Poetry

Poetry

The question is one of ashes and dust

It is not my name, which you have already
inked into one interminable book or the other. Also,
not what virtue I’ve claimed to store up

in two unrelenting fists. Also, not the hands
which wrap around them, these hands
from which I feed, strong though they are,

but defiled. On the Eve of the End of it All,
it is only this: how my lips catch fire,
how I burn exactly, an effigy in my heart, awful

as an offering. How the darkness blesses its shadow
as the indigent lauds his begging bridge. How like a virgin
I’ve trimmed my wick. How well I can wrestle

your mystery to the ground, Angry Angel.
How I blunt my feathers on the blade of your tooth.
How I bleed like Christ through the white of my dress,

my fingers so steady, so stained.









Poem found

. . . And God said, “Let there be a dome in the midst
of the waters” and into the dome God put

the poor, the addicts, the blind and the oppressed.
God put the unsightly sick and the crying young

into the dome and the dry land did not appear.
And God allowed those who favored themselves

born in God’s image to take dominion over
the dome and everything that creeped within it

and made them to walk to and fro above it
in their jumbo planes and in their copy rooms

and in their conference halls. And then
God brooded over the dome and its multitudes

and God saw God’s own likeness in the shattered
tiles and the sweltering heat and the polluted rain.

God saw everything and chose to make it very good.
God held the dome up to the light

like an open locket and in every manner called
the others to look inside and those who saw

rested on that day and those who didn’t
went to and fro and walked up and down

the marsh until the loosened silt gave way
to a void, and darkness covered the faces with deep sleep.



















Autumnal diary

Behold, I am sending forth many fishers, says the Lord, and they shall catch them. (Jeremiah 16:16)

And he said to them, “Follow me, and I will make you fishers of men.” (Matthew 4:19)

At noon the Church of the Epiphany,
on this the long anticipated Date
with Destiny on which we’re told the Fate
of Almost All depends, is strangely free
of angst. The good-sized crowd is here to see
a choir perform Cantata Eighty Eight
and hear Johann the angel Bach relate
a snatch of puzzling Bible history:
God is at first an angry fisherman
who hunts in righteous wrath our sinful kind
but then Christ stoops and speaks, wrath is undone
by love, reality is redefined,
Ohio pales, the stained glass glows blood red,
the hapless fish are named, called, calmed and fed.







The River Lee near dark

           What people seeking solace do—they wait
until the light goes low. It’s then they’ve seen
a shadow here and there. They’ve often looked
           to touch once more a face beside the gate.

           Engaged in talk, or walking toward the pier,
they learn one word might lead them well
beyond the ways—it’s nearing late—familiar:
           out past the oaks, the trails, the salmon weir

           where waters thrum—now flash a silverwhite.
I’d follow you, he says, and next, Which way?
He stills to narrows kept for years in check.
           What people, lost, endure to see things right.







Geology

Place a stone in the palm of your hand;
it lies there, inert, nothing but itself.
It revels in its stoniness, its solidity.
It gathers light, rises from the plains,
a mountain in miniature, notches and ridges
carved by weather, strata and stria,
the pressure of time, the rough places,
planed. A climber might try for the pinnacle,
looking for toeholds in cracks and crevasses.
The way up is never easy. The air thins.
From the peak, the horizon falls away.
Borders are meaningless. The stone rests in your hand.
It sings its one long song. Something about eternity.
Something about the sea.