Old man, gone now out of fashion,
fooling with confounded arrows,
what became of men who claim you,
Aphrodite’s son, each one spun
into light by your sweeping flight,
held close in the deep of Aphrodite’s glance?
Then you found the world’s wayless thighs.
Flesh wounds in the tender narrows
flowered from your quiver’s careless sway and dance,
sweet surprise on a trail of sighs.
A host of seaborne hearts gathered to one
in the golden age of guileless passion.
The goddess’s divine surround
is strewn in pearls on bony slopes
where shadowed settlements are found,
and bristling perimeters prevail.
The old man is a late day light
who leans along the stilled vertical walls
of glass and steel. Though sleeping, they reveal
the closeheld life of lightfilled things.
He listens to the robin song that last light brings.
He listens just outside the boss of hide
that holds each seaborne heart,
awaits the tiding of the night.
The old man and his mother know
that he and I are not too old
to lie in wait along the pale moon road
that runs along the river flow
down to the starstrung sea,
for scattered ships to catch the early light,
steered in from starry height to starry height,
holding some you returning always to some me.
My lover found the edge of some dark sea
that bloomed above her its dark bower,
told her all, laid down, and lied to me.
The silent plain waiting beyond the shore
confines her in its hidden tower.
The blind and groping dawn sees her no more,
finds only me, left to the gods,
surrounded by the splintered ends of power,
the buried nets and broken rods,
the scattered millions struggling to see,
unmoving in the thickets of each hour,
another fearful symmetry.
SONNET FOR TOM NATTELL
Prince of bells and worthy causes,
you who stand and count against grim numbers,
war and pestilence, their dogs and horses,
holding to a world of endless wonders.
You who stand as if within an open flower,
drawn to you we are, by flash and color,
to gather up some truth, grown faint and smaller,
and carry it to its appointed hour.
Those seeking power tell the truth to be
the better trusted for their honesty.
You help all truth grow wild like clover
through a season that is never over.
Where did you learn that truth becomes
your rattles and your drums?
VISITING THE DEAD
I will go with you back to Malone,
to your great-grandmother’s resting place.
We can travel on untended roads
at a considered pace.
We can leave before the telephone
persuades us to digress,
while it goads the wakeful moment to unravel.
We can leave undisturbed this dormant street
sprawled out like a drunk in shallow sleep,
fitful in the streetlight’s bluegreen dream.
We can go before the low white dawn
surrounds the city like a winding sheet,
or we can linger on.
We shape public opinion, we discourse,
we carefully consider deadly force,
we sip and parse the world. When pressed,
I conjure archly, I dissemble.
Across the room I hear the crystal tremble.
Before dawn I can drive if you must rest.
Where the forest waits, a dying oak
dominates a clearing,
still air dense with murmuring of bees.
Close skies precariously tiered arrive,
split the trunk with one indifferent stroke,
and frenzy strikes the hive.
We can wander through the missing gate,
walk the narrowing, forgotten path
overgrown with wild mint and blueberry.
We can trace our fingers on the thinning stone
and wait, lay down a cloth
with fruit and cheese, perhaps not be
another petrified mystery.