Monday, June 29, 2015

On Middlesex Street

On Middlesex Street one bright morning
A little girl sees something shiny in the gutter
And her dad tells her That's yucky garbage
And the girl seems disappointed

Maybe someday when she's older
She'll gather all the shiny things we have discarded
And make a conceptual abstract sculpture
Of many facets from the debris
And call it Yucky Garbage Sculpture #1
And become a successful artist
And live as happily as the sparrows

Sunday, June 28, 2015

For Poet Laureate Juan Felipe Herrera

[Note: The language of this poem owes much to an interview that Mr Herrera granted to the Academy of American Poets, in which he discussed the topic of revision.]


Who says you're a caesura?
More like a jokey trochee,
Kicking assonance and taking names.
Art vs text, the how and the what,
Responding to spondees, stuck in a rut,
Suffocating the Muses and beating them to breath,
Conceptual bruises die a black and blue death,
Daffodils, massacres, shoes, and quarks,
Revising your collected works
Like an MFAer on too much caffeine,
Say what you say, don't mean what you mean,
The short sharp strokes of cyberspatial typography
Become lances of light that pierce the heavens.

Behold, my fifteen lines of insanity.
On to the next poem, Barnaby!

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Devotion and Dissent

Roses wreathing the Virgin's statue's head
on a May morning brightened
by the hymns of children.

Mariolatry? Merely the honour due
to the Woman God chose in the beginning
to mother His Only-Begotten.

Oh, those tedious prooftexters!
Self-impoverished anorexic spirits,
tactless emphatic assassins of grace.


Light from the thirteen-
watt coil seems rusty,
dusty amid the shelves
that hold yellowing tomes
of old poets -- Dowson and
Swinburne, Wilde and Baudelaire,
Verlaine and Wratislaw, rose
rhymes and absinthe rhythms,
liquid quatrains, lust-couplets.

Wednesday, June 17, 2015


Summer is almost lovable
when liquid leaves shimmer
in the brave June morning
and hearty affable sunlight
makes a shadow-harp
of the slatted porch railing.

Sunday, June 14, 2015

To Jane Kenyon

You are my favorite poet's favorite poet,
Late laureate of New Hampshire, friend of flowers,
Wedded to work and peace, to the deep quiet
Neglected by the fretful. Through long hours

Of lacksleep, I have read and prayed your words
And felt your kinship to my distant friend
Whose own calm, lucent poetry affords
A glimpse at beauties scorned by the coarse mind.

Jane Kenyon, I must praise and bless your ghost
As your graced art has vivified and stirred
Attentive hearts and minds to emulate

Your skill at saying what you've seen and heard,
Your reverent wordcraft, and, what matters most,
Your hope against the dying of the light.

Thursday, June 4, 2015

A Letter Home

Dear Caitlin, O my bright catastrophe,
wistful, I sit in a Wystan-visited dive
missing my barmy Laugharne, missing the soft
shrieks of my tame and truly ruly brood.

I shall read this evening to the co-eds of
Knowledge College. I dread this song-stung throng
of pearly girls gawking at mawkish Dylan
thundering kingdom-come into their blouses.

I've met both Estlin Cummings and Charlie Chaplin.
I hope to meet Roethke, good old steady Teddy.
I shall return with green and gold, gladly gleaned
from belled, spelled halls of bookstacked academe.

Hope Aeron's fever's fled. Hope Colm's not too
colicky. Llewelyn's a fine fellow, tell him.
Have you got someone to plug that bloody leak?
Oh, bugger. I owe Ebi Williams twenty quid.

Tuesday, June 2, 2015


The Oxford English Dictionary did
result from that explosion in the printing press!
That blue-green earth-marble circles its fair sun
from a fixed reach of ninety-three million miles,

purely by chance. Our complex skeletons,
ganglia, veins and arteries, and cells
are random collectivities of atoms
held together by serendipity.

Those hyper typing monkeys did succeed
in generating from their dauntless toil
the works of Shakespeare and of Alighieri!

Stars that delight our eyes on cool clear nights?
Galactic clutter, luminous detritus:
certainly not a sign of the mind of God.