Strokes

 [Poetry], The Timid Leaper  Comments Off on Strokes
Aug 312011
 

Clear-headed time at a touch
Shows all too much.

The resentful body grows old;
Youth and strength have gone
Disgraced from the stage.
Vague as a notion,
The room swims into view;
Dawn stutters into motion.

Time has done to you
Things time shouldn't do.

An old man stares out
From an oval steel mirror,
Your face in one clout
The face of a stranger:
Cataract-eyed, his blind
Grip gone round a razor.

Come with me, Love

 [Poetry], The Sword Inside  Comments Off on Come with me, Love
Aug 292011
 

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.


Disturb the Eagles’ Nest

 [Poetry], Burning Byzantium  Comments Off on Disturb the Eagles’ Nest
Aug 272011
 

Blasted rocks and an old warped tree
Lift above a still spot of the sea
As though some vague hand had painted them;
A little back from the verge,
A step or two back from the verge,
And compelled by a strong salt wind,
A clanging ear and troubled eye
A battered head without a tooth,
Rags and crutch and old broken bones---
All that wreck which I call myself,
Having climbed an unaccustomed stair
In a changing state of mind
Or with a bewildered mind,
And revealed to the weather 
On the promontory,
Stood shaken by a vision.

A burning woman and a man
In Quattrocento gesture struck
Above the bed where all began;
Half-risen above the multitudinous sea
Above the tangled branches of the yew,
Their abstract bodies are not mixed
With commoner dirt, nor sullied by a cut
Thought of sin or guilt begot.
Is that sweetest skin, ghostly there,
Half human still or all celestial?
World-engendering Pythagoras
Stalked Heaven and never took a bride.
---O all that golden multitude
Had clarity to unpuzzle it. I,
A skittish old man upon a rock,
With a mouthful of rue
With a slippery crutch on a rock
And reeling backwards in a fright
Am blinded by the unbearable light.

An Old Man’s Hawk

 [Poetry], Burning Byzantium  Comments Off on An Old Man’s Hawk
Aug 272011
 

An old man raving picks up sticks, vitally erased
Under mazy roughness of his thumb, except where
A counter-coalescence of the grain
Turbulently surrounds a knot of blood.

Out of fisted clouds, white
And distant as his stiff bride
Coiling in her grave, a falcon
Eyes the wormy meadow and descends.

No arm, no mind controls
The powerful muscle, falling to a branch
Heavy apples mellow to a bow
Aimed at an aimless sky.

Red memories of the man disperse
In meditation like an arrow's throw;
The turning falcon's shaft
Falls in its desire.

The Old Man and the Demon

 [Poetry], Burning Byzantium  Comments Off on The Old Man and the Demon
Aug 272011
 

OLD MAN Vanquished is the sorrow
     That rages in my breast;
     I am too old to care.
     What passes for the serious
     Is a younger man's affair.
     Loves have burned and leapt between
     Yet staring doubt announces:
     Have hands as old as these
     About a woman's lightness crept?

DEMON Rough centuries have trod
     Your thin spirit out.
     What can woman's body hold
     For one who's worn and thin?

OLD MAN I am an old man, a withered
     Stick, lacking all right monument.

DEMON Lacking all right monument,
     Gather close what worth you can,
     Draw your spirit in.
     For when you lay you down to die
     What can she but by you lie?

OLD MAN Until all, all penalty of God
     Or eternal mystery forgot,
     Dissolve paradoxical
     Into death's bone knot.


The Silence

 [Poetry], Unimagined Things  Comments Off on The Silence
Aug 272011
 

On undemanding ground
Shot through with hollow sounds
Bird or bullet make
Or some other keen cry, I take
This man for model, though in truth
A small man of the town; and although
His grandfather was a thief
And his father worse than that,
I respect his grief, for what else can I
That wander in the clay?

There was a man had died
Frozen to the mountainside
And, nothing in his climbing pack
And less upon his withered back,
He ascended the wintry peak
Sang a rich bar tune and died.
It was out of pride
The old man had died.
He gripped a flute, knew God's great lie,
And had a clarity in the eye.

And at the last, a damned wretched gaiety
Suffused his frame.
Mountain echo upon echo
Hollowed out his fame;
Dying, trying once again
To empty himself of troubles by the score--
"This joy of death
Stops the breath."
In the trees, excited laughter;
And after, the silence.
 
 

NOTE: this poem originally published in “Constellations in December.”

The Silence

 [Poetry], Constellations in December  Comments Off on The Silence
Aug 262011
 
On undemanding ground
Shot through with hollow sounds
Bird or bullet make
Or some other keen cry, I take
This man for model, though in truth
A small man of the town; and although
His grandfather was a thief
And his father worse than that,
I respect his grief, for what else can I
That wander in the clay?

There was a man had died
Frozen to the mountainside
And, nothing in his climbing pack
And less upon his withered back,
He ascended the wintry peak
Sang a rich bar tune and died.
It was out of pride
The old man had died.
He gripped a flute, knew God's great lie,
And had a clarity in the eye.

And at the last, a damned wretched gaiety
Suffused his frame.
Mountain echo upon echo
Hollowed out his fame;
Dying, trying once again
To empty himself of troubles by the score--
"This joy of death
Stops the breath."
In the trees, excited laughter;
And after, the silence.

The Falcon Waiting

 [Poetry], The Falcon Waiting  Comments Off on The Falcon Waiting
Aug 112011
 
My friend Dan's a ghost now since Christmas.
In this mist 

There's only a green line of fence
Last night's rain did not dissolve.

Then the falcon is there,
Snowy in the humid morning warmth.
He lets his silken shoulders shake.
His compact head moves like a ball
Rolling in your palm.

His face is all severe eye,
And one closed hook.  
When he stares my way, I can't guess what he sees.

There is no time in him,
Only flight that has not yet 
Risen to his wingtips.

When he goes from the wet fence
To the barn's peak,

It's like watching an old man shuffle
All his belongings in one gunny sack.

Looking back in paler air, I have
No memory of what we carry with us.

No weight keeps me on the ground.
There's almost nobody here.