from An Apogee

The wanderer’s heart pregnant with starlight.
Silver dome, cast your tidings
‘til my troubles are no more,
‘til my troubles are no more.
Silver starlight, cast your tidings
‘til my troubles are no more.

They spoke of you in Bethlehem
Godhead condensed
and we have followed after.
The prayer wheels red and gold
the candlelights
of home no longer
and that which is home
is alien, these foreigners with their
and who I am
is one of them.

The pyroclasm of the flower field.
Were the isles here not less propitious,
one surmises a bounty greater.
But the scientists say otherwise,
and if poets are right, the dead are happiest of all.

I imagined a wisewoman here,
holed up somewhere in the mallow
in a stone hut of yesteryear,
procuring herbal remedies.
Not superstitious, but knowing of the earth
a cure for man; and of the heavens,
a cure again. Supposing by age deferred
her hope of youth to death;
if soil may speak, in death
flowers bloom again.
And youth is wasted on the young.
A virgin in the astral sea, she has
contemned the croon with her vacant gaze
that stares out into galactic spaces
to bring back the knowledge of no afterlife.
Arresting form, she has by the disrespect
of ancestry supplanted all paternal runes
with an empty cross.

Ah, one thinks a native instinct
subsisting on clams and sea-things
would not regard the shallows
with wonder devoid of praise;
or if praise not, wonder!
But one knows too much.
Here are lagoons fit for the microscopic eye
of that seerlike age that plays with toadstools;
here tidepools grow and vanish with each
moon-enchanted wave.
Jude and Heather
lost together
in a place I cannot find.
I will leave my platitudes among the grove-flowers.
Come here.
Teach me the truth.

It all must give to coffee-mugs
and the abrasive, if not familiar
croon of the five-inch telepathic screen.
The artificial sun is on; it was a dream.
The islands live only here
in collective forgetfulness.
What was I saying?
There was a note about tomorrow,
postcards, faxes, some client called Daria
who was not pleased with my marginalia;
postcards, faxes, Times New Roman,
kerning, kerning, kerning, kerning,
hyperdrafts, serif heads,
circumlocution of the office crowd,
greasy benches, the sprawling alliteration
defused by abbreviation.
appt. 10 AM. ICDK

There was a man in Newfoundland
with wiry hair and grubby paws
who stoked a black-and-amber log
and watched the faeries dance.

fire and steel

The vigor, and the poetry
of stone-on-stone, the groaning
metallic locomotion
summoned me to the smithy,
and he, with knowing glance,
transfixed my stupid age
with a show of fireworks.
From one society to another
my aspirations lifted,
and I thought metallurgy
the most salubrious poetry.
But injured soon, as all infantine,
the bellowings and firestorms
reduced me to my household society.

Supposing fire is succession.
Comes the ore-man, breeds hell with ore;
by fire distils iron from dirt.
Again, again, again
the white and crimson streaks
the burning acrid lake
a most terrible fixation
the a la mode libation
circumspect and heedless
again, again, again
the frothing at the mouth
of cauldrons digesting steel
again again again
comes the ore-man, breeds hell with ore;
by fire distils iron from dirt.

A distant frame is visible here
over canyons of the subarctic hamlet,
the aching of some leaded winter
where glass-saints petrified
direct the future retrospect.
In this chapel a man, whose verses
scrawled in limestone dedication
anchorites have seen, talks
basely of the amaranthine.
Can subterfuge afford insight,
the babbling lisp of some farmhand
irradiate the interminable?
Consummate comminglings of that
homo erectus to God stretched.
And on the Gothic windowframes,
elaborate the grand tradition
of aspirations to the Devouring,
parentage incandescent.
In winter here the scrawlings are pronounced;
redolent the scrapbook with every mystery
violent in grasping the sempiternal.
The hermitage underscored only by docility,
the docility which breeds pliancy
to the divine word. Out comes
torrents of ecstasy, effulgations
of the man-in-Godhead, the paraclete
pyrolysis of mankind; the dark abiding
fire of purgation; sky and hell;
death and water; birth and renunciation
of the natural instinct.
So where he turns he is not idle,
insipid as he feels, but resurrects the aged,
inters the prime, cancels hoary transactions,
and laughs at death and Hell generally.
Certain, by their feebleness he has restored
unto them estate; and by deficiency
has he made the deficient to be abased,
but what of dark innocence, to self blind,
overcome by that innocence truly.

How jarring, then, when comes the blackness
that is God, and that which I thought burning
is not burning,
and what I thought was burning
is not burnt.

fire and steel

And we have all to pay with yesterday’s man
for the present grief, brothers of fire,
for the scenes we love
are purchased by fire.
“Ye shall walk through the fire
and not be burnt.
Ye shall pass through the deep,
and it shall not overflow.”
Should virtue, that imperishable ore,
be handled as though dross, wont to faint?
Sooth and sage, son or daughter,
how do you make holy water?
You burn the hell out of it.


In the hand divine that traced out the apogee
and caused the zenith to fall on Bethlehem
a lonely transit falls.
The boreal wanderers
those who see the green-and-purple sky snakes
wonder at isolation in a world so immediate
that that which is called conscience
is the conglomerate, the immediate connubial drive,
the beastly urge to stay alive.
These, divested of modern enlightenments
by an abandonment in the pine groves,
have somewhat found their way to Eden;
and we will not hear them,
for delicacy even. These amble in prehistory;
to the informed, mere exhibition,
yet in that communal age.
We yet are scrolling through the page.
Fingers of that mammoth dawn
arrested in collective thought
have aligned our fancy to build sky towers;
and we have union, if only to look on over
the wooded hominids whose parish arch
yet assumes prominence.
But ours is greater agony:
they have found Gethsemane.

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