Monday, October 31, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Mad Maud's Song

When Tom is far from me   the kingdom fails   The dales are brown   High 

are the downs   churchyards with briars grown    color welked from the sky 
Ravens hover over cribs   Hedgerows rattle eerily and sere    The moors 

are drowned   I wander through the halls of Albion   and eat the churlish air

There are lovers living    that yet lie together   gladnesse in their sleeping arms 

I early and alone    sit under a fruitless oak    fretting all the summerlong day

warbling out the rhyming tunes we’d sung   Gray goose and gander      waft 

your wings together    And carry the good king’s daughter      across the one-strand river

Blood bracken takes the woods   the towns dwindle away    gorse conquers

the meadow     hayricks shiver with plague   impaled in straw the courtly fool 

When Tom is far from me I cry      Jesu, Savior, can you come, can you come? Bring 

your keenest warrior angels, bring    For on this field of battle lie   oh lie    five young kings

Monday, October 24, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Landscape Painting

A fleet of clouds weighs anchor on rivers of light and glides out to sea,  

the Genoa jibs and spinnakers crosshatched with calligraphic scrawls

and chicken scratches, sails of my failed poems on parchment attached 

to the running rigging, heading for that dark horizon where crafts 

are scuttled, cargo holds empty, splintered consonants and vowels afloat

on the waves. I pace on the widow’s walk, the east wind dragging at 

the shingles, chiseling the slates, and observe the raging combers break

and seethe and break again. Inside, the kettle caterwauls, untended to. 

The artist no longer distinguishes shadow from shadow, my blanched face 

dissolved in hair he has made too bountiful. He packs up his turpentine, 

rags, and in his color-flecked coat, wanders toward town away from me. 

Glacial with shame, wild with fury, I'll keep the watch, waiting the first star.

Monday, October 17, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Foundering

My pencil leaves only caterpillar scat on this lined page. Clouds have tied

the sun to the bed frame of the sky. The marsh has withdrawn. No wind, 

no wading birds, the current deeply asleep in some naiad’s tangled dream

my imagination, gasping, drowns in. Fat as a Buddha, I sit and wait. Can I learn 

patience from salt moss? Acceptance from the bowed phragmites? Diffidence

from Black-Eyed Susans whose young faces still look earnestly heavenward? 

This is all there is. All there ever is. Me, trying to decline the world’s language

onto canvas blank as tidal flats, my mouth, open in surprise and full of ash.

Monday, October 10, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Return

He swears, emphatically, ‘On my mother’s grave, live eels are the best bait’.

His buddy shrugs, smiles, already dropping anchor at Red Rock near Lynn.

The stripers are running, and I almost ask if it’s due to the equinox and full 

moon converging--but they’ve passed beyond me, heading for the dirt path 

ending in a toy, oyster-colored marina. They never saw me. The granite wall 

is warm where I sit. I’m a ghost in my own life again, nearly pat myself down 

as you do after having taken a fall, to see if anything’s broken. But the marsh 

has borne the blow for me. The sumac has rosacea. Grey-haired phragmites,

to the beat of the stiff east wind, enact a geriatric exercise class, reach up, 

bend down, cross over, reach up. Beach grass shivers into fall--bronze, amber, gold

amid tenacious green.  Old mallows, mulleins, cattails court as if young.

A widowed white swan has the tide to herself. The current’s tepid, soft 

turquoise is swimmable for the first time all year, but I’m afraid of waves

that crash above my knees. I’ve never gone fishing. Never sailed. Never run 

with the stripers. I take off my glasses to wipe them. Ah, that’s better: savannas 

ruched like satin, salt hay like suede. Another autumn of convalescence. 

Monday, October 3, 2011

Tuesday Poem--Dog Days


Verdigris, rust, rot--even the sun is cirrhotic, the phosphorescence riding in

uneasily on the agitated, late-summer tide. Skittering shore birds unthread

the fraying hem of the surf, their yellow beaks plucking at festering seaweed, 

fists of starfish. The reeds are writing their wills. The wind has given up on

braiding the old white wisps of the salt hay’s hair. There’s no telling when

the weather will turn. No place on earth will let me say--I’m tired to death

of life. Gulls circle overhead, chastising me, the combers rise up, manes

fuming. Only sparrows in rosa rugosa are imploring, pity, have pity, let her go.