Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Tidy Tips & Tulips

As soon as he came to his brethren,
they forthwith stript him of his outside coat,
that was of divers colors.

Tidy tips are California’s response
In usual variables, to the manic
Daisies’ uniform stare. Their colors sense
Yesterday. Tomorrow’s their dramatic
Touch condensed in present dreams, magnified
In summer’s evening – autumn’s even more.
Prepared to fall, each flat-tongued tip is tied,
Strung up by dreams that harvest will not bear.

Tulips' pursed lips are soft knots of cordage,
United contraband that's been betrayed
Like Joseph. Sold by envy’s mad demands
In nether-markets, such grist supplied
Pharoah’s cattle futures with ample silage
Secure against folly's random trade winds.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Trembling Aspen

Then Esau ran to meet his brother,
and embraced him;
and clasping him fast about the neck,
and kissing him, wept.

Trembling aspen’s woodlands crisp their whisper-
Rejoicing leaves like tongue of fire. Each wags
Epiphany’s indelicate clatter,
Multiplying root to crown with bit flags,
Bestirring sovereign stands against biting
Licks of frost and fire. Strengthened by travail
In one and many by incorporating
Nature’s paradox, their patterns prevail.

Growing in faith determined at Esau’s heel,
And in his new name asserted, Israel gained
Something of the trembling sound that aspens
Pronounce – refined by wind and redefined,
Embracing God and brother, born to heal
Nations proclaimed out of flaming catkins.

Friday, November 5, 2010

St. Dabeoc's Heather

I was a fasted pilgrim,
light-headed, leaving home
to face into my station.
– Seamus Heaney

And Jacob came to Socoth:
Where having built a house, and pitched tents,
he called the name of the place Socoth, that is, Tents.

St. Dabeoc’s heath blankets ben and bog,
Thick and grey as a monk’s hood. Dawn’s faint blush
Daubs the day with druid prayer stroking each crag,
And stone crops out by nature’s broadened brush.
But ageless Dabeoc pitched his mission tents
Everywhere to shade over pagan tones
Of low and highlands, graced with crimson tint
Conveying Lough Derg’s island-stationed stones.

So Jacob’s spontaneous booths and altars
Hallowing the hollow ground around Salem
Eventually canvassed the land of Canaan
And his pilgrim steps painted – from Adam
To Abraham to gospel’s glossed margin –
Hinted shroud’s lament in his tented psalters.

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Strawberry Tree

Thy name shall not be called Jacob but Israel:
For if thou hast been strong against God
How much more shalt thou prevail against men?

Strawberry tree, your fruit’s a second draft
Traducing original sweetness. (The rank
Response on tongue and tooth becomes the graft
Arbutus grasps to its sinewy trunk.)
Wrestling weather’s bitter angels, standing fast
By water’s edge, your unbudging form storms
Eire’s shores but leaves shadeless the English coast,
Revising landscape in religious terms.

Ruddy as blood, outlasting autumn’s length,
Your yield, unyielding to even one taste,
Transubstantiates old sweetness into new strength:
Relentless hands will bite a brother’s heel,
Embracing lust, holding God fast and chaste –
Embodied thus, Jacob's rooted soul is real.

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Rush, Reed, Rue & Rye

“Bring hither stones…”
And they gathering stones together
made a heap, and they ate upon it.
And Laban called it, The witness heap:
and Jacob, The hillock of testimony:
each of them according to the propriety of his language.

Rush and reed would grow to make common cause
Under cover of sensibility
Shared out in the dry sounds that sing a breeze
Heaping harvest’s joy on sheer utility.

Reed and rush would part ways at cutting time,
Each to thatch, caulk, stretch, stitch, bind, rule, report,
Each in its own way, in each its own name,
Discounting discord with waddled rapport.

Rue and rye, though, make a separate peace
Urgent as Jacob and Laban to seed
Evidence of enjoyment beyond use –

Rye and rue, bread of life and herb of grace,
Your bitter loaves heaped-up at Gilead
Engender some sweeter bread to suffice.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010


Send me away
that I may return into my country,
and to my land.

Rehderodendron, ball-pointed, petalled,
Embroiders nature’s simple page of white –
Hack-turned-nom-de-bloom Alfred Rehder scrawled
Deep for words to dig for weeds and wrote,
Empty-paged and ear to earth, all he heard
Resounding pen with spade. He found the land
Of taxonomy fertile, by weed and word
Discovering names in each Edenic find.
Even now, he survives silence’s seasoned
Nomenclature. Home was his arboretum,
Defining deliverance, and his God
Rooted nature just as Rachel had
Obtained for Joseph a holy freedom
Neither father nor pharaoh could withstand.

Monday, November 1, 2010

November: "Other Voices"

A tedious season they await
Who hear November at the gate.
-Alexander Pushkin

All saintly, grown half-way from learned girlhood
To full wilt of soul which womanhood achieves,
You jacket life in shocked piping, sullen mood.

One hand’s at time’s doorknob; the other believes
Entrancing exits of a drafty year
Elect what remnants your future receives.

But making progress nor egress, you fear
November is your last chance to induce
The autumn to harvest a fallen tear.

Because you have little time to bemuse
Your heart to handle what has gone before,
You can’t claim grief’s nor candor’s old excuse –

Yet, as the story goes, love was your bete-noir
Foretold as bad weather; and love, the friend
You did not want but could not avoid, the war

Both cold and soft, undeclared yet convened;
A beautiful waking to dawn’s topaz light
But dark betrayal too – the only godsend

You’d had. This month, dressed black to the nines, you might
Make a breakthrough – moving from grey distances
To open spaces where autumn’s geese take flight

In songs of thanksgiving. Other entrances
Replace their exit, other voices fill
Your head. Meanwhile your mourning enhances

That day the phone choked your heart: “We found him... still…
Half his head gone...His hunting rifle close
Beside him...Eyes more certain than futile... “

His love had grown strong; and now his seed tries
To grow as strong within your grief as blood,
To groan from month to month with smothered cries.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Queen Anne's Lace

The Lord saw my affliction,
Now my husband will love me.
Queen Anne’s Lace shrivels up like a bird’s nest
Under summer’s final drum beat: the spring
Equinox has cast its long-stemmed shadows west.
Evening stirs a cold fingered breeze, touching
Night’s rooted constellations of wild carrot
Adrift in hilltop fields, an adroitly sewn
Nebula of patterned blooms to bear what
Nebulous myths would ring a bleeding queen’s crown,
Eavesdropping Ariadne’s web-stitched finesse –
So pain’s preventive, knit by God within
Leah’s womb, was Israel’s first limb, named Rueben,
Announcing Yahweh’s landscape of largesse,
Christened sterile sin’s quickened antidote:
Elected lead thread of Joseph’s parti-coat.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Quercus & Quince

But Lia was blear-eyed;
Rachel was well favored,
And of a beautiful countenance.

Quercus endures. This singular sentence
Understates oak’s hard beauty, its late bounty
Embedding lofty reach in eminence.
Rachel, too, would reach late and offer plenty
Ceded so to Jacob but held off by
Uncle Laban’s wether-proofed endurances –
Striking deep in Jacob’s grain – a taste of why
Quinces first soured the tongues of Eden's princes:
Undulate branches worked in ugly gnarls
Intimate cankered Adam’s rotten shame,
Nurturing Rachel’s sweetness from Lia’s blear
Conceptions: God came upon each daughter
Enlarging twelve-fold a picked orchard’s fame –
Sustaining it, root to fruit, all Israel’s.

Friday, October 8, 2010

Pansy, Paris Herb & Pink

And he saw in his sleep a ladder standing upon the earth
and the top thereof touching heaven;
the angels also of God ascending and descending by it…

Pansy, everywhere your sprout is recalled,
A promised thought renewed in remembrance,
Nodding your head at dawn and dusk, you build
Stems up for an Olympian entrance;
You yawn your face at sun and moon, the same
Paris basks its herb-proffered whorls in, twinned leaves
Arching rung by rung up the air. Its stem
Rise above Himalayan slopes, it saves
Itself, high and rare, in God’s divine air
Soaking the sun’s rise and set with the very
Pink and meat of dreams. So Pinks too cut their
Incarnate teeth on day’s divinity,
Numbered among an avalanche of envoys’
Καιρός! – ΧΡ! in endless alleluias.

Monday, October 4, 2010

Plumbago & Pawpaw

It was the will of God
that what I sought
came quickly in my way.

Plumbago, what eye has not seen your bloom
Laze along a hill, lighter than the lead
Unearthed in ancient pipe that sluiced your name,
Misleading as Jacob kidding with kid’s hide?
Blind old Isaac believed the things that seem
And died of heartbreak the moment his shade
Grew beyond illusion’s moment in time –
Oblique as leadwort blueing a hillside.

Pawpaw echoes the same native neglect
As named, it can trick out true papaya
With syllabics like a mess of derelict
Pottage such as cleverly bought Esau
At cost to eat a la carte his birthright -
Won by Jacob with Isaac’s appetite.

Friday, October 1, 2010

October: “Pumpkinhead”

What of October, that ambiguous month, the month of tension, the unendurable month?
- Doris Lessing

“No, my brothers, my sisters, some kiss to kill a pumpkin’s
Full moons or boyishly kick them to shattered shards -
Some young things which take crepe and cardboard for skins
To make out pirate hats, robot heads and leopards,
Hold ghostly linen poses and suppose one’s dead kin’s
Plot thickens them in their white-picketed grave yards. . . “
It is October in October country, where
A preachy preacher preaches
With black fashions and a darkly held air
On why God fell for his creatures
And why the Fall is all too cold and rare
For Jack-O’s lantern-jawed features
Too long fermenting in his own sugar.

Here are time’s border lands, where perhaps a pheasant
Will stick its garrishly-ringed neck
From beyond the woods, bejeweled crescent
In quick, flightless, tremulous trek
Through the hunter-harried air, chill, pleasant,
Demanding an awful respect
For mercury’s merciful fall and dissent.

But forget it, Pastor Pumpkinhead. Make the Fall
As darkly, grotesquely comic
As you want, the door in the garden wall
Rusts fast with frost and still will stick
On the hinges of justice – so we all
Retain enough skull flesh to prick
Even consciences rendered skeletal.
“. . .And so, daylight saves its ends like straw fired in paraffin
Replacing a clergy’s empty head inside a pumpkin
For the hollowed-out evenings before every Halloween
To ignite the night with a jagged, opal-fired grin. “

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Orchid & Onychium

Immediately the other coming forth,
held his brother’s foot in his hand…

Orchids hold humanity in rapt regard,
Repaying woman’s steady fondling gaze,
Collecting on man’s madness for beauty, starred
High in botany’s soiled paradise.
Informing roots, the living principle hangs
Down, the same that for eons delivered
Onychium - with fern’s primeval wings
Nesting prehistoric forests’ green-feathered
Yields. Like Isaac, this simple scion breeds
Complexity in opposition. From
Heir to son, crooked stem forever flowers
In air and sun that know no fall, seeds
Under earth until the spores of death’s powers
Make decay the fertile ground for kingdom come.

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Oso Berry & Ostrya

He that came forth first was red,
And hairy like a skin…

Oso berry, bitter tasting but good food-
Stuff for bearing winter’s summary of dreams.
Offered first fruits of spring, by June imbued
Blue and ripe with meat. These Indian plums
Elevate spring’s time to place. Their almond scent
Reveals a sweet lure – a cyanide trace
Redolent as the effort to supplant
Yahweh’s sweetest word with dumb bitterness.

Ostrya, your iron wood serves to suit
Steel’s sharpened ax blade, its handle hewn to hew
Trunk of your trunk – such is wood’s irony.
Rebekah’s silent spring thus summered plenty;
Yahweh gave Isaac Jacob plucking Esau -
A bitter blessing bearing doubled fruit!

Friday, September 17, 2010

New Zealand Flax

And they digged in the torrent
and found living water.

New Zealand flax embodies the text for
Evening’s glow: like a match head’s spaded flame
Woven into dark, it spreads its texture,
Zealous to burn, beyond the stars. The same
Entreats the swingle’s blade, heckling whole cloth
A gathered netting of exotic clades.
Loosely to equivocate such tangled kith
And kin, there the linen’s weave still abides.

Naturally sourced, Isaac’s vested claims will last,
Drawn tight as names of wells that spill salvation
Forming his challenge and opposition –
Like flaxen fibers after being doused
And ret for choicest fabrics, fought for among
Xenophobic tribes, and knit seamlessly strong.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Neolitsea (White Bolly Gum Tree) & Nyssa (Black Gum Tree)

“My immortal life is on the point of beginning.”
– last words of St. Andrew Kim Taegon (1821-1846) patron saint of Korea,
martyr and first native born Roman Catholic priest in Korea.
He was tortured and beheaded near Seoul on the Han River.

And he digged again other wells
which the servants of his father Abraham had digged…

Neolitsea, the Hermit Kingdom's
Evangelist, your trinitarian
Overtures are Godhead’s triumph: each leaf’s vein
Leaving wholly holy white bolly gums.

Insular peninsula, Korea
Tortures itself with the blood of martyrs:
Seven years within its silent borders –
Every bit a sign as neolitsea -

Andrew Kim and friends found there world without end.
Nyssa, too, roots destiny to origins;
Yellow and negligible, its bloom begins
Small, but with room to let its limbs expand –

So Isaac resurrected Abram's wadi
And there grew the names on God’s family tree.

Tuesday, September 14, 2010

...Abimelech himself said to Isaac:
Depart from us, for thou art become
Much mightier than we.

Marsh pennywort will pay out dividends
As it multiplies interest, its coin-
Rounded leaves dangle thin purse-strings for fronds,
Spreading the inflation of its foreign green,
Hard currency in wetland’s liquid time,
Precious specie preponderating pond
Economies in an aggressive scheme
Necessarily blessed because so fecund.

Now, Abimelech paid out the price of pride
Yammering on about Isaac’s teeming hoard.
What worried him was how fluid the coins
Of the realm devalued in this Hebrew brood.
Renowned as bad pennies, they seemed prepared
To issue greener species from Isaac’s loins.

Friday, September 10, 2010

Magnolia & Myrtle

And the servant told Isaac all that he had done.
Who brought her into the tent of Sara his mother;
and took her to wife. And he loved her so much,
that it moderated the sorrow which was occasioned by his mother’s death.

- for Lindsay Godsbody

"Magnolia, ur-flower, were you there
Around the greening time of God’s own thumb,
Growing between good and evil, and life or
Nihil, prolocutor to each of them,
Or did your gaudy bloom’s magnificence,
Left-over emblem of Adam’s excess,
Intend to play at sin’s defective instance?"
Asked the good that life was bearing witness...

Myrtle, meanwhile, bears its burden of love’s
“Yes” in life’s tangled weave with such fragrant
Rogations that nature plays the servant
To God and man alike. To each it gives
Living proof that love can grow abundant –
Easing grief in blessed Rebekah’s alcoves.

Wednesday, September 8, 2010

Lenten Rose and Lily

And [Rebecca] said to the servant:
Who is that man cometh towards us along the field?
And he said to her: That is my master.
But she quickly took her cloak and covered herself.

Lenten rose, your blooms are a tree of wounds,
Ever to green spring’s badge of splendor.
No thorns demanding blood, you take to hands
Too easily, unabashed by candor,
Entreating summer sunlight to embark
Now over soil’s unbuttoned furrows
Replete with shadows - now to raise the work
Of bread and days. A fielded figure narrows
Sight, his hard eyes curse the sweat of sun and dust.
Evening soothes what noon’s blistered hours bleach
Lily-white. Caravans of cool winds crest
Isaac’s soul as love’s slower hooves approach
Like anticipation’s growing susurrus –
Yielding God in lily-veiled hosannas.

Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Leucothoe and Larch

ille ferox inmansuetusque precantem
tendentemque manus ad lumina Solis.... - Ovid, Metamorphoses IV.237-238

An exceedingly comely maid, and a most beautiful virgin,
and not known to man: and she went down to spring

and filled her pitcher and was coming back. - Gen. 24:16

Leucothoe, your sunny death is life
Espoused beneath a fragrant, lyric sky.
Ubiquitous yet bashful as your grief,
Clustered like tears, your blossoms modestly
Open, little by little drawing life,
Taken from heaven’s rain-swollen sky.
Happiness stems from the same green as grief,
Obliging doghobble to modesty
Even as it carpets summer with mountain
Larch – ruling forests with Homeric simile.
A promise green or dry, the larch archly
Recalls the servant come back to Haran
Chasing down a virgin whose water jars
Hold an eternity of sand and stars.

Thursday, September 2, 2010

King Cup and Knautia

I am a stranger and a sojourner among you;
give me the right of a buryingplace with you,
that I may bury my wife.

Kingcup quaffs its draughts of sun and rain
In cordial measures. Left flush, it fulfills,
Nodding off until time became Britain,
Gilding swamp and marsh with burgeoning grails.
Caltha palustris enthrones April’s weeds
Until - as Isaac usurped Ishmael’s.
Pregnant deeds - it lops and drops its deadheads.

Knautia, your crimson makes memorial
Nothing so lush as marigold’s marsh. Your grave
Abounds in arid soil with roots that run
Under dusty feet – even as Sarah
Tracked her rest among the Hittites, in foreign
Interment – awaiting faith to come alive
Again, reborn among a foreign flora.

Wednesday, September 1, 2010

September: "Angeload"

September blow soft till the fruit’s in the loft. -16th Century Proverb

Angeload, this poem is about you, but is not for you

Because the blush is on the apple, sugar’s rush to cover
Itself with the belabored wane of summer’s fullness;
And fox broom and goldenrod have come to no good
By savaged month’s end as forests blush deeply
At what summer has done to itself in the end:
Trees fill their spatula shapes with sapphires
And colors of the flame - smoky pumpkin and fazed lemon.

But as steadfast as fir and spruce expose their spines,
Green wood’s last opposition unravels to the first of autumn,
It is a wandering time for all who can walk or think...
And fox-terrier and corgi terrorize the warrens, coming back
From Canuck Hill with fur matted in dew and blood while leaves
Hang in snags beneath the belly’s hem, an elegantly stained slip
Shred in some Dianic drama, backlit by moonlight.

The morning air in our room is super-cooled by last night --
A storm front's exorcism -- flushing us from warm beds
To dog-walks among orchard’s golden tents, last asylum
From time’s windy stead. And for instinctual reasons,
The inquisitive whiskers, the assured, anthracitic nose,
The bifurcated eyes, the mane of foxy merriment --
All these assumed the equinox without comment.

Lady, look, light catches your two shades in plain wicker. . .
And see, Jasper, your dog survived the shot-guns and damp duck-
Blinds, never really much of a huntress in the first place. . .
But one eye goes dark like late leaves, the other blue again
This year, for a cold day of atonement to come: high skies
Of cancerous cloud fever the laden land with bronchial rattle
Changing over summer’s someday to autumn’s from now on –

Yet without Angeload, for whom this poem is, but not about.

Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Kennedia et Kerria or....

A Brief, Impolitic, and Wholly Botanical Satire
with Theological and Ontological Petals Strewn Throughout,
All Set to the Tune of
Flight of the Bumblebee
Played on Nero’s Fiddle at 65 MPH
Whilst the Violinist Is
A) Driving Completely Soused Over a Rickety Bridge with a Blond Bombshell Who Is Decidedly
Not His Wife in the Dead Middle of the Night for God Knows What Reason
B) Captaining a Patrol Craft Fast (PCF) in Southeastern Asia from Below Deck and Inhaling Rather Earnestly from the Diesel Fumes-cum-Cannabis Emitting Therefrom.

So the two daughters of Lot were with child by their father.

Kennedia, your ugly unthinking head
Emerges in echoes of faithless Sodom -
Negotiates politic beans with drowned bloom
Navigating your rhetorical blood.

Easy climber, you betray the catholic dead
Deferring an underground birthright with stems
In flower failing to bridge the curse that shames -
Another Brahmin bloom yanked from Irish sod.

Kerria, your florid generation's styled
Epaulettes are doves' wings, an Easter rose
Renewing Sgt. Pepper's purple haze.

Regret's your summer of love. Gomorrah filed
It under nature's war with her own creed
And power lusting for governance of God.

Monday, August 23, 2010


...he was sitting at the door of his tent,
in the very heat of the day.

Jack in the Pulpit’s silent sermon style
Asseverates that forest lore stay concealed.
Chased as ghosts, though, words mean to reckon each tale –
Kissing berry's kith with kin of corm revealed
Names like Iroquois Breadroot, Indian
Turnip, Devil’s Ear
and Memory Root;
Hidden truth’s strange covenant with fiction
Enshrines such fertile news in Jack's pulpit.

Pitching his canvas ambo to sermon
Umbrage - noon's deleted shadows - Abraham
Looks for homilies in the parched memory
Pulsing with earth’s asymptotic horizon.
Imagination fails, but news comes to him -
Told from the three oaken rostra of Mambre.

Thursday, August 19, 2010


It did not take me long to discover that it was not for me to make my mark upon the age and having settled that point to my own satisfaction I determined to make it on myself. I said 'I will rule my own spirit and thus be greater than he that taketh the city' ... Edwin James, Letter to John Torrey, March 3, 1854

Melchisedech the king of Salem,
bringing forth bread and wine....

Jamesia, named for Edwin P. James,
Adumbrates his life by its paltry shade.
Memoir writ small, the cloistered cliffbush names
Edwin to his own species’ freedom instead.

Scrambling up the Rockies for a small hold
In history’s granite fissures, botanist
And activist would plant a common field,
Enjoined as crime to victim, priest to feast.

Pre-scientific times would dance with art:
Jerusalem thus trapped in bread and wine
Abstractions Athens’ temples thought divine.

Manumitted by love, though, Edwin’s heart
Emancipated by 1854
Secret Melkizedek’s sacerdotal plenty-more....

Wednesday, August 18, 2010

Iris, Ixia & Isatis

And there came a famine in the country:
and Abram went down into Egypt, to sojourn there:
for the famine was very grievous in the land.

Iris rainbows into the arid eye,
Restoring faith in March’s famished space.
Its hungry message eating earth and sky
Sends word to winter - Spring will take its place.

Ixia thereby limits disorder –
Xiphoid leaves unsheathing star-blue petals
In smart alliance. At garden’s border
A chameleon love harvests the nettles.

Isatis, dyed-in-the-wool dyer’s woad,
Stains Abram's faith with Abraham’s asterisks
And heaven holds them in familiar fabrics
That Sarah wears to fool a pharaoh’s pride.
Ishmael’s cashiered threads weep with Hagar’s blood
As Egyptian linen drinks in Isaac’s.