Book of Pictures
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.