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FROMThe Needle's Eye (a sequence of 4)
But Mr. Jones

But Mr. Jones has got some trenchant points.
Precision is invention’s final test
regardless how necessity anoints.
Defeating torpor also means the best
of strategies employed, the most
inclusion of the birth, and Day of Rest.
And this just in from Jones: This evening’s host
now broadcasts from his Desert Father’s chest
the lub-dub proof his domicile’s a cave.
Expounding Guido Cavalcanti at
the Eiffel Tower, troubadours the rave,
he’d flown into my room, a frantic bat.
Precision is finesse in nailing things
that move like targets borne on angel wings.

Things Polyphonic

He’d crashed their party, back before the war,
in London of the dueling manifestos.
Direct treatment of “the thing” was something more
than cabinet maker’s chitchat as the shops close.
It was a mystic creed between H.D.
and Aldington. Discussing it brought strength
to hone the revelations (with an earnest plea)
erecting wet, black boughs of various length
for city halls. They honed toward classic lilt.
And Amy Lowell, Madam Kairos herself,
was overflowing chalice till it spilt.
(If I’d been there.) Jones, the one whose shelf
has wealth of memories, seems somehow bereft.
Things polyphonic dawn like happy theft.

A Quest

I, of course, am holding out for grand
revival of Pre-Raphaelite works. I’ll call
it Post-Raphaelite. Original as sand.
For me “the image,” yes of course, is all,
that quiet complex piercing with no sign
to warn us, only gasp. Oh yes. But when
does more than spareness not come here and dine?
When does quest turn guns of treatment again
toward everything? But on, direct to Thing!
The only thing worth knowing seems so strange.
It’s the only thing worth having. Here’s a ring.
Humble gift, Post-Raphaelite flourish, arrange
the furniture as you like. It’s not abstract.
It’s Thing Kong top of Empire State, last act.


You’d like to volunteer to go to Mars.
They’re planning the first launching as we speak.
While shuffling up in basements, future scars
announced themselves inheriting the meek.
But Mars for life, a colonist on land
as bleak as mind allows, is lunacy.
Two moons are really more than you can stand.
Already preparation is the key
that rules the day and night. So why rely
for breath on constant wild consistency?
You posit home as no more orbits, try
to see yourself as Martians need to see.
But orbits are the floor show booked for here,
this anywhere you go, this world so dear.

FROM In Whom Is My Delight

"My Clock Died" (Honorable Mention: 2015 Utmost Christian Poetry Contest) is one of nine poems of equal length comprising a poem sequence titled "Stooped In My Brain's Amygdala," and it tells a William Blake-like tale with characters like Sorrowful Jones and Madame Kairos, referred to in the poem, visiting the narrator in spectral form. The work as a whole, all nine poems, is intended as a fresh look at our fallen human condition and the redemption in Christ that lurks everywhere and always. http://www.utmostchristianwriters.com/gallery/gallery522.php

My Clock Died

My clock died right around the time they fixed my starter.
The fact that speed has a limit in that possessed by light,
it turns out that time has a limit, a quantifiable minimum unit
and a maximum edge along which only God can see
the follicles growing on its rounded surface waving hosannas.

My breaks are starting to slip and the radio's on the blink.
Sorrowful Jones thinks he can hear the rustle of time's surface
as it bends with the curve of space, a kind of midair mating
of duration and distance while I dodge potholes in Norristown.
He always gets the best assignments. I get to call the tow truck.

And so it has always been for such as I, no northern lights
to while away the nights, no phantom deer to feed from my hand,
no secret code to break lest civilization crumple like a box.
I talk with Sorrowful less frequently now, but his transmissions
persist. He is the man most likely broken by Madame Kairos.

His data is flawless. His interpretation is matchless. A marked man.
She prefers covert operations that have tangible democratic results.
She'd call it leadership. He, ever the king-maker, cannot lead.
If he leads, it is by his sheer pitifulness that the tribes somehow unite.
This is no Cochise waiting in ambush, living at altitude,

living and breeding among the ancestral rocks that tell tales.
She has put a contract out on him whose candor had cost lives.
Now Sorrowful is going to have to learn how to be Cochise,
this time on the lam for real, asphalt jungle and sudden
taxi rides to out of state, the usual film noir, if you please.

It won't take long for him to get cornered. His radio waves
leave doubt that what we read is not on an automatic loop.
Which means that he might already be dead, or held somewhere
enduring water-boarding and sensory deprivation, or may
be in God's own witness protection program called Church.

"The Shepherd's Shape" is one of 17 Sonnets to the Body in the poem sequence, The Garden of the Moon.

The Shepherd's Shape

You’ll know it by imperviance to theme
that is not locked into The Holy Rock.
More than nascent form, like Peter’s dream,
it’s the shepherd’s shape among the flock.
The only theme is faithfulness to Real
and Presence that is lovelorn rhyme
and reason, gymnast, making its appeal,
the marriage of eternity and time.
That sculpture should be known as something fast
may strain credulity unless you know
its rule is less for measure than for last
impassioned pleas to never have to go.
The cup we share in monumental theme
is bodily thrust into a dusty scheme.

FROM Ghostship Dream Sinking (Part 1)

She spoke the word “catalyst”
in her sleep. Heat prostration,
or some such, got to her. One foot
hit the floor, and she points at you.
A wounded pigeon, she said, is perched
in the chicken coop. Reno vistas are
complete. It all seemed prophetic.
Snow is in the mountains. The eggs
scarce. Coyotes lurk. Weeds beckon.
Her list of things to do is mounting
with each ghostship dream sinking.
The cold, or some such, swept her erect.
Even the moon was humming deep
in its REM immobile solitude.


The sun was a gleaming helmet
tucked behind a fortress wall.
I was a man straddling a deck chair
welcoming the dawn of night.
Ringside, aiming my ocular lenses,
I was counting on global twist.
I wanted to scare up progress.
I wanted to spit out beams of light.
I wanted to give away that singular
oceanic claim, my alleged albatross.
See with what appetite Pacific waves
swallow all signs of real authority.
Helmet dissolves into French fries
and dips into horizon’s neon catsup.


Somewhere a truck signals backing up.
Otherwise, silence. No, there is the faint
ubiquitous hum of traffic. Look sharp,
and through those trees, along the foothills
of mountain fastness, tiny cars stream by.
Otherwise, silence. No, hear the click
of canine toes on brick, or feline whine
from bottomless need. And the chickens
pawing the ground for their version of gold.
Otherwise, the cloudless sky is silent.
Or it speaks in code about the idea of it.
Everything on earth is just coded data
destined for either commercial cloud
or a deeply private idea of home.


Yes, another lost art. Shifting gears
joins, say, “conversation” on the pile
of postmodern cargo-cult obsolescence.
All transitions now claim algorithmic
fatalism. Moments of truth, like the plaintive
notes intoned with each acceleration,
(each challenge to inertia making music)
go unheard. The chance Magnificat is missed.
The intro to a requiem—for angels alone.
Where are the Henry Fords and wizards
of finance, the Edisons, those who would trap
and then market such serendipity, who sojourn
until lost in rapture and found in concert,
who prize the worthless transmission’s psalm?


It is the dark room of punishment and lies.
Hell, that is. Sleep is too often such a
dark room. There should be legislation
that addresses our twisted unconscious.
Percy Shelly, esteemed Romantic poet,
wrote that poetry was the mind’s best hygiene.
His “legislation” was to outlaw cruelty.
Mental cruelty. Anti-sympathy. Dead
on arrival of course, though admirably ambitious.
Rapper Kanye West is closer to bull’s-eye:
Admirable King Jesus as law incarnate,
not law imposed. The sister pointing
your way declares you the wounded pigeon.
She takes a torch into the dark chicken coop.

FROM Blue Heron Rising
Tadpoles (Mine Umbra collection)

"Tadpoles, eyes bulging, can barely find their way . . . "
She reads to him of his beloved natural wonders,
every detail of the process as fascinating as any story.
He stops her to argue the theory of gravitational forces.
He daily makes replicas of crustaceans with his flexi-blocks
and his favorite Christmas gift was a dinosaur skeleton
you wind up, and it walks, inching as if heading upstream
where spawning and dying lay down together.
Yesterday he identified the slide into the next epoch.
It was the moment of seeing the great blue heron
winging out of the creek, almost weary, lugging its
magnificent blueness and beak and scrawny legs.
Seeing this, we both knew the hunger for information
from now on would be the guiding spirit of our world.

A Single Pearl (Part III)

It flows by, this dark light into souls,
this Delaware River, mumbling
fearful pillow talk of campaigns in peril
and hopes soon dashed,
General George whispering to Martha
and pleading with Congress.
My Martha sees only the rescue of
Tibet and its recondite sacraments.
I see only Hessians closing on
my tattered ranks, impending pillory.
We plan from separate screens
with different 3-D glasses, beyond
conventional properties of intimacy,
delivering distance conceptualized.
For now, we measure our steps
and compose classification contracts.
But the great and terrible day is coming
when human contracts shred.
Only our darkest lights will put together Humpty world
on D-Day.

Only Russians Love Their Country

(part of a 5-poem sequence called Coincidence Becomes a Room)

he said he loves his country
this American called my father said it ardently
and I said, only Russians love their country, what we
know about loving one’s country
wouldn’t fill the first five chapters of Exodus
what he calls country
is the abstract notion of peasanthood with dignity
the illusion of every man a czar
and he called me American
and I called myself my father’s son
our personhood, he said, you
cling to it as much as I, and I said, “Russians
are persons who cling to poetry”
we met in poetry
the way Russians meet, with tears of endless loss
the concrete notion of peasanthood with dignity crept over us

Only Russians Love Their Country

When she sings, you’re back in your cradle
reveling in how loss and hope can chime
with perfect blend in sleep’s shadows.

Swaddled is a boon for the rich in mulch.
To know yourself as seed deposited
amid an anthem of harvest, or dirge

that claims a catastrophe you earned,
both bring solace in nakedness.
She promises no future grand tuxedo.

The puzzling sight of masks designed
to stimulate a clutch still dangles,
now ignored within her lullaby.

Sweet intuition flinches from use,
from sheer utility, and meaning
floats the boat of founding research.

The Drift

Tuxedo goose-steps on old newsreels
sunk in Adolf’s empire-style graphics
realized in actual film, hailing studs.

Emotiveness is slime on useful shafts.
Bow tie straps the neck with greedy hands.
Publishers Clearing House has found you.

The drift as History Channel plays
is loss of consciousness called sleep.
But in that netherness, a land is known.

In this world cruel masquerade is fun,
or maybe code for some internal school
that only goatherds could decode.

Characters are filing past the camera,
Lockean and Kantian, locked arms
of Rousseau and Adam Smith singing.


Westerns are sleeping’s best screen.
The dialogue is always rooted firm
in archetypes. No deciphered script

is needed for the tango sleep demands.
Other films explode to wake the dead
punctuating some seductive quiet calm.

Nightmares are born in storms like these.
Westerns, yes, the shootout comes
and desperate hand to hand is read

inside friend Freud’s laboratory.
But it reads with odd harmony.
Don Quixote is taken seriously here.

The challenge is met in real time
within your dream. The dragon
has not yet lost its Eden legs.