To begin ...

As the twentieth century fades out
the nineteenth begins
it is as if nothing happened
though those who lived it thought
that everything was happening
enough to name a world for & a time
to hold it in your hand
unlimited.......the last delusion
like the perfect mask of death

Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Uncollected Poems (12): Four Medieval Scenes, for Robert Duncan


Jesus at a wedding
waits for us

monkeys with chains around their legs
surround him

dishes of squabs on table

the strangers come to wash his feet,
tra la they sing

a boy perched at a window
blows a trumpet

cherries & pears along the floor

a single fly

a skull rests at his feet,
a bird over his head

A VISION OF THE GODDESS, after cranach

sage & holy
she is sharpening a long stick

while on a swing
a babe sails by

the sky fills up with
warriors on goats & boars

a sleeping dog

a dish of fruit

a castled landscape


a man called john,
much like the others,
stands barefoot near a lake
with swans & boats

I turn away from him
& wait,
another year inside my head,
another cycle

then see him, crying
from his cauldron,
sad turks surround him,
warts on their noses

pouring water on his head


the priest’s hand underneath
the bishop’s robe

against the rump, the flesh
envelops him & hides

whatever floats around the dancing
twitching jesus

on his altar: heads & hands
tacked onto space

a hand holding a switch
a hand that points

a head propped on a pedestal
a head in mid-air

separated from the crown,
the spear, the rattling dice

under the dancer’s feet
a robe in flames


[These poems -- ekphrastic in nature -- were recovered, along with numerous others, for a volume of Uncollected Poems to be published in 2010 by Mark Weiss & Junction Press. Additional selections have appeared in earlier postings.]

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