She wouldn't give me
anything to work with. She wanted me to see
her as she turned her unmade face away.
Come see the moth hit the flame!
Seated in her dressing room,
her graceful foot swinging,
she shifts her position.
Tapping a pearl against her tooth,
she casts her gaze from the mirror
toward the unique lighted stage
where the clown stands eccentric and quiet.
He rolls his eyes and everyone laughs.
The Old Place
Swimming backwards through time, I love my
created earlier in bolder moments
when someone fired careless arrows into the night.
Now I tunnel and snuggle its familiar tubes,
its unvandalized rooms hung with portraits
of friends and enemies neatly framed.
Discovering my deepest tarnished treasures,
I drag them to the world's window's light
and stoop to count them once again.
When I travel forward with the grain of time,
like the rest of us, again the old place is there
but the time has stretched and moved away,
leaving the scene to new frowning people
tracking my lurking form loitering here.
I'm shocked that others live there now,
carving their initials and moving the street,
carelessly burning my old house down,
building boxes in friendless rows,
watching from windows.
I pretend to have some business here.
The merchant wants my folded dollar,
his conversation ready and friendly.
Except where I work,
the entire world is new,
as if I could be replaced, leaving me
curling away with the old stories, winding down
to crazy eddies that never can be again.
I'd trade all memories for another flaming arrow
to shoot deep into the mystery.
Archon and Hellas
(for two voices in alternating stanzas)
I am Archon, strong, handsome, brilliantly rich;
strength is mine within these sinewed arms.
And with my bold brothers' shouldered weight,
the world shakes when I lift my eyes;
and like the gifting sun when it shows its ray,
when I awake my kingdom begins its day.
The air is pleasing by this window seat;
I feel the wind playing upon my cheek.
Why spend a minute in shadows cast by walls?
I'd with the wishful weeds spring my days
and cast my gaze gladly on films of fog
that haunt the valley's tiny glades and nooks,
hiding the quiet hopes of baby mammals
and kings of frogs and newts among their blades.
From howling hordes I'll guard your graceful dynasty,
your beauty ruling for centuries hence.
My will defines the might of muscled bone;
for our children, my garden is walled around with stone.
When you are too weak to wield your sword,
will you own the strength to love an aging face?
Will you woo me when the sun regrets to shine?
You must court forever in the moment,
in boldly delicate words refreshing time.
My faith lives in the brawn of leaves that fall,
where the crow banks lazy for the nooky wood,
where with crooked arms the gnarly oak stands
black to shade the tender thrones of toads.
With those fairy kings I'd spend my days.
I will never change my mind about the truth.
My armies draw the nation's borders in black.
Bone breakers, ax fellows, followers of the spear,
hordes of heavy horse biting at their bits,
their hungry number snorting angry for war:
my running cousins gallop to join their kin
while their tender young with eyes wide
and wet with wonder await the news at home.
I am the force of nature wrapped in man,
the power that forges all since time began.
Your words are wonders that I hope are true
but when all cloaked in mist my beauty fades
and cold rain rules your Saxon realm,
will you, for the howling moon, leave me lonely
and domestic while your Teutonic rage still roams?
Or in an underground saloon, hide your sons
and there keep the night in drink and gloom?
When our moment finally fails, will I only
walk the plain middle of memories gone,
a ghosting life all wasted on a fleshy whim,
mislaid by the lure of your sprinting desire?
I will not hide my thoughts; your answers weigh
like leaded line hooked in Ocean's bed.
If you would be my bride and promise me,
together we would war your worries away.
Show me thy enemies stained with your hateful look,
your darkest gloom, your hooded, hidden fear,
we'll hound them hellward to mourn and pray
while heralded glory will follow your flawless vision,
sculptors in marble remembering your grace;
in each proud descendant, we'll see your face.
Bound by the thinnest thread and strongest wish,
I'll wander your walks from time to time,
if I may live like the wave-wandering fog
tossed by the ceaseless sea on careless sand,
worn smooth and rough by Ocean's restless hand.
If I can muse midst the flat, round stones
that know the way to weather the whip of wind,
I'll cast my lot with your brother's broken bones
and woo the sun with the jeers of kiting gulls
and barks of lions of the sea honking their rock.
For as long as a man will grow his bristly beard
and a youth will shave his cheek each morning new,
I'll grace your halls with what beauty I retain.
Archon is a mighty hunk of manhood
Archon's mightiness will protect her life
Archon's mightiness will protect her artistic life-style
Ruled by the daily clocking sun,
the men work the smoking engines,
building the walls higher and thicker;
a foot per day the city's made.
At night the young men love adventure.
Scrawling the rectangular canyon walls,
shrieking their tires, breaking glass,
calling out their heedless cries,
they breathe fire in the dead of night
claiming another moment of stolen joy
and crash at the corner on another's intent.
The windshield displays its crystals on the street.
In the quiet wrinkled car the radio croons
the only song of men and women ever sung:
the longing, the joy, the shock of partition,
the deep unbridgeable gulf that yawns
evermore between the distant forms.
The careful ambulance cries its warning,
howling away its insistent song,
mourning the long, lonely distance.
O Calliope, won't you sing?
In this my homeless moment, needing glory,
Hymnless and craving music, Iíll forget
Without the memories You recall.
The cities, their defiant towers rising,
Hewn from rock and walled around from me and mine,
broken now, in smoky ruin, white temples blackened,
The marble floor littered with the bones of the palace,
parents lie unburied on the dirty ground, children are sold,
Ever to look back, cursed with memory,
wandering the earth until they die.
Perhaps I've offended some goddess, some deep daughter
of the sea, free of death and bored with life,
annoyed by my prideful boast and plundering ways.
Blinking slumber from the cute cornice of her eyes,
idly stirring the water and teasing the wind,
She'll conjur the heaving sea and then place low
a scraping rock to break our hull, preventing our return
to orchards and undefended hills, sweet children, nearly grown.
From wave to wave She'll toss my little boat
over the edge of the world to fall forever,
just to hear our cries, amused to see us die so well.
Hymn to the Magic Giant
Call the giant from his cloud;
call him down to dawn the day.
We are a small and weak-kneed people
and to some gifted god must pray.
We must work within his shadow;
we must dread his frowning brow.
I will trade my place in heaven;
I must see his face right now.
Where walks the giant among his clouds?
And where's he driving the spinning stars?
I lift my eye from empty earth
and hear the silence fill my ears.
Lift up this fearful moment;
lift it up into the sky.
I will trade my selfish weakness
for my children's chance to fly.
Let our promise lift us up;
I will raise my fragile arm.
We will fly the swirling cosmos!
We will face the whirling storm!
I don't need pleasure from this world,
but to see his failure, to hear him trade
each brief moment, all his time, for nothing
hurls hopelessness against the hope
that we haft metal to save this rock
for generations more to fight the storm.
He hungered first, only hungry,
craving food to feed his tooth,
demanding loudly until his cries,
rang unrewarded in the empty room.
He saw conversations between the gods
ringing his will with fighting words.
Father's madness, mother's hope!
Where do they come from?
Where do they go?
Who trains the baby's trainer?
Driven from his meal,
wide-eyed to drink the day,
he toddled beneath the nation's eye,
beneath bruising bones and sarcastic wit,
the girls swaying around the words.
Armed with speech, prowling the street,
he stumbled to duel for a lady's look
and lucked enough to tell the tale.
But turning, he saw himself, the world;
contained; there was only him,
left to raise himself.
Continents away, walkers disturbed his dreams.
the uncontainable child, self-contained, alone.
His unfolding broke, running helpless
and scared to its unimaginable end.
We each start and stop alone;
in the middle, most have friends.
Seeking to break the aging weight
wrapped within the words we speak,
driven by choirs of chanting voice,
he could yet triumph in the clutch
or fail and fall, retreating
to the wilderness of the dry, canyoned city,
to send his wordless creature hiding.
Rise against your beating storm
and turn to face your foe.
This day is your trial;
your blood is wasting on the ground.
You cannot flee this boiling fray.
Tear the fabric of imagination
and enter the breech to add your molecule
to the cell that wills us forth.
The poet prowls the pier to steal its
plundering mountains to weigh his little line,
cutting out the clouds to break the blue.
He captures the woman's jogging gait leaving
the city cut from stone and faced in glass
to feed her eyes on sails filled with wind
and her bangled ears on bungling drums and piping flutes.
He kidnaps the child's delighted toes tagged
by the hungry sea, the lovers' last embrace,
the gull's laugh, and the eyes of the fisherman's catch.
The rusty red is scraped from the nail that stains
the wood cracked with microbial nations warring
for a place to war, painting time and place.
When harbored with his wealth, chuckling over
the gems of his thieving quest, he spreads the jewels
upon the page and smuggles them all in verse.
The wind he tasted touched her cheek;
he breathed the fragrance of her breath
and swam the brook that bathed her feet.
Flung in flashes of fire whipped
in storms of whirling, wishing words,
his innocence would know her look.
Wheeling and reining the rampant horse,
ruling the fearful fighting beast,
he galloped in glee the stony soil
to loose the shaft and strike the mark,
to haft the axe and cleave the bone.
The shadow of her father falling,
as strong and black and thin as thought,
lurking and looking, the law regarded him.
That round-bellied browser of wheat,
that chewer of another's grisly meat,
that keeper of slaves, dregs of legend,
rusting talons clawing rock,
that faded cry of war, lived
to stir the blood to beat again.
For her, he would leave her father's blood
in his bloated body and sailed
west with winds that sung anew.
The smith beats iron from the earth,
beats the steel edged with heat,
beats the plow that tills the flesh:
metal, fringed in fire and threat.
Leave the fen and farm behind
and forever walk the waves with me!
Plow the sea with ships of oak
to loose the sail to seek the wind
to follow the raven's road to land,
galloping our steeds on virgin soil,
punishing fees from the farmer
or felling him fainting beneath the point.
Your name is vengeance vast and sweet;
your call is excitement ancient and new;
my dream is heaven heavy and sad.
Your eyes are dynasties deep within.
He awakens and wails; the walls are blank.
He cannot return nor find you here.
Around my timeless clouds the millennia
while I wandered the sky, leading the brilliant sun,
bringing morning to the turning earth below.
I wondered what moved the man across its surface,
crying and crawling blindly from womb to tomb.
What lifted his head from his snuffling rut
yet kept him far from my lofty peace?
What pulled his mind from his carnal course to climb
the dizzy heights as high as my vaporous heaven?
How does life spring from matter dumb as stone,
to carve triumph and torment from similar rock,
to admire a swallow's flight or stop an arrow's?
At every mortal height, hope battles despair for its fatal glimpse.
Unable to bear the wailing, overwhelmed by woe,
I descended to illumine the carnage, unite division,
or see my bones break in its grinding teeth.
I assumed a form and spiraled down around
the highest range, touching the clouds,
far above the boiling fray and settling dust
and saw a man old with honor and the peace
that only vast age and its memory can bring
and said "I am your supplicant, father of men.
How goes the painful war, the parade of shame?"
"Why push the sea, why fight the wave?
Enjoy the faithful stars that wink as fine
as jewels spread across your velvet cloak.
Enjoy the windy forests that carpet their floors
with golden leaves trod by big-eyed fawns
with dainty hooves in delicate anticipation.
Drowse midst meadows adrift with melodious color,
resting on their fragrance sweet and divine,
and disprove all sorrow with their scent."
I said to the man seated upon his rock,
"Father, what of this unkindness of your kin
that impedes your ever-upward struggle?"
"Mankind is knowledge and nature,
leaping wide-eyed from woe to wonder!
The music of our cities, pulsing to heave the heart
and move the bones to beats of mad laughter,
generate more and more to build higher and higher!
Could this be any kind of mistake!
Destruction is progress. Some tree must fall
to make a road, some worm be chopped beneath
the plow, and some innocence sacrificed to poetry.
Drop your fantastic romantic crutch;
stop conjuring myths and join obvious reality.
Rule the valley floor from these heights of stone
and see your excitement yield results."
I spoke no more but walked on, descending around
boulders split by pines that hoped to touch
the sky, pulled by the massive earth that hated
the heights. I bruised my bones against the stone
while talkative brooks bounced from bank to boulder,
carrying their sand to the salty sea far below
and the hunting hawk soared for fatal wounds.
At her bath, a mountain huntress waited on a rock
attended by younger sisters combing her tresses.
I could not pass. Her hair caught the wind in play
and she decided to speak to me.
"Seek with me; dive into my depths,
my linking boy, and swim my mountain pools.
We'll tease sons from your sons,
generations of your kind to sail the seas.
Build here and I'll grant all brief joys
and all long memories due to mortal man."
"Diana, outshining all the beauty of the world,
you are too close to heaven. Come with me
and walk the earth to seek my goal.
Join my hunt for the link of birth and death,
seeking the words that all would ever know.
All glory renounce to begin anew."
And she spoke,
and leave the children for the jaws of war
to crush their tiny hope? Your wings are worn.
Rest on my cloak and let me bathe your feet
and heal your wounds in the warmth of the rising sun."
I left no words but sprang from the cliff
and glided my wounded form to the lowest land,
dropping my painful fragment to the dusty plain,
and limped to the city scattered like stones at the feet
of the distant mountains that reached for the clouds.
Through the darkened city I sent my creature
amazed among the granite towers that guard
the commands of commerce, whose eyes
watched as muscle and steel hewed the stone below.
As dawn raised its rosy torch to tinge
the distant mountains bracing the end of the world,
the worker stretched and climbed from bed to haul
the logs, to carry the trash and box the meat,
while a child of the street stole a peach,
a beggar exposed his empty habd, a snatcher prowled
for purses, a mad prince sought his gilded throne,
saviors rolled their eyes skyward and dancers
conspired with music to free their feet to beat
the street midst howling trucks steered by fuming
drivers muscling the traffic, whirling
the wheels to add their moment to the swirling current
eddying around its cutest curl to spit
a drop of gold or add a poem to the pool
and grind the flesh of occasional innocence
between its iron teeth. Onward galloped
the human herd, hurling its forms against
the storm to leave its bone to the waiting earth.
Knocked bloody by trampling herds,
I sought a corner beneath a bridge to rest.
I struck a match to see the face of Venus.
Exchanging loneliness, we filled our halves
in a clinging, hopeful embrace.
As the sun lifted its light again, a child,
the fairest ever to view this boiling world,
appeared in white to illumine the human tide
muscling its world on its peerless course,
making machines that make machines
to leap the heavens. As I turned, the child
abandoned the father and the wife the husband.
The hand shook loose from the ruling mind.
I dragged my bones to the city's edge
where the silent mountains support the sky
and dropped my scream into the black abyss.
We nodded over our mirrored pools, briefly,
almost touching edges, daring the wetness.
Another dived right in, breaking your surface
just to ruin the smoothness of your moment.
More clearly than this minute now,
I wrinkled your dress with nearness
and now I'm memories of memories,
infertile repetitions that call across the years
to touch the time I traded for your look.
I know I've limped along the busy road
all right enough, but when I hear of you,
losing grace to coarser thieves
sharper than the sharpest stone I tread upon,
as long as I am leagued with life,
I long for the time I can never touch again.
What is this thumping reassurance,
this warm chorus of beating voices,
the noise that awakens the first fear?
The wet room rubs my cheek,
pressing and expelling my desperate fling
falling forever in the wailing rage
of the first morning, the beautiful terror.
The raw rage pushes, remembering.
Then the first light ever seen,
burning beauty, dry and cold,
fills with fear the dry room,
touching every bit with light,
dividing me from mine.
A tongue to taste the stony world's
rough wood and hanging fruit,
the grinding nipper of tender flesh,
the bruised brow creeps puzzled.
The first house-smeller, dangerously
down the stairs seeks the world,
the bustling bright, in trustful arms,
the looking tooth touching the day.
Seeing, feeling, healing, tasting,
the prince of hunger fears the gods.
Seeking dryness, fearing heights,
holding wrinkled history's hand,
the lucky player in the street,
the strutting speck of hungry fear
holds his universe under glass.
King of the hill, killer of birds,
whipper of trees, the summer madness
sulks and wishes the winter through.
Arms and legs, fingers and feet,
stained with the pleasure of sense,
all feel in tiny moments.
The plow cuts deep the laying land
while in the shadow the dreamer dreams
of sailing her perfect curling waves,
to enter the tiny corner of her smile.
I remember my wish, the rooms;
I long for your sound and smell.
There is no other life but you.
I climb the cross and give myself
in gangling purity to the insufficient world
and again am cast to the jeering crowd,
masters of the sporting kill,
the muscling power compelling obedience.
Walking stone-bossed knuckles,
staring stallion's walking eyes,
gang down in fine defiance.
With mad cousins shoulder to shoulder,
the king of clubs walks his street.
In the army's oiled track of steel,
in the galloping machines, a blossoming ideal
seeks direction in drunken visions.
The wall is the sum of its stones and more;
a father the doubled sum of his summing
of all the walls fathers ever built.
Brave is the chest-beating heart
in the long life of the body.
What ten generations remembers
I try to forget.
The sky cries out its rushing water
that slakes the broken mountains,
the waving fields and windy green.
The bowed head of the knowing horse
pulls against the chaffing trace.
Below meadows I will never roam,
the unbroken soil stretches endlessly,
waiting for seed I will never plant.
Half my days are gone before I count
the ticks of time that crawl for blood,
the time that claimed my father's father.
The moving eye seated by the road
is slow enough to feel the wind.
The knowledge-haunted organ waits,
stained mistaken, time in unity.
Rooting deep to mine the earth,
arms reaching to catch the sun,
stands the tree in desperate dignity
near its grandfather's twisted bones.
A green tyrant of time and space,
stealing substance from its own,
the jealous father stunts its seedling
wedged green and hopeful in the stone.
Rough and gray and springing green,
earthborn, soilbound, it erupts committed
to live and die beneath these stars
and to the waiting soil return its bones.
Mad Adam sat at meat,
rigid on his wooden seat.
Eyeing the knife by candlelight
and excusing himself with greens,
he turned on the roasted flesh with a grin,
cutting deep the muscling joint,
pursuing the beast from here to Hell
as though from sin to him it fell.
Then through the bursting door streamed
a shadow from the blinding sun
vowing he'd a secret to keep
but would share if boiled alive.
The swift shade grabbed the silver,
the meat, and sprinted out the door.
Into the light Adam stepped and squinted,
searching the buildings sliced from stone
and faced with polished glass reflecting
the rushing metal and winking girl
that turned and walked within his eye,
rolling and rubbing against his thigh.
They spun the world around the night
and in the morning rekindled the sun.
Now children rage within their games
as the aspiring mountains hope for blue
and rolling meadows round down
to the valley floor moist with mist.
After the day in the smoldering mine,
breaking the ore to find his metal,
Adam breathes deep, a working man,
made madder still within the smoking glen.
my bump sat hopefully on a rock
watching the sea's parade.
my lump got legs and moved along
to taste the choice i made.
i put my hand to my chin,
wishing to figure it out.
i narrowed my eye on a tiny detail
which shivered beneath my doubt.
i picked the morsel from its twig
and in my hand it lay.
i cocked my eye and set my teeth,
pondering the play of its way.
i broke it along the obvious line
to see what lay between,
dividing it ever finer so
its innards could be seen.
now in my hand the wreckage lay,
the focus of my grief.
the parts could never win again
and likewise left the leaf.
my bump was left with head in hand
to ponder the path i took:
had i never picked nor pried between,
nor ever paused to look.
The sky's hungry lord of fire
westward drove the whispering wind
over the wave-chopped sea
far from the rain-licked land.
On ancient rock my landlocked hump
yearned to sail in pirate glee,
flying the cross-boned flag,
months and more on wine-dark seas.
Ocean's lair, laced in foam,
is a bed for brash and bony boys,
bearing their body's brazen form,
wedding her rolling ravishing waves.
Stealing from dusty defeated towns,
and the long-armed law's heavy fee,
skimming westward the watery plain,
winddriven whaleward I'd eternally be.
Leaping and looning over the briny brew,
boasting brawny salty sailing men
flung far their woodworked craft,
leaving stony field and fen.
Rising and falling forever free,
sang the bawdy bouncing braves,
riding astride the bucking beam,
proudly piercing the windy wave.
Proudly pulsing on the rolling prow,
gulping heaves of hailing gale,
foggy fumes flailing cheeks,
men break their chafing chains.
Howled down by freezing wind,
ice hanging from frosty beard,
the creature clings to a wish of warmth,
mocked by the gull's galling jeer.
And when mad with months at sea,
and dreaming of precious perfect land,
"Let's win the wall that guards the girl!",
lured to land by the winking wind.
Follow the woman's woeful cry
and babies, gentle as an angel's yawn,
forever singing songs of the sea,
will sail the foggy dooming dawn.
Storms gathered gashes of fire,
exciting the serpent's hungry heart
lurking for lusty lives to taste,
to teach the tooth the biting spot.
Clattering howls hauled the line
to trim the sail to foil the wind.
"Shut the hatches and ride the rudder!"
to meet full on the warring wind.
Far from forgiving forest and folk,
a lurking stone of the laughing land
wasted the wooden walker of waves
and flung our fate to the whipping wind.
Sharkward the ship heaved her crew
to the warring, weaving, furious sea.
From the bodies broken on cutting rock,
the toothy keepers took their fee.
Clinging to the ancient angry stone,
while tide heaved with heavy hands,
we wailed on the wave-wounded world,
fearing far from longlived land.
The wind rested its fearless face
and the sea its salty, gory gut.
On the rigging's wooden wreckage,
We struck for land, lured by the sun.
Muscle slapped the stinging water
while bathers played on distant shore.
A tooth tasted salty blood
lost in the ocean's gritty roar.
While fishes fed on meaty men,
breath was gasping, rasping raw.
Tender subjects of ocean's temper,
prey wooed the tooth-rowed jaw.
The fragile flesh of my muscling man
over the brutal briny foam,
drank the wind that whipped the whale,
far from our cozy, cushioned home.
"Rage at me the sea so cruel!
I've left the fields and farm,
the inland valley's promised green,
the ancient, ancestral, luring land."
Riding ocean's heaving body,
my leather-skinned finder of fire
eyed eternity's wishing wind
and locked his life with warm desire.
But in the heaving mountains hatred grew;
from the hungry deep it dragged a wave
and hurled the cruel crushing weight
to deliver to me my winning grave.
Down drove the crashing crush
to sandy bottom boiling mad
where waited the nubile nymph,
the smiling winner of the bed.
Turbulent curls of laughing life,
bungling boulders of bruising brutes,
scraping knaves with kniving jaws
abraded my bones with tongue and tooth.
Up and over an ancient stone
the tide flung its fearful foe
up to a sandy sunny haven high,
far from the fish's toothy row.
Dried, rested, wept, and healed,
watched by seabird's wishing eye,
soon faded fear of foe
as safe on sandy rock I lie.
I muse the whelk's empty shell,
reading the ancient sea-writ rune,
spelling mortality of fleeing flesh,
of bodies broken though framed in stone.
While the sea demands my blood below,
I watch the waves with winning eyes.
My lonely landlocked beaming bump,
wishes for wings to skim the skies.
The tree is water wedded with stone
hard with minerals won,
talons sunk earth deep,
water that walks the land.
The branch in frozen winter's hope
upholds its gray bones
and with the weeping earth awaits,
silent in the long cold.
The tree's white petals bloom
before the green leaf
and after catching an insect eye
they fall like useless snow.
She sends a perfect petal
through my open window
to lay worthless and beautiful
on the velvet seat.
Ocean and Paleolith
The lord of fire fought the fog-cloaked
to burn its way to the central bluest sky,
and rule the rocky world's wrinkling crust
that cradled Ocean's pool of leaping life.
The widowed sea yet prowls the wounded shore
heaving from darkest depths her white-edged wave
to smash the crag and search the broken stone
and with the wind to whip the land again.
While rejoicing whales breach the sun-ruled noon,
she retreats to swirl around the sunken wreck
to brood among the dark and silent mounds
arranged around her deepest grief and nudge
His broken bones meekly treading the tides.
Where is Neptune driving his dolphins
across the heaving swells to shake the world?
Up blows the tempest from her depths to lash
the blood from cringing beast wet with woe.
Bold men sail in fear her liquid rage,
aiming their barbs at Ocean's swimming kind,
daring the sleepless unpetitionable sea.
Endless Ocean's army wars with waves
wooing and wrecking the rain-lashed land,
breaking mighty mountains to defeated stone,
wearing them further to flowing grains of sand.
The land heaves nations from the cliff,
to punish the sea, spilling her salty spray,
erecting walls of broken brutes of stone,
as brawny tons battle toward the fray.
Unmarked, an armored rock in triumph stands,
until a wave, smashing the rock in wrath,
beckons Ocean's devils to the breach,
drenching the giant crown with creeping death.
Crustacea climb the water's cascading wave,
securing folds with ancient insect art.
Ocean's armies of drilling demons laugh
and split his skin to break his massive heart.
When the walls are breached the city falls,
and waves in victory drag their prey
down to where her fairy darlings dine
merry and safe from heavy battle's way.
Massively the land's weight endures the fight;
eons of ceaseless destruction it boldly bears.
Ocean pounds the rock for tiny grains
to grind in the wound of trudging shores.
Paleolith, a hundred fathoms high,
looming darkly over the fuming flood,
raging on the horizon a thousand years,
advances to drink of Ocean's salty blood.
Paleolith will make the wasting water pay
for the death and damage to his kin.
"Thy wavering waves will know at last
their destructive ways will earn a bitter end.
"Watched from highest ramparts ridged and dark,
I hold this ground in the furious sea;
I raise my stony shoulders to the sky;
On this shore I stand eternally.
"Each atom demands a furious fight
and bitter is the tiniest piece of me;
I am eternity of armored might.
What profits the wave? Why suffers the Sea?"
Ocean, dancing her thousand-veiled dance:
"Come create with me in your glee,
rage to my depth o granite one,
for I am here for thee.
"Caressing the shore and smoothing the sand,
I'll invite your mountains on,
making a bed soft and wet
to lay your head upon.
"When at last your lust is over
and you have had your day,
my giggling children will accept you
and you'll be on your way."
Paleolith wades toward the foe,
advancing boldly to Ocean's azure throne
while playful seamaids bath his armored flanks
and arched back with watery lace and foam.
Around the land the living splash and play,
the laughing gulls, the seal's barking plea,
and the fish with all their hungry, heedful hope,
the leaping children born of stone and sea.
"I cast my eye at your embroidery
of lace inlaid within your living green.
How soft thy bed of milky billowing wave.
How calm and steady is thy face serene.
"I'm rooted sea-bed deep and tough,
my hunkered bulk crouches in the sea.
As howling winds whip my high-held head,
I turn and glimpse the sun's mortality.
"I shake my heavy head way down below.
What gains the sea to drag me down so low
and break my arched back of armored stone?
What in my haunches do you value so?"
"Sisters teeming to travel the land,
or finned to swim with thee.
Winging over the earth I yearn
for species unknown to me."
"From mountain heights, wild rages of thunder
add to your task a hundred thousand years
and harden the skin that guards my stony heart.
You will never have me, sea of tears."
"I will ever be fresh and cool when
your brothers' day is done.
I will have you all, my lord;
I will have your sons.
"Down I pull upon your horns,
your hair each curl I twist.
Come to my bed, o fearless one,
I dissolve each stone I kiss.
"While nymphs caress your craggy jaw,
Why doubt my salty draft?
Why fight forever my windy wave?
Your rage is spent at last.
"Thy heavy head has fallen free,
a rolling crag of land.
My winning wave opens your wound
and crushes you to sand.
"And when at last it's ended,
as you know it will,
after you can rise no more,
I will be here still.
"The hordes that in hunger wait,
lusting for your treasure,
will be bursting through your gates,
seeking wealth and pleasure.
"Finding hoarded stolen jewels,
they polish them in play,
united with their ancient own,
loosed from strengthless prey.
"They'll place the pieces on the beach
for my eye to know,
and picking the prettiest gem to taste,
I'll wear it down some more.
"I will dream in tidal pools,
lounging midst the bone,
ensuring that the lowly snail
is finely dressed in stone."
Dropped to the ground like a running deer,
kicking its newborn bones,
with fiery veins and wind in ear,
he tossed his lust at life.
The mountain green with luscious leaf,
the valleys deep and dark,
vaulting and galloping with joyous jump,
he bounded to the beat of blood.
Then the doomwolf sprang with laughing tongue
and eye above his tooth.
With rage behind and life ahead,
he ran to breathe the wind.
Springing long into the sky,
craving an instant's breath,
wilding fear drove his heart
over the stony heath.
Scattering scared of terrible teeth,
he clattered the rocky ruin
and smelled the animal-angry breath
and escaped his joyous gut.
Slower now and wary he wanders
no longer laughing at dogs;
his eye hopes to know the place
that lets the wild one out.
The naked ghosts of trees stand to battle
stretching their arms to catch the rushing air.
A thousand bony hands clutch at the fuming fog
where the water wounds the earth to marry the sky.
The roving malachite sea bathes the purple stone
and the splashing lace laughing shakes the crab
from the brutish boulders to the maw of the smiling shark,
delighting the laughing gull soaring to snatch his fish.
The land scorns the float lost from a fisherman's net.
Rounding the corners of the manmade cube,
the sea retakes the abraded one, accepting the waif,
while the wind caresses my neck for a trace of heat.
The hissing ocean pounds the beach to ruin the perfect sand
then retreats to rattle the rocks and gather some height
while worrying the bathing beasts with sprays of lace,
gracefully, playfully returning what floats to the land.
I'm a tourist who tastes the salty sea,
defiling the virgin beach with humanity,
to steal eternities of mollusk bones,
and to the waves returning discarded stones.
An Imperfect Day
I grumbled out of the house to keep a pace
that kept the cold at bay while the sun
did battle with armies and navies of fuming fog;
the ocean uttered its seething roar below.
A hauled-out sea lion honked around his stone
while the horns mourned the heedless sailor.
I sought a place to know solar perfection,
and with new eyes to gaze at today's luminescence.
The best was won from the wind by hardy scrub
wearing pretentious green through the winter weeks,
warmed by the sun's steady rise to central blue,
and humbly taken by a vulnerable man with a book.
Nearby, an open embankment, escaped from the wind,
gave view of the triumphant sun's blue domain
still attacked by stubborn scraps of misty wind
while fathoms below heaved the sea, green and white.
Tender violets born in the morning's mist
shared their moment's innocent hope,
languishing with leaves of greenest youth
and clowning orange or dying in silver gray.
A squirrel saw my wink and ran away.
I stretched my stride to climb the winding path,
leaving the shore to deal with the windy sea,
the trodden petal at last left to heal.
Barefoot on this death-encrusted stone,
I hide with cold and hurried, heedful prey
within the ditch before the littered plain,
the moaning wounded warning us away.
I bend my shoulder to the howl and hail,
a hunching hulk beneath his ragged cloak,
and rise to meet full-on the raging gale,
and stumble forth to lead the fearful folk.
Sore stinging ravaged cheek, the driving sleet
calls up the burning bolt from icy maw
to knock this pretense from his bleeding feet;
I waver against the tempest's raving jaw.
I am allowed a moment's bashful grin
before I'm shattered by the wasting wind.
The man on battered rock in sea's embrace,
endures abrading winds of final fate.
Recall your baby's warmth and angel grace
and pick the spot to drop your fearful bait.
The ocean's trillion lacy waves are spawned
with grains of plasm swimming wet with child
all licking salt to keep their mortal brawn
and building meat to swim the leaping wild.
Impaler braced on land's bombarded arm,
with whipping pole and hunting hungry glee,
now dangle to teasing lip your baited charm
to hook the hulking haunter of the sea.
We mortals on the edges cling sustained
and bold between container and contained.
If Wisdom were a woman, she'd bid me leave!
I see my vanity's inconstant vow.
My wily words, connected to deceive,
are bending in a deep pretentious bow.
My soul's wavering core her eye has known.
Her vision pierces armored ignorance
in which my clever little mind has grown
while I'm expecting yet another chance.
If you would court her, this I now must say:
I never touched her, never breathed her scent.
Although my earthly hopes forever pray,
my futile form is framed in discontent.
To walk with her! the queen of all the realms
and sharing secrets beneath majestic elms!
On a Broken Sea Shell
Abandoned home, the stony armor lost
from one who roamed beneath the waves alone,
who fought below with Ocean's teeming host,
his hope is scribed on broken walls of bone.
Wild Ocean heaved her stone for vengeful spoil
to crack her fearful victim's castle keep.
Mortality his hardness did not foil;
in stomachs new the oldest bodies sleep.
All writ in runes upon the futile shield,
ignored by gull-winged beak's hoping eye,
the wasted whelk's whispered words are sealed.
My puzzled person scowls the ancient sigh.
Now peering at the dead's forgotten fray,
I sally forth to seize the dwindling day.
On a Portrait of Dylan Thomas
Within unraveling musical regret,
the fabric shows its frozen curls of form.
He wore his fibered person to a thread.
His rags interred, disorder's toll is mourned.
The tinted cloth recalls the mortal mold,
remembering splintered bones of good-shanked guys.
The carriers of birth and death, his lines unfold
into the doubled meaning's raw reply.
Now see the woman young with promised dawn,
a yearning, leaping, joining joy's desire.
In sweetest trade of laughing life, this faun
is playing in the volley's foolish fire.
My only shouldered fortress I can form,
now wheelward bends to turn the howling storm.
Battered shard of ancient hulking stone,
betrayed is broken body's noble form.
The proudest brow of armored shore alone
is falling to the ceaseless, devious storm.
Frozen fire, immortal Vulcan's shield,
outrage from heaving sea this shrouded night
and lift your face from Ocean's heaving field;
your lonely moon will mourn the fall of might.
Frailest human, safe in land's embrace,
now wonder on the vague and restless sea,
her arms that wave with lace and winged grace,
while nations slip unsung to salty deep.
The sea undoes the land's precise domain
and land defies the waves it can't contain.
On hillsides green and warm with tender
the wide-eyed mother-gentled children play.
Beneath the sky of blue-blown cloudy plumes,
a tiny hand a stony gem does weigh.
The lounging goddess takes the offered prize,
a frozen piece of ancient terran flame.
Though battered dull and hagged in time's disguise,
her eyes now know its man-made frame.
The ancient bone of a temple-carving race,
the wounded warrior failing its defense,
the horde that broke the marble goddess' face,
all breathe within her heart's intelligence.
Too troubled now to count the clouds at play,
she shivers once within the sunlit day.
To inky sea the sun now dips its fire
as spring unsung to rusting summer burns
and soon will waning moon unwooed expire.
This night I've lost the time the orbs have earned.
And when I think to mourn my careful kind,
the children locked and lost in ghosting past,
their dizzy moment reaped by rage unkind,
in deep despair I spiral down at last.
Within my clumsy bones I lift my light
and march with men this moldy stepping stone,
to add my meager words to cosmic night
and as a peak to rise and stand alone.
Within majestic ticks of time, all joy
is won from woe that wonder will employ.
Our distant meeting look I did neglect
but waiting words united weight and time.
Incited so, your light I did perfect
and madly leapt to write a tender rhyme.
I stumbled and stood a wordless brimming fool,
cast out and doomed to lose my wistful way
all in your curls and gentle ridicule
and write seclusion's cold and meager play.
Now I in furthest orbit muse alone
to carry liberation's lonely curse,
while in my ponderous plodding I intone:
"How can I heal my bruised and broken verse?"
The crawling clock still reminds my memory
of budding wonders dreamed that would not be.
Each careful mind that charts its perfect
has deep within its safest heart the storm
that blows its howling hail on human force,
and whips with wind the will and fading form.
The morning sails my ship with silver breath
with wind that fills the sky with hopeful horn
and charges day to end the dusk of death.
Then swirling cold, as night's full moon is born,
the chill will creep along the heaving earth
to pull apart the warmth to feed the night.
The fortress towers guarding monarchs' birth
today are tombs enshrining the fall of might.
Yet build with stone, all mortared at the seam.
All else will flee, forgotten as a dream.
My friends, let's wash our wishes while we
and wander the mortal world laughing, dining,
and sail the market's wavy lurid day,
posing parlor questions of the teasing kind.
Unleash the power of individual opinion
and free the fire of libidinous rage,
nurturing the growth of tender emotion;
untutored, let's send forth the primal babe.
Strengthfully uphold important opinions,
and savor any self-expressing goal,
defending cleverly all wispy impressions;
awaken to the firing squad's toll.
Lined up against the supermarket wall,
together let's wonder before we fall!
The fruited seed drops to the earth,
eyes wide in a rage of lusting life,
drinking the sky's promised vision;
growing form exceeds the bound of form;
A man's a fragment of poised symmetry;
childhood's abrasion chews the budding branch;
the fibered survivor, tall and damaged,
shoots amazed into the sun-blazed sky.
Earth's grinding stone scrapes the bud,
shaping quickening innocent hope.
The blind projections of victory
briefly stand against the storm.
All who build with mortality
wall with woe the wolving weather.
The stealing winds, the killers of heat,
patient in their number, will prevail.
Human hope, fused in ancient stone,
watches and waits, seated on the wall
and while the corn grows blind and dazzled
the cane rests against the marble tomb.
Of the times, the breathing spring is purest.
Paled by wasting winter's darkness, a boy
is caught in curls shaken from angel's brow.
He drifts from leathern brothers rough
to groves wild with life's briefest joy
to wed the girl with nations in her eye.
In summer's heat, works the brawny back.
The big bones build the wooden walls
and drop the salt from his browning skin,
awakening the germ in the silent ground
and drawing the leaf green from moldering earth.
The soil bears its trillionth hoping seed,
carried in autumn baskets, fertile, full,
and hoarded by men in rooms of stone.
As the solar wheel tilts to southern sea,
the seated men, drinking philosophy,
plan cathedrals of civil thought,
walling cities against abrading hordes,
while in their veins waits the secret storm.
The silent man watches the dying fire
as white of moon rules the waiting winter.
When from the bone the fearful flesh has flown,
the cold seeds, unwrapped from chaff, shiver
in their wombs, hoping for wide-eyed spring,
praying for surprise of brilliant birth.
Unfolding in yearning dreams of leaping life,
feet long to beat the cobbled street.
warming by the dwindling coals of earlier greatness,
She felt a man's gaze dismiss her
and dropped her eyes in shame.
The woman in the long black coat,
climbing the daily hill, heavily pulls
against the earth, then trusts the stairs with her weight,
a vestige of beauty rouged upon her cheek.
She emerged once from her winter waiting season,
parading all her sequined blue-jeaned beauty,
independent of her champion's brawny arm.
The muscular man was to the wall the first
to follow the axe and splinter down the door
breaking the bolt, bold to burst the breech
in the wailing weakness, to smash the smirking demons;
the howling hordes hellward he pursued.
He ached to ride wild the barbarian dawn,
to break the lawful bond and leap tomorrow.
Now the weeping titan, tatters of youth, mourns
in rusting, rattling chains, dreading the dawn,
bemoaning the magic moments of wonder that led
to ordinary eons of creeping and crawling time.
She walks to the window, her long gown trailing,
and surveys the busy city burning below.
Below, Apollo roams his lonely world,
the turbulent tissues of municipal business,
the jeweled city's body, fast with commerce
and fed by traffic, pounding concrete veins.
The city's organs of steel and stone and glass
are rocked by the street-corner madman saxophone
beating his ranting dance through the swirling air.
The high-heeled lady distracts the muscled workman.
The scavenger finds the thief-torn purse;
the policeman scowls at the puzzle; drivers, glaring
behind their furious wheels, curse the traffic,
the walkers, the weather, and their crawling lives.
Apollo, the roving, loveless seeking youth,
released untrained to the teeming world, unfettered
by rule of law, searches for his mate.
At the setting of the sun, the prudent leave
the street's nocturnal dreams and creeping shadows
that call from desire's darkest secret depth.
The night's flaming chariots of steel,
their angry wheels abrading the paving stone,
spit their rolling, poisonous fumes.
The rumbling fire of snorting iron horse,
shrieking excited air with fearless fury,
now rocket down the trash-blown city street.
The seekers ride the road for wilding joy.
The midnight hours hunger for tasty risk.
Glittering glass-littered streets with danger wait.
Abandoned, Apollo prowls in chaos free,
his hard bones bold to strut his skin.
Insistent drumbeats bumble down the street
followed by sorrow and wailing electric song,
the persistent chant of rage unchained,
the vast, human sadness, the galloping rant
of the hunting ape, the throbbing larval yearning
for existence, power, and immortality.
The licking beat of the lady singing, lost
in loneliness, following her generation,
echoes the primal rocking, beating blues,
the desperate union of desire and chance,
the ancient, unfolding, repeating human hope.
The untamable fill the thrashing, beer-reeking hall.
Raving mad lashes of licking, looking eyes,
hunking tribes of hungry punk
drive Apollo friendless to his corner to sulk
and smoke, worrying his favorite painful sore.
He pushes again against the jeering crowd,
and then leaves for the dry and deserted street.
He prowls past the tomb of sleeping books,
the rows of caged defiant foes of law,
and armored vaults that wall the daily wealth,
and the factory's clanking graveyard din.
The theater framed in neon offers girls,
a pictured woman playing with toys of life,
her girling, twirling curls teasing out
of curving dress to tempt her prince again.
Her image dares him take his carnal fee,
to chase desire's endless hunting path,
to pierce the gloom at the edge of night's abyss,
that yawning chasm that divides his dream,
and find deep within the winding woven way
the treasured gem of winking, luring love.
His walking creature seeks consuming joy
but the fruitless night abrades his hunting hope,
wearing his waning will to a whispered wish.
The truckstop spills electric yellow light
to the abrasive concrete street. The prince
of midnight enters to take his lonely throne
among the checkered tile and plastic seats.
A voteless man complains his politics
while drinking down his black and bitter cup,
mourning the graceless gain of aching age,
his strength all bound in chains of angry vows.
An angel distracted by her distant woe,
graces a corner, stirring, waiting her moment.
He turns to drink her message with his eyes.
The recognition in their meeting glances,
alike in every fiber's hoping song,
is the same in every midnight wooing wish.
Without some magic's help, how could she
exactly arrange those thousand careless curls?
Whole worlds of time are in her meeting lips
and in the curling corners of her perfect eyes
where he could thrive unfed a thousand lives.
He meets her fragrant dream with bold surprise.
The possible promise in her faintest smile
adds full dimensions to her boundless beauty
but her calling sweetness birds away to hide
up high, sighing away in remotest song
behind her walls as cold and strong as stone.
He pauses behind his eager breath.
She turns her face, as fine and fair and fresh
as sunlight's morning magenta iced with night,
and decides to speak to him and says:
"My wishful sighs would calm the world's lament,
endearing schools of tumbling babes at play
and welcome singing birds of dawning day.
In majesty, I'd banish discontent.
My hopes are seeds of genius, innocent,
all dynasties of joy that leave the earthly fray
and leap with yearning life to seize the day,
preserving this romantic sentiment.
But I am not the bird that dares the sky
forever free, escaping earth's intent.
I pull against this world's mortality
and up the hill I make my long ascent.
So now I wear this heavy coat of woe
and join with men to mock the common foe."
The fruiting dawning day's first hogging rig,
Big Butch in his monstrous clattering diesel,
the biggest, road-eating, gas-sucking, fume-belching beast,
the galloping engine of the national meat,
its tires snatching the squealing, pebbled tar,
now clatters to a stop and trumpets brass
to she who dreams in morning's winning bliss.
The painted door swings open wide revealing
giant eyes both burning with success.
She, the midnight angel, goddess of this night,
her steps tapping on the friendless floor,
walks out the door and up the metal step
and the smelted monster growls at the losing boy,
the unsainted pedestrian frozen fast in time.
The empty-handed night disdains the dawn
with showers of rain from turbulent skies.
The unresolvable morning scrapes the last wonder
from the street beginning to haul the caffeined worker,
bent by the rusting chains of work, his pride
stooped at last by age, slowly to his doom.
Big Butch gears up to fly the rain-soaked road
as Apollo steals the waiting empty car.
Inspiration slams the door and meshes gears,
squealing from howling futile running men,
around the corner, on the ramp and passing
the rig on the right to catch a glimpse of the girl
and speeds ahead to keep her angel curl
in his tiny mirror for yet another look.
Leaving the waiting towers of the city,
the herd of iron horses fly the ribbon
of curving stone toward the rising scorch
of sun that burns the magenta dawning blue.
Thundering dragons of the sky, fumes of wrath,
the towering fire-eating clouds of jealous rage,
hate down on mortal earth's scurrying forms,
hammering the sky with booming blows and rattling
its chains with howl and hail, hissing the highway
with rain. Spying the sun's warming ray,
the whirling vapor shrinks behind its cloak
of malevolent ink to sulk and wait the night.
King of himself, master of his journey,
Apollo weaves the golden buxom hills
toward the flaming horizon's grumbling cloud,
that towering mount of cream still tinged with gray
lit by the golden god of the beaming sun.
The hills, mounding like undulating flesh,
sighing and heaving with their promised vow,
responsive and gentle, yearn for tender touch
and flow to hips and fertile bellies full.
Lonely songs call from hidden valleys,
bemossed with romance dark and deep and wet.
The trees leap from seeds to catch the sun
while vagrant roadside blossoms in riots of color
all turn their nodding heads from the whipping wind.
His snorting horse hauling at the bit,
his angry armies, eager for battle's blood,
brandish iron edges hungry for spoil.
The blades lust for the hunt, to harvest the dawn,
to howl the red rising sun while ancient
choirs chant his fate and heavy brothers
breathe the deep to face the foe allied.
The herd of iron beasts with human brains
slicing the frigid air with striding steel,
beating the winding valley's swaying path
through tubes and tunnels and silent, ghosting mist,
stampede toward the blinding light of the golden god.
Big Butch, a silver chain upon his wrist,
lording high in the metal skull, rides
the belligerent beast, the monstrous metallic tons
of speeding brazen bulk that beefs his nation.
High above the hunting herd he rides.
She looks down from her high enameled throne.
The dragon flicks its tail at a nuisance fly and
Apollo, alloy of nations, veins of fire,
a fragile fiber of an immortal triumphant species,
loses the jewel of his tattered tinseled dream.
His babbling story, a tangled tongue of woe,
a plodding flash from cradle to grave that shatters
his mirror and denies his hungry hope,
an insisting organ, a bit of matter with an eye,
argues love while falling in the fury of time.
In the spinning world, mountains permit parades
of mourners trooping from weeping clouds
while assembled coffins spring from murdered trees.
All ancient men shriek their end in time,
while youngest hope screams to live forever,
plunging to burning earth, the hacking metal
cutting deep to bone, sirens wailing.
We curls hurling high in space,
yearning for dimension,
fold convolutions in time,
becoming acute hazards in being.
Flung between cloud and ground,
dropping and spinning around,
I curl about her thigh.
Joy, lust-driven skyward,
we snarling space-kinks
will carve marble someday,
in the shape of our vanity.
Chained to the plow, now I plod,
my manacles rattling the weeks
as she with her basket walks away
through the golden wheat.
The wind can play with her skirt,
tickling her ankles with the hem.
I am memories of her curling smile.
The wind licks my cheek.
A Grown Man is a Dangerous Animal
Held down until sky-launched,
a thousand hungry hawks,
hunters haunting the horizon,
seize their helpless meat.
The meek inheritors planted,
plowing the writhing field,
unslaughtered, reproducing innocently,
shivering beneath the frigid wind.
I rode once the blue-blown cloud
teasing the hurtling height
until waning wings hurt my whims,
wounding my melting spirit.
Now vanity treads from sun to moon,
plodding ancestral land.
When I can not live again,
I yearn to live forever.
Triolet of the Fly
In time's tepid breath, my dear,
I in ludicrous luxury lie.
I have some eggs; I'll leave some here.
In time's tepid breath, my dear,
I hug your hulking meat in fear,
and hope you die before I die.
In time's tepid breathe, my dear,
I in ludicrous luxury lie.
Young Christian Michael and the Golden Eagles of Vengeance
They told me I would live happily ever
that the streets would be clean; I would grow to manhood,
and have a beautiful girlfriend; I could be president.
They didn't say I would have to crawl, skinning
my fingers for a meal, inching through the world.
"A billion chanting slaves are building another's tomb
while the bones of your father lie bleaching in the sun."
So I joined up right away. Then they said,
"Thousand legged man, leave your love behind
and harness your madness to the wagons of war.
Build this wall and make it tall and wide.
Strike the stone and load it home.
Defend the borders we've laid.
"Dig this ditch down below;
dig it deep and dark.
Haul the rope and shoulder the load,
then wait in the hole you've made.
Heave from the trench and brace for the thudding shot.
Bend your shoulder to the raining lead.
The killing time is near.
"Charge steel-edged from the mountains, flaming souls,
and smash the walls of fleeing foe
and blow for blow with slashing claw
burst the burning gate to punish the weak
and wailing woe that stains the flesh of men.
"Man with a thousand arms, howl from the hills
to where your betrayers creep
and smash the halls where they carouse at night
and sow their fields with chips of bone.
Gallop your iron across the burning plain
and end your enemy's day,
ruling the virgin soil, spreading your sons.
Take the daughters and take the wives!
When their last man stumbles from the bloody heap,
release the shaft and drop him to the earth."
And so we beat and slashed a thousand years;
we blasted and broke and burned,
giving our kin to the feasting flies.
Crows won the barefoot boys and haymow jumpers,
fear the children's faces.
We drew up the bruising weight
and carried home the blackening burden,
crawling continents, skinning our fingers for a begging bowl
to briefly touch the secret buried grief, then to silence,
to work, and to watch without joy the boys at play.
The Moon's Rabbit is Quicksilver
Uncontainably framed in a window's eye, and
in black by the jewel-spilled sky, and sought by mountains
reaching huge and remote with shoulders of stone,
cold and bright beauty rules the darkness tonight.
As the veil drifts from the moon's aged cheek,
I touch her shoulder warm and bare,
stealing her heat, running to breathe the frost;
I am the moon's mongrel howling his wooing song.
She, on sleep's edge, with her favorite woe,
playing and flirting with dreams in teasing disguise,
cautiously moves ever inward, listening and looking,
while I alone in the distance watch and wait.
She's the moon's cat pausing to hear the wind;
she's the moon's eagle, yearning to feed her child.
Shrugging in shadow, praying for the sun to rise,
praying for dawn, she trembles to taste the day.
In wedded dreams like fingered vines, we climb
the nightly frame touching and turning to tangle
tendrils green and tender with their hope.
Silent solitude faded primal promise.
Eternity shivers in the moments before the dawn,
before the birds sweet in the morning save the day.
We could live a thousand lives tonight
yet solely nourish our diverging paths.
floating timelessly safe and warm and wet,
pulled like an animal into the blazing light,
the apprentice factory workers
were auctioned off for the gym class team.
loomed over by giants, marching in armies,
riding the backseat girl in polite wildness,
licking the wound that would not heal,
becoming alive in singular moments,
seeking to keep feeling forever,
trying to buy it a hundred times a day,
i peeked under the curtain that hides the prize,
be light enough to thrill at the chase.
a man is a meteor that wants to live forever,
tearing loudly through the blue-sky day,
lusting for angels like her in heavens like this,
wanting to know forever each fleeting instant.
and millennia hence when we join the disappointed dust,
when our shouts are whisper thin,
when our age is stored in dusty books,
at a new birth, the new timeless arrow flies.
We'll no more go a breeding,
seeding, feeding, or succeeding,
we'll no more go misleading,
pleading, impeding, or misdeeding,
we'll no more go a breeding with you, fair maid.
We'll no more go a boasting,
toasting, roasting or a coasting,
posting, accosting, or a hosting,
we'll ever go a ghosting around you, fair maid.
We'll no more go a squeezing,
wheezing, sneezing, or diseasing
breezing, freezing, or appeasing,
seizing, displeasing, or a teasing,
we'll no more go a squeezing you, fair maid.
We'll no more go a maying,
laying, braying, or dismaying,
delaying, displaying, or mislaying,
betraying, astraying, or purveying,
we'll ever be surveying you, fair maid.
We'll no more go a plucking,
chuckling, mucking, or unbuckling,
ducking, bucking, or a tucking,
we'll no more go a shucking you, fair maid.
for 2 voices
A wind Calchas. Do you expect us to go on foot to Troy?
Great King, chief of Argives, son of Atreus,
Lord of Mycenae, Father of many,
we've sacrificed an ox, examining its innards for sign,
chanting sacred hecatombs, wrapping its thighs in fat,
blackening the flesh accordingly, sprinkling all around
with barley and still the West Wind is silent.
Pray for your life, old man. This sharp sword drawn from my thigh
will stop your excuse. My men want blood and Menelaus his wife.
I'll give them your guts spilled on the ground, covered with flies,
be set by squabbling gulls and dogs, unburied.
We've prayed to thundering Zeus Himself, father of the gods,
protector of strangers, brother of Poseidon and the unnamable lord
of the netherworld; the wind laughs at our empty piety.
Then beseech Poseidon the earth-shaker for a west wind and your life.
We have supplicated Poseidon, father of the Cyclops, skimming
the waves, his dolphin-pulled ship escorted by leaping fish
and jeering gulls over the wine-dark sea.
Then pray to the Lord of the Underworld, and tell Him your name.
Digging a pit and pouring in the wine and the blood,
we have sacrificed to the All-Receiving husband of Persephone,
who keeps the secret of the seed and the souls of our ancestors.
They cried out for pity, wailing to Artemis, the offended goddess
who loves the hunt and misses her prey that graces your table.
We sacrificed to the daughter of Zeus and Leto, Apollo's sister,
the virgin with the bow and worshipping dog. She points at you, Lord.
We threw ourselves on the earth at he words. She will be appeased
by Agamemnon himself and the sacrifice his most precious possession.
More precious than a hundred swing-paced, crook-horned oxen?
More than a hundred bushels of barley? What more could she demand of me. .
What you can have only one of.
Not my life, for there is an after life and besides
there are things more precious to me than my life.
Not my city, for I have taken many of those,
putting the men to sword and the women and children to slavery.
Shall I cut off your nose and ears and set you with a stick to wander
the lands a hideous sight? No more riddles. Tell me.
What do you have only one to give.
Or cut off your hands and feet and throw you into the sea
to feed the seals and fishes, improperly buried,
your bones rolling around with the tides,
a doomed shadow fated to walk the earth for all of time?
Answer for me.
Your first born by your own hand.
You will die, writhing from dawn to dusk before
your ghost is freed from torment. Give up precious Iphigenia, strong born,
pure and ready for marriage, promised to Achilles, breaker of horses,
king of the Myrmidons, in a wedding of nations,
my grandson to rule an empire. Protected from wind and sun and rain
and the dusty earth she waits at home, heedful, bearing her diaphanous veil
before her, hidden from the leers of rude men as she walks from house to garden
within my walls atop the high citadel of Mycenae. Perhaps you'll see better
if like Teresias you haven't an eye.
The Achaeans will understand if you cannot kill your daughter
but they will not know your name or chant your conquests across the millennia.
She's promised. The word of king is law, even to himself.
He will take his choices from the daughters of Bresius, sacred to Apollo.
Has not my family born enough familiar murder?
A man must exchange one sorrow for another.
When will this end?
It will never end.
Send for her.
She is here.
She is bound.
Cover her mouth that no one can hear her cry and her eyes so I cannot be seen.
The knife is ready.
I will use my own.
If the devines would, everything will benefit, will well-end.
I command: My man, there, the sow-ewe-taurilia,
there, my foundation. my acreage, my terraces,
depart circle-making, circumferencing, counting,
Mars, father, I pray
would you propitiate
for me, my domicile, our family.
For you my acres, my terraces, my foundation
the sow-ewe-taurilia are circle-making.
morbid visibles and invisibles,
death and devastation,
calamities and tempests,
prohibit, fend off, erase,
and that You
fruits and fragrants, vineyards and orchards:
aggrandize, benefit, well-end.
The pastoral and their peculiars, be their salvation.
Give a bonus of salvation and valor
to me, my domicile, our family.
For this, therefore,
of my foundation, my terraces, my acres,
lustrate and facilitate
as I dictate:
Become magnificent by these sow-ewe-taurilia lactating, immolated.
Mars, father, therefore
become magnificent by these sow-ewe-taurilia lactating.
a related-word translation of Cato's Lustration of the Fields
all like a cloud, wispy, careless,
unhurried, just looking around
and then the clown dogs, laughing teeth,
some torn victim their joke,
sit around eager and amusing to their master.
Wanting my garage, craving adoption,
I warned it away with my giant.
"You could be trapped starving!"
But it was only smart enough to get in
and I not enough to save it. Wanting a friend,
the little furry pretty kitty entertains now
the daughter of the worm. The clean body
intimate with dust, curled up with a rag its mother
lays its cheek to the breast of the all-receiving earth.
Windows locked and door after door bolted shut,
Boosted by the hill, the high walls scrape the sky,
Snatching at the fast fog straggling
Windblown and white against the blue,
A high cloud a prideful cream compiled fine
From distant surfs, a drifting hulk of casual elegance,
Slowly retreated from the sun sinking low
And burning vengeful into the western haze
Of the all-receiving sea.
Would Calliope the coy gods hail
with beams of light, heaving clouds into the sky
to drop their rain to the wanting soil.
The angling grade worked me deep inside, simplifying,
Just me and the simple debate the grade must lose.
The breeze-drinking smiler atop its legs,
Squinting-eye skyward again for sign,
milk-white sail drinking deep the wind to ride its wave,
its gull kiting the breeze for easy meat, into the wind and
But the whispered secret passed me by and was silent.
Precious magenta only tinged the graying cloud now
Surrendering at a great distance.
The cooling sun dropped its heat into the drowning mist.
Jagged shards winked cold in the wind and a rip of news
fluttered seductively on the rusty tooth of an iron fence.
The windblown misprint cartwheeled into the snagging steel.
Urban detritus, obituary of culture, an orphan jumbled with
a furniture sale,
Signs of a struggle the all in unity
impaled trembling in the wind, slayer and slain embracing.
And began down the hill to breathe the cityís actual air.
And another walker, her careful steps and avoiding eye,
Stepped up, sky-seeking, while I, skidded down cityward,
Not a glance, not an instant of her eye, but she cast me
The bashful boy, the pretended grin, sheíd seen it all.
The slightest waving of a branch in the wind distracted her
can keep a secret.
I remembered what I had lost,
having had the chance to catch her.
How far had she fallen?
Now neither had the other.
Not even a baby to hold.
She could have beheld the holy child.
I could have dropped around from time to time.
I could have had another chance but I circled in distant
Dream-driven, the wild oat breakthrough prowling for prey,
Half-hoping my kin would reward my kind in cunning love.
But the night began to stir, more than ambitious, a bold,
in its lowness and coldness and hunger,
Abandoned by the sun, the daily citizen scurried off to his
A fast ton sighed to a stop, growling and coughing,
Its hissing whine and its glaring driver staring straight
to snarl forth at last.
I a beggar a dollar but he drove me away.
I only paid for a blessing.
The scorpion backed into his crevice to catch his
She drank the colors of the sky, deeply and graciously,
and came to the city to die, I think.
She had seen something, long ago, before me,
a fragile refuge against the cruel machinery of love,
before me, before she had slammed the door.
And I let her go. I
let her open the door and walk away.
In the falling off, I let her fall away.
Rummaging through its faces, the moon made shadows to hide
At home, in my little house, only silence waited for me.
And I am no creature of the night.
itís darkness hiding the hideous waiting to creep forth,
to scuttle and scratch and tear its innocent prey.
I should at least have given her a baby to hold.
Start the story all over again, at least.
Endow the baby, with all due ceremony, matrimony
and get your bones back to work, with a day off to watch
Iíd rather be the baby, at center, the gifted hub of
Welcomed to complain in her ear, to nuzzle her bosom when
kissing her dreamery, effortlessly earning sustenance.
To be is to ride above her eyes again! Did she have a child
Half an orphan to adore and be adored!
Was there anything to do but drink?
Rich in viscous time, free as the wind and poor as the air.
Packed with voices, a collection of parties,
Too loud, laughing, musicians somewhere in the dryness,
Drinking deep for tomorrowís thirst, smokers and
A disdainful face turned to me as I turned away.
Down the street I rounded the corner,
An abandoned jukebox silently awaited its coin.
Here would the cunning word be composed, the thought that
makes me happy.
If itís not about death, itís about nothing at all and
the day is dying
And so be quick about it, metabolize, mobilize.
The clock runs down. Seek
your tomb for your day is coming.
I passed the smokers with a nod and a swag.
Hereís to the truth above all
And love above that! Who
wouldnít lie for love?
Lying like a bandit for a chance
to get back into
Into what took so long to get out
And then leaving love for nation,
nation for glory,
And glory for wages, safe and
sound. And so it goes.
The old rotty glum, a gloomy sot and a rheumy rummy,
the toothless gum and burbling
voice and putrid thought,
Braggadocio in dirty
shoes, wasted bravado infinitesimo.
What could be worse than to be shipwrecked with this old
Youíre like a fly at a window,
Patiently inspecting the mystery
for the way out,
and then that mad smashing at the
perfection of the barrier,
Again and again in your rage,
until, exhausted and sick with dread,
you stop and starve, dry as paper
on the sill, imperfectly empty.
He who is no more sleeps away
until swept away.
Youíre just a cunt-hair from
and even closer to hell.
What the left hand tries to learn
the right already knows.
I order a triple and pray to the god of the utterly
Barkeep, Iíll tell you the
Itís like youíre brave at
first, think you got it made,
Have something and know what to do
But the sky splits and in cracks
this nine-eyed, long toothed,
gas-lighting giant, claw and all.
It makes you sick with fear,
the truth it does.
If not, itís not the truth. Itís
Heís the bane of
Imagine descending Hell with this cackling rot.
Blind in one eye and canít see
out the other.
But Iíll tell you this.
Itís the cave, no mistake. She
wears a necklace of skulls.
The ragwife, ragmop, a ragged
Give the pretty a beast to eat.
Chin deep in sludge.
Into the slutting slit you go,
When the broomís in the corner,
the witchís away.
Kali mama waltz. Artillery in
Of all the boats Iíve missed, a
bitch is the best.
Nailing a woozy floozyís flimsy
Thatís all there is. I can see
that all right.
Sorry about my language, lady.
Itís the only one I got.
One minute youíre on top of the
Happy as a kid with two mamas,
Stewed, blued, and tattooed.
Then the worldís on top of you.
Donít drop it!
Donít make it worse. Donít
be like them!
Hereís to every bastardís son
who got to run down the road,
Singing his piss-ant song nineteen
to the dozen.
Hereís a face full of dirt and
thanks for all the blood.
Thatís all after all.
You know, a good barkeep will treat a steady
customer now and then. Good for a
good business like this.
Hereís to every man who ever
offered his chest to a bullet,
or a bullet to a chest.
Itís the graveyardís comrottery soon enough.
It takes guts watching TV in a
trailer park in Bakersfield with no air conditioning,
Waiting for the next tooth to die.
Wondering if your stepson
will call this month.
Too stupid by a length.
Whoís going to want your bonebag
Donít swear at the darkness.
Set something on fire.
Ask questions faster than they can
Itís like suddenly you donít
find all your old toys.
Friends are always best at a far
distance. Fire the clowns. Everyone.
Women drive the makeup industry
and everything else follows.
Give the pretty a beast to eat.
Satanís on the back burner now.
Anastomizing unendlingly, leading
directly to you, dear wit,
Leading directly and modestly to
Mother-naked, eating like a worm
through the muck.
One day chicken the next day
The old sailor out of the home.
Getting smaller and smaller.
Confined to the shop and at last to the bed
Cast his shadow in perfect privacy
While deep within the vein the poison grows.
All I wanted was a bit of silence in which to meditate.
A small day wonít bear a long
The real moneyís in lies.
Serenity. Siren city. A rifle
can live forever. Gunís immortal.
Most of world is empty and the
rest full of woe.
Seek ignorance and succeed.
Seek knowledge, and disappoint.
No oneís listening.
Might as well teach the worms to sing.
The old witch in the corner was a perfect match for the old
They could have discoursed with each other and left me
Prowling for some proud floozy
ready to fall.
Beautiful sluts. Weíre the same
and thatís the rub.
All poets should taken out back
With the rest of the lying fools
Itís not with weeping that I
I donít miss the brats. Iíve
had a little of each, after all.
Assailing the mounding bane!
Not for my hunger nor the
starvation of many.
As the tree its leaf so you and
I should have given her a baby to hold.
Sheís falling asleep on us,
In spite of my cleverness, she
thinks youíre boring.
Expect me to stay
awake for you?
If talk was money
youíd be rich.
Thereís men in the room, you know.
Thatís why you came.
Of all the men in
the world to wake up to!
Youíre right. I had enough
50 years ago.
I know when Iím not wanted.
Iíve been thrown out of lots
better places than this.
Another triple and then another and at last the world began
And I decided to take it for a spin.
The barkeep clinked away the lip-stained glasses.
Reeling and wheeling doorward,
From dim to dark and abandoned night.
All backs were turned.
The door locked behind me.
All the windows were closed to the air
And the shades drawn shut to keep their light,
Keeping secret lovers snuggled skin to skin,
Smiling toward their dreams and morningís amnesia
While I had a cold mile or more to walk,
A deeper sickness to shake and a day of regret,
Cornered and free, ever farther from center.
Those on the other side of the wall had a pillow and a
The day was worn bare.
Even the child, in its ideality,
Could have seen that something was wrong.
The hardness and ingratitude,
The hard and ungrateful surface, hiding.
I wanted to dodge the moon that night,
Letting its powerful animosity pass me by untoothed.
What escapes the fire dies in ice.
I spied the old drunk curled up like a baby on a pile of
Would he survive the night?
Could I have saved him too?
Whereís the dragon to slay?
Someoneís walking, giving me plenty of room.
Crosses the street soís not to meet my eye.
As confident of himself as suspicious of me.
Donít need a good look at each other.
Man, on your side of the street sidewalking,
Pocketed, insightful maybe, elsewhere, intent.
Better not say anything to me, deceitful thief.
Iíll tear you up. Iím
Probably going to work on his illusion.
I just have the hill again if I havenít lost my keys.
Iíll be climbing the stairs soon enough.
Start some kind of fire.
Find my soft place and forget.
Only a bloody crater full of bad booze and mean at the
The inevitable horizontal fate stuck craw deep, bone mad.
Instead I slouched across Market in the middle of block and
ambled toward 6th,
Supposing a party or something.
They would probably see me coming.
Neither the night nor I were young.
I practiced walking, non-careening against the granite slab
Or the plastic someone too old, too toxic.
Calculating carefully at what I thought I wanted
Not lunging at the object of my desire.
Bound for cheaper fare, I press my love ever deeper
And bought cigarettes from a knowing clerk.
Not the last step toward Hell.
Why do I thrash about so?
Why not go gently?
Why another step?
Hauled bawling into the cold brilliance, led howling down
The long straight street, sent scraping, set begging,
at last left lying, cheek pressed against the bosom of the
A crack in my reputation, a titter of laughter,
My friend keeping a straight face,
Pathetic consolation, not even entertaining.
Tried to get in close, to belong but stumbled,
Noticed, marked, rejected, further that ever,
Far from home, two-eyed, brainbound, and wild.
Almost I was that day, nearly more than present,
The showing almost enough, the mere surface of being.
Take off your gold ring and the silver too.
Thereís handwork to be done,
Much killing tonight. At
night the shuddering cobs come out to play.
Is that a splash of blood, black and splattered,
Dropped by someone rushing and here he stopped, shifting,
Smearing the stain and then leading away.
Which way for me?
To his tormentor or to where he lies in torment?
As I stumble on, dregs below, perishing in ignominy,
strutting princes above, integral, respected.
And then a face! A young girlís smile or at so it
But I was repelled and repulsive.
The slightest word would have sucked me into the vortex.
Yield to raw desire and be forever engaged to that which
must be avoided,
A fond embrace with death.
I stumbled off and then tried to return
But she was gone and I could have saved her too.
I could even have saved myself.
And now we are both abandoned once again.
Even the child in its ideality can sense the wrong.
And after all this asking, brooding.
The trodden leaf
Or paper story flit through the shimmering beauty of loss
Parasitic angels flitting into dissolution, briefly denying
the grave its hideous spoil.
Take your cut and spend it quick,
Creating a surface that ripples not just from its
But from the shudder of my involvement.
I emerged from the shadow mad, lost, and starving.
An open windowís yellow brilliance blares its party far
Raucous from the high black wall.
Two faces and a womanís laugh.
I leaned on a tree skinned alive, dismembered of every
Dried and poisoned lifeless and stuck into the hard ground
as drape for light and wire.
More distant music, generous, free even, just laying around
Splashing down the street from a light under a street lamp
Beautiful and bored she stood, wanting distraction.
Letís sail all night and with the morning birds greet the
And its sky and its pregnant promise.
alexandrines and not very good ones.
I make up stories for imaginary women.
Few men are good to
eat. Most have already been eaten.
You want it cheap.
Yet another mad bumpkin. What
Should I make you
jump and how amusing your antic.
How many clowns does
it take to make me laugh?
How many parades of
puffed up heroes and dangerous men,
washed out promises, and mad bumpkins
And love and other
sublimations of unrequited lust must I yawn through?
Iíll let you know
when I will allow you to look at me.
Money on the hour to keep her phone from ringing.
What the little brother suspects, the older already knows.
Iíve been trained to correct composure.
Funny how some men
take to the harness.
Iíve broken the
same promise so many times
I no longer mean
what I say or say what I mean.
I love you. I
want to sail all the nights with your voice
And with the morning birds greet the sun over your sleeping
You want it and you
want it cheap.
We sent you off with
our last cow and you return
With a logical
construct and three beans.
I am disappointed
and I give you the task of assuaging my disappointment.
Letís get directly
to price. Money makes me happy right
A hundred dollars a
smile. Pay for the mask.
There is nothing else.
My disappointment is
the dragon to slay.
Prove to me that
there is a man on earth who has not already been eaten.
Show me romance.
Not a boyís but a manís.
I will lose my
beauty soon enough, sooner than you imagine.
This I know.
You will be beautiful for ever.
I know that will not
Only if you never
see me again.
To see you again is what I want.
If you see me
tomorrow morning, youíll be repulsed.
Will you buy me a
Art is a sarcastic
parasite on human commerce.
Yet another mad
bumpkin, self-possessed, confident,
speedily face first toward the wall.
Then you are
Then you are naÔve.
Then you are
I am not just a
flower nodding over my glassy pool
But a memory of the
future, that which will be
And that which will
not deny the grave its hideous spoil.
I caught her attention in my trap but she got away.
A phone number, a message unanswered.
She thought about it, in her way, and turned away
To what? To nothing?
I keep her memory encased in my failure, tormenting my
Feeding my frustration, buying poverty.
When at last I lay my cheek upon her breast,
Her cold, rough pavement grudging my skin,
The whirling world of light beyond and above,
Will I rest or fall to an ever drier terrain?
No child to notice nor wife to weep?
In distant orbit, apart from center,
All the hope and the promised healing, backward looking,
A temporal whimper, a pretentious woe discarded
By busy humanity bend headlong to its undetermined fate,
Except for the art that might keep it precious.
But up now! Never
The wide world will note not thy silence.
There is nothing but noise and nuisance.
by James Robert Strope