Saturday, April 18, 2015

Storm

Oak-cleaving thunderbolts,
as King Lear called you,
splitting trees in half,
knocking down power lines,
striking rooftops, sparking blazes,
terrifying fretful elders,
amazing the eyes of the young,
lo! the chaos you've unleashed
this pluvious afternoon!
making avenues impassible,
making bus-travel impossible,
causing general mayhem,
cleaving the oaks as a child
might snap a toothpick.

Not yet knowing the full scope
of your sudden destructive wrath,
I sat in the Stopped Clock
as you did your worst,
waiting out the storm
with lager and with chit-chat
about the news of the world,
the follies of politicians,
the scandals of celebrities,
the quirks of the not-so-famous.

You did not quite manage to
"strike flat the thick rotundity
o' the world," but you did
cut down many a noble arbor,
and bring your steeple-drenching floods.
Worse than last August's hurricane
in my estimation, more fierce,
yet in this ferocity, one can perceive
the nobility of an untamed lion,
of the mad king on the heath.


[2012]

After Ecstasy, the Laundry

being an exercise in forced rhyme


It's Saturday and I should do the laundry.
But I'm a poet -- so, beshrew the laundry!

An old Whirlpool, a jug of Tide, and thou,
O pile of clothes! Let us renew the laundry!

It's been a couple of weeks. I do run low
On shirts and shorts when I eschew the laundry.

It's such a boring task. But easily done.
Machines do all the work, it's true, with laundry.

The human species has evolved so much.
It'd be grand if we outgrew the laundry!

When it's all done, I'll say hip-hip-hooray,
But now, I grumble, grouse, say boo to laundry.

I wish I had a couple of really close friends
To wash my clothes for me. A crew for laundry!

The laundromat charges a buck twenty-five per wash.
Quarters? Oh, yes, you need a few for laundry.

I've got some metaphoric dirty laundry.
My secrets? If you only knew! The laundry

Won't do itself, dear Thomas, so get cracking.
Apply detergent's deep dark blue to laundry.

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Our Lady of Cambridge

Virgin of Harvard Square, gendering grace,
watch over Holyoke Center, the Garage,
Chameleon Tattoos, and the nose-ring place.

Pray for the pink-haired waif of wistful face
and ink-sleeves on both ghost-white arms. Take charge
(Mother of winter roses blushing with grace)

of Raven, Grendel's, Peet's; and, just in case,
tend to hungry undergrads at the large
pizza-palace beside the nose-ring place.

Cambridge, mecca for sages of every race
and creed! MarĂ­a, look down from the stars;
enlarge this city’s heart! Lady of grace,

shelter the poor souls crouched in church doorways
against the cold; protect the drunks in bars,
the punks in the Pit and at the nose-ring place.

Gather us all in your clement embrace;
hasten with healing for our wounds and scars.
Bless Newbury Comics, bless the nose-ring place,
spare-change Madonna, prodigal of grace!

Friday, April 10, 2015

Eighties Soundtrack

We snuggled ugly, the saucy biscuit and I,
under the lampposts of Noddle Island in August.
We fumbled through Hitchhiker’s, played Depeche Mode,
until September left our adventures behind.

We lived, we did. We wrestled, wrote poems, dozed,
feckless and dopey amid exotic triple-deckers,
subversive sophomores in a sensual summer,
daffodils in the boxing ring, monks at the circus.

Musty sunporches! Mope-rock symphonies!
Falsetto sobs of pluvious archdukes!
Sparkle in the Rain. Low-life. Hatful of Hollow.
Aspirations wrecked in a premature equinox.

My nightingale, my siren, why did you take flight?
When will we drop books, bundle up and nudge?
You've pilfered my savvy, absconded with my wits,
O jaybird of the fire-plugs! O stacked brat of madness!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

[A cloudy Easter Tuesday]

A cloudy Easter Tuesday, chill and raw:
day of few doings; pharmacy; Mexican lunch;
visit to Maugham's; nap in the guestroom; then,
home in time for vesperal verses and tea.

What will tomorrow bring, if God allow?
A trip to the Stop & Shop for sundry foodstuffs;
Confession at Arch Street (no, maybe Friday);
the ever-growing pile of lazy man's laundry?

Never mind. Work on tonight. Pray for peace,
not "out there," in the always-warring world,
but "in here," in the often-seething soul.

Pray for no world. Worlds become extinct.
I'll give you five cents for the politicians --
of infinite worth, a single human heart.

Saturday, April 4, 2015

[Joy is a wound]

Joy is a wound.
It pierces the heart through.
It shatters the alabaster jar
of the penitent sinner.

The world speaks Jesus.
A love-maddened soul
would bathe the feet
of this god, this stranger,
with her passionate tears.

Love leaves the lover
abject, half-slain:
a victim whose suffering
is holiest ecstasy.

As grapes must be crushed
to yield the sweet wine,
so with the soul
smitten by love,
smitten by Christ.

April

you are the scent of coffee at dawn
you mimic the blaze and blare of bumblebees
you have stolen the sultry flamboyance of august sunflowers
you are the empress of seven continents
you parade across enraptured landscapes
you conquer the kingdom of a poet's soul
it is laid waste as babylon the great

you humble the haughty you rout the proud
you fill the atmosphere with wounding music
you tend to the gentle injury of blossoms

you slaughter all cosmetic pieties
with the holy force of your delicate ruthlessness
you are the riotous birdsong of summer sundays
you are the frantic churning of winter oceans
you are the strong drink of silence in the night

you confound all moralists with your ageless love

you embody mundane nativities of grace
you whisper the sweet calamity of resurrection

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

[and soon the shy earth]

and soon the shy earth
will be aprilling

small hidden nouns
verb themselves green

expectant petals
life themselves to light

carefully brashly
cold turns to rose
and cloud to sparkle

no mere mechanic
but a mad inventor
blithely creating
laughingly wise

the crazy uncle Spring
bards the grass heavenward
wakes up the sparrows

stones blossom

sky sings

dense becomes delicate
heaviness happiness
gloom yields to glory

our long lent
at last is eastering

trees like tall
dark slender women
with natural hair
aglow in the breeze
teach us to dance
while standing still

who can endure
this impossible joy

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Saturday

We wait beside the tomb
For some great angel to roll back the stone:
Will our slain hope ascend to heaven's throne?
He will not come.

Our hearts have prayed in vain:
The nail-scarred spear-pierced body will not rise
To rescue us. A ludicrous surmise!
Still, we remain.

United in our grief,
We huddle and cringe in the fierce desert wind:
But somewhere, though the bloody world has sinned,
Trees are in leaf

And from the chilly earth
Flowers begin to sprout. The April sun
Embraces feeble life, and birds again
Sing of rebirth.

But what is their blithe song
To us, who have lost our passionate lord of love?
Can we expect salvation from above?
That would be wrong.


[2011]