What I Saw When We Passed In The Hall At Church

To Barbara

I see you’ll teach pre-Raphaelite to me
with words long cosseted away, such words
I’d thought were shot along the Somme.
I see  your hair and think of “tress” and how
the poses those old painters loved are full of you
and how that curl along your back is why that dress.

I cannot picture what your softness could be for
But only for to warm my touch
which is no preface to another’s touch.

I picture how I’ll stop you on a stair
with all the others either up or down:
the party noises up, the kitchen noises down,
and on the landing in the moon-stare there
we’ll spiral inward, secret, secret.

I learn “boudoir”, the room without a use
except the mirror, there to turn your gaze inside
and while you sit, “rondure” is how I name your back
against the dark of all that’s less important.

I see that we will make a son
and name him “laughter in the night”.
I’ll learn how woman is the sabbath of the world,
she has no use beyond her contemplations
of her gestures. Mirrored, secret, slight.

Do take this woman as your wife;
her yoke is easy; her burden, light.

 

 

 

Mockingbird

For Barbara.

I wonder where the mockingbird is from, and where it went, you said.

You’re Job, I said, when Yahweh sphinxes him for fun.

You said it came a second night but then last night was gone.

He blanked, I said, on when the mountain-goats give birth,
He blanked on where Leviathans cross seas,
He blanked on why the wind both woos and kills.

You said it sang beside our bed two nights, not three. Not three.

I said I can’t explain antiphony,
it seems its own reward
and when the bird has said “amen”
another sound insults the word.

 

The Boundered Lip

My father, from his hospice bed, looked off into the distance and led a church service for an unseen congregation.  I scribbled down his words and phrases as he moved in and out of coherence.   After this,  no more words.  He died a day later. 

So son, now come on up and sing, we’ll wait.
My breathing spell is cracked.  We run the show
and not the angels, though.  I love your songs.
Did I misuse the privilege to call on you?
In disregard, in deadly disregard?

Are all the speakers working?  And the tapes?
My son will lead our dedication of this space
with such an instrument.  Just take your place
and bring the love of God because we’re wicked,
wholly wicked, wicked tongued and wicked faced.

I’d run a nail through two-by-fours
along your butts to hear you praise the Lord.
A deadly disregard I fear I’ve used
and now my breathing spell is cracked
and I do fear the blindfold.  My son will come.

God’s angel is the lip that dares to bounder
here.  To bounder, did I say?  Did I say hate?
I hate the blindfold.  Son, don’t wait, you come
on up and play the love of him who walked
embodiment.   My breathing spell is cracked.

Did I misuse the privilege to call on you?
My deadly disregard is what I fear.
You hear the spirit and the bride say come?
The boundered lip, the  breathing spell that’s cracked
breathes come.   The love of God is near.

Could we with ink the oceans fill,
And were the skies of parchment made,
Were every stalk on earth a quill,
And every man a scribe by trade,
To write the love of God above,
Would drain the ocean dry,
Nor would the scroll contain the whole,
Though stretched from sky to sky.

 

 

Barbara, Christmas 2013

If you put all my joy over all our pots together,
It would not touch how I feel about this cast-iron pot.

Let all my joy from all our pots be plopped together
and it slops around, with room, inside this iron pot.

I never thought I’d find a black utensil packed together
with a lid and poke inside and thrill to feel a pot.

When old we’ll need to lift it’s weight together
or I’ll bend beneath the iron.  But today I waltz this pot.

 

Daniel

We ate our people’s roots but no-one’s meat
or wine, and hung our harps on willow wands
unplayed by winds.  I read our people’s book
and found the number there of years we must
be slaved.  From sorrow we’d forgot to look.

I turned toward the wall and would not play.
I told Yahweh it must be His to count
the years, I said “We are your portion
in the earth.  You’re poor.  We’re all you’ve got.”

The instant when our sins should slash a vein,
when lambs are hushed their crying by a blade,
the legate Gabriel enpierced my room.

A word went out.  He said.  An actual word,
resuscitating sentences, germ cells of books,
as books are matrices for nations.  Words
went out at dusk and I have fought celestial
orcs to bring them home.   Get up, get out,
go virgin to a virgin couch and and kiss a virgin
mouth, plant stories in your fields, fire
pots for wines, and sing new wedding psalms
beneath your virgin vines.   Go home.

Maundy Drinking Songs

Fragments overheard before the police came.
I jotted down what I could, then I hid in the cupboard.

Chugging song

Come now, sing now, happy tunes
and drink, drink, drink — we’re in our youth.
“Fool, fool, deliberate fool:
can you drink the cup?
Or will it drown you?
Down, down, three times down,
take the triple-bath, play the triple-tool.
Fool, fool, deliberate fool…”   (repeat)

Continue reading “Maundy Drinking Songs”

What is There

The mist collects to droplets on the leaves,
slight inches from my eye.  I stare.

I do not see the force and law that forms
the silver globes.  I do not see what’s there,
for spinning wild is how the atoms mean
the world.  I stare.

Simple, still, and silent balls, the water
drops just make for me the maelstrom
into symbols.  And I stare.

All men by nature want to know for sure
and poetry is knowing what is there.
The poem is the end of artifice, I’m sure.

And then suspicion that this thought itself
will wisp into some final sucking fire,
this thought that thought is simultaneous
and simultaneous is how to think.

When I affirm that God is one in essence,
essence still, and silent and indeed so simple,
and yet hypostases, yet three, are he and he and he,
the creeds seem end of artifice for me.

I know I think too much, while grass in blades
is choosing how to shape the tuft of blooms,
yet bees are hyperlinking blooms in air,
yet atmospheres are swirling over continents,
yet continents are spinning, wild, the world
into the artificial silver globe among the drops

He stares.  He stares, He finds His thoughts take shapes
as artificial lines.     Yet good.  Yet very good.