Category Archives: Poetry

The Kindly Ones, Thou False Oaf

i.

The kindly ones await you
with furious patience

graciously weep for you
tears of blood

rivulets of corrosion
gnawed into their cheeks.

Brushing the snakes
out of their eyes

they pull tight
the twitch and flex of leather

of wing
of scourge

pull tight
raw hide weave

on the shining
bronze
studs.

ii.

The wrathful lordosis
of flanks

blacker than black
unvexed nightmares

thighs unmoved
but not slow

banks
of low coals

snatches of pale fire
gelid coils

of unhymned lightning
the terrible

swift soar
and lash

too kind to be kith
cold to be kin

implicates
the infold
of cruel fates

infer below thou
false oaf.

Steal This Meme: So Comfortable, Very Smart

trump wwi crosses so comfortable very smart

Trump, the Twitter certified @realDonaldTrump, called a travel lid today. That means he didn’t leave the White House. He was very busy tweeting. He did no honor to veterans, to the people of this country, or any one else today, but at least he didn’t wasn’t lying while standing in front of the Tomb of the Unknowns in Arlington National Cemetery.

tomb of the unknown inscription crop twk

HONORED GLORY

Here, lies are solemn.

Here, lies are told
in the cadence of boot heels ringing on stone,
in the snap of a bolt shooting home
in the breech of a polished rifle, held at port arms
in white gloved hands.

Here, we fold our flag
and tell ourselves
the soldier died bravely
in a just cause.

Dead men cannot lie.
Here, all causes are lost.

Here, the living let stones tell the lies
the dead cannot.
To sooth sore hearts, tales are told
of glory in battle,
and courage under fire.

Here, the paths of glory
discolor marble
a shade of brown like dried blood
scuffed into the paving stones
by the slow turn
and turnabout march
of the Guard of Honor
in roped off sacred ground
in front of the Tomb of the Unknown.

Here, lies are told by Presidents and generals.
Here, chiseled stone names no names.
Here, the truth lies sleeping under stone.

Under lies, the truth rests,
but not in peace.
The dead have chisels that cut the heart.

Poem: The Rain falls in Belleau Wood

belleau wood fresh graves

The rain falls in Belleau Wood
Birds fall dead from a sky of fire in California
The President’s helicopter is afraid to fly
The Presidential motorcade refuses to leave Paris
The President is watching Fox News and tweeting it
from his Presidential suite and cannot hear
the silence
of the eleventh hour
of the eleventh day
of the eleventh month
the silence of the guns
the silence of the dead
The rain falls in Belleau Wood
but nobody can hear it
because the President’s umbrella won’t open
to catch the drumming of tears
because the President’s helicopter is afraid to fly
because the Presidential motorcade refuses
to drive from Paris
The rain falls on Belleau Wood
but it really isn’t
the wreaths are dry
birds fall from a sky on fire
ghost rain plays taps on soldiers’ graves
The President is watching Fox News and tweeting it
from his Presidential suite in Paris and cannot hear
the silence of it
Tell the poppies still blowing in Flanders fields
The President isn’t coming.

Via NBC: Trump cancels visit to Belleau cemetery due to bad weather, creates storm.

Grendel’s Laundry List: Fling Out Broad / For That I Came

As kingfishers catch fire, dragonflies draw flame;
As tumbled over rim in roundy wells
Stones ring; like each tucked string tells, each hung bell’s
Bow swung finds tongue to fling out broad its name;
Each mortal thing does one thing and the same:
Deals out that being indoors each one dwells;
Selves — goes itself; myself it speaks and spells,
Crying Whát I dó is me: for that I came.

Gerard Manley Hopkins

As a rule those who were least remarkable for intelligence showed the greater powers of survival. Such people recognized their own deficiencies and the superior intelligence of their opponents; fearing that they might lose a debate or find themselves out-maneuvered in intrigue by their quick-witted enemies, they boldly launched straight into action; while their opponents, overconfident in the belief that they would see what was happening in advance, and not thinking it necessary to seize by force what they could secure by policy, were the more easily destroyed because they were off their guard.

Thucydides, History of the Peloponnesian War

The happy ending is justly scorned as a misrepresentation; for the world, as we know it, as we have seen it, yields but one ending; death, disintegration, dismemberment, and the crucifixion of our heart with the passing of the forms which we have loved.

This death to the logic of emotional commitments of our chance moment in the world of space and time, this recognition of, the shift of our emphasis to, the universal life that throbs and celebrates its victory in the very kiss of our own annihilation, this amor fati, “love of fate,” love of the fate that is inevitably death, constitutes the experience of the tragic art…

Joseph Campbell, Masks of God vol. 4: Creative Mythology

Hegel remarks somewhere that all great world-historic facts and personages appear, so to speak, twice. He forgot to add: the first time as tragedy, the second time as farce.

Karl Marx, The Eighteenth Brumaire of Louis Napoleon

The Zero at the Stop of Feel

sweat skin2 flip tint ort lomo twk tilt warm sat 60s

 

She carried the night on her skin
sweat beaded and strung

Van Gogh stars resolved into Mandelbrot sets
on the swerve of her hip

the gravity of her dark matter lensing
the must of antique light

across eons the ache
of that curve

printed in whorls on my fingertips
which were blind

before they sipped
the math of her

the inescapable vessel
of her topology

closed and boundary-free
the one and only surface

the zero
at the stop of feel.

Unjust Venn Diagram of Confessional Poets

venn diagram yay for pedants

The ones whose open mouths
are unhealed wounds.

The ones whose closed mouths are healed scars
pulled together over wet soft void.

The ones whose words are spelled in pointillist
splatter awaiting forensic specialists.

The ones whose verses are pantomimes of ink
on paper, serif pixels on a screen.

The ones who juggle the slices of pie
dripping ichor, slinging off little chunks of minced muse.

The ones  who use an app to create
the diagram, to include themselves in, the other ones out.

The ones who mourn their lost spirographs
with which they transcribed the music of the spheres.

A Dickey Cento: A Woman Comes True

dickey with life mask twk crop2 shad2James Dickey

A Woman Comes True

I kneel in the quick of the moon.
Inside the one flame of that stone,
the stone held in air by my heartbeat,
the dead have their chance in my body.

In a sickness of moonlight and patience,
in a motion long buried in water,
my nearly dead power to pray
mimes the hypnotized language of beasts.

A tremendous, suffusing,
open shadow of gold,
from the iron depths of cold water,
a woman comes true.

The fear-killing moves of her body,
fabulous, rigid, eternal,
with the timing of rust,
stops the gaunt turning of metal.

In a sovereign floating of joy,
in the pale, risen ghosts of deep rivers,
in the purest fear on earth,
How can she come, but in glory?

James Dickey is remembered,  if he is remembered at all in these latter days, for writing the novel Deliverance, on which a memorable movie of the same name was based, but Dickey was primarily a poet. The collage poem or cento The Woman Comes True is made of lines mined from his Poems 1957-1967.

My copy of the Dickey book is stamped NO LONGER THE PROPERTY OF DENVER PUBLIC LIBRARY which means I probably bought it at Capital Hill Books on the corner of Colfax and Grant St. in Denver sometime in the late eighties or early nineties. Somehow it’s survived all the moves I’ve made since then. Having quilted Dickey’s lines into my own piece, I feel rather like a small bird who has furnished his nest with feathers stolen, somehow, from a particularly large and a grumpy raven. My eyes are on the sky, scanning for a black silhouette.