Friday, May 13, 2011

Vocative (from 2000)

Teach me the word
That will conquer the world,
Will plunder, will lay waste,
Dominions of the dull
And kingdoms of the bad.

         Silence is learning
         Submission to heaven,
         Grace's receiving,
         Kenosis and virtue,
         Works of the good.

Teach me the silence
That will conquer false speech,
Will betray, will scatter
Legions of the proud,
The chattering cheaters.

         The holy and honest
         Speak little and wisely,
         Composed of a faith
         That keeps them in concord,
         Silent or singing.

Monday, May 9, 2011

This poem is for the birds

The circumlocutory ornithologist
Transcribes the song of birds
In early morning mist.

Splintery notes of springtime, thinner than twigs,
Than the stems of leaves --

Delicate chips and skips of sound,
Crisp brisk wisps of music.
Wakeful wit!

Stitching whistles. Jittery flits.
Sibilant whispers, riskiest vigilance.

Young things with wings
Peskily gossip in a mixed snit.

Listen quickly. Don't miss.
This. And this. This and this.
How the slender ribbons twist,
Wind-tipped, chill-blessed, light-kissed, swift.

Thursday, May 5, 2011


Write without coffee. Wake at half-past-two.
Make couplets, since there's nothing else to do.


Adventure! Be my damsel, my delight,
And watch me scribble in the dead of night.


O southwest breezes, soft, scented of May --
Could you do more to beautify this day?


When old Ted Roethke wrote, he made words dance
And sing in every desperate circumstance.


Two hundred sixty pounds, robust with meat,
Ample with beer, I more than fill my seat.


He walks on air, as nimble as a sprite:
A heavy poet who can keep things light.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Menotomy Moonbat

I am of Arlington,
And of the blessed town
     Of Arlington.
I drink my coffee on the porch;
I walk a half a block to church.
It's lovely here, even in March!
You'll find the peace for which you search
     In Arlington.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

Homage to Arthur Rimbaud

The letter A is the River Charles. Dirty water, the Longfellow Bridge, the regatta every October.

The letter E is the clear cool bell ringing for mid-morning prayer at the Trappist abbey in Spencer.

The letter I is the noontime glare of the desert sun on the woman at the well in Samaria.

The letter O is the full moon, magisterial clock without hands, whose face gives light to scientists, to poets, to lunatics.

The letter U is a cornucopia of gratitude and generosity, the fruits of the Spirit, abundant and free.

The letter Y is an agile gymnast, standing on her hands at the balance beam.

68th Letter to a Poet

Awake till three, I tried reading Allen Ginsberg but overdosed on his naughty-boy language: baldpate sophomore. I nodded off to TV jaz...