Book of Pictures

Pretiosissimum Donum Dei, Bibiloteque de l'Arsenal, Paris

After the First Six-Pack

Poetry is gas and airborne when you're drunk

and drinking, incubus alive:

just as fast as it flows in it spirits elsewhere,

an ecosystem shattered by the sun

and sturm und drang,

the passing and the pizzle out.

Sometimes I feel this way

about cow fields and churchyards too,

I don't know where one starts

and the other stops.

Threnody, Euphony, Prosody

Out in the green grass

a baby girl, a music box with Brahms, a golden scarab

each only a season old, and fourteen lines of skywriting, dissolute.

So much is the languor I feel

in the clarity of this June air--but just how does

a scribbled bit of rhyme soften the arch of the black

cat's yawn or cease and celebrate

the nasal nuthatch whonking?

Where will we be next century?

Only Allah's shadow knows.

A seventh station of the cross: sleeping

with involuntary heads set towards Thule.

Stars and goddesses and earthworms,

grant us long life to see such miracles unveiled.

In a Glass Garden

Behind the flower bed--all broken shards of neon tubing--

Strawberry coils like an earthworm

or a woolly bear, trying to wiggle

out her vertebrae like an ochre-damasked

millipede who's outsized the snail

who slimes me as I root at bean sprouts.

It's Good Friday again--who says

just women get to imitate

the life of Christ? A five-year old

pirouettes along one cache of flagstone,

singing the French national anthem

backwards in an accent of the Ruhr.

Full overhead Mondrian's sky wheels back

across a sandbox web of latticed shadows:

this patch of latitude of earth--

what any clodsman'd die for--

springs into life as the girl teeters

along a brickface wall of clematis

and spreads her magic spores,

kissing open each black tulip bud

that bursts all seed of honeysuckle

soil beneath us, while the fairy rose,

all at once, and innocent, bone-dry,

slakes at mildew from the depths, full flowering.

Up Mile Creek Road towards Heaven

February chill over the sound's water,

freshets of stream rush towards

salt under the salty ice.

Redwings sit in cattails, enduring

a cacaphony of shrills from jays,

as a collie mutt limps her nine pups

to the circle of black ice at the center of a pond

where four brothers skate in revolutions

around the moon: by noon,

still with their skates on, they crabwalk

back tippy-toed across cement and sand,

towards home and peanie sandwiches,

the fatherless warmth of firelight.


As in a movie set the July sun sways

over Pitt Street Pool at the appointed time--

a queer old queen with swimmer’s legs

and a lock key on his cock cocks his head

to dribble out pool drops from his ear.

Nearby, ballerinas rejoice in the having

to change into their tutus out-of-doors.

Lap after lap I hear what’s happening

beneath the surface of the water:

wings of angels drowning upwards.

I’m nervous and out of shape:

every word bellyflopping onto the skein

of blue, as into a mass of hungry catfish.

It’s seven am and everybody’s diving.


The lute strums in tune with the dry ice chink

of the marrow of the last straw jawbone,

as sun warms cedars of the flatlands, where

Zeno infinitised his walk towards philosophy.

I'll sing praises of a salamandrine moonlit night

just once more for those of you who dare

simp back, to read in your head imprimatur

of Gorgon in these lines, to restore some

little bit of dignity to what it means

to be human and alone, one of a pack

that'd rather kiss than kill, across

the desert sands I knew as a boy.

How can I sing of the rubythroat after

a winter such as this? Cold priestesses

of the arctic tundra, loons hold what

we hate at bay. For it's you that I love,

that I want to fondle endlessly and sift

into orchard paths and charcoal pits,

where we first picked at bones

and uttered the magical you and me

and predator and prey, for all

the grace of an island called Lemuria

that looms in greens towards morning.

Ut Pictura Poesis

Outside, in the garden, port-blue skies,

runnels and breakers from the troposphere,

huge fat flakes of snow float to raw, evergreen grass,

frozen buds of roses, blanched ochre moss--

the purple crocuses lean, half-cocksure

to come out up the bright green fence.

Pancake's gleaming feline eyes angle towards

a three-year old, who wants to eat the flakes,

and me--dreaming of Finisterre, a time

of lonely, after-love walks to the sea,

whole afternoons of quiet from the clams.

For an instant this picture is entirely

painted out in mercury, but soon gives in

to cramps, cold, and other odd allurements.

The Glass House (New Canaan, CT)

for Philip Johnson

From there you can laugh

at Mies in heaven or cross the sky to Göttingen

by chariot, up the Housatonic

before what clouds of pine-dust pollen

cluster-clog the clocking

of sexual pools in sedimentary rock,

and summers, succubi

that float along Museum Mile,

forgiving damp-pants lovers, whose

heather can kiss and twist and burn

about the male silage of the moon.


In a windowless, gaunt roomette

Warhol's Lenin (and here only a German verb will do) schweight--

he actively does not speak--

some Factory-slur across

the hamburger mouth of Mao

is apple-crimson, just

angled off the fireplace.


After the fascist architecture wars

and hairs gone gray and Connecticut sunsets

turned clover red to dew, you the

coroner of centuries sit

perched, a Halcyon dream

in a burnt pin oak tree where

crows above the concrete pediment

jumpstart wheatstraw nesting in

the black glass edifice of a bottomfed Atlantic.

Fog of your mind drifts to

ladies' lavender-poofed boudoirs.


Once I was inside-- the cube itself

was gone except for the Kentuckian

streaking the air with lemon oil and Windex.

A hundred Gaudi turrets breeze at

governing islets of the mad,

tear-struck faces (of Bagdad boys)

that dream you far from here.


Dizzy's clarinet drowns out

teenage campers on your backlot land:

they line up for the penalty kick of your eye.

From the ziggurat above the birches

you sail like a falconer back

to the nineteen-twenties, when

there was honest work to do, and love.

In the pool's surface, peonies, painted vulvas,

a young man's grass-stained knees,

the wracked perambulations

of Dharma rats with too much cash.


From here there is only an ellipsing down

to privet, or up to the trees again then

over beyond the house of light. A lone wolf scraps

with a catfish in the bamboo implants:

improbability rising on the air, a riddle

of the Sphinx for me or others to unravel.