Behold the apples’ rounded worlds:
juice-green of July rain,
the black polestar of flowers, the rind
mapped with its crimson stain.
The russet, crab and cottage red
burn to the sun’s hot brass,
then drop like sweat from every branch
and bubble in the grass.
They lie as wanton as they fall,
and where they fall and break,
the stallion clamps his crunching jaws,
the starling stabs his beak.
In each plump gourd the cidery bite
of boys’ teeth tears the skin;
the waltzing wasp consumes his share,
the bent worm enters in.
I, with as easy hunger, take
entire my season’s dole;
welcome the ripe, the sweet, the sour,
the hollow and the whole.
On eves of cold, when slow coal fires,
rooted in basements, burn and branch,
brushing with smoke the city air;
When quartered moons pale in the sky,
and neons glow along the dark
like deadly nightshade on a briar;
Above the muffled traffic then
I hear the owl, and at his note
I shudder in my private chair.
For like an auger he has come
to roost among our crumbling walls,
his blooded talons sheathed in fur.
Some secret lure of time it seems
has called him from his country wastes
to hunt a newer wasteland here.
And where the candlabra swung
bright with the dancers’ thousand eyes,
now his black, hooded pupils stare,
And where the silk-shoed lovers ran
with dust of diamonds in their hair,
he opens now his silent wing,
And, like a stroke of doom, drops down,
and swoops across the empty hall,
and plucks a quick mouse off the stair…
Tonight the wind gnaws with teeth of glass
The jackdaw shivers in caged branches of iron
The stars have talons
There is hunger in the mouth of vole and badger
Silver agonies of breath in the nostril of the fox
Ice on the rabbit’s paw
Tonight has no moon, no food for the pilgrim
The fruit tree is bare, the rose bush a thorn
And the ground is bitter with stones
But the mole sleeps and the hedgehog lies curled in a womb of leaves
And the bean and the wheat seed hug their germs in the earth
And a stream moves under the ice
Tonight there is no moon
But a star opens like a trumpet over the dead
And tonight in a nest of ruins the blessed babe is laid
And the fir tree warms to a bloom of candles
And the child lights his lantern and stares at his tinsel toy
And our hearts and hearths smoulder with live ashes
In the blood of our grief the cold earth is suckled
In our agony the womb convulses its seed
And in the last cry of anguish
The child’s first breath is born
She who did not come, wasn’t she determined
nonetheless to organize and decorate my heart?
If we had to exist to become the one we love,
what would the heart have to create?
Lovely joy left blank, perhaps you are
the center of all my labors and my loves.
If I’ve wept for you so much, it’s because
I preferred you among so many outlined joys.
It’s a joy smelling to high heavens
At day’s end, tending my garden
Dressed in mud
Kissed by the sun
It’s a joy singing old tunes
Alone, in a crowd
Loosing the key midway
Pulling it off anyways
It’s a joy dancing naked
Before my most feared critic
Peaking at myself in a
Horror-struck vanity mirror
It’s a joy being silent
When all else profound
A frog, yellow bellied
Dozing off on a lotus leaf
It’s a joy being loud
When the world dumbfounds
A crow rising at dawn
Training its vocal muscle
It’s a joy, letting fingers roam
Whenever they insist on
As I inscribe in earnest
My holy viewpoint
I can write
When all else
Cease to exist
rife with heavily
comes out of nowhere
The warm sun’s face
to reveal cornflower blue
circles of bloom,
undoing furrowed brows
breaking frowns in two,
From nowhere folk want
shows a release.
Murky weather moods
have to go.
My dog lay asleep by the window
lost in dreams of drizzle,
I pat her head
and watch the rain descend.
Cold November blows
October forever away,
and here am I, a melancholy warm
sitting with my faithful old friend.
The wind wails
a mournful tune,
a song sung sad
when the sky comes weeping.
The fireplace aglow
holds the heart at home,
as simply contented
I and my old dog, together, lay sleeping.