Colloquy of Flowers

Achillea Millefolia: War

Even the ditch dogs won't spray this corpse: outsized

and exiled, the head of Patroclus sponges up

the dust-spore hurricanes of dry rot rain in Troy.

Maybe a craven cemetery stone could clear this air.

As it is, wherever I go, banishments. Entrepot:

illusion of solace in yarrow: boneset oyster shell wanderings

borne down on delineations of the soul--out of Augustine

and Eckhart, out of Rukeyser and Maria Rilke.

What's happenstance is home: I keep dressing up in gold

for the Gulf War's dinner of flame to honor a queen.

I keep falling through the floor of the landing craft.

Qubilah's back and Malcolm's laid again to rest in a

crèche made from my odiferous arms: brothers

breathe lightly and cough at the gleam of a gun.

Alyssum: Worth Beyond Beauty

Always in the shadow of the mung bean. Let's stretch viola bows

for the cassation--a picnic on the grass--a green-eyed ocelot's

found by Lars to be puking in the sedge of Dürer's

hard-edged Northern estuary full of light.

The violets think they're tainting a sulfur soil

in Senegal--the neighbors think we're nuts.

Each trillium's worth's beyond beauty,

but just one nudge brings a crowd of suckers.

The cat gut's strung in the moss beyond the Orangerie--the

pheasant font at Fontainebleau. Burnt leavings'

stench of Stalingrad in a woodchopper's daughter's scalp.

In me you find the needed passage to know which binary pulsars

will pull back at the last towards the pale green globe

of us made pungent and rich and hydrophobic.

Anemone: Sickness. Expectation

Poisonous cuke, wild heather headache-maker for spent sheep,

rock lily of love under Unalaska's fertile rim, windflower of the daughters

of Ulysses, tethering up movie Moghul caves in the Carib, cinquefoil,

cockles for mad Ophelia, marathon dance craze breathings in upon

the seven open air stages of the land of Uz. Because the toil

is insurmountable, the soil un-tillable, the pond's fill undrinkable,

toads quadrillion multiply in your fat butt's eye, the only holy place

west of Worcester, Mass. without a squat hawk's luring glaze.

Weimaraners gorge you at will and paw the place where your spores soak

down into pockets lost in the earthen gore of fern spoor. The drone-on

of the hermit thrush recaptures the thrill of your name slung across

the plains of archaeopteryx and plasma physics. The girl I once was

has lost her only buttoned blouse across webs of your eyes. She cried

a thousand pardons of the sky, till the skin shed tannin and broke.

Blue Valerian: Rupture

Mine is a beard for bees and gods--each has a spidered syntax

which nests in the pit of each garden I travel to to wreck:

granite sandbags that come straight from Love Canal,

the trillions of loves songs from school kids X-ing paragrabs

to bass-notes low below the pavements I work to split.

In Orvieto, a virgin appears in sepia with nails of lavender

and sphagnum lips: she brindles baby foxes two by two

and sets them on the autopista off a path to Rome.

Moral willingness is most at fault, when ground breaks

and the blue locks tendrils with this sky's dirty waters

as it, plangent, sops the surface of the pool. Bicarbonate

of soda feathers the grass of my most blanched state,

the art of Eros when sepalled with pine dust pollen,

a stately overture to any child who can tickle with a bur.

Burdock: Touch Me Not

Like Jesus, I breathe in revolution and exhale love. Hard to see

in gurry crags I lace into every passing hairy thing. But seeds

devolve in every animal pouch, acclaim some ghostliness beyond

an Anglo inability to doubt and grow into that doubt. A day

a week I'm off, inscrutable--coursing Mt. Monadnock's whitewater

doublings in search of a shrew to tree with. Ample breadth

of character in that, all this pricker I give away for free and

earn the reputation of a bastard weed. The deeds I live by

will debt back sotted earth, for its lousy names and institutions

out of craw and agon in the eye. In Latin I burn away

the holiest of virgins before a microbe touches down

and settles into porcupine. Divine, then, this penchant

for ugliness and odor: the last of the earth's awry will bless

the shoot of bean that craps up from my organs like an ant.

Cypress: Despair

In 1826, the Unter den Linden is lit by gas. Sulfur friction matches

stir old coals--Bedřich Smetana cycles his symphonic poems out

of mustard gas, as V. Van Gogh sits in a yellow chair, smoking a pipe

full of opium, to paterfamilias ... a girl on a bike rides past plantains.

Before the mentally ill are houseled in beef and iron ore, before

one Yoruba diatribe can read the Thames I sweep the skies clean

of Doppelganger riding Arctic currents in lieu of Lebanon's pines.

South of France: compostelas for piety, a comely rose for St. James.

Maybe only Murphy's Law divides the hysterical dark from light.

I try with all my might to stay alert all Andalusia night

but the physiognomy of countless begged-for fights

with what's electric wins. Passage to underworld is flight

to fancy over Lethe, the Passaic, a grey stone Rio Grande.

The last line fades as an Alban Berg quartet has done.

Dog Rose: Pleasure and Pain

Chill the hip-hop and the urban skank. This is polygamy of stars

which axles entrails of a chief named Blood. Not Ulmer, not unctuous or unctioning

but the proper functioning of the Bloc. Pentagram painted, top pitted-olive

skunk house of the ear. Goose poop laid out over the brazen wastrel

coal fields of Mars. Depleted numbers of hemophiliacs, the only

creatures left who can drive cars. Hypertext can salivate like

Pavlov did in his bedroom, to counterpoint Rachmaninoff:

dead limbs from trees, torsos, all growth industry today out West.

Test these rhymes, really. Find the prosody of Sloth in the mind

of a crescent lady looking out a suburb cellar way to try and find the god

of politics or thunderstorms. Neuralgia our conductor. I plant my seed

in whatever jumps from the start. Gall of the earth, don't crowd the greening

phlegm in my dioxin lungs--it's abracadabra for Cabral, for any

scum bag sergeant trying to make it with the nursling pocked El Cid.

Fleur-de-lis: I Burn

But serfdom's not abolished in any single sphere. Aniline from indigo's

a start, but electrodynamics prods the non-Euclidian to shed some

light on why a man can slaughter over twenty widows on a night.

Glow-worms show the matin to be near: whatever undone

prowling will have to wait for the next full moon. At noon

the non-Euclidian has lunch in town of bread and snails.

Afterwards she rollicks in the bay with baleen whales,

gloaming out across the coast, the aboriginal.

So I bum a taper at both ends. Kings and queens

will have to wait in line for my exotic guillotine:

only celandine, Carmelite and photo-spectra

not yet known to mammalian heat can stay

my fury. A moment's a moment too soon

to send up color. So instead I bum an 0.

Flowering Fern: Reverie

It begins with chicken cacciatore: grumbles, then moans from picnickers

who fall upon my jungle of African violets. Save diapered toddler,

I'm alone on Mount Wachusett, where black bears can grind teeth

in dreams to their hearts' content red ants can bolster whatever

lackluster plans I have for the future of summer: on a boardwalk

whoever croaks first eats last--so it goes with a trout-fed creek

Of flax. Hawthorne's angels water me: I stick it out till mid-July

whenhorse flies buy me out and recover damages from deer elite.

All nimbus now, as I slip back to what's oneiric: bees before there

were flowers. This news makes me feel good. I'm their sucker so,

the test of their seductive powers. Then came the quivered stamen

of a pepper plant--the Indian Ocean sighed, bored -- I gasped

and inched a foot east. Nevertheless, watch me spooring a hundred

times as lank and beautiful as the most ridiculous of rot-cool flowers.

Hoya: Sculpture

Not five-fingered hound's-tongue, not horse balm, huckleberry, or hooded skull cap,

my aspiration nevertheless is Delaware, Atlantic, soft-piqued and skinny,

making out of threadbare succulent wounds a crown for one who loves to sit.

I am invisibility itself, four-sided, reticulate, embarrassed really when

it comes to song or sect or sanctioning. But near the sea

you can see me flower and congeal, processing in one sexual

appeal a nation of blindworms, an infinitude of mycoprotoplasm.

John Clare's fear of flowers trodden and torn to the root of a loaf

in an English garden bursting out across the plains of Aberdeen,

where I. Hamilton Finny relives each noon the terror of the Jacobins.

This is why I ride the waves E pluribus Unwn. The song of the sacked,

the song of the cerebral, the succulent and soured, the mash of many

into the fruit of one. A physical entity that broods on God and lettuce.

The brutishness of man enveloped and sealed in the lids of the soul.

Iceland Moss: Health

Hairy Maimonides--rabbi of Cairo!--blubbering on in a hot springs pool in Reykjavik:

toking on moral impulse, a psaltery for the blue-eyed, lip-ringed

teenies of the island. Erik the Red's errata: no green in

Greenland but the Lapland moose when she's angry and selving

or ensouling. Chemobyl's winds are the all-diaspora

to aspirate these unconvinced, the virginal, the unspoken.

Law like a cataclysm sifts down several walls of Vulcan's ash:

someone's playing to Rimsky-Korsakov's second violin.

Spinach and cabbage and oatmeal are health: buttermilk's

the gift for what's green and rising up out of a cement puzzle sculpture .

I'll grow almost anywhere if you're prepared for my resoluteness:

I want lactose, lactose, lactose. Not lachrymose, not indigent potatoes;

just my leek-green dose of milk and cheese to burden up. With this

I'll go and conquer all of Latvia, and Helgoland, even the isle of Romo.

Laelia Orchid: Entrapment

You kiss my ear, I'll oil your anthers with musk of porpentine.

Lips pursed over the palpable blue coronet of umbel, no nitre,

nothing, can dampen the flush of fever on your petiole tonight.

You, a flower, penumbral, unguent, litter my soul with dust,

you from pocked-fleck carrion bud of Taormina, the taste

of salt pillaring a hole as large as the mouth of... Say it, say

the name and fixate on the afterglow: the slow sodden tongue

back to the labia of innuendo. Even Baudelaire's a prick-song

next to this. Etruscan anus, suckled by sweat bees, we meet to taste

materia, nectar of Vishnu and the elephantine will to eternally fuck.

Pink, fleshy-livered fulcrum fuming a lava of honeysuckle chill,

my mind careens into the bowels of desire in Laelia, the frontlet

a parterre to the skin of a hymen one. Chastity's act's swallowed up

in a lone wheatstraw talcum tongue-suck in an estuary marsh of Skye.

Lichen: Solitude

Pilfered and over-taxed, the mushroom slumps into mud and succumbs to a pud.

Pond-wise, length-increasing out over oxygen's light-blue damask veil of ice,

I crenellate, incredulous, fixing back force upon the stone, pumping

throngs of exegesis into my stuffed gullet of tendon, beseeching

rain to fill and fJll and fill my slake. Wantonly I back-slip up

and tumble into the Jack-in-the-Pulpit's pulpit, gashing

a sear across the face of my front. Leaking green I can spit

out a poem with the force of a thousand pounding steeds of war

upon the corpse-strewn prairie. The song goes something like this:

Pilfered and overtaxed, the mushroom slumps

Pond-wise out over the veil of ice

fixing back force upon the stone

beseeching the rain to fall and fall

wantonly to fill and fill my slake ...

Live Oak: Liberty

If it weren't for the Mackinaw I travel, it'd be hard to even hear

above the deafening roar of these syllabics: what liberty is left

for a green-coppered maid-of-the-harbor who's tone-deaf,

tune-dead, even meat and spleen until another gorge will rise in a beast

of the Harlem, to quell that nightly embarrassment called fog.

I go from elephant to elfm, Elgin and El Greco past Eliot

Elisha to elision: the slur backwater wash of the drunken

pilgrim of the States who's job it is to guff me up and portend

irreal fancies for the fifty prom nights East of East New York,

Teaneck, even Mahwah's Ringwood Manor. But each squeak

is a god-given sacrilege: I steep it like a bag of tepid chamomile,

patter out to the Pequod bosk to sneak another look at the indentured

servant's teasel. Here it's clear a word is a breath of Parthenon:

we seep both slow and high towards articles of Native American faith.

Olive: Peace

In the June hail and dry thunder my arms are faces from Rouault,

those Les Fleurs du Mal viragos always painted into lightning storms.

The wind smells like white folks: that wet dog sniff you get in Laundromats

and office building halls. But this is Northern Africa for now, the pollen count's

too high for this first rain's downpour in a month--I'm dizzied by Ariel's

fluttering and pounding about the potting soil and gravestones.

My fine grey-green leaf tips are lengthening by cell and cell

as the heat wave breaks with this spell of cool from the Byelaya.

All I can sing is for giving, to the all and now, what rare fruit thrives

on rotten trellises is mine. I drink these waters as the passion flower sucks

the battle-lore from Europe as it passes into dust with every gust of wind,

the lack of trust of militants in the courage of the word, the two caesuraed

line that mimics catcalls of the blackbird's anarchy, the pulsing

back to me my easy love, for that I am a glutton for all poisons of the vine.

Pitch Pine: Philosophy

The adder's tongue and blood wort said to the sky today: vaikhari

so we can eye its utterance and cry. Section of south transept avalanches in

upon a Madonna's terra-cotta slip, beyond the chancel where a nearly newborn

pees up into the face of his earthly goddess aunt.

In Belen, ghost ships transplant sands of the mesa-top by way

of Wittgenstein's numbers--baneful, muy triste, post-illusory.

Medics hoist the flayed flesh up out of the thirty-third tier of

the buried--out in the birches beyond the proper camp.

Kenneally's angels roost with the shit-faced pigeons of Avenue A.

To them it's a question of language: the right has blown a cap

off what utopia was left. Quicksilver, endemic to now,

flocks and flocks of sand hill cranes make for the famous cave.

In bad church light and neon the flickering sand-forms there

pastiche a theater of gloating, winsome, indignant army men.

Prickly Pear: Satire

The rats of Hamelin town are licking the legendary cicatrix:

pliant they weave through urban clutter to store their fat in Derry .

For the mind astray is light years from the cribs and silos of Los Alamos.

On a day when Astor Place was Art Street (and Pike was Crabapple)

sixteen hermits crush down vestibules at the Church of Brno.

Chloe knits katydids into a pine cone creche in Sixth Street's garden-bunched

ghazals are not enough to burnish the sting from my claw .

Even the view--the upper Manzanas--cannot flesh out from

the mesa the image the mesa makes to the storm sand stress

of collision. Collusion. My prickly self honeys the minute

I jack philosophy in bedrooms, mountaintop motels that cater

to the horny and unmarried. Isle of Lesbos rocked out of

sheet metal and lime: the glib whisperings of lovers, noontime

by the pool, scattering the infamous like aped Chihuahuas.

Pyrus Japonica: Fairies' Fire

I ... I ... I ... just don't have the words. I just don't have the words.

All about me, the children I never wanted to bring into the world.

My belly still stings. None of the crows will even sing till vesperzeit.

Black--they're all black--all tell the same tale of how they came to be black

and pick at my shaggy thorns: Flattery. Stolen ftre. Empyrean stuff.

I just don't have the words. Azul blue. Ectoplasmic grey.

Fist fights on the jungle gym, one clotted bloody nose emblawned

is enough to bring the human fuemen. Overhead, Sikorsky hovercraft.

Beirut clouds. Lichen and dog rose spill out into my thicket of hair.

Apples-of-Sodom. Another dusk in the city's outskirts. Sweet alyssum...

A gull cries far out, for the sinking brigantine off Singapore.

Kagera Falls. Ebola virus. Bloated bags of skin. Wash of music

up the pyramids where I thirst for sun--water--the happy cries

of children plucking out pistils one at a time from my heart.

Quaking Grass: Agitation

Calmate, mi amor. Que quiero decir es ... You blaspheme. I skit the ridges

of this balustrade of ice to try and find ... quincunx. Bestiality or milk bread.

The divisiveness indigenous to whales, the thousand-acre stands of cow corn,

multiple sclerosis on the rise in Beijing. The taboo of the toe touched

to tongue as the sun dives into tar-pit Okeefenochee. Miles and miles

of wounded egoists submerged in shit of their own expenditure. Why

settle for plastic things when you can reign over canyons of silk thoughts?

Why walk when you can drive? Why drive when you can improvise?

Las Vegas is legal now. Import the sweat of a nation of swine. Hang up

Sandburg, Lincoln, by their feet, by Dickinson and Swann. For what

light is left belongs to the immaterial witness at the trial of the L.A. 'hood.

Gargonzola sweetens sleeplessness. Fastidious after-dinner table manners

couch in clarity a hundred deadly sins of the state. Calm down, love--you

haven't had your coffee yet, and the clouds aren't clearing over Memphis.

Rudbeckia: Justice

I was your first love--Black -eyed Susan of the high meadow deer run that rang

out yellowthroat's gold at dusk. Chanterelles in spittle dew, clitorises

fringing the pond. The canvas of three suns was never Winterreise

but the churning inwards of the hoped-for solstice of f1re

to be found outside the doors of the elementary school

where you in dreams doused a principal with petrol.

Instead, the gait backwards up to Brown's Hill's memory's

majestic when the orange berries open frock and stink.

At the comer store one Alabama prisoner in chains

claims one f1fth of your body's water, to be suckled

down slowly to the dirt, between breaks for cigarettes.

So I spun out much umber, as much tan as I could suffer,

to hear you sweet and cold amongst my feathering roots to get

what it was you were after, that pre-dawn glint of sun that I shed.

Snakesfoot: Horror

Tremulous, I brandish a smoldering foot of baking iron for your twin ears.

My bifurcated tongue plugs orifice in yours, where a set of eyes once were.

The dingy aftermath of Satan's work is distillate, unclean: I walk a hoary path

where princes tread. Now, hot spuhl from under gorgons out across each

path to Guinea-Bissau, in Port-au-Prince, to Gravytown. Mullein even

quake down burthened roadways to the sea. Caves covet lives: an entire crew

from Portugal is strewn in the gore of coral--innocent, reptilian--the coast pulls

and churns at the will of every sailor. On William's hill, chimed in Gothic calm,

the choughs do their work too well. Each agony is another of the sea's last swell.

For the inventor, the only out is clear: a circle of fives high up in the flaccid air

where hot air balloons circumvent the linearity of history, by turning tails

and succumbing to one thermal biosphere. Gun-luck, gun-luck, over Vietnam

we can: the thousand MIAs without a burial are turning over in the turnip fields,

the cry is the cry of ardor when spilt across the lap of weary, unsuspecting arsonists.

Sycamore: Curiosity

Belle Starr's born today stark naked. Suleiman too swigs rose hip tea,

in Sevastopol, he thinks. Under the hickory, the girl has lost virginity:

Northampton boasts lesbians who've built a mountain out of mace.

Word has it next will be an ark for the covenant for government relocation

off the pyramidal island we call Cuba. Sugar cube, Toussaint-out-of-breath,

even Ray Bradbury walks a poodle by my trunk and wonders why I speak .

Pique a churned prefix hard and there you'll discover the glossolalia that led

Kafka past the shores of Maryland. If not, return bark to Louis Cabalquinto.

Indian fever: the aquittal of Russell Means means a temporary job as voice-over

for Disney's Pocahontas. Pero Lolita Lebron tiene elfiebro del destino que crece

en la selva El Junque. For now it's peacetime, I serve by holding every bierfest

in the snow. But what do I know? I get thunked on the head by walnuts

from the squirrels. The city grows around me and I flinch and photosynthesize.

Despierta, despierta, mein Sohn ... this is the start of another day in Brooklyn.

Syringa: Memory

Smell: twenty-eight sketches (how many acts to Faust Part One?):

I remember that I forgot what I had lost, primordial overgrown sunflowers,

when Einstein couldn't tie his shoes. Five miles to school each day,

brothers teasing you with frozen pond snakes and tickle frogs

that shat intelligence between your legs--how could you not

remember the day the anarchists took all of Bremen?

I say that my memory wobbled out towards Wilhelmshohe

the day I met you--by that Walter de Maria that sunk to China.

Memory is only what love makes of it: a trashed and sodden mind,

via Cage and you came back and captured me and a way to say

what turpitude and childishness and ornithology might be.

I sweep and vacillate and adore you; here is the beck and call

of a way to say what feeling is: the reels and reels of backlog wiped

from the slate of the film of the brain, the kind of love you offered me.

Tamarisk: Crime

Perfidy on purpose: Creon's edicts bastardized in dust. Antigone's

my lover as long as there's olive shade to cover us. Gonorrhea

quells the tide of LSD, heroine, coke, and open heart surgeries

that plague the gills of the livid city. As a feminist I crack

to see the love-lorn tuned to pretty girl politics which jeopardize

the so-called ship of state. Inhumation--nineteenth century

hall of horrors for the writer. Bricked up with a black cat.

Today it's rationality that's farmed to fire-yard furnace.

My daughter steals a nickel from the plate. Conning towers

at Sing-Sing melt when the river comes in high, the oblivious

walk circles outside cells made for tuataras. Rack--stock--fickle

perfidy on purpose. The scream at the head of the orb of one's

lungs is flower enough for any garden full of fragrance. We bleed.

We sting. We won't take care. This is our doubtful and hating psalm.

Water Lily: Purity of Heart

At the center of the garden court is water: luminous now the pall of carp

sits sated on the lawn. Bombardiers at a picnic: call them bullfrogs

or Socialists ot the bully few who ran up San Juan Hill with Ted.

Picture-perfect, postcard pure, the lily pond is epicenter for the

lonely detonation of the neutron bomb. Here we can salve even

flowers when the humans go. A dilly, a dollar, a mask full of

horse shit--skirmish after skirmish, picture after picture of the boy

ftom Naples with a bulge in his Tarzan briefs--and a gun of night plows

straight through every nightmare of the rich: the bitch who flays

your butt in dreams is the taskmistress of the Third Reich too.

Haven't we enough of this witches' brew? Like thoroughbreds

we eat our meals--give a dollar--give a shit--what's left is water lily,

the Erdgeist found in Krishnamurti, the ten-thousand halls of light

from the sheep den's mouth, to curry to our every beck and call.

Wolfsbane: Misanthropy

Oh Timon! Timoleon! Or ghost of Ahab bruising every stamen of the night:

if God only knew what fuckers held the moon in check as it pulls

out fast over my cityscape at night. Duds line up for coffee and Doritos:

Snagglepuss succumbs to the masturbatory neon light of shelter iconography:

a Wolf Paper & Twine calendar is pies of Jesus walking Galilee then

an imitation Marilyn squalling her fibrous breasts for the milk-white

multitude of stun-gun jerks who're cold-pressed by the diaper years,

hachooing at every protoplasm that singes their gawking stupid fear of baby girls,

female toddlers, pubescent teenies, young women, new mothers, seductresses

and Sphinx--hag, crone, ambassador and queen. Try to get it straight!

To hate mankind is to hate all manner of breastfeeding. The gimps that are left

at the end of the line must be my brothers--my older sister's long gone off to make

her way into Albany's nature painters' light. To purge the measles of the mind

just rub three drops of me upon your cock, you dickhead, and spin around and die.

Yew: Sorrow

You: unremembered, even on Memorial Day, and all you did to cry home freedom

for the States. At home and overseas, the Intrepid, the Inquisition, the incredible

flag-burnings, and tumblers in the Berlin Parks even before Freud and radium.

At the grass gone high at the sculpture by Maya Lin, a man I've never seen

rubs charcoal onto vellum over a name and places a lady's handful of

yew before you. Shell shock victim of the Redwood Curtain, gone

to graveyards everyone, U2 Marley and Mary and Peter and Paul,

the vets from Iraq and Somalia are jobless now, the half-tracks

plunging down John Street in Manhattan after the D-Day crowd,

jerks like him and her with T -shirts saying God Bless the D-cup Men.

The flower district's bustling once again, thanks to you (and mistletoe).

Poetry's ready to welcome in fathering arms the downfall of the TV state.

From May Day to Labor Day, all these summer months of sadness, tall

ships and tears, all a part of yew, the thrice-in-a-lifetime dictum of the soul.

Zinnia: Thoughts of Absent Friends

Even a German botanist can't call you up from the grave. All these long months

and more I keep hearing you sing dawn down too early. Even Mephisto reeks

of your crotch. Rachel and Susan and Wayne all want Thai barbecue

to those armadillo jokes. Remember the first bath, when we each were six?

Now--off in your burdock weeds and horseflesh, how you mother your child

as the man that you are deals right, while the razor's edge of the haptic world

is skewed into passion or gloomy artifice. Then again Hollywood's exiled you-I'll

be your movie queen, I'll suck those dry drinks till you die, I'll pass for

the girl you're after. Driving once and too many Rolling Rocks you brushed

me with your beard as you kissed, and nearly plummeted us to Hell Gate.

Now I break wind a hundred days at a time to see if you'll surface and have

something to sing breakfast in to. Splurge me once more--my voice is

nearly gone, the shy violets keep scaring me off. Water me first, shed

down cloud-light night-times where I can see you blister and cry, then sleep.

© 1996