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.