Poetry

Upon the House by the Horse Farm

The farm road with its drifty fence
where all along the apples go
and gnarled oaks that bend
to growing pines that sway in grasses old—
and mended was the rusty plow
of buttercup and vetch and so
beyond the grassy garden stood
a crippled home of ash and wood.

Dawn may have caught the resting foe
for in the leeward room there sat
a bed of ruffled coverings
and little shoes all laced with bows.
Or perhaps the midday came
a child all about in play
the horses on the hillside moved
beyond the curled gate and rose.

Naked as the sodden foul
all whimsy nymph and counting so
one by one the daisy weave
to dress her mothers linen clothes
her eyes upon the field went
unknowing and
as forgotten goes
and so forgotten
goes.

Fall, Cleveland to Chautauqua

Where the hill and threaded bobbin lie
through the green and hardened boughs and why
what yarn has come to lay and lie
in the leafy graves of an umbered sky
the choral banks and carmine eye
of the cardinal that sits in disguise
the golden finch that floats and glides
on a gilded limb to claim his prize
the posy wren that shakes and shys
then falls to her blushing bed and dies
hums a whistling hymn and sighs
out to the burnt sierra dries
the honey aspen hearted skies
the dovey thrush that fall and fly
on the patterns of her poetry

The Reliquary Urn; For Joseph Wright of Derby

Oh the Riviera grey
funerals, blackbirds, and the day
by stiff and stiffening stems that ledge
the farms and fields of gnarled beds.
With secrets quiet still and buried
hiding ghosts or locked and worried

by engines, cities, the Paris lights
when candles did more than just illuminate the night;
but the table, in the windmill, by the mantel and vase
and the children who crept in the garden at dark,
in a wintery spring when the wet lambs mourn,
and the altar where Cain and Abel were born.

The light of the sky came in twenty lashing;
to the red in the mere and the gold in the lark wings,
to the babe in the wash of the round copper basin,
and the ring that hung off the neck of the maiden,
to the ribbon starlings that weave in the dusk,
and the stable lamp when the door blinks shut.

Off the rivers windows and glossy oaks,
and the morning willow whose bird it woke,
to the candling fog, burning and swift,
and the sharpening grass of morning’s lift,
to the drunkard monarchs shouldering through
the dampened shade of the afternoon,

where the oxen bends his ebony knees
by quiet cricket and quiet breeze
to the mimsy rolling and palleted wheat
where The Painter blends the evening heat
and pulls the myriad strings of day
through the purple cloak and clay

that crawl amongst the forlorn shade
and creep away as darkness fades
into the burning leaves of morrow
and the darkened homes of ash and
sorrow awoke within the field towns
and heard a voice that rang aloud

Alas the Lord his cherries down
the light, it heeds us through the ground.

The Dawn and Burial Birth

Twas gone who gave the gold-wing dawn
who lost her lofted lie
and married with goodbye
who grew her yawning tide two
eyes and shadows gone gliding
in the gold-grass groom to be

wed the waning seasons free and sought
calm from the Canallers green and splintered
oars and pews to seat swans
and pintails and bufflehead blue across
the goldfinch grey and wilted hay lay
seasons sweet to rest anew

Late we wait the masthead lurking long
the yelps that calm our darkening days of dawn
who holds her arms to seasons young
and silos thoughts of deepening

Cattail catch the brimming gold
the silver ice whose hardened hold
tells not but far nor seasons near
but thanks the dawn of nigh and near
for saying do at morning new and mourning
night and music too

When the lashless sky portrays a bound
of roundless shiftless seas and cracks
the bulwarks steady ease and fills
the Red whose running knees buckle, sink
and reach for please, God ambers olive leaves

the silver hand that held the chapel high
and dappled clouds that hilled and sighed
waved the voyage sea boat by
so dawn could tuckle in sleeping
to wince a satin prayer of weeping
for night to call the salty blacks
and dawn dark gashes down their backs
the sutured roots the tigers rats
the headless stems in piles and stacks

Columbus head and hard he hailed to lee to
lands a fury frowned a famished sea
the crack, the wound, the wound, the whip, the snap
the dawn the sky a golden sap
the song of thunder coming back
the wicker womb a boney trap
shoulder to shoulder back to back
shoulder to shoulder back to back
shoulder to shoulder back to back
the fleas and ticks and lips and rats
the ship it banged it bobbed it tacked
the men they brawled
the women scraped
the captain groped and grabbed and slapped
the hatches blew, the mast it cracked
with land in sight they drifted, trapped.

Her purple lids that hung and heavy swung and wooed and wailed
some babies caught in musket fire smoke and heavy hail
the captain foolish captain clung unto his grail
his grave and stupid knave that pushed the seas into his sails
so thought the his crimson hand that sunk the gavel and the stand
took the count and jury clan asunder down to sea and sand

In the morning left a trillium sea
still and lifeless her Iris breaths
her pregnant belly floats and grieves
with skin as dark as chrysanthemum seas she prays

the orchid in the window at the farmhouse
hung petals yellow clouds blossom in the grave bloom
the tannin sheets made in the field
in the evening

The Roger Tory Peterson Field Guide to Trees and Shrubs that Rhyme

Carolina buckthorn
Labrador tea
Sweetleaf
Sweetbell
Bog rosemary

Gumbo-limbo
Bitterbush
Inkwood
Pepper tree
Terebinthifolius

Big flower paw paw
Coco plum
Buttonwood
Princewood
Possomhaw viburnum

Sparkleberry Smoketree
Corkwood
Gum
Chokecherry Hornbeam
Rhododrndron

Prince tree
Princes tree
Loblolly pine
Nannyberry Red bud
Wooly pipe vine

White ash
Black ash
Green ash and Blue
Pumpkin Carolina
And Ashleaf too

Hobblebush
Arrowwood
Squashberry black
Maple, Willow, Sycamore
Poison sumac

Hawthorn
Margret
Washington moss
Tree-of-Heaven Devilwood
St. Andrews Cross

Honeysuckle
Woodbine
Pale yellow rock
Swamp Bella Northern
common lilac

Sand cherry
Black cherry
Greenberry Bristle
Supplyjack Jack pine
Moonseed Thistle

Pussywillow
Catgrape
Wolfberry Dogwood
Troutlilly Toadflax
Goatsbeard and Foxglove

Ode to Chimneys

At your feet I sit and feed your glory long
and slender of the Victorian age
red brick and dark mortar in Federalist form
a headless neck and a head of smoke
whisping off into the wintery night
or cobblestone patchwork beneath
a barn beam mantle with firey tongue
licking at the skin and minds with thoughts
embering rocking to and fro remembering
the woodpile is low.

Be the throat of my hard work
breathing in constant exhale release
to draw oak breath and hickory
soft kiss blown the soul of maple
and the rich lungs of the cottonwood.
Breathe O’ chimney cloaked in wood smoke
fill the sky and linger to I
a ghostly cloud of sweet, sweet smelling death.

Rest stovepipe chalked in soot swallow
the coals and yawn clouds
of papery ash fresh cooling down
falling as snowflakes do amongst
a dark night as the moon flickers
like the last spark in the corner of a darkened hearth.

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