A surcoat of leaves, the panoply of branches
spreading like boils, like rat infested storehouses
plagues and poxes and Khans, the skewers
of wooden fences pricking Seljuks to anger
as New Rome falters like smoke in wind,
tracing the zephyrs, conforming to the shape
the political engagement of turbidity,
a swirl of dust spun up like yarn from the hoof taps
of a thousand stampeding horsemen.
Over the plain, in the teeth of white capped hills
some horde, some golden envoy, some Tatar king
spies the walls of Muscovy lingering, low, pegged
to the soft ridge of a rolling highland, no domes,
no baptism, no Methodius, only the wooden piles for
ritual sacrifice – wine for men and flesh for women
an Animistic hypothesis, tilting quintains of
impending revelation, the spinning jabbers, the fish hooks
of an international conspiracy.
The newspapers lead with death, newspapers
what an antiquated term; in a few years will
that word be like Xerox or PC or Kleenex
as brand names slip into bland names and
the ever present marching, the tick tock of time
Captain Hook and his clock-o-diles dribbles over us
like the salacious details of a political scandal
outcome determined by the lyrical flexibility
of the leader.
Saw the morning too early, rain coming
eyes popped open, thoughts wringing
words eluded, like a rabbit fleeing
or an abbot locking his doors before a Viking raid,
my illuminated manuscript, book of Kells,
my silver golden I, curling like a bow
illustrated serpents, winged like dragons,
tongues extended unnatural long, allying
with unicorns and every disparate cryptid
a retinue of elastic demi-creatures, tangoing
caught between perplexity and communion
the friction of the heirless badger king,
maverick Swein the bully, divided lands,
a cousin returned to stir up mischief.
Natural bridge or stony portal
the eye of a needle to another world
the ridge line beckons camel archers
sharp spiny backed Atzular, Biscayan prince
in his open court, granite arch
the mossy benches resting jugglers
aluminum foil, a fencer’s purse
challenge from Bolingbroke, cast down
no Gallic parachute, only a trail
of blood and bones.
Agnostic mantilla, a laced drape of respectability
high backed pews, universal unitarian prayer book
odes to kismet and other inevitables, injustice,
war and misery, bake sales and library cards, long
darned socks and scarves, desert dwelling Inuit,
a wide white plain, featureless dead pan, the straight
to Jerry Lewis antics, a slide show Elijah, fireballs,
moths sizzling in the noonday sun, a trail of ants
coat tails to fermenting apples, rotting pine needle bed.
Smocked in burlap, mud trudging, the plop
of a dozen driven donkeys’ relief, burdened
by the peasants’ revolt, the laid out stores
of a long march, on some mystic road to Canterbury
heading in the wrong direction.
Vacating plumage, a hat trampled, noblemen absconding
along the line of crusaders, pungent with sweat
a high noon overhead, sun throbbing in the virulent heat
his bankrupt court is set to recess presently,
the hue and cry of hawkers plying revolutionary paraphernalia.
Intangible receipts, a chancery gozzle, choked
on a fetid cheese fermented in the gathered ashes
of a thousand crucified Spartans, aged with care, monitored
temperature maintained, this side of hell fire
that side of the crystal stagnation of imagined heavens.
Confraternity of vowels, hard syllabic
consonantal drift, naphthalic aspirations, breathe!
The lintel is lit with admirable qualities
horse radish in bloom, leaves bushing up
the heady days of late summer, harvest looming.
Flock of buzzards circling over midden heaps
Golgothas on the line of every horizon, the dip dip
rise, inspiring some colloquialism, some euphemism
a sexual inducement, some definition of life.
Respect for mortality, hope for eternities, the triskel
in aperture, an unexpected blending of disparate themes
discontinuous, striking, the surprise of anathema.
A meeting before sunrise to determine orthodoxy
the counsel of the waves crashing, beating, berating
shoreline yearning for jarring growth, silting, stretching
a constant struggle between opposing instances.
Later and Earlier, the hybrid now
where discontinuities jamb like windows
just before a cold blast, hail storm
ice pebbles pinging like disco
until the storm passes and we step outside
to survey the damage.
Time is an interregnum, a half step missed
twisted ankle before escape, tunnel dug
spooned evidence sifted over years, poster
signed by an olivatic, adventitious negotiation
perplexing the virtue signaling, red to yellow
hoop earrings and a bob, impractical heels for adventuring.
The practice of the discontented ad men,
Dudley Moore quip, Dennis Miller disconnect
harboring the hope of understanding in damp corners
mildewed newspaper headliners like neon under UV
bio-luminescent halcyon, the midge headed breeding
of mismatched species, neutered.
Pull out bleachers shiver like a fault line
horn section plays the community jam
sweat stains mar ill fit suits, ties lolling
beading like July on an ice chest.
Thump, thump up and down, scores flashing
nails bitten, teeth gnashing
desperate partisans like Luther versus Zwingli
counting heads and tickets to heaven’s parade.
And the trumpets sounded, baptists spoke in tongues
dangled snakes like pentecostals dancing over flames
and the Mormon planetary brigade held no sway
when sports are religion, joy and sorrow are points away.
The red Chi, the black letters gold trimmed
snakes in a night market cage, slithering
smell of smoke and crowded stalls, old and new
astrologers and monks, slips of paper
sapphron spiderwebs entrapping bubble tea
aficionados, hurtling toward faith crises
the easy afternoon monsoons, fifty days of rain
the succulence of long spent afternoons plotting
clownish antics, bending palms banging typhoon drums
as stone lions with rigid expressions laugh
at the ever changing world, ridged roofs guarding
ancient bones, incense sticks and spinning wheels
the worst nightmares of a Jungian climax
the paradox of human imaginations,
of infinities and platitudes, of beyonds and underneaths
of Alice and her rabbit and monkey brains
serpents and jaguars and nibbling cognizance
self-recognition of kittens slowly licking paws.
Through the links, the postcard image
Humvees and new recruits guarding carnage,
the purple petaled liquor of spilling blood
our Molech’s sacrifice, our god of the dead
the trembling mountain of a law giver
glinting knife of a patriarch raised,
facing his test, not expecting redemption.
Girded for battle, Joshua and his horns
the lapping water of Gideon’s lamp bearers
Judith lofting Holofernes’ head, triumphant
as the camp’s deserters fled north and south
no Napoleon rising to mete out punishment
consequence for impenitent lovers, quarrels
with the lengths of the hours and days of creation.
All the old questions get asked again.
And again. And again.
Slate gray skies, cloudy morning
in the navy yard, bucking battleships
ballasted by a hundred sleeping sailors
missing the hallelujah horn, morning reverie
the whistling siren of Atlantic winds
funneled by Potomac hostlers parking pintos,
as Ralph Nader nibbles muesli and reads the Times.
Long chained anchor, porcupine quill in the bay’s back
a Lilliputian dirge set in the key of Kazoo
drizzled honey cakes sampled by submariners,
crumbs stowed in torpedo tubes as Nemo
delivers inspired speeches, turtleneck turned up
captain’s hat pressed on Neptune’s ceiling
as he pirouettes demonstratively, gesticulating.
On the bull moose stump, pounding
fist raised, voice raised, bellowing
the cause left behind like a war
peace time agitators sinking ships
an alcoholic stupor during prohibition
speak easy swill spilling on mechanical bars.
Green light speeder chasing, cycles
burlap waves, slurping, sloughing, snake’s skin
miasmic trench line horror, hallowed
in the green halls, old gods diminished
splintered into pre-Raphaelite fragments, shivs
for slaves bursting free of mythic chains.
Is that all you got, old liners, old timers
baths and babies, fetid water breeding Zika
Rio cancels its Olympiad, Laertes sports his deltoid
bravery, pouring hot sauce in inspired flagons
insipid, euthanasia by ambrosia, a sip
a swig, a modern beverage for forgetters.
There in the dusty corner, twelve string guitar
pin-pricked, pearl shimmering like a Sunday shines
in the house of flat carpets and concrete porches
and the film drip of your black and white studio
manufacturing memories, a loner loving, it’s hard
to reconcile the borderlands you maintained then, the
Edwardian marcher lord’s castles, banners waving
gonfallon’s drooping, welcoming the brave princes
and princesses into the porcelain backwater, the
singular place you held, the last fortress against
the padding feet, the dad cave.
It could have been a land of wonder,
a world of awe. Perhaps it was.
My mesmer, canton bristling in the courtyard
weathered graven rumors of past lives,
floral arrangements eliding, eclipsing, a phrase
superimposed on every long hour of breathing
of eating, a succotash of brisk colors clamoring
like the chequy flag of a minor noble house, parading
in the wintry garden, flowers souring, rusty bullets
the Dada hammer of a flintlock rebel, barrel splintered.
There is no audience, no congregation, no witness-
no seal but saints or angels and the subtle spin states
of electrons, plying their entropic gospel.
Cordoned off my heart, a whisper
autumn winds swirling cracked leaves
reds and oranges and yellows
the damp smells of a winter prophesied
heavy gray clouds spilling tears
wet and fat and heavy.
Uneven drive, rutted by frost heaves
and knobbed roots from an ugly pear tree
elegant for a week a year,
but otherwise wearing the figure
of an anorexic, bony and lean
with an antipathy toward reason.
Wheel broke, mid-escape, maddening
a dented shin guard, foot impresed
evidence for an arraignment, uncivil
plentiful agitation, cursing every god
an animated torrent of blasphemies
indirect and solving nothing.