Seek ye first the Kingdom of the Lord— So I was taught, and hastened to obey; I watched the fields and rivers fall away; Above the soaring mountaintops I soared, Through Heaven-vaults alight with sun outpoured On luminescent golden clouds of day; And far below the sparkling oceans lay, And world-waves, washed forever, rolled and roared. [Read more...]
Where are you?
My child my child my daughter
Ade with the cat’s eyes
Where are you?
You were walking amid the marrow-grass and asphodel
When the fronds came between you and the tribe
Now the sun sets
and the red roars begin [Read more…]
In the hour of darkness the moon had hid her face,
And all the world was sleeping, save one who wept.
He left the meager comfort of well-meaning friends,
Charging them, Watch; and into the garden crept,
Thou lookest far into eternity,
with those bright dying eyes!
Then tell me what thou seest?
— The Scarlet Letter, Ch. xxiii.
In this room there is something
other than us, not me, not mine,
and as I look on you, resting
between breaths, passing beyond
pain, free at last of all possession,
I know it cannot be yours. [Read more…]
In a picture my father took
when I was young
I am smiling and waving, “Hi,”
a fat-faced kid
waving for the camera,
for his father’s eye.
In Italy, years later,
I learned the way
they wave good-by,
the hand turned around
waving, “come back,”
when you say, “Ciao.”
I crossed the ocean to get there,
waving to my father
from the deck, both
when I left
and when I got back,
searching the crowd for his hand.
Physics tells us
the waves of the sea are a lie—
the water hardly moves
as energy passes through.
It is motion that washes ashore,
turns the sand.
Today, when my father
left on the train,
I waved again,
finding his window.
He held up his hand
and as the car rolled out on its tide,
I ran along with it like a kid,
waving in Italian.
(Translated from the Polish of Krzystof Kamil Baczynski)
They sieved the mysteries in themselves, like
close grains of perfumed sand
as they, three kings, rode
through the red and burning land.
The camel rocked like a shipmast
and the sand became like water
and one of them reflected: “I am young
and the hour of glory is not yet gone.”
“And I shall see in flames of porphyry
how blooms the radiance of stronger spells
how might, might outstripping deeds, swells
up this once, this one and only time.”
Snake-like, the tiger coiled his strength
the fur and muscles playing like a harp
and on this tiger rode the second king
who tore his silver hair in thought.
“Now—he murmured—after so many years,
once I behold the miracle of writhing flame,
my spells will open the treasure troves to me,
the blood will run in all my auguries.”
“The earth filled like a golden nut
will crack her shell like ice
and the diamond caves, their mouths will open
this once, this one and only time.”
The third king rode a giant fish
as big as an island
they sped through the steppe with nimbleness
billowing on a bright wind.
He hummed “At last, for a century desired
the flowering and end of fire
in the circle of entangled harmonies
I shall see—and become divine.”
“On the dry leaves of my blackest books
pours the wisdom of eternal, starlit lands
I will cup it in vessel of my hands
this once, this one and only time.”
In palaces set on fields of green
where waves of baize rose like stormy seas
the three kings had three bells of brightest peal
and every day they hid their hearts therein.
They ran too fast, so in that haste
they brought only thoughts filled with sin.
And so, like pillars of golden dust
they knelt before a mystery
not seeing that their hearts were dragged along
the earth behind, like beaten dogs.
And in that instant, all the kings at once
saw the child—like a drop of light—
and beheld within the mirror of themselves
—a thing black, cracked and roaring.
Suddenly, they felt three hearts again
which clenched like fists from sorrow
so they returned with great peace within
rocked by the beasts as if in lullaby:
The camel swayed like a mast set free
the tiger purred quiet as the sea
the fish walked firmly on the misty air.
And like a stream, it rose and flowed in them.
They returned, running from above
the three kings who had learned of love.
So, if you would be a Saint,
by which I mean that S-T
stands stoutly before your name;
and miracles multiply
like dandelions springing
wild from your incorrupt heart;
and your wise eyes stare star-like
from icons, your head haloed
on silver platters of paint;
and we remember your death-
day with feasts, and bells ringing;
if you would be, in short, thou:
—then pray, do not be too loud
stalking that shimmering bird;
do not go crashing headlong
through bushes, burning or not;
do not shout, and do not move
suddenly, as if grasping
feathers would give you flight. No;
be the axis of the world,
the spinning earth’s still center:
be a rock-rooted old oak,
strong limbs sieving the long sky
for such as the wind might send.
Wait; pray for thy beloved
to rise, bend, and then descend,
alighting at last upon
your cupped hands,
your parted lips,
your outstretched tongue;
the burning bird
setting you ablaze.
There is a silhouette to the pressure of jeans
thigh and tight cloth. In darkness let me dwell
awhile. The comfortable bloom of night
heavy bedded here the growth of stone
cathedral lint. Arched catbacked ceiling
the snore of old grapes—love—
two bicycle racks, two men and one horse
the Temple. We were poor knights indeed.
Limestone mossed up in the glow of candles.
Grey chlorophyll. And the stale air of cellars. [Read more…]
The glacial white paint comes peeling away
From the monumental doorframe,
Peeling away in great strips like some fabulous
And the columns all around are cold and mottled,
Pale and dead and grey.
I stand at the grate,
Looking in through holy prison-bars
Rich with swirling ironwork arabesques
Moorish Palermo turned baroque. [Read more…]
The end of all things will be on Wednesday afternoon
After tea. [Read more…]