Poetry

Poetry

A word and a calling

He rose again. His face was black and bruised.
The underground famine had gnawed its gloss.
Where I have been, you could not live to tell.
First, his women returned, and then his friends.
They reached to press their fingers to his scar.
Do not touch me, he scolded crossly, cold
as Christ. Instead, they stroked the air, feeling
by degree for what had changed. But new moods
bloomed from his skin and from his bristle.
He spit upon the ground and then he cursed.
He did not walk towards the light, he walked
away. And the lock-jaw mouth of the grave
stayed agape, misgiving. As if it did
not know: Dead does not mean dead forever.



Full Crow Moon

After a while, one starts thinking in that language,
dreaming in that language, as well as speaking in that
language
, and the behavior becomes different.
                                                            —J. J. Jameson

Wind cannot change the dark, late March,
                                                            when the strip of soil
along my fence goes soft, ready for seed.
From morning sky, a promise of heaviness.
Clouds curl like smoke, cigarettes you ask for
                                                            the day they fly you,
bound, to Dedham. So I plant orange flowers, and yellow,
whose petals trap sunlight, beacons lining the walk
from garage to house. In my dream,
                                                      you tell me

you have one more thing to do
before you can come back: prune trees before sap rises,    you say,
no pain, no ooze, the firs sleep

beyond memory. From my angle of repose, do I see
                                                         a branch blown upright
or a hawk at rest in his hunt, moon melting
layers of gold on new grass? In an orange hard hat
you swing the cherry picker. The bandit raccoon
                                                            crosses a network
of roofs yard to yard. In the alley, the grinder lops wood
into sawdust. “As long as I go to heaven,
that’s all what counts”—your answer to my fear
                                                           of awakening

to my heart chained to a wall.
Meanwhile, the storm comes slate-grey while monarchs    weave
among unbloomed sunflowers.







Triptych for Taran's broken heart

            Plow

At the first cut the earth does not thank the blade.
Is it rape then?—the bite of steel, its point
incalculably harder than dirt, its mark
the hiss of death, the metallic taste of sorrow.
And what does the earth cry, its tangle of root
a living shroud rent by force? Memory
longs to preserve what has already grown.
The furrow is wet with tears, brown heart exposed,
underworld of worms and slugs prey to birds,
dreamless of deep new roots, of shade:
the palm tree of Deborah, towering crown of green.

            Harrow

The ravaging is not yet complete.
Jeremiah’s voice rages against Yahweh’s
violation, at first petulant and then violent
in return. It has always been so.
Sixty discs slice the remaining sod,
merciless, efficient: vestiges of cover
criss-crossed into oblivion. Blind stalks
mourn the loss of the sun, overturned
into darkness, food for the coming reign.
There is a quiet loss, the peace of death—
stillness in the wake of wrath.

            Seed

The thunder god is always the god
of heaven and of death. Rain and death
both bring life, black earth signifying
a bed, a womb for golden seeds dropped
from the mouth of the god, for a cause
not one’s own. Is there a more tender bliss
than the sweet swelling, the burst seed?
Tendril roots uncoil, the seedling unfurls—
moon-pale shoots beneath green and gold.
The seed takes possession, the violated
earth sings, the rich strains reach heaven.













Heart

Now there is only the heart—
oiled and rosy
as a hoof—and within its wooded walls
lives an evergreen:
on each bough, the jeweled gestures
of birds in winter.

There is the pain of isolation,
thus any snowfall becomes solace
layering each needle, each
feather so slowly
that both are gradually disfigured, made
similar, then hidden entirely.





Miriam

    Her house was a three year old’s drawing
of a house—two windows on the second floor
with two below to flank the door.
On the porch a pair of supermarket tube
and webbing chairs in case a guest or two
dropped by plus one where she could lean way back,
a coverlet across her knees when fall
was in the air or she felt ill.

    The shades she always kept exactly so,
the ones above just low
enough to hide her on her way to bed,
the ones below up high to let
some daylight in. Now that the house is empty
as a drum, they’re every whichway
like an old drunk’s stare,
and somebody’s pinched the supermarket chairs.

    Sweet Jesus, forgive me all the days I spotted
her in one of them and slunk behind the trees
across the street. A caller on her porch
for all to see she would have rated
with her trip to England on a plane,
or winning first prize for her grapenut pie,
or the day that she retired from the Inn
and they gave her a purple orchid on a pin.

    Or having some boy ask her to dance,
or being voted president of her class,
or some spring morning with her room all warm
and sunlit waking up in Spencer Tracy’s arms.