POEM DU JOUR
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Nineteen Pictures from an Exhibition

Nineteen Pictures from an Exhibition

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I

<Winter Light>

 

At the end of anticipation,

A wind of birds brushed a canvas in dark remains of summer –

It was a gold of evening completing old maps of our folded hands.

 

Voices in the dream’s motet bled Kyries of dead stars,

Over a series of repeated nights.

 

Across the piazza,

Couples became a union of ash and shadow,

As silver thorns of heavens circled in black ice.

 

At the end,

It was all these multiple worlds that covered our faint memories of sleep –

Dark pennons of summer,

Completing golden maps of our folded hands.

 

 

II

<Manfred at Moenchblick>

 

The light was immense,

But our images were becoming too faint to recall.

 

In a fever of night,

Lessons of humility followed in dreams,

Without our consent.

 

Before morning,

We circled in a catalepsy of imagined choices,

Under silhouettes of Chough wings

Forming brush-strokes in lamp-black and ash.

 

The light was immense,

But we could not catch up.

And our images were falling further behind.

 

 

III

<Ponts Couverts>

 

Across Petite France,

Eight-notes of ambulances

Delivered watercolor voices of rain and red lights.

 

Events unfolded under broken glass of storms –

Everything had been recorded,

But nothing was final,

And old lights glittered in a wreck of history along the canals.

 

 

IV

<At the Line>

 

Waking after waking –

 

We saw unfamiliar patterns of stars.

Dreams emerged from ink of black skies,

And Sumi-e stroke of faces outside of time.

 

It a was momentary eternity – Crows circling all night,

Bringing a silence of our collapsing hours.

 

I saw you at the end of blue days –

A graceful wraith of old age.

You had marigolds in your hair the shade of autumn larch.

 

Waking after waking,

We were coming back to the beginning.

Crows circled in a twilight country,

Back when skies promised rain – dreams emerged,

And you had marigolds in your hair.

 

 

V

<Bannockburn>

 

Sirens sang –

It was plainchants of lost sailors in sketches of verdigris tides,

And dry voices of drowned calendars, out of time.

 

You stood at the helm:

A doppelganger in unique shadows,

Portending a silence at the end of the year.

 

Without a compass,

Overhead, stars wrecked in a dead reconning of completed light.

There would be no time for last words.

 

The seas were still,

But avoiding an artistry of rocks

Was never possible –

 

Sirens sang –

Airless dreams advanced in our mirrored silhouettes.

The coral light was perfect,

But the silence approached,

And there would be no time for last words –

 

Ghost ship or not.

 

 

VI

<Cepheus>

 

Along 49 steps,

The sequence of light ended:

A cul-du-sac of cold fire and incomplete maps.

 

Crossing the path,

Stars swung like censers over long distances.

 

We found markers in abandoned gardens,

Where old wood of fruit trees

Scraped skeletal branches in a black chorus of wind.

 

At the end of myths –

Marble urns littered the evening

In imprints of human form.

 

Along 49 steps,

The sequence ended.

We had been walking in circles,

Born of incomplete maps.

The winter was now upon us,

And we knew that the light had never been real.

 

 

VII

<Dates in Stone>

 

A passing cloud darkened an afternoon.

It was not on any calendar.

Softly, rain chiseled dates into smooth stones.

 

Across the west,

A galaxy of crows moved away too quickly to count.

 

From infinite variations of the moment –

Everything ended and began,

As we stepped back in shadow –

Where rain softly chiseled dates into our darkened stones.

 

 

VIII

<Colors for a Dead Poet>

 

Footsteps in a storm

Wear away rough cobbled streets –

Nights already seen.

Kerosene lantern of stars,

Flickered to a stained-glass fall.

 

 

IX

<In a Water Garden>

 

Creeping Jenny, Taro, and cardinal flowers

Surrounded a sutra of fountains.

 

Hearing requiems of rain,

We waited beyond achievement.

The gardens were calm,

As a stormlight blossomed in the receding glow.

 

 

X

<Light Going Out>

 

Dusk crossed the border from Mexico –

An immigration of shadows and a tired sun.

 

It was a secret the authorities already understood.

 

At the San Jacinto plaza,

An ancient music stopped.

Without documentation,

Clouds continued to cross the border well past evening.

 

It was light going out.

It was amber marigolds for the dead.

It was relics of art in ash from what was left of our time.

 

It was only the intention to stand for something.

It was a secret the authorities already understood.

 

 

XI

<Los Alamos>

 

Over black robes of the Jemez mountains,

A cold wind fanned coals of orange lights.

 

Mutations of cottonwoods and silver poplars,

Extended dark arms under an experimental vaccine of stars.

 

Our fires had always been receding,

But now it was apparent.

 

 

XII

<Figures on a Beach>

 

At the edge of winter,

In pale pointillism on distant headlands,

Grazing herds waiting under painted Prussian skies,

 

From a lunar wash of golden chain trees,

It was a superposition of youth and old age,

Bringing back a futurepast when the night was unclaimed,

And the world was still young.

 

 

XIII

<No Translation>

 

Desire breeds a birth of ghosts.

Clouds like phantoms

Came at nightfall in a palladium green of the slipping spring.

From here, shadows only grew colder within this aging house.

 

It might have been a scratch of voices,

Or failing clockwork of ghosts coming to the locked door –

As empty galaxies swirled in a bright drain of finished light.

 

A soliloquy of night continued.

 

To awake was never possible.

En todos los mundos posibles, no hay nadie.

 

 

XIV

<Exile>

 

They continued to groom our long sleep,

And I will tell you what I know:

There was no sequence –

As my hair was grey and brown and black.

 

Always, we slept under a blanket of static hours –

A Sargasso Sea of circling dreams –

Recursive nights piecing together mosaics of memories,

Not our own.

 

We saw clear images of flickering light,

But the small details were always out of place.

 

I will tell you what I know:

Humans tire of life in this rich poverty of creation,

Where none of the cuts in the world could heal.

 

Again, by night –

We awoke to an open window of cold violets and snow.

It was a development of character and practice for a long sleep.

 

I will tell you what I know –

There was an unremembered scar on my hand.

It was a sequence without chapters, where my hair was at once –

Grey, brown, and black,

And the world could never heal.

 

 

XV

<Prayer for the Departed>

 

What will it mean when yellow leaves erase your face?

What will it change when we fall into blue waves of the draining day?

 

In a dance and ecstasy of the autumn soul,

Red choirs of elms emerged,

And days circled a steady compass of the spinning sun.

 

In dust of your streets, we became soaked with stars –

Finally, letting go our ancestors,

Beyond what had passed or what would come.

 

Under a glittered boat of rustling elms,

Days circled a steady compass of the spinning sun –

It was a yellow dust of your streets,

In a dance and ecstasy of the autumn soul.

 

 

XVI

<Satori>

 

From premonitions

Of nothing past the moment –

Fire of leaves increased.

 

 

XVII

<Storm of Roses>

 

Not contained,

The light passed by.

 

We lost speed coming through a dense glow of dreams:

It was a storm of roses.

You stood in our young garden.

By a steep path bordered in color I had seen before.

 

A night of too many lives painted a darkened sky.

Something came up from the Southwest –

In what seemed like a choice,

But it was merely carbon shadows of all that had already happened.

 

There were wet fields painting a return to evening,

As doves called down a pink noise of encaustic light.

 

The light passed by –

It was an exhale of what we had been given:

Lives that seemed like a choice,

Where you waited in a night of too many lives,

Bringing a storm of roses.

 

 

XVIII

<Styx>

 

At Feneos,

Dusk sketched a negative space over mount Cyllene.

 

It was only a grey field of winter trees.

In chants of ghosted leaves –

Everywhere charades of lost color drained into documented days.

 

From a fifth circle of morning

Without incident,

Shadows waited by the river for passage.

 

No history.

No crossing.

No ferryman.

 

 

XIX

<Ferns Return>

 

Spring clouds of white ice.

Winter gardens in still sleep.

One jade scroll breaks through.

For Georg

Over Galicia,

Eagles crumple about the dark cloth

of your brow.

In the bloodstream:  winter’s white poem.

 

Constellations swarm to drugged nimbus above a weary God.

 

From the ash grove,

Night beckons the innocent.

With a siren voice,

Your unborn child delivers

an empty heaven’s terrible mirror.

 

A father walks with his young son

Where herds linger in blue and gold.

At evening, a heavy rain of cold stars.

 

Let the life drain from you —

Let the color run out from the violet hills —

Sleep.

 

In the remnant of ruined garden,

All has long been accomplished.

 

Winter Morning

As crows calculated dark strokes of pointillistic clouds,

Another morning came.

 

It was a moment –

Bonnard strokes of pallid trees

And ‘Les Nabis’ blurs of still snow.

Perhaps it was a hiss of hot water for tea,

Or steamed-over windows of the vertigo day –

Absent a sun toppled by some worn blankets of winter light.

 

Perhaps it was the distant fields,

With ice of fallen leaves reflected a final corundum of sapphire hills,

But for a moment I thought you were still here.

Whispered in the Evening

Whispered in the evening,

Your voice resounded in passing fire of Jacarandas

 

Above azure waters,

Ravens piece together a darkness of October,

Mapping light years of a futile sleep.

 

Under jasmine and olibanum skies,

Violet clouds of dusk

Carried your boat of exile

Over the dream’s plagiarized passage.

 

You will die again in Greece.

Our hours will return,

And cascades of autumn crocus

Will weep all night along the Plaka.

 

Stars in clusters of fatal pink colchicums

Burned over carbon-dated texts of your lost words.

It was a future that was always past.

 

Whispered in the evening,

It was waiting in a long silence of failing color –

It was a short space of resounding years –

It was what remained,

As your voice receded to silence under quiet fire of Jacarandas.

Union Station – 10 p.m.

Wet streets closed the blurred summer,

Bringing a night of ghosts to the Oxford hotel.

 

On wooden benches outside Union station,

I thought I saw Trakl and Tranströmer

Reading Ingeborg Bachmann –

Unaware of each other.

Thunder at Montecatini Alto

From the castello,

A clock portends no time.

 

Under abstract robe of clouds,

Light goes out below Montecatini Alto

Where Olive trees walk up from the valley

in a sliver raiment of sleeping saints.

 

By the Parco delle Terme,

Grey streets worn with feet of the dead

Cool a long afternoon.

 

Over stained rosary windows,

Faint homilies of thunder begin

calming a field of wild strawberries.

 

Here –

At the terrace of ending worlds,

Stone angels hold trumpets of eternity –

And we wait with them,

As if there was something we could do.

The Guest

After the ghosts of evening have left the garden –

After the bells of the basilica fade

After the blue fire of youth rises to yellow ash of stars –

Comes the guest.

 

Between the speech and speaking –

Between the dream and dreaming –

Between before and after –

Comes the guest.

 

Before the circle of all lives –

Before illusions of afternoon –

Before winter’s silver vesper of frost –

Comes the guest.

 

Make ready the table and the lamps:

It is already snowing on a black robe of roads.

It is wind arriving in a wood-smoke of night.

It is the faint knock at the locked door.

 

Now is what has always been, and may yet be.

 

After the ghosts of evening have left the garden –

After your season of old age –

After the dead reckoning of the moment –

Comes the guest.

Terrace

In the darkness,

Apricot blossoms rained all night.

 

Beyond this terrace of an old world,

A lighthouse circled in forensics of cut stars.

 

At the edge of scripted lives,

We wait without expectation overlooking city lights –

Knowing our minor revelations would come again,

And seem new.

 

In the darkness before waking,

I recalled votives at Abbazia di Santi Severo e Maririo

Holding empty years of tired fire,

Like a rain of apricot blossoms –

Like empty expectation of city lights,

Burning for scripted lives

With no medics on the way.

Tenebrae

At Annabichl gardens,

Stone angels knelt over small boxwoods

Without forgiveness.

 

At your final hour,

I sat on a curb in Waco Texas discussing German poets.

I did not notice all the surrounding shadows

Or luminous choirs of finished light flooding the empty street.

 

Clouds covered a suicide of luminal stars,

Where words for the beloved became too faint to hear.

 

A rustling light to the east was only a false lead.

 

A depressant of night

Completed a sequence beyond our ability to return.

 

At the vesper bell,

There were hospitals

And distance whispers of fountains from Giardino delle Cascate –

It was a life’s short decay in unfinished history.

 

Stone angles knelt over small boxwoods.

 

To be loved is rare,

But is of no lasting significance.

I know we are not near,

And cannot hear your voice.

Sorrel River

               <for Li T’ai-Po>

 

Worn cliffs and falling leaves

Calm a short history –

This blue fountain of autumn.

 

By the river,

Yellow candles of poplars

Bring back spent evenings

in a parchment of twilight fields.

 

When Orion comes up in a silver skiff of fire,

Our voices ink aural shadows along the village wall –

And we go so slowly.

 

Over the stone towers of men,

The dark sky is brushed with sparrows

As silk threads of moonlight

Spin clouds from your still white hair.

Snow at Evening

Cold angels descend around night’s stone wall —

Stars dwindle in serpents of light.

 

Above a coma of whispered fountains,

White worlds expand over our silver decline.

 

We come back through a faint snow at evening

Under thin smoke of prayer —

 

In pale alarms,

Our feet tick on black cobbles

Like hungry ghosts counting the steps to eternity.

 

Siguiriya

Behind flickered facades,

Fingers of guitars bring shadows to the corners of flame-painted rooms.

 

Dry flowers embalm the lemon of fall

In torch-light of a full moon.

 

A black horse comes up an empty street.

 

Old light bleeds in mercury from a distant wail of stars,

And a dance of voices circles your inlaid neck in a dust of fire.

 

Calendars expire.

A rich patina of youth ends.

 

Everywhere, night mounts its yellow assault.

Seven Grasses of Autumn

Among seven grasses of autumn:

Gutei holds up one finger.

A bird sings.

Ancient light rustles from green torches of cryptomeria.

Crows fly for hours.

Water pours from the upper lakes all night.

 

Out of sleep, a dark universe slowly ripens.

 

At the close of the ninth month,

A great wind arrives in ghostdance

of untroubled leaves…

 

I should abandon public life

while the color yet remains.

 

Satori

 

Stars bloom in luminous arcs.

Time unwinds along the autumn nerve.

 

In a garden,

Statues of Chinese warriors rise from the snowy clearing:

Lit fountains of stone meeting all commitments.

 

On the returning path,

A single rhododendron’s white galaxy unfolds.

 

You will die in no country.

You will recall the scent of the night.

Sashuis

Light sways over dusk bridges

in shadow of horses.

 

Golden octave of composers floods narrow streets.

 

In a long-dried violence of color,

evening’s old suicide

hangs back in locked museums.

 

Above the Béguinage,

Through crooked relic of willows —

Stars slowly lose synchronicity.

 

Dark waves return along the coast,

As bells and terns count a falling circle of hours.

 

Black oceans wash away even time’s finest agates.

Reply for Juan Ramón Jiménez

It was still when I saw you in the garden at nightfall —

A beggar in an art of stones —

A silhouette of God.

 

When did you arrive?

I recall the end of the afternoon

and a gloom of empty streets.

It was a shadow of hydrangeas that drooped like a sleeping man.

 

A silver hand at the open window. —

(or was it closed?)

Did you speak, or was it some pale octave of leaves?

It was windy — Your hair was black and the night was gray.

 

By the clock,

The window was closed. —

(or was it open?)

I crouched in the garden at nightfall:

A sleep of toppled stones…

 

When did I leave?

It was a shadow of hydrangeas that you saw —

No beggar in the empty streets —

No silhouette of God —

 

Only a black night,

Only silver hands and gray hair

In the stillness of the afternoon.

Red Wing Blackbirds at Jalama Beach

Winter afternoons continued

Over stress of ancient grapevines and white winds of ocean.

 

Along the coast,

Feathered clouds continued in lines of aerial waves –

Voicing the brief day’s preserved light.

 

Red wing blackbirds sang in shadows of a thorn tree,

As twilight returned in clear determination and forgiveness.

 

In the song is the salvation.

Reconsidered on the Night Streets Around Piazza Navona

Night wrapped around these cobbled streets

In luminous mushroom of Italian stone pines.

 

Stars formed faint notes on parchment skies

In acapella voices from San Pietro to Giardino delle Cascate.

 

A shadowed speech of fountains whispered how close the end is to the beginning.

 

With no escort to morning –

Always bells in darkness at the end of evening –

Always a possibility held along the bloom of these rough cobbled streets.

 

Coming back to the hotel,

Past Sant’ Eugenio,

Later – I read your poems long into the night.

 

Shadowed speech of fountains whispered how close the end is to the beginning.

Perhaps we both have been wrong.

Oubliette

Reading our words,

We have come to where we could not come.

 

In the emptiness of the old villa,

The dusk lake hung like a simulation at open windows –

Blue infinities past sleep,

In a clone of autumn beyond our reach.

 

We are our oubliette –

Waking in the small hours to matins of turning fields,

As meaning escaped like charcoal birds

Into paper heavens.

 

Above the duomo,

Stars swung in unapproachable thuribles:

A hiss of finished light

Above the haggard faces of painted saints.

 

From all this distance,

It was our lives that could not be recalled –

A redacted detail of years

Where accomplishments were staged,

And morning never came.

 

Reading our words,

We have come to where we could not come.

 

It was the end of evening,

Or merely wind’s mass in antiphons staging another night –

A cul-de-sac of static time without freedom.

 

It is said that something like angels watch over the living,

But they are not angels,

And we are not the living.

On the Border

Yellow maize of bells calls twilight down through red autumn.

 

Scroll paintings of falling water hang at the end of the world,

As empty cruets of stars advance in white ink of birds.

 

Over your grave,

A darkness of September-olives kneels in silver lace,

And night opens pale robes of wind.

 

Ancient seas of withered corn whisper from golden hours

Beneath Sistine skies.

 

At dusk,

Voices become still.

A purple wine of hills empty to diamond and ash of a first snow.

 

Blackbirds wait in crumbling shadows of dark monuments.

 

The last sleep of the innocence.

Oaxaca

                <Dia de los Muertos>

 

From white arcades and glitter of graves,

Skulls and marigolds form altars in the dark.

 

By the cathedral,

It is only a flight of paper ghosts,

Where children with bone-colored kites run against a pale wind.

 

Drifting toward midnight,

The Moon’s belladonna feeds mute colors of lament,

with scattered eulogies of autumn doves.

 

Coming out to music of circling streets,

Plagiarized dreams and mezcal of bells

Wash past your face in scent of fruit and agave.

 

In drowned silhouettes,

Young girls bring flowered devils, bread, and small apples of dawn.

 

At the end of the old world,

Along a river of dancers,

We come carrying baskets of fire,

as failed gods to a forbidden land.

 

Skeletons hang in the trees,

And corn leaves wreath the bowed head of the savior

with bright masques of lace and ash.

 

Across the candled cloisters of Mexico,

Eternity is written in sand –

Torches paint an old robe of memory –

 

And the living continue to sleep with the dead.

New York Evening – Autumn 1984

Sparse crowds shadowed wet streets,

In an asphyxiation of color.

There was a scent of anise and eucalyptus.

Crows were full of trees.

 

It was a distant hiss of mistral.

It was a death-rattle of dishes from the Felix,

And blue and white flowers like stars

Littered the corner of West Broadway and Grand.

 

Rain whispered a cadence and cascade

In theia mania for no one.

 

Along the city’s stone canyon,

Our silhouettes became Motherwell umbras

From a senescence of nights we had left years ago.

 

In red pennons,

A few remaining maples

Defended against October’s last siege

All the way to the East village.

 

At West Broadway and Grand,

The crows were full of trees.

Mary in the Night Room

There is a night room –

Stillness and blue voices of falling water –

A garden outside a reflex of dreams.

 

Red forests walked before morning

And grackles became gargoyles

Along darkened rooftops.

 

There is a night room,

Where oceans speak

In whispered resignation of lost lives –

Wave after wave of silvered talismans protecting nothing.

 

Out in locked memorial grounds,

Stone angels crouched in alcoves,

Waiting for the return of all our small hours.

 

From a first winter night,

There were no lights at the shuttered church –

Colors began to fail:

Like Pythagoras approaching the underworld –

Like Mary waiting in the night room –

Like a stillness of suffocated speech,

Where we drown in a red forest of submerged stars.

 

Everything was moving further apart –

There was light coming along the rooftops,

But it was not morning –

It was a reflex of surrendered dreams –

It was a premonition of too many worlds,

And chimera that we had more time left.

 

There is a night room –

A garden outside a reflex of dreams –

Lost lives waiting for the return of all our small hours.

Magician

In the malachite storm,

A disturbing relief of dreams.

 

Beyond the raised hands,

Men become more effective as ghosts.

 

Metaphors spring with convincing passion

From the decomposing mouth.

 

Shadows of shadows,

Whose dry voices God could not understand.

 

At the purple hour,

Crumbling angels hesitate

By the edge of golden larch groves.

 

Along the vacant square,

No one is coming.

 

Poem by poem, the heart ticks into obscurity.

Li Tai-Po in Spring

T’ang light:

Weak wine – Strong blossoms.

 

For the exile,

Hesian cherries weep in a pinkwind.

 

Dividing infinity,

A bell rings in the monastery tower.

 

In white migration of dancing clouds,

For hours,

Continents form and submerge across the darkening west without incident.

 

In a paused wind,

Beyond the gate,

Falling rocks echo into scroll-paintings of black bamboo.

 

So few evenings go to make up a century.

A bell rings —

 

For you,

It was enough to dream in jade of remote fields,

And let the world slip away.

Irrational Numbers

I saw us from where we stood.

Everything had already happened.

 

It was a ladder of sorrows.

It was all this distant space behind our eyes,

Tearing away remaining spirals of light

 

I saw us from where we stood,

Watching a sister in Pfarrkirche St. Mauritius

Brushing dust from a sunlit bench.

 

Here in a final image –

Pale storms came over the Pennine alps,

Making a single life seem real.

 

Spring continued,

Light was separating into all this void of space –

And our entangled worlds were failing.

 

It was a ladder of sorrows.

Everything had already happened,

As a sister brushed dust from a sunlit bench.

Ghosts

From the long view –

Beyond Images of the day,

Beyond a splitting of facts,

There is only the looking or looking away.

 

Before the war,

Snow silenced a night’s delayed choice.

After the war,

Snow silenced a night’s delayed choice.

 

By the Chiesa di San Martino,

A few electric bulbs surrounded Mary in a dim nimbus of auric light,

And crowds gathered along the darkening harbor,

Where waiters in crisp sepia shirts set white tables

In a votive twilight’s pale glare.

 

From the long view –

Beyond Images of the day,

It was dusk’s dawn of double-slit skies proving nothing.

 

Ghosts increase –

But there is only the looking or the looking away

Ghost Dance

Under returning Paha Sapa skies,

Tȟašúŋke Witkó wore a shirt of stars

Painted with the immunity of evening.

 

Across multiple worlds,

Current histories began to subside.

 

Once on Harney peak,

I saw all our years

Fall like a single leaf:

The child’s chance of summer and revelation –

An exhausted dance of the sun,

Where all histories collapsed to one.

 

What is called the beginning and end

Entangle the same moment –

An intricate beadwork of time laid out like space:

Offering recurrent lives to correct eternal mistakes.

 

Under returning skies,

From the San Francisco Midwinter Fair Carnival,

Wovoka watched a first snowflake fall like a single leave,

And with the immunity of evening,

Knew he had missed the point

Funeral

              <For Lee> 

 

A north wind blows red and purple at the end of autumn.

 

Wine-lights of dusk

Course in drugged vein of leaves.

 

Beyond August,

You said “half our lives are over”,

And it was good…

 

Now, garnet processions of hills

Crowd around a silvered silk of morning,

And burnt-out pyres of stars smolder recitatives

of your ash and light.

 

Water does not carve a history through old rock.

Water and rock are mostly reflections of each other’s stillness.

 

Seasons only spin in the pale moment,

Where all are neither here, nor not-here —

Without future or past – runes of old stars burning out forever.

 

At your funeral,

In the flickered cold of the gathered afternoon,

I knew you were no more (nor no less) present

Than any of the rest of us.

For the Exile

From another dawn,

Jewels of dew light the universe.

 

In the valley below,

Crystals of finished suns

Set flame to a morning of village bells.

 

By a painted box of violets,

A girl in white is singing Wagner.

An oriel covers the highest notes without any score.

 

For this,

I have come back along the path of night and smoke.

Fall

From this rough vision —

From this echoed space of afternoon —

I did not know where we would go.

 

You hovered over hushed landscapes:

Acrophobic parapets of ancient rock and air flutes:

White string of rivers painting vertigo horizons

In aerial velocities of the spinning sun.

 

In a flash of the long view,

Fallen climbers arced in slipping grips of passion –

A bone and dust of great distances,

Releasing orthoimages of the eye’s final light.

 

From moments of the Fall –

Far below, crows drifted like dark gondolas

Along the axon’s drained canal.

 

From this rough vision,

With a mounting cartography of shadows,

Wind in ending destinies filled a still point of the held breath.

 

In a flash of the long view,

It was an altitude of grace over the singular afternoon –

It was ending, and it was going to end.

There were last autumn colors getting closer in lines of vertigo horizons –

Advancing detail of landscapes –

And I did not know where we would go.

End of Summer

Gold and silk of exiled skies continue.

 

Voices become a wind of fountain grass and poppies,

Where dusk’s yellow score fills the larch with marcato of crows.

 

Out of this ending light,

Rosettes of cut-clouds float like coming blossoms of snow

over Ivory lines of ocean.

 

The gates of the village close in a passage of bells,

As the ancient chaconne of the cricket becomes still.

 

Your leaving

Completes a silence of ending worlds.

 

Stars rustle in faint Misereres over your grave all night –

Like remaining heat of stones after the summer has gone.

Driving at Night

In a lento of dreams,

We drove past abandoned hulk of cathedrals.

You closed your eyes as the cars came too close.

 

There was a scent of boswellia, camphor and cassia.

 

Under stained-glass skies –

Chalices of light spilled through autumn larch,

And in the rear-view mirror,

The storm advanced in passacaglias of darkening birdsong.

 

It was a lento of dreams.

It was the scent of myrrh.

It was a recalled image that was yet to arrive.

 

On the windshield,

Stars swirled into rain,

And we drove into a country of night

Under collapsing waveform of falling leaves.

 

I would have stayed with you,

But there would have been no point.

Cuckoo at Deià

              <For Robert Graves>

 

Old soliloquies in wood and ash

Composed a paused afternoon.

One bird continued.

 

From terraced fields,

Faint arias ascended La Serra de Tramuntana

In aural shades of Callet, Manto Negro and Syrah.

 

Over wild olives and mosaiced roofs,

A pale line between sea and sky emerged:

Transcribed Lapis Lazuli fused to Turquoise

In blue phrases of morning.

 

At Es Puia,

In viridity of all this growing light,

Rosemary winds painted still horizons

From ancient Lieders of the day.

 

In perfect remains of the lost spring,

One bird continued.

 

It was best to send friends away,

And remain alone in phrases of morning

With soliloquies of one bird

In turquoise, wood and ash.

Composite

Cypresses whisper in a red evening.

The entire year passes along a cold street in snow and trembling lanterns.

 

There is a nightingale in black thorns of the Corsica tree.

 

Dry violets crumble into your hair,

Bringing night and stars.

Chilpancingo

Coming back,

Red music drips from an old catalepsy of fountains —

A soaring darkness

and dead fire of purple Jacarandas.

 

In confused light,

Faces dissolve into exhausted Spanish arcades.

Groves of damp firethorns cover

the shadows of women.

 

Nameless streets fill with dust and grackles.

Evening’s white room closes.

 

Bells and wind drift over wild rye.

Erosions of murmured languages

translate on a flickered wall.

 

Out of returning hours,

Autumn’s fallen radiance.

Clocks shudder in a precise throb of hands —

Empty alleys and still urns along the square.

 

By the ward,

Patients wait in twilight courtyards

like limp puppets.

 

In a flutter of old linens,

Doves of God ascend the whispered night.

 

Beauvoir

Golden blooming broom of moon

Sweeps a sleep of silver olives.

 

Over fallen fields,

Light years of lavender

Paint waves against crumbling cliffs of violet twilight.

 

Shadowed hands of poplars circle toward midnight

Under a clock face of returning stars.

After Reading a John Ashbery Poem on a Terrace Outside of Castellina in Chianti

After reading a John Ashbery poem on a terrace outside of Castellina in Chianti,

She said: “…L’Imperatore è nudo…”.

 

The summer was over,

And Bougainvillea leaves littered the garden path in phrases of red light.

 

I said nothing,

And kept listening to a pale sparrow out in the darkening vineyard.

After August

After the hiss of Mistral,

Pendulums of geese arc overhead in a slow white time.

Cicadas die down in the shadows of linen fields,

And silver steps of scythes deliver rosaries of frost on gold of cut hay.

 

After August,

Afternoons become remote in the wizened day.

The affairs of men are mostly empty.

Wolves and angels come down at evening to the crumbling lamps of the village.

Stars and night curve around your silent face.

Above Víznar

              <Siguiriya para Federico>

 

Over long shadows of the garden,

A thin blood-line of morning —

A cross on the mountains of Sierra de Alfaguara —

Far away, the purple trilling of one bird.

 

Without a confession, you follow a dead candle of moon,

Up through chalk balconies

wound with orange capsicum and geraniums —

Past el Fuente Grande and ecru walls in voices of sleep —

Past the dark squares of Spain.

 

Over the consuming night,

Stars in red jasper anointed a collapsing shadow.

Everywhere, silver bones of katsura trees rustled:

A muffled arc of steps ending in the still olive grove.

 

White carnations rippled in the dark

like a simple weave of burial linen —

Scepters of tall grass beat the air in rushing wings.

Far away, one bird pronounced your name.

 

In a night of falling camellias,

You will breathe cold air and taste nettles of lime.

You will kneel to a broken coda of guitars:

On the ridge,

A lunar wind will prance like a rider-less, chess-black horse.

 

Above Víznar, in the small hours,

A final image formed at your mouth:

Three girls with paper roses in the reddening esplanade:

A storm of bougainvillea and violet henna of dawn.

 

Beyond the summer, a rumor of messiahs will end.

A pieta of weeping acacias will bend

across an empty field.

Myrrh of blank heavens will open —

A withered zodiac will circle your head in final landscape of poems.

 

Over long shadows of the garden,

A thin blood-line of morning —

A cross on the mountains of Sierra de Alfaguara —

 

Far away, the faint pavane of one bird.

Churches Are Empty

Churches are empty,
And evening came back to the cemetery
Like a lost dog.

Benediction

A yellow Tanager sings a Lux Aeterna
In darkening Norwegian spruce without any consequence.

Your eyes blur these hills in glaucoma of valerian and smoke: A coming ransom of wind and falling leaves,
In defiance of conventional reason.

Around our heads,
Stars formed distant wreaths of bright marigolds –
It was a zodiac of the bygone summers we could never regain.

The gates were closing,
And beyond reason in the last titian light, The guards allowed us to pass.

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