Lanthanum 3.9


A beautiful Memorial Day. In the shade
of the old patio, the root-beer scent
of spindly purple irises, a lure
meant for butterfly, or little girl. And cradled

in the wayward garden, a light breeze. Light.
Let memory go wayward too (that monarch
wavering to Mexico). I remember the dark
gray granite of the Middle Ages, the white

dust of a road into Wyoming heights.
I remember leaping for joy alone on a highway
in Vermont. I remember the battle of Monterey,
near the pine mountain where the monarch lights.

And the vanishing point where memories go.
Your furtive history, elusive Psyche-
soul. Limestone and river, slant lichen-
covered slab – epitaph for one veteran shadow

felled abruptly in the midst of an engagement
(labor-pangs). Where the little flags quiver
like would-be monarch-wings; mosquitoes hover
by compliant willows (mourning weeds). Bent

over his shovel, blackened by sun, invisible
as the lattice of a chain-link fence, the gardener
(or gravedigger), unnoticed, shoots a tender
glance, unseen, toward disconsolate Psyche-soul –

all the memoirs of Memorial Day are mingled there.
Where cypresses curvet toward a single point
on high, above the trembling soil, expectant – as
that groundskeeper extrapolates the angle (into air).


Lanthanum 3.8


Sunday in Providence, blue sky
and rain. Thunder. Sunlight refracted
through shifting gray. The dogwood's deflected
petals are scattered notes, leaf-glossolalia

unglued from the spine of a broken horse, or
windblown from an open walnut chest... Blackstone's
lost epistle, whistled down the lee – mere bones
of some departed breath (alluvial, leftover).

Someone shuffles through the dregs of memories,
Memorial Day. Not Blackstone exactly, not Hobo –
their shadow, secretarial – amanuensis, echo.
Ghost of a breeze, ruffling the dogwood screed.

Leaves lean against each other, fold on fold,
fumbling to compost, finally. So these thick tomes
of parallactic palimpsest – loom into loam-
kingdom (castles of one lake-love, long retold).

So Hobo's longing to disperse like rain in wheat
meets Blackstone's willing solitude, his Lenten eye;
and in mute lack-love (cantering mutually)
they frame a lean-to for vast vanishment.

As if the longing for unbroken mother-love
and memory of freedom's fatherhood
met in one transient's dogwood record-
log – an old rose raftered in a pine alcove.

As if their memoir (mounded with the Indian)
reached back through every lattice of held
pain – a metamorphosis, instilled
now, molten, universal. Monarch's van.


Lanthanum 3.7


In mid-May Minneapolis, the lilacs reign.
Enveloping roads and lakes, an ever-present
scented empire, theirs (invisible, innocent).
In late dusk-glow we drove the river road again,

my father and I. He showed me the old apartment
(Kearsarge, 15th St.) his diffident Uncle Shelley
was donated, to keep him straight. Told me
about his grandmother, Jessie Ophelia – opulent

Cleopatra Desdemona, her sister – daughters
of St. Louis riverboat captain. I remember
my gr-grandmother (known simply as Mom) –
blind, close to 100, at the head of the dinner

table, under that jolly panorama (Washington
and Lafayette, dancing). Going to see her
at the nursing home, with a curious fear
of the blind python (Tiresias) – soon

displaced by gentleness (hers) and childish
boredom (mine). Jessie Ophelia, the river-
girl. Now somewhere far, with the Ojibwa
(Sunset Land). Back of my mind (a wish,

a river-wash, a whisper-flow). These
celebrated names – out of Poe, Shakespeare,
vernacular hotels, recitals... float there,
fondly – Psyche, Ligeia (sprites in a frieze

across a Petersburg ceiling). Begins
in the shallows, then runs deep. These
ladies of the lilac barge will ride the breeze
magnetic, magnetized (your river-twins).


Lanthanum 3.6


The lilacs already out now, like miniature pines
of Istanbul fragrance... I think Maximus
would have had a word for them – his
constancy of apperception finding the parallel

lines. For me, only a memory.
Lilac Lanes (St. Louis Park, near Minneapolis).
A shopping center. Where I took my first
guitar lessons (the highway nestled in those flowery

passages). The teacher not much older than me
(but wiser). Emerson to my Whitman (spontaneous
rambunction is the key). Young Dylan surfaces
from the Iron Range, a Tin Pan melody

of golden haze. Works the trouble, trebles
the pain into perfect synchronyms (those
offhand chords). And the world is fizz.
It works. The music magnifies, with bubbles.

And then somehow the calliope ran off
the circus rails. The old harmonium
sounds flat. Henry Hobo-bum
is left holding his kit-bag (cough, cough).

Only a memory. If every lilac bloom
could last forever... well, they wouldn't.
Be lilacs. And David's Shulamith, Solomon's
Sheba... every rose repaints their plangent,

transient gloom. A hobo spring. Of shades.
Oasis for stragglers, nomads. You
and I, old friend, tzigane. By the willows
of Babylon. Arose, shalom, shalom. Out of Sheol.