Lanthanum 2.9


Winter gradually withdraws, lento for Lent
(White Army in retreat from Kiev). Hobo
shambles along his pockmarked avenue
chasing a fey silhouette. He's forgotten

the source of her first quickening – just
misses her. Quick quick now (here, gone)
tell me the name of that bird, my son.
His flashlight memory (low batteries, rust).

In Pipestone they make flutes out of soft rock.
Lazy smoke threads up through the mild air.
Premonition of spring, you signal everywhere.
Even here, in this cobwebbed antique-

shop of a town, everything rewinds (prescient,
instinctual) – ice cracks, the streams
plunge between ancient limestone seams
again, at will... a soft light filters through

the fundament. Where from? Wherefore?
A yearning, searchful soul seeks out its source
(strong blind flow deflected from its course)
and morning, opulent and calm, still pours

her slowly-circling reply; on the Terrace
the local pioneer still shoulders the timber
of yesterday, the whole forgotten lumber-
room of history – it will not be erased.

Hobo's heart lifts (remembering her).
The slow, slow panorama sails – wheels
from the horizon's rim. A Kievan bell peals.
And we rise at the sound like a drowsy choir.


Lanthanum 2.8


Rubbish of late winter. Unburied contraptions,
rusted wheels. Plunged, askew, sunk deep
in mud. Rasp of iron hinges on a windblown
reaper. Frenetic epileptic conniptions

of a febrile collagiste (things pile up).
A nervous colonial, forever glancing back
over his shoulder – looks for an echoing look
(some sign, some figure). An empty cup

points toward processional waterfalls
of stars – geste of a people, under siege.
Angels circuiting with molten swords, my Liege
History's junk shop – you get lost there, fellas.

Remorseful morning is another story, now.
Tentative sunrise through pastel clouds
mingles a girlish gouache with later moods
– shakes out her hair (a wave-splashed brow)

across dew-lit fields (where mowers mow).
These early adventures sink into a crowd
of happenstance... life slows into mold.
So the gods withdraw (over the rainbow...).

On a plain flat plane, a wooden oval, Cézanne
mixes his oils, contrives an evergreen.
A pear, a mountain, someone's eye. Seen
once, in the heart of things (his master plan).

The crossweave of his clumsy, delicate brush-
stroke makes shadows linger, colors harbor
(clear, deep, warm). Now you are somewhere
in the south of France (don't run, don't rush).

Minneapolis and Providence, Jerusalem
and Petersburg (Byzantium). One russet
blood-mandala glows, endures (Mount Olivet).
She waits by a tomb – hears a plowman hum.


Lanthanm 2.7


Old ash tree in a world of ash, my mast,
you plant a smudge-seed (like a third eye)
on the brow of Guillem Blackstone, aye. The
President of Vice abides – but sniffs his last

ahead. He'll melt like an ancient wicked witch
when springtime comes, for good. It is
foretold. Meanwhile, the world roils in its
man-made dust. Oppression, violence, rich

against the poor. Guillem huddles by his candle-
tree, his crystal ball (of melted snow and tears);
hears eager cheeping of the early birds, their
hopeful tidings – welcome, garden-year! Handle

With Care
. St. Francis feeds them in his ecstasy.
No form, no comeliness, no tailored suit, no one
desires him, notices at all. A trilling monotone
under his breath, an oddball humming (Abba-sigh).

And Hobo? Hungover Hobo makes a collage
from dumpster scraps, presses dirt to his brow
to forestall the rain. Somewhere, aloft now,
tender, elliptical lips shape a mirror-mirage –

ship like a dome, like a green-eyed almond, afloat.
As if the crown of a scraggly hillside tree
were a glass trained on Sirius, magnifying
the sun. In the form of a man. See? (Mote

in your eye. Beam.) Meanwhile good Guillem
and goodly Will cross paths, over and over –
crosshatch a kindly kingdom (freedom's rovers).
Their world is yours – a providential garden. (Hmm)...


Lanthanmu 2.6


Hobo, en masque, stumbles through an endless
Mardi Gras – a dizzy sailor, on the last leg
of his last legs. Missing his lass, Peg-
in-a-Hole, by a mile (signalling General

Distress). Shipped aboard the glistening
Argo, as she whispered toward Colchis –
or was it a Byzantine corvette (hiss
of prow of prison-ship) hastening

Maximus to his grave? Displaced here,
like Indians in New Orleans? The squalor
of yesterday's waterlog (history) – the garbled
lore of a Noah (drowning in his cups)? Where?

Yet that live-oak tree, bearded with hanging green...
creaks in the stormwind, mutters (cling to the mast,
cling to me
). Climbs from the swamp, everlasting,
evergreen (amid mortified collapsing leanness,

moss). You will set aside the heavy costumes
tomorrow, all these elaborate silken veils.
The jealousy that wrings your heart, impaled
upon its broken mast, will depart (assume

another guise). Lent's emptiness begins.
The rough candelabra of a northern pine
reaches up for starlight, over Blackstone's
house. His loneliness flames there, brightens;

under the shadow of those craggy branches
lovelorn solitude finds passing peace.
High charity folds arms of golden fleece
around his shoulders. Homeward Argo skims.


Lanthanum 2.5


Junco, snowbird, little half-caste vagrant
speeding through the falling snow, suddenly
there – materialized out of the free-
fall of these drifting hexagons, a blur

slanting through the blur. Black on white.
A tiny unemployed butler, or former priest.
Tell me, sir, has the flock increased?
Have you reached 144? Not quite.

Snow lay all around the lonesome limestone house
of William Blackstone (buried in his calculations).
How long, Lord? How long? How many months
of weeks of years
? Candles flickered, drowsed.

Even-tempered, under his Catholic Oak
preaching all summer long, watching his brother
Roger build up, out of one thing or another
his free-form city-state (zig-zag of a monarch

butterfly) - while for me, Junco, the domes
begin to levitate (in the Byzantine air). Where
we wandered among disheveled (Armenian) bare
gravestones. All the negative memories. Hums

there, with the absent bees, your undertone
(the kiss you reserved only for me) – and this
is the gnomon of a swarming shadow's missed
honey. Hungry. An irrational drone.

Evening. Snowfall (late light, light). An eye
at the rim of memory, like a sunset.
Everyman's. The film spools, reels out...
then a wave swells, fills like a sail. Aye. Aye.


Lanthanum 2.4

My country, 'tis of thee...

You've grown impatient with my petrified
woodcarvings, my quartets for tangled string.
You want poems like shiny underthings,
all spangly allure – elastic, with magnified

apertures (for easy exit). Here
there are only entrances (this is a maze).
I'm stuck here myself – in Rancho Lazy-
(largest bull pasture this side of the river).

The rain is settling into February.
There's no fireplace; damp invades the poem.
And still I'm leaning over my island hearth-
home, like Odysseus in some forsaken estuary

(other than Ithaca. Off-course, of course).
He dreams of the sunlit domes of the capital,
and the deep columns of drifting light, all-
human, tender as worn shoes. Remorse

of the exiled solitaire is human, too. All this
under a muttering local rain (in Providence).
Down pour, downpour – I'll be your dense
dam (brimmed by a dewy meadow-kiss).

Because whatever it was about her voice
beckoned me into precipitous precincts.
Persists in memory. And whoever sinks deep
enough might catch its echo (rejoice, rejoice)...

Crosswinds blow spring rain against a mast.
Odysseus senses something in the air.
Arms strain against the ropes. Eyes stare.
Pricked ears attend heraldic harmony (deep, vast).


Lanthanum 2.3


A lonesome, solitary Sunday suddenly
hits you in the solar plexus. She's gone.
Has been, for a long time. Too long.
These mysterious Ides of February –

romance and governance, roses and
dead Presidents... Ash Wednesday, Lent.
Steadfast Roger on the hillside, bent
over his wayward Providence – we understand

his brooding wifely husbandry (O, his
Plantation) – fortify ourselves for love's
idyllic, homely spadework (Adam's bees'-
wax hexagon – his honeyed Eve, his bzzz).

And someone's going to have to write the true
definitive biography of Charles Abraham
Lincoln Darwin
– whose native, ho-hum
DNA (typed in layers of protozoic limestone) you

recognize as Cherokee (high cheekbones,
cavern eyes)... slow passage to more
than India (human). Homo Erectus (soaring...
sore). Our glorious Code Napoléon (tombstones).

My limestone world (of frozen memoirs).
This patient art of excavation (fossils,
mementos) – your cross-cut blood-sample
(sand poured from hand to hand). Ours,

Almond. Where you bloom, off-season – rare
mollusc, or sea-wave (in the photograph).
An ordinary love-affair. Thy rod Thy staff
they comfort me
... Thine eye (infinitely tender)


Lanthanum 2.2


The bower-bird piles up deep layers, there
in a Polynesian jungle. Two plus two
make eleven thirty-two – you know
cerebral Darwin would be sure to square

accounts. Missing mourning lonesome Lincoln
too. The Milky Way. Everybody
would have gathered at the well to see
the newlyweds draw water. I mean

a universal limestone holds such contraries
in sedimentary suspension; a milky haze
floats over the river; chilly tentative days
(between winter and spring) make me crazy

but not crazy enough to run away.
When love swells the shuddering spinnaker
the mast holds firm – a twelve-thousand acre
cinnamon basket (for Valentine's Day).

In Rome, randy revolutionary crowds
go roaming around... but we're in love,
and love transmuffles everything. Shove
that poet out of the way. Man the shrouds,

me hearties, before the mast tears itself
to matchsticks
. Into the sea. New World
. We loved the old limey (dropped
everything, fell from bridge). Ralph,

or something. Kid fallen into milk
(into th' abyss). Or Minneapolis.
Come on home, kid. Thus
the way of a cussèd raven. (Couth. Black.)


Lanthanum, bk. 2


Melting snow steams into atmosphere,
into the milky air, a milky day. Limpid
the tender colors on the old hillside;
Roger, the founder, like an old blind seer

(or pirate) reaches out one hesitant hand
over the prow, over the cliff... and the day,
and the town, wheel on a carousel (hurray!)
of history. Light sinks westward, overland.

Blackstone lingers 'mid forgotten lore
on Study Hill, forevermore. It was for this
(eccentric candlelight) into the wilderness
he rode his bull – to think what came before.

What was, in what will be. Some mandorla-
canoe, rimmed with lapis lazuli
and sparks – some fiery wheel
of Ezekiel (blizzard of apple-petal-

fall). And in the matrix of his questing,
singular, green-almond eye – someone
unknown. Nobody. Snowbird. Everyman.
A shifty junkman, here and gone. Interesting!

Late afternoon, melting snowdrops tremble
as rainbows in the ripening light, a sheen
over deep flesh-tones of a limestone
wall. Old leaning ghosts assemble

here. The Kid, the Railsplitter, the Pioneer...
the anonymous one who always went before...
Time slows to the measure of a creaking door.
A stone, rolled from a spring cavern. A single tear.


Lanthanum 1.24


A few days of melting now, a promise of spring.
A warm, sweet, horizontal beam of late-
day sunlight leans into a faded print.
Cézanne. Winter's end. Tall trees, standing

in a pale farmyard. Through the bare branches
just a glimpse, the light-blue wash of a distant
equilateral (Mont St.-Victoire). The summit
calm, peaceful, remote. Moist air, expectant.

But winter's not quite over, yet. Snow
lingers. Cézanne, obsessed with realization,
flickers the horsehair in his hand, intent.
Mine eyes have seen the glory... so

a U.S. Grant stares out toward Appomatox,
toward the high ridge of some brave finish line.
The end in sight (a longed-for contemplation).
And it will be peace. Shalom. Shantih. Shalom.

Where it all began, behind closed eyes (opening).
The unappeasable desire of distraught Hobo
for his evanescent companion ties an O-
knot through his heart (slowly unraveling) –

one curious circuitous circumnavigation,
home to home (homered past a triple play).
His whole life gathered toward a single day –
when snow fell, silently. A crystallization.

The secret heart of reality – longed-for,
unlooked-for – blessing hand upon a tortured brow.
His patient father, prodigal. Ignored til now.
Behind a curtain of these falling stars...

Love's comprehending silence (soft, cold, pure).
Incomprehensible. Melts into tears.
Where Hobo walks along the limestone river-
bank. And walks, and walks. Toward everywhere.


Lanthanum 1.23


If snow were memory. If fleeting snow
became stone... it would be this gentle,
off-white, crumbling limestone. The shuttle
flies too quick to see (time past only a shadow)

and brooding tamaracks bear witness – Raven
departs (brushing the snowflakes from his wing).
A hush falls on the stage (farewell to everything).
We must say goodby. They are waving, waving...

and the heart grows wild with understanding
(not more tame). Swells like a fiery advocate,
like a breaking rain... like a railroad trumpet
in the distance. Roll away, you rolling...

On the edge of the terrace, a chestnut grows.
Near the statue of that early Welcomer, his
outstretched hand (plumbline and leveller).
Horse chestnut. Sturdy sister to the rose.

And there is nothing without the moon tonight.
Just this full moon, and a luminous plane
of clouds, a few bright stars. Serene
heaven... O let the heavy earth grow light.

Lightness and heaviness, a double rose.
A starry balance in the autumn sky.
Each limited mortal thing floats in the eye
(an immortal trireme-lens, that Moses knows)

– this wedding barge, this nuptial canoe
that sails for Colchis past the Hellespont
bears earth and heaven, sprite and elephant
in graceful, motionless top-spin. Revolve, anew.


Lanthanum 1.22


He walks, then, through the melting, scruffy streets.
He keeps on walking, though his heart's far off.
Through concentric rings of high-piled white stuff –
Himalayas of congealed hexagons gone slate-

gray with sleet and grime. Hobo's melted often,
too. His heart a mysterious oasis, green
and hidden – holding tight to his forsaken
one. Too tight. He moans in pain

at her betrayal, flight. All in vain,
his conscience whispers back. Her phantom
face smiles through that murmuring – that hum
her own voice, now... Let me explain then,

foolish man, if explain I must. You fell in love.
You fell in love as sparrows fall from trees
toward grass seed scattered on the ground. See :
it wasn't me. It was my face, my form, deep-wove

with your desire. There in the labyrinth
of Providence, paths crossed, fates intertwined.
But you must learn, through suffering, to find
the generous root from which this amaranth

rose tall, and bloomed – rose planted in the sky.
The lovesick vagabond stops in his tracks.
Stands in the slushy street, his head flung back.
Somewhere above his balding dome, his inward eye

can see another dome, far off – its blue and gold
glinting behind concentric rings of time and space.
Behold the goal of planetary grace (he hears
her whisper then, somewhere). Cloud-flocks unfold.


Lanthanum 1.21


The humility-in-remorse of that frail old scarecrow-
bard, out there under the deep snow (Resurrection
Cemetery). The lonesome cold on Washington
Bridge that night. Ice-steam climbs from the river

far below. What submerged impulse, what flicker
of light on the riverbottom halted his inhuman
plummet, asked him to turn upstream? Amen,
. Who can't be named (just murmur

of water). While Hobo trembles, triangulates
his memories. By the Blackstone River, where
it curves out of sight – white bull, horsehair
pen, a burnt beehive
... those frozen figure-eights.

The river of song, like a vast network of copper-
colored, iron-laden tributaries (hidden, overlooked
beneath impenetrable jungle vines). You walked
blind, hypnotized, into that stream – you followed her.

Toward the sound of laughter up ahead you went.
Through dank river-mist, a glimpse of red bridge –
a white horse! Rearing, snorting at its edge –
archaic neck arched almost vertical – rampant.

The dream then crystallizes... fibrillates
like aging hands. A curtain of white snow descends –
its forest manna-blanket's wind-mandala rotates (end
to end). And the dome bends skyward – levitates...

The remorse-in-humility of that ancient frail old man.
His eager child-eye, where hope lingers, irrational
and free (yet rational, someday) – where a madrigal
from a country myrrh-box glances, beckoning (again).


Lanthanum 1.20

I raise this greenness to my lips
- O. Mandelstam (trans. James Greene)

The air, saturated with a milky mildness
floats above the almost-melting snow,
and everything seen through this mist, so
fair and luminous, begins to glow – sweetness,

silence penetrate cold Providence again.
As if the prow of some transparent Argo
cast up a wave of milk (mysterious rower's
foam) on its way to Lazica, or Chersonese –

some Flying Dutchman, ghost ship, golden
funeral barge... bearing an exile with his
black-haired bride. Leading a stubborn, tongueless
holy man to the last landfall of John Berryman.

One ultimate ground for every wayfarer
(at the far end of a wave of black earth).
One limestone pediment, beneath a surf
of snowdrift. One wedding (sea and air).

As if a snowflake were a diadem
of tears, bent upon some stone redoubt
of unbroken vows (where the martyr's bout
goes twelve rounds, round and round). Amen.

Where the almond eye of the absent bride looks out
from the flowering limb, through the winter mist
Strange order of reunion, melding of opposites...
each ramshackle skater's hut, unlikely experiment

in perishing parishes... each colonial romance
entangled with the arc of some more solid frame.
Orpheus, yodeling in tandem with the Argo's beam.
David, fingering his octave-lyre (in Port-au-Prince).


Lanthanum 1.19

to the memory of Umar S. Israilov

White birches in the distance, standing together
across a snowy field, beneath an arctic blue.
The old reprobate, in the Russian novel, who
gathers every sin unto himself – bellwether,

scapegoat. And the upstart ne-er-do-well
(out of Chechnya, maybe) who turns at last
toward the fiery salt... gunned down so fast
on a Vienna boulevard... all shot to hell.

Truth bears it price, when the Kremlin athlete
fires off decrees like javelins, now here,
now there – when a sullen Ministry of Fear
files latest headlines in the morgue (fresh meat).

But it shall not be so with you. Through gaps
between white birches, a blue air whistles –
my gypsy companion, my old hobo friend, still
figures her escape route (above the treetops).

There where a pendentive dome hovers – there
where the light rays in a ring, and whispers;
there, above every hopeless enterprise –
beyond this blustering violence that rules the air.

Once, there were long summers under the pines
when we read together from strange tender books,
bound together in their sheltering shells, locked
in their scalloped waves, reverberant. Friends,

let's go back there again : to the early world.
A perfect opalescent ray mirrors the sun, when
your free wave plays in the wind, O almond one
One clear glance lets fall its limpid, lasting pearl.