Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Epithalamium: Fifteenth Hour

At day's decline, we're all Pelagians;
We wind our clocks too tight. Supposing loss
Of creature, evening’s shade, we look across
The stark Manichean meridians
And hemispheres that helve the truth in two –
Our maps and minutes grow
As long as compass roses will. The feast’s
Time-honored guest, the bishop of Hippo,
Retraces autumn’s landscape, charting east’s
Determined west, the one that bridges sun
And sky. If there’s a sudden end to summer,
The season has its own patron father,
The sainted sinner whose confession won
The hour and still carries the day for brides:
No dark nor sea divides
The flesh – for love’s new land is found with this –
Nature’s compass – calibrated by the key of grace.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Epithalamium: Fourteenth Hour

This day unseals the door to a hidden path
That brings you to a garden’s grafted branch,
Adopted vines that ripen fruit by oath
And, pouring pure from heart and vessel, quench
The thirst: the day is given memory
To speak with antiquity –
Like Greeks, we break fast with feast, splash drink with song,
And dance with laughter, leavening moiety
Of minutes into countless moments, feeding
Hilarity’s mind with frothy melody.
The crust of levity
Sops the soup of charm and saucy wit. The meat
Is celebration’s common cause: a dance
With the bride (the groom, accosted by aunts
And cornered by cousins, never gets to eat).
Like novice Bacchae, boys patrol, picking up
Neglected glass and cup
And down each, loathe to waste what comes to this –
That nature drinks its sunset song in the key of grace.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Epithalamium: Thirteenth Hour

The twelfth bell chimes with the first “Oremus”
To signify that holy silence stays
The same for Isaac as for Lazarus –
And rattles in the rib-cage, in Adam’s case,
With eye to eye proposing heart to heart
To make complete the part
In her, in him, that would not die alone
If it could be helped. So lads might court
A princess, less to claim her mundane throne
And more to seat and crown her bridled hand
In eternity’s band
Of gold - and chronicles of flesh and kings
Might be condemned to realms of “Name & Date,”
But love’s alliance ratifies the state
By gratifying God’s own fiat of things –
The solemn quotidian of haunted saints
Who, watching, whisper hints
Which lover and beloved see as this –
That nature’s chamber opens with the key of grace….

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Epithalamium: Twelfth Hour

Philosophy unlocks the temple gates
That poetry paints in paneled pictures.
So theology ushers in with rites
The unity of alien natures:
Let nave and vestry breathe an air refined
By doctrine first defined
Upon the windy shores of Galilee;
Let shadows disappear, become confined
Within the noon’s well practiced liturgy.
Here, light is known again! Let God provide
Moriah’s mountainside
Another savage grace, a covenant
Of changed names once more promising offspring -
A summary of sand and stars accounting
The dividends in mystery’s own quotient.
Then close the gates and toll the steeple bell
To tell to all in hell
That the bond prevails today because of this –
Nature’s heart is locked in love by the key of grace.

Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Epithalamium: Eleventh Hour

While woman’s rites are life’s passage, selfless
As sunrise – man produces art to find
Proper reference to himself. Her noblesse
defined, man finds his mate in mind
And body, wholly immolating self
To win a better half.
Thus woman’s soul will lead a man to feed
On tempered speech that hopes for love in faith.
His temple’s rooted in her maidenhead.
His stylus learns to speak her tablet wax
While both inscribe the text.
As poets find authentic depth and rule
Within the margins of whitest vellum,
So script is honed. Her love’s regular school
Improves his mind by its curriculum.
Yes, woman is sunrise and sunset, and man
Matriculates within
Her golden walls and campus to learn this –
That nature unlocks the truth with the key of grace.

Monday, June 20, 2011

Epithalamium: Tenth Hour

Were we clever gods, we could take and make
Our songs of songs from fashioned battle-shield
And spear, with heads and limbs on barb and pike,
And love erotic as a battlefield.
If we could be bold to speak of conquest,
What soft breath would caress
The ears of doubt, surmounting lip and eyes
In body language silent tongues discussed
With prayer? We'd know a peace without disguise,
Collecting royalties
Where marriage country’s pastures, barns and fields
Hold pregnant harvest; the kingdom’s country mile
Holds court between the hayrick and round bale;
The plough’s yield holds back beaten swords' returns;
And God alone suffices in the wheat
That man takes and men eat
Piece by piece to know that peace is found in this –
That nature’s harmonized within the key of grace.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Epithalamium: Ninth Hour

Presence of all color and its absence –
These are the principles of matrimony
That we dress between sixes and sevens,
And to the nines. So, the ceremony
Contributes flesh to words that spell and sound
A candid gown’s profound
Renunciation of anything less
Than love’s everything. But groom assumes his ground.
Declaring dark, his counterpoint’s address,
He dons a funeral suit this sober morning,
Joyfully informing
His death to the world in whole cloth and prayers
Offered in the sanctuary of a vow,
A promised place from which all graces flow,
A rock that issues manifest waters
And sets a desert spinning rainbow hues
That restless love pursues
In light and shade, both staked and claimed by this –
That nature dresses by the color key of grace.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Epithalamium: Eighth Hour

Village weddings are complex affairs –
Most kindly described as “political.”
Once fiddlers get their pay, they'll put on airs
To quilt the planks with quadrille, waltz and reel,
And play the summer chimneys from their swallows,
Dead men from their gallows,
And old folk back to darling dreams of youth.
The fife, the bohdran, squeezebox and banjos
Rouse “The Mad Buckgoat” to jigs, and tell truth
To “Priest in His Boots” with “Aileen Aroon”
To dance up “A Scot’s Tune.”
The farmer boys hum them all, running apace
From graveyard to church steps, except today
A holy hush recalls them from their play…
They blush dumb with looks to see the bride’s face,
Prepared at last, bouquet for anchor, fast
And firm before a last
Glance to the choir loft where voice joins voice to this
That sings to find its nature by the key of grace.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Epithalamium: Seventh Hour

Midmorning tea and toast with marmalade
Will bolster bride and groom against a rampage
Of taffeta and tuxes; snakes to braid;
Slacks to press; and hangovers to manage –
White noise of detail, white heat of minutiae
(A great-great-aunt’s fuchsia
Pantsuit provokes the bride to sudden tears) –
Such lapses are the comic lacunae
Which stuff the pillow full of talk for years
And show how the sun's sacramental rise
Can cast all enterprise
In half a shadow, man’s own breaks and faults.
But swelled to hear the weather’s good report,
These hurricanes at loose ends fly apart
And calm falls like wind on water. Time halts.
The bride is rising to the occasion
Without hesitation.
Her heart’s red-letter day finds her peace in this –
That human nature’s voice can reach the key of grace.

Thursday, June 9, 2011

Epithalamium: Sixth Hour

Forgive the intrusion – I imagine
This morning like love’s first day, wide awake
For Eve to give her sinless eyes to creation,
Her temple’s tapers conning Eden’s book
To learn its joys before the fruits of sadness
Queered her into Venus,
And marred men into warring, whoring gods.
Today, though, fruit's made wine, the wine is choice,
And well-stocked this day of hours. So, fused bloods
Supply a sharing cup, cohere like flesh –
Restoring Adam's wish
To inherit everything names can speak;
Adorning Eve - her old glories return,
A harvest borne in leaner years, reborn
Through primrose promise, labor’s golden yoke.
So now you’re wide awake
To mix your sweat and blood - they come to this
When linking natures grasp and turn the key of grace.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Epithalamium: Fifth Hour

The birds that lose their winged self in song
Build their nest from a phoenix melody.
In God’s blue beard, they tangle up their song
With psalms that pinion clay’s theogony
And let earth rise to survey time’s estate:
Aurora married late
Or Tithonus too early, but the birds
Prefer perforce to kindle their own light.
The poets are clever to feather words
(Hardy darkened his century with a thrush
And Shelly sought to rush
His lark through gravity’s legislation),
But these are solitary fictions of
Lost hearts. Today, we look for David’s dove,
Like Keats’ midnight minstrel, lost in translation,
But raised to salvation
By eagle’s wings and robin’s throat for this –
That nature sings up morning in the key of grace.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Epithalamium: Fourth Hour

With snake-like charm, the Kickapoo meanders
The driftless virginity of Wisconsin;
This place which faced the stare-down of glaciers
Remains geology’s lode and touchstone.
The tannic river mellows morning’s mint
And gives a golden hint
To sunlight’s fuller karat. There’s a ring
Of lichen on every pine – promises meant
To be kept by time. The seasons bring
Their own gifts to your marriage, and the land
Gives your own promise ground –
Surprising bluffs aproned in shady green shaws.
The fields raise up suddenly all there – then
Drop to valleys of morning mist where crows
Are calling, rusty, raw,
Carving cold through fog, giving voice to this –
That antiphonic nature scales the keys of grace.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Epithalamium: Third Hour

Indicative bees punctuate fields, fed
On sunlight’s imperative, becoming force
Enough to tender rain’s subjunctive mood...
Might there be an interrogative universe
Without love? The answers are in full flower,
Deep among the clover
Cropped up, nodding to August's morning sun –
Purling petaled heels with names: Virgin’s Bower
Borders day with Canada-Columbine
And Dame’s Rocket shoots her perennial works
Along wood’s edge where Flax
Is patching Dutchman’s Breeches and weaving
The Touch-Me-Nots to tease the Nipplewort;
Forget-Me-Not is Adder’s-Mouth’s retort
To Lamb’s Quarters and Pearly Everlasting.
But Jack-in-the-Pulpit’s sermon summons us
To Grass-in-Parnassus:
“Gather bouquets and boutonnières for this –
That nature best pronunciation key is grace.”

Friday, June 3, 2011

Epithalamium: Second Hour

Wisconsin is middle earth to a child
Where cock’s crow breaks upon a day, excused
For putting night away – a memory filed
For later. For now, the first light, diffused
Amid the woods, shakes dreams from crotch and limb
To saunter off to tomb
And toy box. Today is a day for brides,
For men to man the clocks at sunlight’s climb
From earth’s coffin-lid. At such times time glides
Through house and hall like wafting coffee’s strength;
And labor’s heft and length
Are measured shadows swallowed up by noon.
By second cups of morning, though, you wake
To courtship’s end. From now on you will take
Just enough sugar to sweeten your spoon
Of cream as light will join
This day that gives itself. It comes to this –
Nature opens up its light with the key of grace.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Epithalamium: First Hour

(after Spenser )

For Omar and Miriam: August 28, 2004,
Feast of St. Augustine of Hippo

…strong nerves are an advantage
and accurate wrist-watches too
can be a great help.
-W.H. Auden

It used to be you could call up a muse
And laugh a while; or cry in the same breath
To think another, less faithful, would refuse
To comment on the marriage of life and death –
Antony gulled by Cleopatra’s asp,
Heaving breasts, a last gasp.
The modern muse phones in her funeral wreath
With a voice vodka-curried to a rasp.
It used to be Greeks owned heaven and earth
And wedded the twin realms for οἰ πολλοί
In pleasure's coupled joy.
This day, though, sisters replace muses to serve
Greens, breads, meats – all brought in well-wrought vessels.
My friends, marriage never fights, but wrestles
To find its comic feasts. These days, the nerve
You need the tragic graces hold in reserve.
So I pray this poem comes just to this –
That nature sings best when tuned to the key of grace.