Aug 242020


First Works 

Copyright ©1994 by Gregg G. Brown 

Published by 



 Smaller than a shut nut in its
 Candy can skin, 
 The silken icecube melts, 
 The compact cricket swells to distant hymns, 
 And the tough grass suffers into seed. 
 (It is a bantam birth.) 
 Many of the big things in this world 
 Can be described as 
 The delicate ballet of 
 Mountains bowing low 
 As bathtub waves between 
 The popsickle peaks 
 One example, 
 But there are many others. 
 Many many; ask the brilliant 
 Corn-kernel sun, and he 
 Will tell you. 
 I myself will tell you and tell you 
 Until finally, balled like a baby, 
 I diminish into happiness.

April Mechanical

 Organized neatly between the
 divisive particles of air 
 near the old scratched moss 
 of some ending season 
 grey beneath green as 
 anxious among concrete park 
 benches it spreads, the air, 
 blue in imitation of the 
sloshing fountain water, the water 
not an expression of thought 
but rather in its deepening 
stance a mirror for 
angry clouds cherry-red 
with the long brittle atoms 
of a slashing sun, a few 
rough trees deport 
their skinny limbs 
into the jealous sky, naked 
to speak to us with their 
completely unhinging buds


'She who hesitates is
lost," she declared.But 
what is there to 
lose?Only innocence 
in the small pale and 
not completely impartial turn 
and plod of her delicately 
dancing feet.Only notice 
the impartial fervor 
of that tilting lily-head 
against whose stone we (approximately 
may measure ourselves. 
Our faults lie open 
and are described in an 
amazing minutiae by those 
thin dim cracks between 
the feathered petals.They 
only serve to emphasize 
the fact with their apparently 
indifferent oblivious blooming

Cold Moles and Dreams are Roots

Creative as the curl of candles, 
When they burn, the going deeper 
Of winter shrews or summer friends 
Asleep and burrowing out their 
Blankets.That calmest of thinking trees, 
The dream, divides and redivides its sunken 
Cells; placenta tentacles lie down 
To the birth of buried baby 
Shrews, hatched in dreaming imagination; 
And the dreaming sleepers scuttle, crab- 
Like on their hands, lid-full eyes 
Dull as old spoons.Disordered bits 
Of life rise to fill their empty 
Minds as grey and pearl as parachutes.Star- 
Nosed moles furrow through their drowsy sight, 
And crab-like on their hands they dig 
And dig between the different darks 
Of night and sleep.Rooting for 
The peace of meals kept deep in dirt. 
Oh, turn the naked number down! the failing 
Sleepers cry --- flustered fingers still 
Half-dragging through the sheets.... 
And the red sled, snaky arm without fingers 
Ferries its bald insanities back 
To the cluttered basement of old dreams.Yet, 
Nothing sinks but clatters when it lands. 
And the long awaiting eyes, cool as a moist 
  Mole's nose, wake at last and eat the day.


A Bar of Ivory Soap
Sitting Near the Faucet

Just manufactured.Its original skin has been thrown away.It is no
Longer needed, the pure self has emerged, Virginal and white.White
white white!Expansive plantations of snow or one dimensional
lilies.The souls of St. Francis of Assisi and Thomas a Beckett look
something like this, I have been told, Precise in its new rims it is
the magic castle from a distant story.In the high dark window there
is a tiny, elegant woman waving and waving.


I have thought of heaven, often,
And of hell, 
Everyone is hurrying to get there, 
To be in the big rooms with the wide floors, 
And the carpeting up to your armpits, 
And the smooth marble corridors 
As empty as thought. 
There are no urns to clutter up 
Your mantelpiece, and to become, by dote, 
As big as a baboons chest 
And as blue as his anger. 
Everyone is hurrying to get there and see 
Just how big 
The windowpanes are.

Night Lures (I Am Sleeping)

The moon blues, 
Substanceless as any dead day. 
Like the loyal marsh at Baybridge who jingled 
And who I liked 
In the high August frosts and mists. 
It was like a large drunken friend waiting 
For me to find the misplaced knees and socketless stray arms 
And admire them.And wait. 
The ground there was soft 
As broken-in shoes. 
I used to 
Bank off those marshmallow shores, 
My father's shallow boat clipping neatly under me 
Under a cool noon.I 
would like to have my stomach launched into 
Me like that again. 
The grey-green water lies all around me. 
Two catfish leap 
But do not dazzle. 
They hover in the timorous mid-air. 
Their fins half blue from shadows. 
A fine detail of foam follows like a sketch 
  Their fast bodies 
The shapes of moonhills. 
The white commas of their undersides pause silently 
Before me.I love to watch them in their 
Paradox.They are helpless 
In their joy. 
From behind one reed thin as a needle 
A blue fly's head pokes. 
Curious with eyes 
It is amazed at these otherworld avians 
As wet and smooth as washed stones. 
I landed home empty-handed.

The Eagle has Landed

Ralph, the man who saw with feathers spread, 
Leaned his bones over (they were golden in the dawn 
And said: 'I'm not an eagle am I?' 
“No, you're not.” 
Vertebrae, vertebrae 
In arch of back to circle rolling. 
The red rolled east.It was a perfect morning 
For flight.His beak was red in this bent light. 
His beak was red shaped 
And ready. 
“'Tis time for bed, my Ralph, 'tis time to sleep.” 
Ralph was gleaming golden in his forward shoes. 
'Am I not an eagle?' His arms were lit like down 
In this light, The man put fingers spread 
And leapt. 

The Dark Roots

appetite big enough 
to eat 
all your own 
The sun 
circular on the leaves 
and echoed 
in the production-- 
dangerous droplet 
An apple, 
it will suffice 
in one bite 
to dissuade you 
thinking of the sun 

from out the tomb like a cloud

Above this town where I lay sleeping 
young happily birds convulse minutely 
one tremendously blown hilarious 
green leaf of wind (in ochres of eve 
it is dying) come suddenly finally up 
from compactly hysterical graves.Bliss 
fully mindless is of these faces 
on the pickets these sweatless heads 
in dole attire; these pink purple blades 
who are flying who are the dentings 
my footfalls have said along the edges 
of day and crisply space and down down 
dwindling once wells of when remit (for 
it is summer and pregnantly snowingly dusk) 

Display Against Society

One day, cloudless, 
Refined to a clarity, to one colour 
        as with a wall, 
The famous international explorer, 
Saint Jacque, to escape the strictures of his race, 
Leapt (formally dressed) 
Off of three bridges, leaping 
With triple-reenforced rubber bands Celastics") 
Gripping his British African ankles. 
‘I go to save all men,' indignant, jumping, 
'After the manner of the Afriks.') 
His tux-tails catching the airs wings, he went. 
Be pulled up just short 
Of the water (or the rocks) whichever 
Was appropriate in whichever case. 
       And after, when I proposed: 
Why why (the background sistrums sheathing 
Sounds with sounds) 
His teeth cried out (smiling): 
To feel as if alive. 

NOTE: The ritual described here is taken from a reclusive tribe in the Congo where it is a rite of passage for young boys intended to make them independent of the shrewdness and courage of women, the story being that a woman ones, to escape from her husband into the arms of her lover tied vines to her ankles and jumped from a cliff; the husband was too scared to follow, thus making good her escape and happy her life. (Now a common sport in North America.)



Last Year

the dogs were in the house and sniffing 
the last decayed amours of left lasagna; 
clack and tap the toes, fur stuck out 
between the friendly pads the entire 
summer, no other noise, 
everyone dead or gone, vacationing with cameras 
to return with a foreign inspiration; 
'thank you,' and my thin lips vomit at the grace. 
To no other sound but the happy clacks 
and hanging, painted tongues 
I wrote; I even wrote: 'the flowers nod 
and peck like too many a sun.' 
'the day grows down in dismayed capitulation.'


An idol 
tall as three big men 
curving lines 
of the great green nose 
to the still arches 
drawn without motion 
above the poignant half-sad 
lips with the same 
memory of 
decayed gardens princes 
lazy about the 
common grounds smiling 
at the women to the women the women only 
faintly portrayed 
by the best artists 
close about their bodies thin 
unfraying silks 
on them about them 
as the air itself 
or breathing 
the final descending lines 
of the chin 
the ogling eyes 
of visitors here gathered 
strangers to the courtly 
past lust 
back upwards thereby 
the whole 
face into focus assembled 
block by block


the amoeba 
squeeze and bulge 
their green and 
thinly syncopating 
bodies while, 
at their sides, 
there are (beating) 
the smoothly 
flagellant supplicants.They 
will suffice. 

Mated Pheasants

Their carriages are upright
in a dry green.They stand 
at once passionate and familiar, 
His beak is respectful, level, 
rather than diffident in uptilt, 
his tail a downward sloping tube 
like a story.His face is bright 
and remembers everything, one formidable claw 
hangs, while flat the other holds him 
steady to the earth, hangs gloved 
in dust immeasurably.While she 
in straight grass stands 
Popped-up from an unexpected bush.

12 Bowie

Here and now the kindly frost invites 
The snow.Ice along the large pond 
Buckles for breath in he thin season 
Over spacious spans of silence.The pipings are 
Hushed, the geese put to flight and quiet. 
Grass does not grow but waits 
With a small eternal presence, the mantle 
Warm and lightless.It is a white lid 
To a green furnace, waiting.Patience is long 
Along the meadow along the pond along the frozen, 
Drift-thick ice.The oaks with the sharp melting current 
Are patient, through their trunks, the tilted hills' 
Green soldiers, bent for the calling, the sea 
Straining its wide tides.All are patient all 
Are waiting.But shortly 
Their patience 
Will snap.

At the Theater Doors and Almost In

Again and again.The tickettaker's hands are
Emphatic.Her shirt is red 
Above the useful elbows.In her small hands 
The last cries of startled paper 
 The thin red tongues that dribbled out 
 Of the faceless window 
 Are shredded and shredded. 
 Her careful fingerends 
 Are red with little screams. 
 And at my back a blank anonymous bear 
 Reminds me of duty. 
 Slowly, I offer up 
 My tiny victim.In close air.At last, 
 At last, I stumble towards the common dark 
 Without a tongue. 

The Timid Stars

 It is
 among the stars 
 that I stick my shaggy head. 
 They sag and turn crimson, 
 sag in a sky 
 bruise blue 
 because winter has struck 
 straight across 
 (negligently) the heavy 
 blood-filled breasts in stretched cotton. 
 Has struck 
 as they shiver 
 (appreciatively) has struck shining 
 like a bronze cymbal.

The Seasonal Dead

 Winter kills the cruelest of the deer,
 the ones that want to live, freezes 
 their heart-stubble, runs them  
 past the dawn grey fields 
 and trips them up on the subtlety of a stream, 
 solid with its fear.They lie down dying 
 in the rising floe; the stag, the fawn, 
 and the doe, collect their shivers severally 
 and blanket their wet fur 
 with the whitening glass.See 
 Their dark long legs are so softly 
 bent that they extremely seem to be 
 too much alive to be an accurate model of death. 
 They fly with sinking passion to he snow.

How We Die

 It is like walking straight upwards 
 From a clear shore 
 Until the wren's singing 
 Is only water.And we float about freely, 
 Completely under. 
 Or, perhaps, 
 Flying and stinging like wasps, 
 We leave half of ourselves dragged out behind us, 
 Beating and hurting.


Multifarious on the miniature screen 
the tiny greyish teardrops trickle 
out of sympathy; out of luck 
they land in a ponderous conflagration 
like butane-drenched strange paratroopers 
invading every eye. they only come 
to liberate the lusterless, glitterfy the gone, 
unwanted melodies curled uptight asleep 
in moldiest mind.Melodramatic 
the chromatic tube revivifies its display. 
All the misconceptions of real-life rant 
in flesh-tone undeniability.The biggest baritone 
saunters to his place, steps upwards 
at the Met, decked in best brightest tent array, 
to sing until his face dissolves to truth.


The abyss in the iris
The lilac's cones shrivel, 
Impotent nubs. 

And the waterfall wings 
Of grackles gnash, 
Impatient as teeth 
For something to eat. 

Blossoms or buds hang 
Lazy as puppets 
In their nets, or masses of colored balloons 
Tied to vulnerability. 

Rubbing their silk heads to static and still can't think! 

Everyone breathes beneath 
Wide woven hats, -- 
Lying, breathing, 
Lame as shot seals on the lawn furniture. 

And everything is hot. 
The garden is is still and hot. 
And the conservative gardener buzzes about planning, planning 
For next spring's eruption. 

A uniformity resides 
In all this damp lessening, 
inexorable and 

As ants or gold lice, tiny and metallic, 
Ticking past the plastic petals. 
The entire arrangement 
Walls and withers, 

The folded flowers scream. 
White as live eyes, the trees 
Scream, steaming. 

The magnolia's 
Fists sweats.

After July

The one cop
cracks his beat, tuesdays, 
thursdays... the tapped cracks blurr into the blue, 
days join years, rim to rim 
a used pile of hubcaps rise 
to topple the sky. 

He lowers his eyes. 
He frets the shiny lower buttons 
off his coat, in the off hours, 
in a silver-tinged sort of 
maternal sublimation. 
For him 

the end 
of labor, and the quench 
of thirst, lie bound-- a single note-tone-- 
in a fist-sized, pawable 
golden glob of pocketwatch. 
We wait 

for the crinkled, 
the time-worsted, the failing 
cusp of a summer's end, expiring 
in teacups.Your mother's 
handstitched, colorful, orange and yellow, gingham quilt 
wilts with August. 

Nearby, some butterflies, 
a handful, hover over 
the midtown intersection parking lot 
of our pin-sized Pepperell village, watching 
the sky-dark cop 
endlessly circle himself, wishing 

that they had stings.


Slate Steps Descend the Hill

The blue stones
drop away from the self 
like ash 

dumped from an open freight car 
a hundred miles an hour 


Aside to a Crying Child

Do not fear.
The globe in your room 
Has no place to be going. 

Its greens are gold, properly arranged; 
Its browns 
Mountains of dried sugar.

Thinking About a Dead Man
I Wonder Why the Fireplace
Looks Emptier than it Ought to

Have you ever seen
The dark trolleys 
Transport the ashes 
Of a leaf 
Into a hole in the valleys of the moon? 

I have. 

It is a small hole waiting 
On the moon's 
Reverse side.

Pissing in the Snow

one finds among
the melting crystals 

the impartial 
pattern common 

to any 
work of art


In the tympany of the shattering glass there
is this: there is this photographic effect, It
occurs when, dimmed and fugitive, I see my own raw
face new as a pound of freshly ground beef in one
of the shaken raindrop particles faltering. (They
falter because they have forgotten the balance of
air.They are senile as snowflakes.) It is this
effect that makes me measure and measure the
millimeters of my pupils’ shufting. (They are black
as a circus seal’s fur, and wet as sweat.) It is
a little like what I think it would be like to find
a mirror at the bottom of the lake in which I am
drowning, The window bleeds its little glitters
down.They shine like pennies out of a shotgun….

The Holly Tree

The holly tree
as a figure 

of dance (since 
that is too gross-- 
too many 

arms like tentacles 
hanging their appeals 
straight out) 

instead as, each leaf 
green against the sharp frost 

an equation 
it is conceived perfectly 

by that love 
which makes the berries 
hard small 

and almost 
exactly round 
grow red


 There, sidewise from the
 breasting prow, between 
 the hushed and vertical 
 bob and weave of the 
 whitest icebergs, there is 
 the winter sea beneath it all 
 still green.


 A trumpet whistles and the slow, 
 paced doily-work of discovery begins. 
 Soft, snow-petalled dogs descend 
 from higher ground to astound the dell 
 with the multitude of their white bodies' shuffle; 
 So many crowd into the little hollow 
 that the hand-held sky, time's mirror, 
 leaks a salty supplication to their lust. 
 They ground the dying grasses down to dust. 
 The ascending, coal-soft noses tender towards 
 the pay; the fox works well their mouths 
 of blackness into foam. 
 Abundance will reward most laborious chase. 
 Living feet stamp and paw the fertile ground.

The Gardener’s Lot

 This blade of land
 engendered by the sun 
 dances round and around 
 like everything-- 
 like you I exact 
 and supercilious 
 of all forms, even 
 flowers, for christ's 
 sake, bluebells 
 hollyhock, clover 
 goldenrod, sprints 
 of purple something 
 and, of course, the 
 wild carrot, even 
 the wild carrot, how 
 do you manage it'.? 
 Were not all things 
 in some measure 
 constructed (with 
 welds of cells in this 
 case, perhaps) you 
 could not overbear 
 them so with your 
 tweedling eyebrows 
 -- agh! how 
 can you stand 
 yourself! mirrorwise-- 
 look at it! looking 
 at you.Wont you 
 splash, red-handed, 
 into it?Won't you 
 break a cracker 
 and make it flesh? 
 Turn the pool to wine! 
 The way it stares! 
 Well, then, stand 
 there (ox/ ox/ 
 pool) dirty and 
 locally misshaven you 
 ugly cuss! --and 
 get stabbed by the 
 rust-colored sun 
 increasing on the 
 hill's edge.


Staring at My Face in a Hushed Brook

 On my knees I deeply kneel 
 to all you who are wailing and wallowing 
 before the fallen wall 
 and in it 
 Oh there is someone trapped 
 in those clouds there purely serene 
 As (lithely) I kneel 
 to kiss the mute stranger 
 he explodes 

What the Mountain Saw

 Embryo of blossom is dissected
 and without shame-- removed 
 to a further Light 
  one where guts 
 and stuff is not displeased by the eye 
 not made to squirm or plead 
 against the logic of sight, with their only 
 velvetvoiced argument, which is that they 
 were always here 
always cupping 
 their premature round faces-- to heaven 
 or storm without regard 
   until like tissue 
 they let their countenance fold 
 into dimness 
down to spring.

Do Not Know

 We do not know what 
 to do anymore--- 
 the high, evening voices 
 of the crickets 
 silver again 
 to grass.Grass and time. 
 A small, humped 
 frog is croaking 
 above the circle of his 
 everything is left 
The small, 
 red, perfectly predicted 
 perfectly in place, red 
 line of thought still ties 
 the 12 fat apples 
 to a bending limb. 
 3 dogs at a hollow distance 
 to shake the leaves.

Watching Trees After Rain

In this sunset I am alone among many trees, the day a light stonygrey.
They don’t sway, but like a thousand notes of music they seem too deliberately
articulate their leaves in a mass, visible green chorus. Each leaf at its base
diverges to return in a point, the many pinnacles loping to their purpose;
they slouch down so low that a few of them almost touch the ground. The dark,
firm springs of wet pines straighten their voices like efficient women.
And in a steady glowing small, face-like leaves burst softly forward in slowly
growing fountains.The roundness of some of them sings to me like fishmouths,
silently and purely their praises go upward.


 Darkness is not 
 a going of light but a coming of light 
 it is too solemn for us to see 

The Stone in Water

It is the round 
of all things 

immaculate immobile immute- 

able to the last 

of that fine 
which we drink into drunkenness 

on those lovely 
shaded nights 

the black curtains 
hanging down 
like stars' beards 

whiskery to infinity 
The truth

My Blue Period

"I sti11 live inside an icon of despair,
abuse the abutment for my failing hands 
that once would gesture music; I grow 
into my age, see icecubes marching by 
like icebergs and notice theirflat shadows 
spinning to diminishment 
in the exaggerated weaflness of my 
mind, my lights lefting out like twin pack dogs 
lost to snow.There is no settlement 
of objects, half-arraigned and now 
abandoned to decay.There is 
no happiness here of the clean straight line. 
My abstract mind falters into particulars 
... it's the light that turns the lampshade round."

In Living Rooms

piano glassy 
the clock 

a time of 

widows grayly 
done dancing 

clicking round 
sonorous moments. 


up In a hayloft 
my dreams fill the owl rafters 
with thin loops of gold. 

A few float down.


I. Somnambulance

The mourning does are lying in leaves
For summer bleats and funeral ash. 
Somewhere shipwrights are planning for ghosts. 

II. Aftereffects of Silence

Singing, I thought there was a second 
Voice behind me. 
Only one dove was bowing. 


In a forest strung with lanterns 
Night was slowly staring in after me. 
It stirred with a flutter of gigantic wings. 

IV.Pre-Evening Autumn

The mourning doves in thousands septembered 
Themselves to my yard and never departed. 
The sun rained all that day. 

V. Lesson:

The best notes are musical 
And exact; two doves 
On a dogwood at sunset. 

VI. Post Christi

Twelve silent doves are sifting in the snow 
And wishing they were white-- 
With their feet crossed. 


The bald and aging Socrates 
Was last seen sleeping among mourning doves. 
Their slipperless feet were cool, 

VIII.An Eye at the Window

The extra room provoked much controversy 
Until, in the stifled minute it takes lilies 
To be imagined, the dove moved in. 

IX. Intimations of Salmon

I knelt my mind behind a thin steeple 
And embroidered the sky with memories of sea. 
They are even here. 

X. Image of Transparency

The moons settled themselves in a red cradle. 
The woman settled herself along with them, they 
In her arms.It was snowing doves all that evening. 


On the Neighbors Having Lost
a Daughter My Father’s Words

 'Who told them to swallow down their sorrow? 
 This year as much as last the rain will dig 
 New gullies near the roadside- even without 
 Their help.So what's the use of holding back 
 A g ief?They don't moan, but they still shuffle. 
 What's a man to do with relations 
 That won't cry?Beg it out with salt? 
 I won't pity them.Pity's too mean a thing 
 For living creatures, and, besides, its a sham 
 Emotion: it only makes the hawthorn wither. 
 And they themselves wouldn't even see.--- 
 Damn it, I myself have lost a son. 
 You remember that year, in late declining 
 Summer; we took down that small net 
 Of trash trees hemming in the garden. 
 Just their shadow would have killed off half 
 The crop that demanded al I the sun. 
 He left the sticky tree-stumps alone to stare, 
 A little like some human faces, 
 And then clomped off into a rain of maples. 
 Who could put out the details of his last 
 Living day?Do they think they own disaster7 
 Yet how anxiously they horde it!As if 
 Their slack jaws and ground-geared eyes could feed 
 On such distresses.It has been a year already. 
 I wish that they would just cut out the show.' 


1. Almost, Marina, Almost

Once, walking in the garden by the wood-- so close
Under leaves, the ponderous weight of unlighted leaves 
On trees, I overturned the mandrake root and found 
It'd grown in two; remember now, remember7 One for 
Me, for you? 

0 my daughter 
My daughter 
I have no boat to build. 
Zodiacs must come, they go, I yield. 
There are the seas-- no, no longer. 
Only time to slaughter 
0 my daughter 

Hold my dry hand, lean lean, as the dandelion bloom 
Of skeleton inflates; all is withered, each vine strangling, 
Dangling, collapsed within.All is late; 
Hold my dry hand 

Ice uncovers Icicles and cold lays on to cold. 
Spices of the Orient in my mind take hold. 
I remember now 
I remember how; 
Surgeon, scalpel, suction tube, then a pill for ease... 
0 my daughter 0 

You have bit the mandrake root, does April stir and 
Start in fits?Is twice too much for prayer? 
Layer on by layer, each thought uncovers brain; 
There is no pill for ease of pain. 

The mandrake is an ancient root 
Wearing none butwrinkled suit. 
And now and now and now 

I shall hold your dry hand now 
For I have not held have not held it long. 

Zero may be warmed to naught, my daughter, 
Zero may be warmed 

My daughter 

II. The Gardens

In the shadowed garden, dim
Remembered strains 
Played among the acorn shells, and left 
Dampened hands on the plastered grain. 

Jonquils died in torrents 
That summer, how I regret 
Time's contingency, and Death's. 

We had letdown the curtains 
That sheltered away the sun, 
And shelved it, 
Long ago.The house had tinkled like the rickets 
With the wind, long and orange 
Out of the west Our shadows 
Grew into the trees like years, that summer. 
Our blue hands turning blue, until 
They were the trees and the trees 
Were still. 
All the days were beautiful, 
And all the children sang. 
And all around the widening block 
The gossips snickered in; 
And all their blathering, chattering talk 
Could not 
Prove the littlest sin. 
A box is a box is a box. 
Not even the littlest sin. 
I might go back outside, given 
Satisfactory incentives towards that move.I might 
Reverse one summer's indiscretions, dear, 
If the picketfence of autumn 
Had not come.And only come to show 
How round the circuit of our fears 
Is expressed in every apple.I might 
Have dressed the dolls with leaves again 
And set upon a stage 
Their small white forms in the white sun's 

The Abandoned Farm

All's astir.The slick, sick heat
of vegetating August lights the leaves 
with growth.The upright quizzical, 
Fire-white picketfence rails 
at its own perfection.Even 

the starved copper cock 
twirls and reflects he sun. 
Even the big red barn is actively bleeding 
cheap red paint in gallons 
to stain the soil. 

All day 
the cockleburrs sway and crack 
with misery, there are too many 
in their school; their sheer, high numbers 
the barnyard green. 

The fur-thick, dark-eyed groundhogs graze 
and waddle in the fields like cows 
now; free from shotgun-blaze 
anxiety, they lower their square heads to sup 
on farmers bones. 

the dolled-up, rickety barn was gorged 
on spoon-fed hay.Its golden maw 
glittered edible riches, 
pure as a tat, fat duchess and all decked-out. 

The heavy hay 
would creak and rustle in the barn, 
and the land was gold.The torn mouth 
stands and stutters emptily, its innards 
whittled hollow 

by poverty and rot. 

The penny-colored 
weathervane crows and crows in the whistling wind. 
The saw-tooth boundary of the picketfence 
is lost in a sizzling 
sea of weeds. 


Unscreened weatherworn 
the doorjamb melts 
into what I remember 
was our private yard: 

The flowers on the trees 
(once red, some white, all 
green) have blossomed 
into leaves sung at noon 
drooped by four. 

The chickadees twitch 
among trunks for pebbles. 
The young birds eat them up 
and eat whatever else they find 
which pleases them. 

By some hidden wind 
they ruffle to wails 
in the usual hollows together 
with a few early leaves. 
Yellow and sun-white predominate. 

These are the colors 
of fullness and wait.But 
somehow my shrill eyes 
are missing you among 
August sways on 
the stem because it is warm 
as flowers go. 

After July

The one cop
cracks his beat, tuesdays, 
thursdays... the tapped cracks blurr into the blue, 
days join years, rim to rim 
a used pile of hubcaps rise 
to topple the sky. 

He lowers his eyes. 
He frets the shiny lower buttons 
off of his coat, in the off hours, 
in a silver-tinged sort of 
maternal sublimation. 
He sees 

his patriarchal, 
moon-sick mom in every 
overripe, mindless bag lady creeping 
by like a bee, down the antique, tinselly street 
the shower blossomed blacker.His mom still hones 
the compact, lunar silverware 

every day at three.Nothing changes. 

One woman runs 
and ages.The black and yellow bags 
balloon around her like a raft.His mother's older. 
The traffic-light mud-dauber dabbles in adobe. 
The sweet air stares and stales. 
Nothing blossoms. 

His hands 
tick and scuttle like stop-motion wasps 
looking for the honey-drop watch.At noon 
the unprofessional, octagonal sunday school 
lets out like a pregnant cat.  The bleating 
bells tell. 

The tooth-smooth 
legs and necks of children 
nod, pollen-heavy and thin 
as goldenrod.He cannot remember 
the ridiculous number of years anymore.The vernal 
season's shorter. 

Nearby some butterflies, 
a handful, hover over 
the midtown intersection parking lot 
of this pin-sized Pepperill village, watching 
the sky-dark cop 
endlessly circle himself, blinking 

their still-wet wings like wings. 

Message Towards Morning

“Hey... shush!Rattle
of the half-starved bird, beak-bone 
clatter and snap of the throatless young, 
cry of the crow, the grossest crow, subtle 
after-echo in the back-wash; 
stilted king-fisher breaks glass, again 
shatter of the placid 
silver shingle of the pond, level, flat, 
beaten down with completion as 
up he comes!The air complex with industry, the shrill 
sound of the jay, oriole, blackbird, cricket-call 
singed feathers in the after-light, 
the pocked, pregnant moon in stately decline.'Just 
quiet down and get to work.”

2 Watercolors of 4 Birds

Jade-smooth the green
Head a mallards defines 
itself its limits 

against the frayed edge 
of a faded 
paper sky 

as together with her he 
climbs upon her 
blue wing 

foot to feather foot 
to feather to 
escape with their bodies 

a scattering 
of just exploded cattails

II The Pintails in Spring

Black and yellow
segmented stalks 

show the winds 
to be 
against them as frozen 

they beat on 
turn the page 

The Spectrum is Discerning

Roses huff out of the afternoon train.
They cry 
At the dye 
Of the blue blue sky:

And we shall fuse you 
Into our red red selves 
Shot diamonds 
Into water. 

We are dead plain 
As in an empty room the strange 
Painted tin cans clapped 

Winnowingly, the terrible eddies 
Themselves, seductive, 
Against the listening skin 
As a rabid rose. 


Herr Professor

The stars revolve on darkness. 
A green moon thaws the black sea. 
And the beautiful regular young women 
       pat and pat their hair 
In anticipation of the spring. 

But none of this interests him. 
He drops his eyes.He has 
'Already read about all that.'

Mendel’s Garden

Ordained by necessity
--- the necessity 
of mathematics--- 

the blossoming sweet pea plants lie 
red pink white 
in rows 

orderly by a neat man well 
placed and spaced 
but not 

overly so the sex 
fused in them 

the modest veiny petals 
center of the 

there are those tall short and 
ones round and wrinkled 
the peas 

themselves encased the ovum 
grown fat with potential 
the seeds 

dangling cocooned in green 
from the stalks 
the stems 

the sepals dried up out 
of the attracting 

a withering 
the fruit 

near these over a few 
feet a simple step 

ready at hand to put in the seed 
in his quiet black 
suit white 

collar strapping his 
neck hiked up 
to the jaw 

to put the seed 
to bed the 

a cleric who named the traits 
himself dominant 
and recessive

Magnolias in New Jersey

Deep between the conifers dark as deacons,
And near the thawp and clump and utter of new-born grackles, 
And back round the minarets of foxglove like a picket fence 
They slacken their buddings to stars. 

But somehow it is vain, with the bloom of universe surrounding, 
And my feet cold and sunk in growth, 
And the spiritual white and pink-white leaves in bulbs fermenting, 
Somehow to lie and breathe into the upwards evening is vain.

Illness is a Calumny

I want you to know
Every day, twice a day, 
My heart turns blue. 
The shell of my skull 
Blackens to fragments. 

There is nothing not left. 
The tulip tree begins to talk, 
And I begin 
To listen. 
There is nothing anymore to keep 
The pearly ears of crickets from hearing 
What I think of you: 

The frozen shapes of tadpoles quicken 
In the edges of the ice. 
Soon enough, ' 
Their long black minds will turn 
Green with growth. 
And cats will quicken to eat them. 

My body lies to me, sometimes 
Three times a day.

Seeing It Is Evening I Watch the Mill Men
Being Let Out from Work

He breaks the wind with his shoulder.
He ducks into apples for home. 
Or hunger, 
He threads a blackeyed bluejay 
Through his skin. 
He is out of luck.His heels have thinned. 
His long, lonely face 
Sags, the color of a chipmunk's rib. 
His once dark hair is trying to lighten 
Into heaven. 

The effort fails. 
His strong, shy chest will blink 
Into the hard, open slit of the waters, 
Or the sky, 

He tries and tries 
To begin to breathe, 
The lake is as heavy as buffalos. 

There is nothing left here. 
He starts along the orange fields and 
matted grasses 
For apples.

Cranes in the Back-Yard

Suddenly-- in the middle of what was
the only green and subtle meadow that I knew, 
a dozen cranes or so with jagged wings 
settled their legs in beads of old snow. 

A dozen heads or so with accentuated necks, 
are staring me again, down twenty-four years like eyes, 
and I begin to see;-- they are stained so white 
that I think their wingtips cannot be as black as they are. 

Then, and slowly, their wide arms begin to beat 
until legs like straws let their linkages down 
above the lush wave that presses my throat 
so I cannot think except to gaze at their feet 

not touching the earth the least.

Piccolo: Notes of a Suicide

I. Entant with Needlepoints

Twice I stitched and watched her 
Sewing.The images of the horse and man 
and curling trees were imperfect.

II.Prelude in December

When the snowball diminished beyond 
The circle of my eye 
I was diminished. 


The sun was a long slow line running through 
Rows of willows shaking their leaves in rows. 
A single green light transfixed the time. 

IV.Minuet Under Glass

The myriad black-headed chickadees flocked 
Through whiles and whiles of a white sky. 
Still this was not enough. 

V. Tablecloth quartet and Mints

The dining room was a room of space 
Holding four minds like circles in squares. 
The meal was vivid with a sauce. 

VI. The Through Nine Panes Bridge

The upright piano commonly lent notes 
To the couch.At once we found 
That the azaleas were blooming.Were red. 

VII.Fugue In Green

Pacasandra on the lawn exchange colors 
Of themselves between themselves, shrewdly. 
Their bodies In multiples are expanding. 

VIII.Wine at the Cotillion

The woman is softly, at night in the 
Dark in the stars, waving her veins at me. 
The quilt is a quilt that is warm. 

IX. Jazz Dance of August

Now the snowballs are falling 
And like moons are falling.And I am increasing 
Beyond my own eye like winter. 

X. Explanation

I once have seen the quiet energies 
Of a world building with the littlest hands 
One thread on a web in the comer. 

Anna, Eighty-Six

 “Oh, is he a persian?  They have a tendency 
 towards deafness.He's alright yet? That's good. 
 He's beautiful.I suppose you've had him fixed; 
 that makes them grow.It's like a plant 
 that's all circusy and wide 
 in the extent and circumstance of its foliage. 
 Ever seen an elephant-ear?Have no roots 
 at all.Half my first husband's breath would find 
 such a one crunched over, in green and disarray. 
 Al 1 headstrong and hurrying to out-race their limitations. 
 I know them.Oh, you have water here!Is it 
 a reservoir? And dammed up to the south?Yes, 
 we caught sight of that on coming here.What 
 an out-bound view!All slow anger turned to slow froth....” 


Tete da Femme

This lady is dead, I think,
her marble eye set straight 
into the eye of the viewer 
like a target.Her high nose will bridge 
the concept of her forehead 
     like an arrow! 
Her ear is round, and hangs 
as perfect as a cracker. 
Her mulberry lips 
are barely there and are not touching 
the tightly limed forward cut 
of her face.Here the brightness, 
which is too much for the checkerboard scores 
of her scored face to contain, 
meets with the absolute black 
of India ink that corners the edge of the page. 
Definition.Outline of darkness.The light 
enclosing like oxygen 
the rigidly formal cardboard grains 
of the symbolized female features 
of her face, in profile, in 
detail, in the profoundly crooked rivers 
of her darkly commaed hair. 
Just who is she?Tapped by some large hand 
into the tiny alleyways of the gopherwood... 
Squinting for a close-up, one guesses that 
perhaps she was a prophetess.And one sees 
that, at the center of the heart-shaped 
bulge in her head, there is 
a blankness, a clarity, a 
moment of resolution--- 
I Ike on the flat back of the served cure 
of a Moses-pill.Or in 
the carved hollowness of a period 
at the end of a sentence put 
on a rock, There is also, 
in this portraiture you will notice, 
a deep scar running 
below her eye 
       and above it.

Wild Azalea Blooming

 Only the test monotone pattern 
 Can touch your still cry. 
 Rival little red necks, little white lips. 
 You are unstoppable!Yet constrained in a place 
 From a pure prism hefted and chopped 
 To a block of a wheel. 
 A wheel wounding itself outwards. 
 Blooming to death. 
 Little red sticks stabbing the eye, proceeding 
 Away from the eye as well.At once. 
 Your bodies, 
 Are clear in memory 
 To December. 
 Brightly you travel 
 Under a small grey wood. 
 Each thin skinny 
 Clarion is color of dolor too.

The Bullfight

 The furry neck of the bull is 
 black, the sky a grey in this 
 black and white of a color lithograph, 
 Avant la Pique, the point of which 
 in a blunted splinter does not 
 advance or pretend to be 
 the concentrated nozzle 
 of any future or sequence of events, 
 unpredictable and true as above 
 the nail-shaped head of the matador 
 it tilts in a sequestered white- 
 ness like the bands of his 
 arms the v in his chest and 
 the downturned paintbrush ends of his feet. 
 There is besides this a knuckle 
 in the center of the leg of a horse 
 the picador has with careful aim 
 chosen for the day's events 
 and which is tall and solemn and sure 
 of its place in the scheme 
 overall.There is as well a cape 
 poised black above the well-dark bull 
 like avoid somewhat sheltering 
 the sight of the first blow (which is tied 
 by custom and thought, to the 
 last) from his, In this picture grey, 


 Grey, dead-grey & black
 are the requisite composites of this composition; 
 sad Durer had looked too long 
 in mirrors, seen too many vicious invocations 
 of the holy hand upon the plainest blades 
 of grainy growing grass.Poor Durer 
 he has seen too many hollow olive 
 eyes; has stared too much at the imported monotone 
 African masks filled brimming and still ringing 
 with authentic bellowing sighs 
 and horror-filled innocent tears 
 from behind the widening whites of the eyes. 
 Pitying Durer in the savage dark 
 of accustomed thought saw the red in black.


she bends 
to readjust the rose 

its stem 
too thick the petals 
about to fly 

off and shout 
but, having initially 

fails at everything 
the frail limbs disposed 

as before exactly 

smiles they are 
too beautiful



When (singing to the silent wide of your
eyes) I find that small almost innocuous birds 
have dealt with the thunderous evening increments 
by shedding their shells (into your eyes) orange 
speckled crying (for to breathe is to die) will you 
my most sweetly taut unstrummable note 
(placid in pride of your calm) will you (I 
want to know) take my new unfolding hands 
spread for a dismal uncommon febuary sun, 
sky dancing in the light of forever, breezed 
with original ironicless laughter, cackling dawn, 
and sew them up with a seamless surgary 
meticulous, as a rose locked away in its leaves 
eternally fruitless unbudded disaster or what?

When Into the Mouth the Death Cry Comes

When into the mouth the death cry comes 
Unamazed and odorless, 
Crammed by the ticking fingers of perpetual crime 
Down the rattling throat to sound 
An agony of conscience in the unshelled ear 
Of too much unlived living 

Then will the eyes start up blind 
And hair sprout hands for the head 
Then the unmuffled will of the stilling heart 
will damn activity, haul up dock to decision, 
Bless the unpaid mind with rest, tell toes to grow into feet, 
Knuckles reverse to blunt, loved palms, 
Shoulderblades dwindle to wings, 
Red ribs uncage to drop dead lust, 
And lagging heart kick all away 
To fall to a faraway sky, 
And all of these be mine.

These Atlantic Letters

1. From Brussels

The clematis in my window winds the wounded birch, and hangs
heavy with rain, this day of days- 
Your glad letter come back to me in the flat black crystal 
of your luxurious ten-dollar ink (bought 
in Brussels, shipped by clinking caseloads 
home somehow through evenings, the fat 
Atlantic waters hissing twice as dark.Will 
these waters burn?The glowing ocean oil thickens 
like a welt.Who can haul your miles, 
vainglorious spout and womb 
of history?Who, who, who?) 
These electric letters fly to reach me like a shock; 
they try but cannot read my white eyes boiled up 
like eggs, And you, in sympathy, writing: 
‘The silence today again has made me see.’

2. In Milan

“Statues rise like specters out of the blank sand
and bang the nose with their black batteries 
of dark pollution-dirt and rot, 
Oh, it's not like living was 
when we were young!Its not the same 
at all.My two beach feet flatten-out to overfill 
our honeymoon shoes, I look down 
this alleyway, past the piazza place I stay, 
and reckon up the centuries.What dewy crime 
or ruby mind cracks this asphalt 
like a face? 0 Milan, Milan, 
your buildings fumble into plots 
like popes shot down by time—you are dying; 
but you still breathe.... All the rest is gravy.”

3. From N.J.

The ragging rantings reach me, from your hand
like a fleshy kiss, lovers in the park 
so much disillusioned they clam their eyelids shut 
and think of Wagner's autumnal, crashing 
ocean music sandblasting out their inner ears. 
Its nerves.The paper that you use, dear, is tan 
and perfect as a Florida dawn; it shows 
to disadvantage the snow-white spiders of 
my hands --- webbing, webbing through your 
thin script; let me link it closer 
to the leaf-work of my veins, bleating 
only to themselves it seems, of late appallingly 
as sheep, I flat-down the third creased valley 
of the New Mexico plains, and read:

4. The Postcard

The congenital hoarfrost moonlight makes
this 3x5 of paradise a jail. 
Its edges catch, and ruddy people shine 
along the sunny beach, the sunny Florentine, 
fragrent with smiles.... 
Dear heart, dear life, you glare and goggle 
before my eyes with the faint flash and upward fade 
of fireflies: I miss you.And you 
dance on toes with skull-crossed death 
against eternity.... You bow & plead 
that your poor dress is stained, and then stand off to stare 
and lounge through crowds, the dying match.The vacationists 
are primed and primped for ecstasy, they 
drop hot hands to a warm salt sea.

5. In Florence

She speaks: ‘One dark night, unjust soul's repose
sunk in a midnight past my midday's cure, 
I rattled blind down corridors, stuffed 
my loud bright watch beneath a pillow 
to keep the silence out (the between ticks tick). 
I danced with mirrors, slept in blinks, 
threaded whiskey like a life-line to my glass. 
I spun our wedding ring to gold globe 
and waited the balance out; how it rang against the stone! 
I cannot think; the one world whirls.... 
The world's pink ears are crammed with speech; 
I, I, I, I, becomes a hollow sound, you 
infect my eye, enlarge to a troll.... 
My bruised head floats in a goldfish bowl.’

6. Near the Hudson

The palisades are golden in this light;
a washed bowl shines, bending heaven 
to its single-serving size.All the green leaves 
have rainbowed out to sea.It is September. 
The worst cold stays forecasted by the grass 
looking over, bending back 
from its view of the bottom of the cliff; 
one's attention's held, these days, 
by some old whittler's shavings as they pass 
and darken in the dew.Everywhere the clouds 
meditate shrunk foreheads into snow; well, 
it is almost snow.... Now it is an eye, this bowl, 
staring like a clock, knowing nothing not its own. 
Little comfort stays here, little goes.


Sun Song

 Where are you going? 
 Where are you going? 
 Velveteen hills are rusting to silver. 
 They grow old.Sweet dews gather and drop 
 Then brighten to burn, little caustic stars. 
 The rickshaw mantis' kneel and rust. 
 Sadly, they are singing 
 Without voices. 
 Their stiff attached wings, the colors of oil, 
 Machete late lawns leap and shudder, 
 Taut as an eardrum against you, 
 You answer. 
 You answer. 
 Green knees bend and bury themselves, 
 Clean in dirt, 
 New at an acid altar. 

Freezing Autumn Willowtree

 Green, the pure prismatic color
 left its little stalling footprints 
 in the edges of the leaves.

The Change

 Behind a square stucco
 church (where daily there is 
 praying) a buttercup 
 lifts crookedly 
 its crown announcing 
 by its nature 
 the fall.Little 
 singing sacraments droop 
 and drop down leaf 
 by leaf 
 drawn to the ground 
 by a force 
 one opposite that 
 which pulled the petals upward 
 yellow to heaven

El Gato

 Mouth open 
 as a hawk's 
 the pout of sleep 
 around the small 
 wide eyes all 
 gone as she lifts 
 the smooth head 
 in no carving 
 at last 
 at my shirtbutton blue 
 as a sky 
 it nods 
 red carnation 
 almost in sleep 
 equal to her 
 vastly silent roar


 Cross over, cross over
 Utility or art. 
 Nothing is of any use anymore. 
 I tell you. 
 I saw three grasshoppers 
 Sifting on a leaf 
 Until, until 
 They had eaten it up, 
 I dreamed I was the king of the world 
 And rode the seas for horses. 
 I dreamed I was the king of the world 
 And rebuilt all the churches. 
 I saw three grasshoppers 
 Living in a dream. 
 They sat on a leaf, 
 They ate it up.


 The Saturday cold rattles like a candy wrapper.
 The thin air 
 Weights my lungs with honey.A blue stew. 
 The old ford mourns skyward, 
 Heaving its wheels in circles. 
 We halt so slowly 
 It is almost flying.We fall out 
 Sideways; our petals drop and blanche. 
 I am so heavy 
 My feet 
 Almost touch the floor.The familiar 
 Fears near. 
 We are almost there. 
 The dirty mausoleum squats on the hill 
 Like a birthday.It's so big 
 It's obscene.Green 
 Laurels hunch in the corners like shadowy dwarves 
 Awaiting the signal to push.... 
 The starched arch, snow-simple, bent 
 Floats above our silly heads. 
 Counting: Two-hundred ten, eleven, twelve 
 And my father's father arrives. 
 We glide in ghost-clothes about the grave. 
 This is a family day.The inherited rings 
 Click and skim 
 As loves the shapes of hands pass over 
 The deep, square-edged name. 
 They rub and rub, 
 An eternity.Quiet. 
 They are finally clean. 
 When everyone else has gone blindly, 
 Over the blunt edge of the curved world, 
 Striding like heroes 
 Why am I left, weightless and colorless, 
 To stop 
 The flat slat light the tossed urn burns?

Behind 12 Bowie

Canadians lap and settle here through the equinox
Pond rough or pond white, they ruffle 
Skinny shanks in lank air.Indian memories 
Follow the goldfinch.Old mole brown and 
Groundhog grey the arrowheads.Webs find 
The old leaves soft below the Rowan red 
And Oak not.Coincidence labors in the clay, 
Turning red green and green red, at home 
Along the plough's length of idle irony.Poor 
White boring of the dove, And the dogwood 
Its white echo.The placid confusion of evening 
Is on, white on the spread webs, the 
Soft furled soil cooling.Again.

Not Until the September is Past

Not until the September is past 
And the grave dead all lie, unshakled, unburied, 
Alone in the frost's mouth 
(All dying done, all berthing begun) 
And every crooked, ear-marked child is led, 
By the dimming blood of a failing hand, 
To play away from the clock's haunts 
And stars are incited to shrink again 
The cragging moon's corruptible sphere 
To less than a pinnacle’s pinched inch of sky 
(Not until the September is past) 
And every weed grows down to die 
Up where the miracle dead were tossed 
In a frozen field gone over to snow 
And the cold wind in a cold throat like glue, 
Dying of wanting; and the blossomless trees 
Lift their skirts to let me fondle 
The bark-notched knees of autumn's parts, 
Sold old home of my father's wants, 
Will I catch cure in the cuckold wind 
For inextricable laughter and hate. 

A Mosquito’s Wing Along the Rail

It silvered where it had fallen
where the wind played it back and forth 
and the top of the lake considered it bluely, 
and the man rustled his feet on the porch 
As if they were leaves.Every moment separately 
considered the veiny object and drew 
the object in comparison with itself; 
the rail paint peeled and flapped 
In those places where it could flap, 
the wind and the lake crusted themselves 
with silver, the wing replied from where 
neglect had lain it And the man rustled his feet 
in repetition.