Best Poems From
(04/23/52 - xxxx)
Avoid The Narrows
I am much taken by one long
thumbnail a bright star on dark
water forcing attention toward Nova
so forgive if I minister to,
or try, beside the distant
thigh and mine, thumbs on
various skins stretched tight
as if such stretched-ness is
the purpose of rivers for a
night in wet summer chaste
as I am (of currents made)
breathing into what attention
means back in the small space
the small of the back imagining
thumbnail's trace an ancient
script in darkness as is the
other darkness dark as dark
waves spray the bow
blow upon me
now I beg keep
bless the wound
the thigh where
is this pressing
just the thing
to talk of stars
baby seals play
or sun on gray
my head tucks
in a stone niche
ages old to warm
to press the thigh
mine, there too
that impress of
such are the living
I am not new to such need
I am not immune to the worry
upon my chaste return, sunburned,
churned by the Atlantic, I will have
discovered a haunting sound again,
an animal music of the air, the lungs,
screams really, gulls falling by arrows
of blue which, blue, saturate sky and sea
to learn the heart again
avoid the narrows
at the island's end
where feet are easily
mistaken for doves
there large currents
Dawn muse, difficult lover,
come hard through the
chimney trailing pages
Babel soup for breakfast,
and strong black coffee.
Another wander in the wilderness
preserving the last match.
Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass
Bare To Such Luscence - A Catfish Mass In Mississippi
for John Berryman, his Bones, Confessed
The original fault
Will not be undone by fire.
The original fault was whether wickedness
Was soluble in art. History says it is,
Jacques Maritain says it is,
- John Berryman, from 'Sonnet ix'
Introit then Lauds:
hosanna of rivers
or without gills
I could not make it there
that 'pointed conjunction'
nor up to air. I, Catfish,
soft sift bottom mud, give up
on purity, on flitting civilizations
lifted or pressed between
surface and aspirant spaces.
Done with all that some
have had no choice.
Catfish choices differ
from those of the 'Windhover' Christ,
'dappled, dawn drawn' though they be
(Hopkins implicate flights of resurrection) .
'Stead, Berryman without art or Maritain
out leapt his sonnets to river-fells and missed,
the fool, one last scansion - dirty trick -
'hisself, too, hit, Bones sans pomes,
hard mud, perhaps one foot or his
beard delicately dipped
in paginated river.'
Witless old mud spawn, widest mouth,
no lips to speak of, greed pulls black water
to shore, a bark in air Catfish makes in
punctuated protest at too much light
or is it, rather, ecstasy, final vision gasped
vague in depths, hinted upon surfaces,
Platonic shadow plays portending sparks
praise to what is finally seen at the end,
a life mucked and mired in obfuscated fundaments?
Fate, then, heavy in a boy's hand
hoists dead weight to a nail on a tree.
His knife scores firm flesh yielding
beneath freshly limp gills - there is an
instrument made just for this, pincher-pliers
for catfish skin - he grips and tears,
uses his weight down-stripping smoothly
bare to such luscence little ribs of roseate
Only the overly large head, the ugly face
whiskered within gilded monstrance,
remain pure to form, thin-lipped and
mocking, restrained by depth pressures,
sustained on surface trash, dead things
that sink down it's treasures.
Tenderly sing, then, to a nail,
to a boy's blood catechism -
hands, minds, are meant
to be stained, mercy's quality
unstrained neither by will nor gill.
Scavenging flocks gladly fill their
gullets inhaling entrails tossed
in supplicant bins.
In unison Gregorian they scream:
There is a nail for me
plain, a chorus of barks** -
glossolalia of rivers
now given weight.
One can only will
praise to 'The End',
and spill, post-pliers,
one's silken guts in offering.
**A catfish when brought to shore barks, a rasping, barking discharge of air.
Because They Rhyme They Live, Not I
'O Poesy! for thee I grasp my pen
That am not yet a glorious denizen
Of thy wide heaven; yet, to my ardent prayer,
Yield from thy sanctuary some clear air,
Smoothed for intoxication by the breath
Of flowering bays, that I may die a death...'
- John Keats, 'Sleep and Poetry
I suppose it is the late, or soon to be, poet's lot to jot one
for daffodils. At least one. This is mine, a last will to verse.
But first, I take a pill before dying, I mean,
its meager meal, yellow sun on a jaundiced plate.
'Consumption' is the word I want. I've got that,
and few breaths left and a flat voice to tell it in.
'The daffodils were yellow as the sun.'
So lay down thy pen. Ungrasp! I say.
An olden voice pulls at bruised skin.
I grow thin. And gasp. I grow thin as winter air.
I'll not see them rise again from bulbs perennially.
Not me, annulled in this season of the lung
though each breath mimics leaven, assumes
Eternity's aspirations, but...(where was I?) ...
not me, not long for my tongue to sing.
Meanwhile, bright petaled mouths flaunt, gape,
gulp in early spring, whereas, I flop here, leaden,
landed, banked, a carp brought to heel from bluer
lake pulling gills swallowing nothing that can sustain,
or not much. I sympathize, yes, then down another
pill for more air to clutch, breath an almost perennial
memory of last spring when it first edged me in,
clipped my singing short, when seasonal flowers so
easily rhymed but in a minor wheeze for a minor voice.
Fine then. Some one, some other poet write a
line for when I've gone under forfeiting all final drafts.
Those yard yellows spoon dirt to a useless
feeding sun, useless because I'm soon done in.
I'd do the same for you, Mr. Keats, in a soft, bleating tone of voice.