Lanthanum 2.24


The Providence day warms into Provençal
birdsong, all around. Promise of the sun :
another year. And solitary Blackstone
sets out his seedlings, readies his medieval

plow (rough palms at rest – a festal
Palm Sunday). Midnight in St. Petersburg
sun saturates the yellowish bridgework
and Palladian facades – delicate, gradual –

inevitable as Bach, Stravinsky, summer.
The universal weight, the atomic number
of a single secret element (a snowdrop
buried in burnt umber soil). Homer's

lodestone Ithaka. Everyman's home.
The weather in spring (a certain cosmic
inconstant)... this the modest matrix
of your psychological backyard (Jerusalem).

My mother loves bright Minnesota snow.
But long ago (with some Cézanne plein-air
panache) she saved (in oils) two elderly,
drab-coated dames, gathering early

flowers in a threadbare, gloomy yard.
I wish John Berryman had seen them too.
He lies not far away, across the Mile-
Long Bridge
, in Resurrection Cemetery –

waits there with Yeats & with Villon,
with Mandelstam, Akhmatova & Whitman
too. He sleeps like a medieval mason
under the milky, evanescent, limestone

smile he raised – arched with paradoxical
unlikely strength, of muttering lips
and river-flow – until the long ellipse
of history replays their sheepfold madrigal.


Lanthanum 2.23

for my parents
on their (58th) anniversary

So Hobo, carrying his heavy heartache,
tried hard to find his bearings, listening
to silvery flute sounds, haunted, emanating
from a screen of Russian willows, by a lake...

and his longing lengthened like an endless Volga
circling the universe, his absent little almond
tree resembling someone further off – a blue-
green pine, perhaps (near Lake Itasca).

And the shoulders of the shades gathered round
his droopy shoulders – Blackstone, Maximus.
Low voices, muttering a kind of peace
which passeth understanding
(brooding sound

of rock dove, mourning dove). They said :
your anxious anguish that will not depart
is evidence
(scored limestone) of a greater
heart – some deeper matrix, mingled and

conjoined with all that is
. All-penetrating
milk of human kindness, like a morning
mist that slowly lifts – first radiance
of spring. And then they led him, singing,

to the crest of Providence, her ancient town :
near her mother's grave, and the tree-root home
of Roger Williams (that empty tomb) : come,
, they said... and Hobo (that weary clown)

finally opened his eyes, and understood.
His patient limestone, like the milky pages
of a long-lost book, shone forth the meaning
of slow-beaten time – her eyes (blue-emerald).


Lanthanum 2.22


And Hobo in his lonesomeness needs Blackstone
in his solitude, on Study Hill, under the Cumberland
stars, beside the quiet river. A friend
to Narragansetts, Wampanoags. & all alone.

Plants an orchard, nurtures earliest American apple.
Blackstone's Yellow Sweeting (yellow and black,
the colors of Petersburg, Jerusalem). Off
the beaten track, riding his pet bull

into exile. Blackstone, a kind of Livingstone
to Roger's Stanley (hidden in the jungle).
The one who goes before – tangles
with wilderness – pioneer avant

la lettre
. Marries, in old age, a young widow
with teenage son. Fills copious notebooks.
Shaded by Catholic Oak, preaches unstinting
brave & heartfelt charity, good works. . . and so

lost years flow by. When Blackstone sleeps
the dream vines infiltrate his hair. He grows
more tree-like, oak-like – motionless almost
in a morning Paradise of limpid river-steeps

under an emerald almond eye-canoe
that hovers curiously abaft the pyramids.
It is the dream-light of an early love (kids
know it – gaze all-trusting toward their true

heart's anchor – Indian Guide). It is
the stone that Jesus rested in his hand;
old Peter's crown, the hair of Magdalen;
dawn limestone river-cave for Berryman.


Lanthanum 2.21


Hobo lounges on the bench at Prospect Terrace,
hobo and bench both moldering down toward
moss-veined ruin. He shuffles 57 cards,
a fresco-painter with astigmatism – places

the figures of twelve Kings, Queens, Jacks
against the backdrop of a stable scene
(all memorized). His bench a Levantine
galley or desert ark – his course a parallax

off the western hook of Roger's stone eyebrows
(emergent from that brooding Roman brow
of cliff over Providence). How
halting, tentative his fable grows!

At the brow of reality... some early world...
a graying pidgin-pigeon captain's hobble-wobble
step. Shy self-revolving iteration (mumble-
throat, rain-circlet). A mason's swirling

river-catacomb, cupped in the palm
of his hand. One flowering almond eye
of a loving universe... or loving YHWH
of the Way (mint-savor of a child-kingdom).

It was the will informing Williams, copestone
servant at the crown of Blackstone's emerald hill;
a risky dove-dive toward the incomprehensible
mourning-morn of time itself... Thy will be done.

So that the kid may gallivant again
in her basilica & clover kibbutz, barefoot,
unafraid... the peaceful taproot rise anew
from limestone spring, toward the sun.


Lanthanum 2.20


Spring colors the ground with crocus-crayon.
The way a silent Cézanne anchors his canvas
with heavy apples, a phalanx of blue-green pine-
branches. Where nothing was, a piñon-canyon.

In some such way, the whole cosmos pivots
on a melted snowflake, stilled in memory.
Oscillates like a see-saw – children at play
between brush and color, things and thoughts...

Maximus too (long-bearded, thin-fading) held
that snowflake in his mind, like a North Star –
one honey-character, indelibly imprinted there.
A brooding dove-hen, sharing out its world

of warmth and sufferance... the seal
of Solomon, its wisdom-sign. Yellow-
gold, sewn into wheatfield. Glow
of sunset, sinking into earth. Doom-bell's

iron farewell. Blackstone's only candle.
Til he walks out the door of his lonely shack
and wanders (like Hobo) down out back... lifts
his eyes to the dark sky, with its ice-mantle

of myriad arctic points (all aflame in their places).
Magnanimous feeling wells up toward those signalling
night-pickets – guarding the watch on high, pacing
the sleepy ground with their airy pantomime –

as if the pivot of the universe were projected,
mapped onto an infinite field of blue sparks.
Pure mercurial frost-beams (parked
aloft, above the cemetery – resurrected).


Lanthanum 2.19


Whatever it is that sustains this constant stream
of Blackstone River into Narragansett Bay,
it must be near, and hidden, and silver-grey,

muttered Hobo to himself. Some dove-trireme,

some Argo-baton, with whirring, rowing wings
And the river flowed between steep limestone banks
golden by day and ghostly-gray by night (thanks
to triangulating light-rays, sped through rings

of floating cloud-armadas); rippled around
the spiny ridge of Providence, below
that six-sided, gold-acorned, yet sweetly-
modest Temple Emanu-el (trombone profound)

lit to bright chrome by every morning ray.
Must be a kind of invisible milk, a Milky Way,
the old collapsed Franciscan murmured; say,
God's breast – we're nursing it secretly all day

(White Russians, maybe)... so he hobbled a-hum
down hardscrabble streets, by the piloting palm
of rugged Roger, at his fo'c'sle. In the sky-realm
overhead, angelic Maximus, of old Byzantium,

aboard an emerald Argo, gazed upon Hobo
like an icon carved in silver-blue mosaic –
with beams of kindliness. For this one's sake
the King of kings indeed made himself Hobo

of hobos
, he declared. And Hobo, glancing up
saw two rose-emerald islands, almond-shaped,
meld in one catamaran : each held the other
cupped in clouds, swaying – like a gyroscope...


Lanthanum 2.18


The ides of March. First crocuses appear
in Caesar's royal purple, with a red-gold cap.
Julius returning from the grave, as Corporal
Bloom – the ruler of this world dispersed,

spread wide in little javelins of green.
Hobo, too, would be scattered into seedy
vacancy. His mind withdrawn, gone
weedy, scarce... a sleepy wind-sown

has-been. Here involuted flowers grow
beneath a milky, mist-ringed moon
and the silver-gray of his turpentine pining
brushes across a curving spray-wrought prow

near Meganom. Longing is the royal seal
(his father's seal) of Providence. How long,
how long
? The timbre of his hobo-song, gone
stealing (toward his own far 57th parallel).

He'll find his friend there, in the netherworld
by the tree of bird-souls, with Persephone
– the one who balanced heavy gravity and
tender grace (orbiting twin roses, whorled

into one). And that Blackstone-Maximus
who celebrates with plumbline and with rule
an equilibrium of Man and God (beneath calm
wings of a grey dove, hovering in suspense

over the dome of human and divine wisdom).
An amassing confluence of silver trumpets
spreads like opening sunlit clouds... so Hobo's
impetuous dream unfolds. His wayward freedom.


Lanthanum 2.17


The muffled rattling of willow branches, silver-
grey and green, beginning to bud beneath
gray skies. The pussy willows like small fleets
of green-grey galleys (Black Sea water-spiders)

or the faded wool of some mandorla-Magdalen,
head bowed (eyes laughing, lips starting to smile).
Rabbi, I haven't seen you in a while.
I thought you were the nursery man – old Ben.

Words spill from shocked, exhausted lips.
Wan lips of children punished for too long.
Silent melody beaten out of them. Innocent
song (by snarling envy) almost utterly eclipsed.

And my silence is the No of William Blackstone
and the Nay of Roger Williams. The Nein
of the White Rose worn by grey-eyed children
crushed beneath dull footwear of a futile dungeon.

And this noise of mine the woolly nonsense of thin
willow branches, shuttling like a weaver's hand
with a willful air – as when a child's mind,
sleepy, slips into moonlit pond (some quiet lane

in Corot's oueil). So the silver underside
of Russian olive leaves, the whisper of infinite
beseeching ghosts. Earth grips them – rooted
tight. Globed in its golden winecup (blood-red

now). We'll shun the words that kill.
Thou shalt not kill. Walk back into the forest
until we reach the tallest pine (dove-nest
of lovebirds, after the flood). Be done, sd Will.


Lanthanum 2.16


This milky end-of-winter light, so meek
and mild. Rhymes with the tentative cheeps
of a stray goldfinch – with the moderate steeps
of yellow limestone banks, the calm, hop-along-

arches of St. Anthony bridge (Minneapolis).
Memorial Day. A picnic, for my birthday, by
Minnehaha. Hunting arrowheads, feathered away
between Permian shale fossil-shards...

Now, in wavering weather, when bashful shoots
bend up from shambles of old glacier-ground,
like drowsy Hobo or nocturnal Blackstone
I'd sound shy backwaters, shady roots –

everything muffled under thunderous day.
Follow along some disused railroad line
past snow-patch, junk-sprawl, bantam pine
– the haywired-hopeful backyard disarray

of each untutored spring (lank anthem).
Down the forsaken track to far Byzantium
(phantom freight-train, hooting hesychasm)
where an old monk with Blackstone-problem

formulates apt measure for the whole
concord. A child's accordion, wheezing
and piping like a sunny froth of sparrows...
each flighty, light-quickened, franciscan soul

floats tethered to the milky limestone floor.
A lingering, hovering breeze from the ravine
upholds the slant wings of an unknown falcon-
dove (signalling mercy-seat in semaphore)

and Hobo's somehow grateful for the destitution
of his empty station. The tremulous light
is enough for him, on the old wooden boards
and down the tracks. Freedom is light. Light.


Lanthanum 2.15


Orpheus, on board the Argo, en route toward
snowy Lazicum across the sea, sang not
of Jason's golden fleece, but of his unforgot
Eurydice – with sighing wind assuaged his troubled

mind. Atop the leaning mast, he seemed to see
one star more brilliant than the rest – its spectral
shimmer hovered round that pinnace-pinnacle as if
one helical snowflake chambered an astral honeybee.

Meanwhile, in Lazicum (the real, not fabulous
domain – a cell of morbid, frigid stone) lay dove-
grey Maximus (master of theological flute-play);
he saw the same star wink to him, beyond the walls.

And in Jerusalem, by the Damascus Gate,
the graceful master of mosaic (with a wave
of coral pebble-wand) resurrects King Dave
as Orpheus – throned with lyre amid intricate

acanthus leaves, gazelles and lions, bears
and partridges (entranced, becalmed). Time
effaces even David's face – but not his rhyme;
longings of lazy Orpheus, Lazicum's prisoners

become the same long sigh (cicada-drone);
and the lingering candle of lonely Blackstone,
looking out across his empty arbor (after the
sun goes down) echoes that lamp above Cherson.

In the grey kingdom of Persephone, Eurydice
waits patiently beside the grave of cousin
Lazarus. Orpheus unwinds his shroud. One heart-
wrung Magdalen looks up... sees who
? I see, I see!


Lanthanum 2.14


Blackstone. His homemade farm, his Study Hill
in Cumberland, by Narragansett river –
fruitful, skewed meteor of hermit-scholar
(Anglican, without portfolio). Friend of Rog. Will.

Here the cyclorama of a mental universe
framed birdfoot notebooks, parallel lines.
And like a hunter collaring his falcons
Blackstone wondered at stars, immersed

in their orchestrations... their ink-blue field.
The Southern Cross lifted its mast (orthogonal,
aslant) from his horizon. Slate-grey hymnal,
Common Prayer... here history is sealed

within a sliver-sacrifice. Number our days.
Blackstone uncorked a flimsy scroll (Greek-Latin-
Hebrew, Orthodox). Maximus the Eremite –
whose constant gaze wed contraries (on Earth

as it is in Paradise). Wherein the scrawny
one-pawed martyr scribbled out a simple letter
to his friends, disciples, enemies... (a better
formula for self-surrender). And the

only one. Where indeterminate pervasive
(limestone) surface rhymes with single snow-
flake. Where the solidarity of general woe
meets one commanding apostolic call (to give)

and the 50 stars of the Jubilee join the six-
sided honeycomb of her design (in a bell's
aye) – the heavy yoke of slaving centuries
repealed (beside yon Magdalen-mediatrix).


Lanthanum 2.13


Three days from now, the curious Kepler spacecraft
sheers away – to waltz three years around the sun.
An array of (57 or so) sensitive lenses (spun
with lanthanum oxhide) will zero in on shafts

of thread-thin shadow, infinitely microcosmic
absences of light. Tracks of possible companion
planets – tiny blue dots of rain and ocean
signifying life-nest (heimlich – nigh-human picnics).

Meanwhile Hobo, Blackstone, old King Dave, all
zero in on one dank limestone river-cave,
where Mississippi light pings upward from a grave.
Love's unquenched anguish permeates each wave,

propels each searching heartbeat. Sunk beneath
the West Bank surf, a cavern-archive hives
his poems (buried Berryman). What survives
that plaintive blizzard of spent pipesmoke – wraiths

of ashes, loosened from the bridge? Resurrection
Cemetery keeps his bones for Jubilee (through
an eternity of snow). He saw it coming too –
after the seared straw, the drowned vermin

skip from his guttered, quavering soul. So
they gather by the river there, those three –
three musky Minnesota tears. They also see.
Bill folds his memoir into slate notebooks. O

dove-wing bookend, dovethroat-rain-bowstring
King Dave unbends one taut-suspended 7th toward
his poisonous bull's-eye. And Hobo (orphan-ward of
almond glance) croons a farewell... (like a bee-sting).


Lanthanum 2.12


Sunshine passing through a golden bee's eye.
Some hexagonal Byzantine honeycomb home.
Or simple winter light through hippodrome-
shaped snowflake – it glows like the sky

through that cyclopean octagonal rose
in Paris. And you're alone like a snowdrop
Solomon's seal – trembling like a bellhop
under the gauze of Caesar's dog-day gaze.

Tout le monde (in one almond eye) await
the Merovingian return. Those golden bees
out of their sacred cryptogram... a frieze
of martyrs still betrays – obscures your fate.

Lost kings for a lost people. In Siberia
snow congeals into a solid plate of glass.
Between the Twin Cities, a blurry walkway
bridges the Mississippi – Berryman's era

ended here
. Specific gravity compels each fall;
the spinning vortex of his vertigo
a rude awakening for old Hobo,
who put his shadow up against a limestone

wall. This sickly-yellow cavern-light
that ricochets up from the riverbank –
it's omnipresent, everywhere. In the wink
of a pigeon's eye, in the slate-gray flight

of ubiquitous bourgeois cobblestone flocks...
and somewhere a frostbitten musician fans
a palm across a six-stringed lyre. Begins
to strum. Ice thunders in the river-locks.


Lanthanum 2.11


March marches in, a feral feline – the sturdy
little spruce is covered with snow. Still spruce,
though. Little spruce, let's say your sturdiness
is representative. Of Hobo's steadfast adoration

for his wayward friend. She's gone not-gone;
her dark hair tangled like a Tatar's out of Taurida
thaws a reed beneath his frozen sea-chest. Ahh...
my doe, ray me... direct my vulgar boat-song

toward your distant Zuyder Zee
... he mumbles
in his sleep. A drowsy Orpheus, lost in Taigetos.
He sees a winter sunlamp, whose hex-vertices
converge upon a vortex-pinnacle – and melting,

tumble up into a delta-spout (as if four rivers
mingled in one Nile). Now all the rusty oars
of every rower rustle their tremulous tremolos
together, vibrate in unison : as water-spiders

dart and dance upon a pond, the fleet
on swift feet speeds across the sea.
They behold your dark crown, Medea –
your spectrum-collar (Paraclete) –

and round the promontory, into the sunlit wind.
On the crest of that thundering cliff, a modest
monastery dome presides, abides. Maximus
the martyr's bones are buried there. So send

this message to the coastlands, far and wide :
the one who went before (that minor miner
in the gloomy tombs – your mother, father) still
remains, still stands (a spruce-tree in a snowslide).


Lanthanum 2.10


This was your town; your mother's buried here.
And every town's like every other town
in its unlikeness. Strange root of your own
soul, in solitude. Utter loneliness. The pioneer

of your own life. Amid infinite, intricate depths
of an inland sea – where flowers grow,
Grandfather listened to Puccini (RCA
Victor). Wrote to his cousin, on the steppes

of Nebraska (long ago, across the wide prairie).
And all of these things disappear toward evening
going to join your mother there (it's snowing
in Swan Point tonight). A heavy mystery.

Like that hieroglyphic Founder fixed on the terrace
I want to lay the hidden limestone cornerstone.
I want to build the wall of a lasting Zion-
replica, another city on a hill (your emerald necklace,

evergreen). What he meant by liberty
when he named it Providence (peace, security
– born out of fairness, kindness). Solidarity.
Civilization (planted, rooted – fed with equality).

We're all caught up in this same snow that falls,
shaping inimitable patterns on the forlorn streets
(the waiting streets). Those ancient fleets
that sailed across a Black Sea rimmed with exiles

saw the same stars hang like heavy candelabras
overhead. And that woman in the graveyard,
near the massive stone rolled back, whispered
the same word that your mother spoke. (Rabbi...)