Lanthanum 1.18


Hobo turns again toward the light-filled pane,
a shadowy blurred ice-blaze through the frost-
glaze (blinding his gaze). A haze-mirage of lost
love – sidetracked, deflected by a railroad line.

Remembers the flock of brilliant birches on the ridge,
in the snow, at Swan Point. Like the white hair
of her mother, buried there (so long ago –
his father's birthday). One rime-white image,

remote now – all that remains. Under the snow,
the limestone – under the limestone, only a secret
(wayward, vagabond life). A single tearlet
wells from the rim of Hobo's eye. Tomorrow

was your birthday
, he mumbles to himself...
Somehow the wires were crossed, the tracks
. Natural joy we should have known
is gone
. Far away. Nothing came out right.

And so he folds his sighs into a rivulet,
and sends his whole life down the drain (gin-
soaked). Absolute, disconsolate. And then...
something in the empty lightness of the light –

his own lightheadedness – something comes
over him. Memory furled in tired memory –
thought within thought – a murmuring.
Love's rippling quiddity, autonomous.

What might have been is what will be, someday.
He hears her own voice, whispering – to him.
Like air through the white birches – to him,
to him. Only a dream. Only a dark ray.


Lanthanum 1.17


A little snowflake (inimitable, hexagonal
filigree) merges with its fellows, serene
glissando over fibrillated limestone.
Here and gone, out of a cloud-cathedral.

This pale, hieratic winter light. Small
Bruegel-birds flit through the skeletons
of trees, and Everywoman hunkers down
beside the campfire, waiting for the hunters'

meager haul. Hobo turns in his sleep.
Three tall angels, by a broken blue door,
were asking for him. Not here anymore,
he mumbles to himself. The angels weep.

Something stirs in the history of sorrow,
an unrepeatable riddle, already forgotten.
Almost. Like clear air sweeping a prison...
so freedom whistles from a gloomy bough.

In its own good time (deep winter snow).
Behind a downward veil of wayward oak-leaves,
behind wind soughing in the morbid branches,
frigid eaves, a face you don't know –

or barely remember, Hobo. Brother and sister,
equable companions – father and mother...
squared with the long dirt road before
you. Facing a vanishing point (somewhere).

And the line circles back on itself, seasonal.
Ties the knot of elegiac song – its hopeful
hexagon, pure harmony – mournful, memorial.
Tall evergreens above limestone, after snowfall.


Lanthanum 1.16


Hobo, wrecked old limey, lies in sickbay
plastered up against the wall. The window,
lit with a sheen of Art Deco frost, glows.
Dawn, held in glass, pulses, faintly. This way,

this way
... which way? His memory's gone.
And yet it's there. Teasing, mocking him.
Light like the bent and narrow beam of some
lunar ellipse, the sidelong glance of some cagey

Diane. Dizziness, heaviness, light-headedness...
odd disembodiment, gravity-suspension...
Disconsolate Psyche stares toward the open
sunny rectangle, wrung now with careless

... Psyche-Hobo. Fading
into his dream. Who? Someone hidden
in the river. The royal river (Jordan,
maybe – River J). Waiting, waiting (shade-

lady) for him to come wading (rheumy
sailor-man). Back, back... into infinite ripples
of enfolded life. Forsworn, foregone. Simple
correspondences, unanswered mail... runes

of mutual affection, broken symmetry.
O diffident Ulysses, cloaked in worn accidia!
Old derelict, old wasted garden, ancient,
hideous old pirate! What sweet ceremony

could ever ease you from such decrepitude?
Your lot lies with the old salts now
. Time
quicklimes the spendthrift dead, whose crime
is too much rancid sleep. You're rude,

he mumbles in his drowse, shifting his face
to the wall. A creamy limestone light played
in the shadows of the blinds – rayed
across his gimp leg with a wistful grace.


Lanthanum 1.15

i.m. P.M.

Winter's low sun and watercolor sky.
A special, spectral lightness of the light
held fast in snow. One raven's mute flight,
skywriting memoirs of life's fever, far away.

To start from a place of ubiquitous limestone.
Ravines, apartments, courthouses, train stations...
everywhere this mild kind sedimentary companion
whose humble self-effacing flint, flesh-toned, is

swathed in protozoic hieroglyphs. Fossils
and broken shells, arrowheads, snails,
faint tracks, primordial insect-trails...
garrulous cipher-slabs, teeming with life-stills.

Immobilized (morphology-Pompeii).
A remote life-world, more distant in the cold.
A secret agent binds its numbered mold, its
elemental patrimony-prism (one green ray).

Through snowy limestone, memory grows light.
Slowly, slowly. A sort of sarabande
by seasonal contraries. You understand
as you are dispossessed of what you thought

you wanted, had... and understanding (finally)
you have it, have it truly now – again, again.
Crystallized (like fossil, frozen hexagon).
A perfect, ineluctable Law (sung tenderly,

afloat, ascending). So one trusty star-
fish hovers motionless above slow-moving
time – out from limestone riverbank, singing
she swims... (light bark upon the river R).


Lanthanum 1.14


An exile, out of woods and snow, finds shelter.
Home, welcome. Laughter and fellowship.
Mutual discovery. What cheer, Netop?
Old matrix of lovingkindness... New World wonder.

The pioneer of our res publica
is granite, now. Benevolent piano-
fingers stretch above the cityscape.
Blackstone preceded him (exile's exile).

Lonesome tonight, beneath folds of snowfall.
Tenting tonight, on the old campground...
(I hear my father singing. Far-off sound,
long ago (Minneapolis, St. Paul). Soft,

...) Blackstone was lonelier. (Imagine
his candle in the solitude, his falcon-
pen, scratching his bird-track sentences -
remote notations, long-lost correspondence

burnt on a funeral pyre, obliterated.)
There is a loneliness more absolute,
there is a whiteness colder, more acute
than mine (a deeper snow, more delicate);

there is a hand extended overhead,
an octave sounded by stone fingertips;
there is a horse more resolute, who nips
the cold to spite the cold, whose bed

is laid among more constant lights, that shine
and shine through deepest cold and dark. A
Silver Blaze, above the gilded straw. Sure
mark. Lost mariner's high hopeful sign.


Lanthanum 1.13


He was just a green kid once, but he held his own
soldering iron until it burned his fingertips.
The lessons, mistakes... blistering quips
of pros, old-timers... til he was known

for what he could do. On a straight line
angle a triangle
. Square. String up
a lone hypotenuse (get a grip!)
at least 28 times per milisec. Refine

(redefine) your figures (power of ten).
Moon-calf! That's not how it's done!
Start over (again). From the beginning (if
you can find it). Classroom = iceblock. Frozen.

He falls asleep at his desk. Polar air
through his nostrils. Siberia. Evergreens
atop limestone cliff. Absolute zero. Serpentine
current, snorting steam (some engine there –

horse? Horsepower?) – non-Euclidean.
Elemental. Everywhere. Like a foreign
language in your head, the sunken
pitchdark paw of some titanic, cyclopean

bridge. Concrete (sullen, mammoth, cold).
Here the hero must sell some heroin
to the heroine. A white powder (known
as "horse") which is the lingua franca (sealed

in hexagonal beeswax). Coin of the realm.
Universal solvent. Common denominator.
Drug of choice. Smoke signal.
Hellespont. Jason. St. George. Starbright helm.


Lanthanum 1.12

to Capt. Chesley Sullenberger

Hungry Hobo, pitiful gnome, shivers, parked
in the park of his infinite lack. Bemoaning her
(mirror-token of hysterical desire –
milk of phantom kindness – sign marked

absence). From the sky, meanwhile, one lumbering
50-ton aluminum bird-toy sinks tenderly toward
the Hudson... its pilot, with unimaginable fortitude,
guiding it carefully down to the silvery, slow-moving

surface. 153 men and women, and one infant...
and himself. To safety (shivering, awe-struck).
With their nets and ladders, the ferrymen's quick-
helping hands lift each (one-by-one) from buoyant

slow-submerging wings, frostbitten stream.
And through the icebound, torpid circulation
of his own bituminous heart, an intuition
turns, slightly. It's Hobo's minuscule dream-

aircraft – a bivalve catamaran of glinting light.
Alien teardrop, caught in the corner of an eye
(its name is charity). Inkling or memory
of yearling gratitude, for simple sight

and sound. For taste, and touch, and scent.
For quiet home, mild voices, sunny afternoons.
Grateful to breathe and be alive (someone's
darling). Hobo turned, and paused, intent

upon his insight. A scratchy fiddling overhead
(of winter oak-leaves) accompanied his meditation.
And the snow on every side seemed to shine
like polished stone, like a mind renewed.


Lanthanum 1.11


The dark green of the pines rhymes with the lime-
green of the avocado-canoe (its light lizard-
skin like birch-bark). In the snowbound woods
the axe splits the trunk down to the time-

warp of the tree-rings (a white hare, meanwhile
oars away on snowshoes, silently). It's winter
in the Poem Mountains (the frozen center
of the Yule log). Everything is kept on file

by guardians of the posthumous world;
the angels of accountable increase,
decrease (deceased) maintain their lease
on life at the expense of life, O Herald...

and the fate of the dispossessed ne'er-do-well
depends on an infinitesimally-narrow hair
(a wonder she was even ever there).
In the well of summer prairie grass... (cicada-shell).

A long time ago, when the trim eye of the Argo
leapt from wave to wave like a glancing sun.
Burning, buoyant, imperturbable. Urn
of Phoenician fire, Minoan river-flow...

where the last arctic emblem (figure
of a diving man) solidified, coagulate
around the limestone-ivory silicate
(stalactites) of the collegiate epicure-

pariah. So many shadows round about you
... pull down those Venetian blinds now
(eyelids of your pearly casket, Imago).
Shades of Tahitian greenery (cloudy sky-blue).


Lanthanum 1.10


That unaccountable figure on the bench
in wintry Prospect Park – my shadow? Yours?
Hunched derelict hobo. Black hole among stars.
Semblance of homo sapiens, with light quenched,

almost. A sinking reed. Under the granite
figure of the hero, whose beneficent paw
floats like a puppeteer over this outlaw,
outcast, outlier... And will those fingers lift

him upright – set him free at last? As when
a meteor (or black hole) meets the sun
the principle of fire in Everyman
compels a paradoxical reunion

where messenger and message merge as one

So smoldering (beneath casket of jewelled snow)
Love's molten matrix forges oneness, too.
Three days encrypted – frigid – light will burn

again... Bear your blind witness, Henry, then
to wings of shadow-within-shadow. Blackstone
atop his Study Mount, enveiled within a zone
of ineffable mysteries, might have seen

his Williams so : offspring of the Paradigm,
Child of the unknown One (afoot amongst us
in his rosy isle) : Moon's limpid mirror-face
of Sun's all-penetrating, omnipresent flame.

Thus these three (Roger, William, hobo)
triangulate a mode of history – familiar,
familial, and strange, at once. We share
their fate (a planet's incandescent O).


Lanthanum 1.9


Afternoon through library windows. A view
across gray rooftops, colonial town, highway.
A light-beam pyramid, in majestic array
hovers over Providence (through

gypsy cloud-flocks). The day's epiphany
for the gray librarian, the cautious book-
shepherd, shelf-sailor. On his duty walk
around precincts of Alexandrian harmony.

Lost to himself, lost to the world, reciting
a missing life, absently, amid posthumous
tree-compost. Alone there, and serious
in the sub-sub-labyrinth. Whale-hunting

for Leviathan. The answer to the riddle
of a feline Sphinx. The Big One.
Apex of the pyramid. (Is she a 9?)
He marks a square around the base (idling

fiddler, flute-player). Impenetrable
mystery, irrational number... yet, simple.
It seems the vessel's deep-ribbed, ample
hold offers a short-cut (systole, diastole...)...

What walks on four legs? Why, the baby-king.
Magi make obeisance to prince-principle
of infancy – a whispering-low cymbal,
manger of every symbol – everything

converging on one humble nameless shed,
one unaccountable free radical (your soul).
And it was so. Rippling angles of the whole
sang through dry furrows of the sacred dead.


Lanthanum 1.8


A steady rain this January night.
The mottled sound of drumming on the roofs.
Rhymes with a certain hollow solitude –
hoof-taps on a frozen lake (my Bight-

of-Benin Vatican... my secret, private
Minnesota). Or frozen riverbank
across from the grain elevator (swank
condo now) that J.H. Ravlin built (concrete

abutment, where he leapt into the snow
on Granddad's birthday, forty years ago) –
the Son goes as it is determined, but woe
to that man by whom temptation comes
. O

say can you see, hobo, through this white
montage? A bubbly-milky foam, that seeps
and slides along the shoreline, beneath
limestone steeps... the river's undulating

rise. You remember, Jim, climbing
that vertical clay precipice, when I
froze, paralyzed – you bent the spry
thin poplar down to me (brotherly rhyme

in memory)? I'm lighting out tonight
for the Territory. Tonight, tonight. Not
tomorrow – tonight
. Through the knot-
hole in the Minneapolis apartment –

through the graveyard shift, brother. Steam
rises from the boiler through the pipes –
the anonymous warmth of these midwestern types
of blocks on blocks of numbered bricks (home,

home)... by the river (with George P., the patriarch).
And where is the flickering signal, here? Where
the pine welfare of Siberian hearthfire? In this
spare square, where limestone longs to arch, arc...


Lanthanum 1.7

And these too knew him : a lynx of stone.
- Conrad Aiken, The Kid

There was a kind of limestone light today
on Prospect St. An old New England light.
So many generations... Blackstone's late-
night candle (frail preliminary ray)

a white light on a black stone… shining
through the rustling tree-dark (whispering
leaves on leaves). Time, upwelling, sinking,
(wave on wave) rings – pining, pining...

What was he seeking in the wilderness?
Maybe the shadow of a Shulamith.
He was a gardener, an orchardist...
(the apple, Yellow Sweeting... it was his).

Meanwhile, an ink-black sun shone overhead
in far Peru, shading the ships of 1492.
And cast across the water, Ishmael, you
became your wail (a ghost-dance for the dead).

For me, a black-white photograph
ascends, like sunken Argo from the deep.
A little girl with melancholy sheepish eyes
(so huge and black). Thy rod and staff

they comfort me
and I am lost
without you. This balance, like a taut bow-
string, or like a plumbline at the prow –
an anchor. Who paid out the line? The cost?

The sun wheels lightly over Providence.
Snow sleeps on the ancient stone. A raven
leaps from pine to pine, southwest, southwest
– a trembling baton (from key to key).


Lanthanum 1.6


Laced like ice-fantasia into the snowpatch-dirt
beneath dim January light, these caverns
of streets, where we used to walk together
over Providence. A watercolor, watery...

layers of frozen phosphorus… a Bruegel scene
of venery and venison. Hard to explain –
voids (absences, au fond). A miniature line
of tornados. Little eddies in the riverine

backwash, beneath caked limestone (frozen
beards, stalactite-justices). There, off the
bridge you sailed (about this time of year).
Remembering you, unburied now (Ojibwan

dreamer, spark off the smithy) – as the lover,
not the beloved. Magnanimous messenger,
elder alder tree – whose emptying gesture
echoes the keening poverty of every

anxious child, enraptured of his father's
smile (that tense suspended 7th chord).
So in these solitary winter courtyards
everything grows more simple, real.

A sort of model of renunciation.
Better not to have, than having everything,
. Better to hoist sail, rotating
on one toe, careening round an only sun –

til you recoil, to strike once more
the name of fire, brazen, Promethean;
to sound, resound, the source, the origin
of so much anxious longing (heart's long cure).

Lanthanum 1.4-5


Windy air's a blessing in disguise,
and the limpid winter light through dusty glass
that hovers just above the snow. No mass
at all. Only a masque, a fantasy, weightless

surprise. And this is like the heart-murmur
of melting springs, invisible, under the ice.
Of the lost mariner, the drifter, the twice-
born clown-mime – he of the lost anchor,

whose loss is sure. Down to the ground,
to the bone, to the root, to the base.
Where the mind stalls the weather, the ice
freezes over... where Time comes unwound.

Nothing, afloat. There to stand, and, standing,
understand – with a mumbling blindsight,
inexpressible. As with the light current
passing between loving eyes (unspoken

wheel, slow waltz). In the nature of things,
the unglorified and secret luminosity
of humble things, forgotten. See,
it's omnipresent, so. These cherishings

are silent, deep... these chords in unison.
On the octave, on the perpendicular.
On the mast, on the tree. The pole star,
everywhere (hearth-fire of an unknown sun).

So radiant charity filters through the square
on its irrational diagonal of self-surrender.
Unrecognized, innate and universal jar
of myrrh – or winter's promissory trumpeter.


From twin marvelous sea-blue Byzantine eyes, to
a block of dry ice smoking at the corner of 114th
and Vine (near Rome Blvd)... into the teeth
of your hobo's urban myth (his dream lean-to).

Mumble your way in, mutter, because in the end
it's a verbal Heimlich maneuver – you wrestle
with a mirror-angel, bursting – aglow with echolalia-
muscle, with imitative fallacies (pathetic, Hen) –

bent glasses, glossaries – with Vap-O-Rub
straight from the Crusher to you, Vern Gagne!
Through this veil of sorry flesh, ancien ami,
semblable, frère
little tugboat, bathtub

toy – my yodeling Argo, oak among chestnuts...
so zephyrs the flute of your spiritual compeer.
Your complement. Imaginary sister-
dove, soeur-mère (not so imaginary). Stu-

stutters to life. Somewhere. And the oval
mandorla brims to its (heeling, keening)
circumference, wind wailing
through the stays – the swell

swells –

– somehow the mast remains somewhat vertical
in the heavy blast, through the brutal waves
and one acute angle of sunlight saves
us all from peculiar disaster (perpendicular) –