Lanthanum 3.5


Cloud and sun, an April wind. Limestone
lanthanum-radiance – shy, secretive, behind
slow-roving grey. He marks his rubicund
Rose Island diary (weather's wayward

son). Lanthanum, somewhere (polished
to a mirror-bend) signals a glint of raven-
shadowed jay, or plummeting halcyon – or
eagle in a child's great gouache...? Might be.

Might be your ever-present absent friend,
Hobo – one flicker of a dark eyelash.
Plunging to earth and silence (wash of
wave – those heart-burst tears – land's end).

Where the light-road leads, one April morning.
There are these women, who accompany the bier
of Lazarus, with limping step
... near, near.
You their song's burden, Hobo (mourning's air).

A lone dove in the pussy-willow paces
my tootling, marking slow time. My mother's
gray hair, gone all white
. Lanthanum's where
the final flame burns clear – it simplifies

the simple word (more than enough for me,
that dove intones). Toward the old limestone
shaping her steadfast stream, onward and on.
Toward the milky eye (a-brim, spontaneously)

that seems to penetrate all things – beginning
with the bees' domain (yon honeyed hexagon
hung from an almond limb). Hobo's dear one,
inhabiting his song. Their light-flung road.


Lanthanum 3.4


It rains all day across the sleepy town
on Holy Saturday. Between Passover,
Easter. Hobo twirls a green clover
between his fingertips. He's on his own.

The hollow gray of absent almond J
seems to stand for an ancient enmity, still
unreconciled... though we have indeed all
drunk from the everlasting well. Amen. Selah.

And Hobo and his ne'er-do-wells (lightweight
poets, dreamers, Beats) figure a familiar
impasse. What to make of Adam's labor
in the dust, and property – of all sedate

hard-purchased husbandry – beside their trilling
Eden-visions? Perhaps, somehow, these two
knots are entangled, under Babylon willows...
the road to Paradise spun through their mingling.

Blackstone, Maximus make Lenten offerings
for wayward prodigality. A service
of remembering, only (and charity). It is
an emblematic echo – icon of that singular

surrendering (inimitable and complete).
Gift of God-in-God, and God-in-Man –
of God-with-us, in us
. Redemption
(it is finished). Now the Paraclete

breathes fire behind stray roving clouds,
slow-rambling spring rain; the otherness
of an outcast almond tree is still with us –
its wavering hobo-stem (rooted) still sings.


Lanthanum 3.3


That river of milk, that torrent out of Africa.
A royal stream, through infinite sand. Up Nile
to Memphis delta, mapped like some Old Faithful
(or a brainstem beech). And that Moses-fella,

lifting Pharaoh's serpent-rod against itself
on behalf of the slaves (home folk). Stand
of the common law – say, Coke against Bacon
(that Crown man's bland yet supercilious craft)

for rights of Englishmen (trailing back
and back to the shepherd's shack. . . the local
plowman's heavy bullock's heart). And withal,
Blackstone. Williams. Pungent square-root

(stalk of dusty mint). O the infant whisper
of those meticulous sapphire spheres! Silence
rounds the word with knotted wool (deep, dense).
Love's entrance, lighter than linden-leaf (there,

there... my child, my dear). & if I were Cézanne
I would sketch those interlacing needle-swords
of pine branches, across the street – beside
the old Episcopalian (Tudor-style) church. Then

outline my clumsy figure of a man. On a balcony,
in Memphis, one gray morning (near Palm Sunday).
Yesterday. Only the final rude display
of evil-hearted impotence. To take away

our Prince, with violence? You cannot take away
the orbiting bridegroom, beaming bride (they
have shaken the dust from their feet). O Milky
Way... light, light. Time's wedding day.


Lanthanum 3.2


A cloudy April day. These pewter skies
of early spring, moving like a mirror
over the gray concrete town – where you're
not near. Gone. Pining Hobo sighs and sighs.

There's the Milky Way (a silver ring, remote,
mysterious, magnificent) and then
there's a mulberry tree by a wooden
fence, on Milk Street (London, long ago).

A cozy room looks out where Thomas More
(by window-light) writes his last will and
testament (familiar, private, un-Utopian) –
walks in mind toward that peaceful hour

he must meet scaffold and Maker. Fatal
crux of his faithful devotion – London's
famous vanishing point (bleak Tyburn,
by the stream, in Marylebone). We all

must meet there, ponders Everyman –
on the scaffold-stage. You can hear music
of the weak pipe
, when they consecrate
unhallowed ground with an undertone

then turn together (hobbling round) to bring
new brightness from the grave, a flowering.
And O further back and further back, sing
the holy beggars and Franciscans, mewling

at the breast of Jordan-spring – there where
a grey blur hovers between blue and green
and further back and back again... light air
for shepherd's flute – blind man's bluff tune.


Lanthanum, bk. 3


An April morning, cloaked in grey fog.
I walk to work up Morris Avenue
past yellow-domed Temple Emanu-el,
that beehive-prototype (hexagonal)

of every temple on the earth. Almond
flower, mother of the church, gold
sun-kissed breast, all sunlight – hold me
now, enfold me in your warmth

Magdalen, all-round). Like some Cézanne
I would exude slow sappy color-oils
rapt away in my vision quatrefoil...
faint distant hubbub of a Bruegel-scene

flickering beneath a wintry raven-brush;
slow Flemish-Netherlandish woolen-flesh
within the weighty, sleepy stone, awash
with suffering blood, Burgundian. Shshsh...

– hear ice boom in the waking stream.
One mellow Anglican, walking a middle way
might stand for remote medieval memory.
Blackstone the arborist, with his rude beam

stakes up an ancient rose. And it is not
vanity, it is not sentiment, it is not
Romance sets him like a lantern (pivoting
through crooked night). It is the owl's note

skimming through the dark, it is the raven's
signet ring, it is the shuddering cedar mast
that would outride the hurricane. Ballast
and anchor, incarnate gravity... flesh-haven.

The proud, irascible mind returns eventually
to its motherland. And the lantern gleams –
a miniature sun above cascading streams.
Mountain laurel (jade forest memory).