A silent fibbing moonlight washes Distorted shadows of the dissenting sun Over each snow-molested branch and bush Arranged outside with a congregation's grace For the terminal minutes of our love-embrace Happening behind an unrolled windowsash. You had wanted to hurt me, and did. Truth was my only tribulation. Your hands hung, inert and underfed, Along the sofa's arms, overstuffed and wan, Resisting the reconciliation of my touch - And you pulled away, besides, your face, Quick and moonlike, from my near face Hurrying forward in a rudimentary rush That had so often sought the complexity of bed. Truth was my only tribulation. It was then, snowbound and alone, you had said Words that made all things one And useless, in the gelid December hush Whose winds diminished to a sparse trace In the outer emptiness I could not face, Too full of the moon's pale refracted crush. I don't know how all this roomy dark occurred. Truth is my only tribulation.
Winter's never here at the fountain Whose waters' liveliness seems a warm And open candor. Things are but things and do as they must: As in the fountain's pallorous spangling forever Heaviness and light contest. Beyond the torus of its halo The summery waters' motions endeavor, With the tear-bright dignity of an eye in agony, To show how lightly may a substance go An afflatus of divinity. All things to their opposite use Tortured, as when this lithesome watercourse Was narrowed from easy murmur into gladdened sound, Reveal some laden tale of their earthly course Returning to their source. As when like tears to ground we streak And the opened waters that accompany burial Flow in broken speech, so the startled water, at its arc Interpenetrate of scattered light, torridly tumbles All rainbows to one stone bowl. Something had sung up From the dark watered words summoned to console Bodied brightness; as when we ourselves, by a terrible pity pul- Led vocal from the womb, tighten and squall To give creation's own Cry to the beautiful.
Tired of the afternoon, too tired to rest, a crooked dropping spider made herself my guest, dispossessed of the wood over which she'd labored wispily uniting the crooked scrap lengths of pine by busy inner habit for a length of time. Unwitting where she was, she knew no reason to rest here out of season. No reason.... Though with no reason myself among the rest, I dare endure my time as long as any guest; ignorant of Sisyphus, she had no sense of labor, tying and untying her crooked knots of pine. Reason's only reason in the absurdity of time. With sly and candid step, each time each time, a spider will weight a grassblade for her reasons until the toppling tip on earth must have its rest where busy man himself is a busy guest by dint of crooked reason and crooked labor. Too tired to rest, wherever here is, I pine for bed. Each crooked plank was chopped from pine; I lie and contemplate the length of time Granddad who'd taught me hewed his reasons, laboring and loving busily that I might rest somewhere on Earth an honored guest. And here again the dropping spider took up her labors, surprising me upon the crooked wood I labor. I watched her threaded progress along the pine desktop chopped from scraps of time when Granddad himself had thought his reasons for cutting and hewing had been laid to rest. Busily I contemplate my busy guest. Absurd, I think, how the length of time we're guests Shrinks, and crook my wood portrait while she labors, going awkwardly on against the lengths of pine as if it were no labor to labor all her time. If reasons she kept, she kept them her own reasons as we carved the scraps of day to silent rest. Tired in my crooked dreams of tired day's length of tired time, I hear my angry Mentors demand and reason; I labor, labor, labor on my portrait without rest.
Beyond the serious torches of several cypress trees, The dusty chirrup chirrup of militant cicadas, The noble solitude of a solid lonely oak Clattering his leaves at the sun over a bleached field That balanced his high growth by spreading out, Desert-like and hot at noon, and all afternoon Until the evening made them equal sharers Of one shade, a blackness welled up from the root. Beyond all this, beyond the blushing bluish grasses And inner darkness of some evergreens out right, I thought to see what seemed from the county road A sweet hilarious patch of beech, tittering Among more sober rowans, and walked on Farther than I had thought at first to do. A forest darkness hustled, a coat atop my coat. And so I came upon a late-flowering bush Hidden deeper in among more doubtful darks, Taller and elder, more august and up high. It was way out of season, much too too late, Yet full of hopeful blossom regardless Of the season's clock; it kept its time its own-- Before the long sharpness of the frost that tapered In shadows till midday, it held its whites aloft. The flowering bush was a thing itself, alone, Clotted with milky flowers as large as fists As if to claim a space among the harder barks, As a child will feel more brave at midnight, Startled from a nightmare, to smile in the dark, Or as a father walks twice round and round A house, for proof he really has a home. The flowers asked for bees that would not come To so shaded an interior, whose buzzed instincts Could not guess to lead them there, too far From the sugary buttercups and tigerlilies of the field; The bees were busy with their honeys and their hives, Too industrious to bother with this thing alone. I wondered what had made the seed drop here All those years ago when this bush first pipped. Had some panicked thrush raced bewildered through the thick, Or been carried dead by some hawk, and dropped? How had the seed, which loved the sun, found Filtered light to endure, in the coolness all about? Had some tree burned out and a dormant seed Been sprung, hot from its casing, into germination? I'd known an odd old fellow who had not Half begun to sing until he was half past eighty, And his voice as awful as an old phonograph; But still he sung, and mostly pleased himself of late, And showed the lyric shavings of sharpened wit To any too-curious; those words were his fists. Above us all in the little clearing, the dull touch Of a near cloud's inner-lighted immanence Broadened into mystery over man and bush. Something happened then, I did not know How much until years afterward had stretched My roots into some new dark flowing underneath. But then, I did not know what I would become, And, never having intended to be there once at all, And having forgotten all about the patch of beech That had first sent me off into the dark, I shook my head at the flowering bush and took off.
It's wondrous easy some days to guess What at last we are and what's happiness. Yet these inscrutable questions duly observe Both the face of the question and the hidden obverse. What do we know but that knit intuition Pearls the stitches of mere superstition When sacred instinct's emergent pattern comes Divulging phantoms of what we might become? There's no simple time in which to simply be; Time's a dark palimpsest of what we can see: Squaring the past with our parochial acre of here, Or inferring a fictional future from fanciful history. Flip, stitch, or analysis: we guess as we must, Surprise ourselves, and end as dust.
A psyche's inscape's treacherous, As alive with dangers as with bliss; The purple outcrop of a mental rock Cripples the supple Muse and mocks. Caught between imagination and the dream The mind's barriers dissolve at the seams; The motivating carnivals of lurid emotions Cycles us like actors thru smoky memories and scenes. Here we're running, running on the borderline Half-unaware of the tailored baggage we've brought, Half-amnesiac about the burdens dropped, Drunk on our own lucubrant blood like wine. Blindfolded eyes foretell dark prophecies When we cannot see that we cannot see.
Beyond the paper moon and past the plastic stars Lurks a lump or troubled wisp of what we really are. Behind the pantaloon, the canvas and the grease, beside the green stage door Lingers a loveable stranger whose tenor urges us to "more." Although the lights are out, are out and the set's gone burning down Still we ache to traipse the stage and immortalize the clown. The grave is but a keyhole and we ourselves the key That into clay or on to flame abide Eternity.
Beyond the bland suspension of a moment (still and queer and empty) We sip our tea and take our toast drained of life and envy. A drunken angel at a harpsichord suspends upon a cigarette Some tattooed prayer of the Lord, some blank mystery as yet. An opal in a teardrop confers what grief would keep; Purpure absolution drops in gutters at your feet. Starlight in a candle reddens the intruding hand, Restless on the icy mantle where Life makes no demands.
Come with me, love, beside the oaken bole We'll watch the finch dance in the waterhole. Old blind men get their comeuppance Whenever a loving two become What's commonly called a one; Only unlovers sit on the fence. Come with me, love, behind the hill Where the geese hold court on the croquet field. Look at the terrible virginity of the snow! Whatever is the matter? We'll get the geese to scatter; Only the unmoved won't go where's to go. Come with me, love, uncomb your cares, Mother and father are no longer here. Take this white ribbon, take it and tie The wildness of your black hair, The wrongness of your despair: Only take my white crossed hands till I die. Come with me, love, into the sun, We'll dare what they daren't when we are one. Let the old man's finch and the old man's goose Run to ruin and devolve to havoc; We'll burn the prison and break the locks And like the moon in water let happiness loose.
Stars and sand assault the sight chafeing what should charm-- cloudy, angry-- a spirit's irritants-- until the kiln of God's great unmated hand closes close and fuses them opinionless as glass.