Poetry

Poetry

The Volcano Series

            And the graves were opened; and many bodies . . .
            which slept arose, And came out of the graves after
            his resurrection, and went into the holy city, and
            appeared unto many. Matthew 27:52-53

                        When asked, “Just what is night anyway?”
            Coyote closed his eyes,
            Placed his burden basket over his head
            And began making the sounds of hoot owl.
                        “The Burden Basket,” Elderberry Flute
                                    Song, Peter Blue Cloud

What do you think of the little rumblings, the discontents, the
warpings of fault lines and fissures? What seems to be said takes
some thinking. He led captivity captive.¹ Now that he
ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower
part of the earth.² What could it have been to descend into the
earth: the magma and lava the dark heat nearly sweat lodged there?
Was it where he wandered with his ash bucket, his firepans and
shovel after Calvary, after the graves were opened? What did the
dead do the three days he was in hell preaching on last chance to
the unchanced? Did they look at one another and didn’t quite
know what to do? Maybe some saw their families on the street and
weren’t recognized. How had they changed that they didn’t know
them? It would have been too much anyway for the families to
know their dead were only waiting on Jesus and had three days to
kill and would have to leave again for a second parting while the
families were still grieving from the first. Still others hid out,
pulling their tunics and cloaks and head cloths about them, holding
their little angers, the mistreatments, the rapes, the robberies, and
waited on the edge of town for him to return from hell and take
them in the air.

¹Psalm 68:18
²Ephesians 4:9





Săracă inima mè

     —outside Biertan, Romania

Hush, my heart. There is still the light

through the windows, fields that remember
you. Past the yellow church beside the forest,
hush. I’ve had to learn the ease of waiting.
Somewhere, in autumns, the songs grow surer
with waiting. You cannot hurry through
hurt. Quiet. Still. Slow, like those swallows
along the rooftops. Color upon a shawl.

World, loving its long evenings in silence.





Variety of hells

Hell: the inescapable presence of God
endured in the permanent absence of him.

A hell where your name is forgotten.
Worse, the hell that remembers you.
Every rotten scheme your hands laid plan to.

Then, a hell for omissive sins.
All what you meant to do though couldn’t.
How you intended to love, but didn’t.

A hell for revenge songs and ridicule.
A hell where despair is winnowed by fire.
A hell that burns away desire.

Hell of all hells: I harrow for your ghost.
But we abide eternities apart.
That’s the hell of the heart.







The reconfiguration of grand dreams

                                    —near Biertan, Romania

Confusing, how the landscape stumbles—
there is sky beyond this sky, a backyard
of chickens, a broken dog. Ambition,
like green fields, slows upon autumns
and the few ancient trucks. Work earth,
plow and hoe, bent over the soil again.
Years of this sameness. Years of the white sun.

To marry a girl was the one thing. The other,
talk—long into nights out past the river.
Sometimes three of us found ourselves there.
We shared what we had, even failures
we’d carried in our coats. In that certain dark,
nothing but compassionate days, when our tilling
turned the ground to wider orbits, to order.

A village closes upon itself. The road’s rise
toward Copsa Mare is the firm hand urging.
Doorways are boundaries children learn
to respect. Someone, born to it, swells within
his father’s isolation, painting his barn
a fierce yellow. Hay in the lofts. I know
how surely we fall to ourselves in this world.





Black fire on white fire

There are tracings in the snow-filled field,
Tracks I see but cannot read; except the deer’s
Small heart-shaped prints, the rest remains
A mystery. And so, I think of Hebrew script,
The jagged flame that writes of God, but
Is not God, the scholars say. God dwells in
White fire, not in black. In sky glimpsed
Through dark winter trees, in breath-filled
Silence when we pray.