An Electronic Journal of Poetry & Poetics

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ISSN 1081-3500 | Copyright © Mudlark 1997

Editor: William Slaughter | E-mail:



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Mudlark No. 6 (1997)


Island Road

by Henry Gould


            ES            A             SB

                   R      T       I

To--        C      X     WSM      O      D          --YZ

                   SK     N      PW

            EH            B             FG

Shak-Spire             WS/Henry                   Church



                               * *** BE E*S  !!

Author's Note

    Island Road is an attempt to graft a few idiosyncratic fragments of late 20th-century experience onto what is basically a Renaissance form, the sonnet sequence. I have tried to follow the example of John Berryman and Ted Berrigan on a path which has led to a personal and semi-mythical encounter with the recurrent shadow of Shakespeare.
    But this is only part of the story, and there are many side-trails and byways along this road, many of them unfortunately obscured by thickets and brambles which only the hardiest readers will penetrate. Here are two simple markers to aid in orientation:

1. "Costaguana" is the name of the fictional Caribbean island nation in Joseph Conrad's epic novel, Nostromo. Among the novel's central characters are "the Goulds"; I have introduced them as means of carrying forward my own story.

2. The "Henry Gould Institute", on the other hand, is a real place (see sonnet #74). Established in Florence, Italy, by an American philanthropist many years ago as a "refuge for young Protestants," the Institute now serves as a hostel for students and other visitors to the city.



I. The Road from Costaguana 1-36

II. A Midnight Masque (in Greenwich Time) 37-50

III. Don't Get Ready for Mardi Gras (blush) 51-60

IV. To the Green Constellation 61-89

V. Scattered Bells & Whistles 90-99



I. The Road from Costaguana



Maple seedlings twirl out of the reddening leaves
out of the blue cerulean onto ochre bricks
in the clear wonder of one autumn day
everything blushes toward the fall to come

But the road in my mind ends among some birches
somewhere in Siberia     white on white
their limbs garnered into icebound sheaves
woodpiles     a pear-shaped lake frozen like a drum

White too are the endless nights
among huddled words     I am a bundle of sticks
frozen head down signalling "wrong way"

until a forgotten phantom heaves back the door of
the inclined pole     and spring lurches free
bearing my whole body toward     her delirious shore



Hooded     you smoke down a street in Petersburg
Neva     a mirror curving out of sight     is
tied in viper ringlets     knots of bridges
weightless     beneath emigrant, phantom blue

A second Venice     third Rome     another dimension
of imitation     in solitary, Ego
slips on that treacherous double ice-floe
loves you, loves you not, a-knotted     suspension...

Ellen, Eleanor, Lenore...     the mask
slips too easily down     to the tickling scarf
down to the salt-laden local     turf

there     to garner is the task, gathering in
skycolored photos of a frozen face
Epiphany...     or a mournful trace of silver.



The dogwood is ready to let go drop
her coral pendants     red, red, red.
I am ready to disappear     given the slip
my kiss betrayed.     Gone bare

the dogwood's breathing out her heart
in leafrain     muttering
they are her children     seething
nation     settling     scattered far     apart

The tree has weathered this before
militant stumps     cheer her onward
drifting     over the highway
over the sheer
                   goodby     goodby



Under twirling bivalve helicopters     the winking lariat
of neon rhododendron     I was happy & fickle
with lust     & to join the other buried men
while leaves redden in the growing cold
bold as love     here there is no lament
among persisting branches     what is this revolving
around a bent pole     somewhat     ever-fixèd
and broken again     (compost perennial?)

Tell me Berrigan     Berryman     headed
down smiling in the river of ashes, tell me
(frail wasp-punts in the bloodstream
pulse with hunger     a pulverized poor bean-
scramble)     o.k.     they say     maybe
she's your aerial laurel     singing in the streambed


5   Homage to Falstaff

             Summer so histrionic, marvelous dirty days

In the cold steel sheepdog winter of lust
a strange tact island of ability
to penetrate to the marrow maybe
tomorrow's rainbow aorta     blood the sharp-
eyed carpenter     lifting out of his mind's
orbit a couple     a coupla     a cupola

Ireland of squander roar
by jovial collider collage
kaleidoscope college!
& to lie be down near the Cranston line
with pennywhistle & brawny whore-
heart     the sun, he says, and then he says     all mine!



Wind from the last of Hurricane Lil knocks off
the dogwood leaves til there are few, or none.
Rain soaks my dreams: bears in the ruined choirs
Napoleon, poignant, besieges 40 days & nights
the bears in his dreams are wearing tights
and heavy armor     over the 12 gates, candled fire
& the priestess     phosphorous glow-worm of the black sun
keens a long E in glottal reverse     a cyrillic raven
squares up the Mayday precinct with a (cough) sacral puff

Meanwhile     sweet birds, Will     sing late
untouchable & second-best, always     in your last will and
testicles     and the doomed lambs of heaven
are everywhere, on hillside and on streets, if you will: the
tenant's stray flocks, unmoved by the remover's     joker's fate



In me you see the evening.     Gold dust
a yellow level     bled     bubbled     wavering toward
black night.     Russian rug on the study floor
Mongolian-eyed     knighted     squared     grandmastered

On a gray New England October day.
Slow gray streets spangled with coral &
curled toward Hibernian sleep.     My
green Sears Constellation all that remains

& it was yours.     Stars wheel overhead
no consolation only an alphabet of levers and pulleys
tackle of a speech machine.     So much
revolves around the idle pinprick of a queen
so pale     so small     her sheepish finger strays &
stirs divided memories once left for dead.



A small tree (almond, dogwood) flowering in your eyes
leafs through my spine, speaks volumes (my needle betrays).

Maple leaf like a reef of sharp-eyed coral
or hand cut by a blue glass frisbee
(your hand shakes: it's constitutional in our society)
insinuating states of etats-unis
or "marriageable rose some truant lips annul"

That sheepdog would play in my summer's unruly realm
but then she's furred as well for wolfish winter
(one sheepshank: constellational insanity)
A stratagem of light nips & barks     scotch banter &
morning roads are opening     in her ample palm

& everywhere this Love comes home to me!
as every island road leads to the sea.



Hand me a red road bouquet for the journey,
my little sheepdog     I will be true to the dead end.
smoky twin     little rose iceberg escapade
only cold steel can match your flinty circumpolarity.

Through the brain fog     I see a maze of canals
mirrored in the Northern Lights     and over there
beyond the iron bandshell, an eggshell dome bears
icons of a green-eyed Magdalen     lifting scales.

And I can pledge my shoulder to the bricks
with honor     but you are only a collage yourself, a
puddingstone mosaic hefting interior triple domes     and if
I want inside your fur     you just want to play tricks...

And this is how we babble along together alone
down Land O'Lakes road (alone, together, it's all one).



Bells ring as the days move toward snow,
days governed by a different providence,
not this quivering burg of whims and nerves,
as shanty towns move through experience
sleep     encircled hope     here on the wharves
of Costaguana     under a brooding mountain's brow.

The old sabre over the mantle     who would have known
cold steel could cauterize     each heart's high noon?

The word apportions beauty     pride of place
& vanity     while courage opens doors     &
echoing compassions bless
(with mirrored cherubim) your     pulsing search
(Bells droning onward     into the azured arch
silvered toward a frosted     yeast of snows)



O my snows of yesteryear! & as the Tide
in the affairs of men enters the rinse cycle,
I hear her washing the world
& dressing it in clean linen
revolving everyone
from iris to sunflower, from Want
to Give (all in the twinkle
of a sigh).     O my soul's Giantess!


terrace                    rest




We'll go more steeply into the dark,
& travel down under the moss & the dead
leaves     & go under shadows     of
daylight savings, as November comes on.

We'll go toward sleep, my thrush, my sleepyhead
& hear the mutter of an undertow
across pebbles, & mournful puddingstone;
we'll roll, black one, toward your lonely mark.

We'll follow the ghost dance through hedgerows,
& wear rotten pumpkins for crowns
on the last night. We'll light a little spark
& watch it fade over lead-gray fields.

We'll wait until our hearts are already heavy & full.
& then we'll lower the pail, slowly, into your well.



Yesterday the trees were passionate
an indiscriminate planet piling on sweet
plenitudes of leaves in the harvest light,     while
august     the firmament     planted a blue & final kiss

Yesterday's kings trundled forth from castles
bumblebees were     drunken sailors in the grass
& like honeyed wax     bearing his father's seal
Hamlet wheeled around toward Elsinore.

Today soft rain flattens the brown plane leaves
Earthfilled mouths mutter to life once more
In the All Souls' light     living & dead     alas
are spun together     just above their graves

& Hamlet     yes     comes home, & it is no dream
Ophelia is singing in the stream.



First the voices twitter from the graves like starlings
choirs of worms     or harmonizing skulls
& then graves open     & the dead walk home
& everywhere is home & light springs from dust

& the dust like a school of swallows suddenly swims
over gables of firmament,     shaped like a wing
This is dusk     the beginning of Rome, Byzantium:
a host of unkempt, furry voices     swirling     full throttle

(while golden elm leaves scatter against gray sky,
expiring sparks against lead-tempered walls,
a green-eyed goldfinch tucks away her beak
& hides within     my weak, my     white-haired heavens)



        for Edwin Honig

Mysterious day of perpetual evening.
Old men are following the pendulum
& making out their wills.     Unweary children
laugh in dusky light     set leafboats floating

An old Horatian aristocrat
paces the dull docks in Costaguana,
his voice grown tremulous.     A red bandanna
drifts in the harbor (relic of the coup d'état).

I hear you, old man     measuring your steps
your will & testament are mine as well.
A phantom with a black silk parasol
crossed our two swords     cancelled our debts

beneath a palm leaf     made of whispering
that cuts to blood     & sutures everything



The principle of the sword was benign & frozen
an ice-word     or presiding ray gone into deep night
or frost mantle     like wool over our eyes
at the inaugural     horizontal     curved like a mirror
a vertigo spiral     the principle of the sword
cuts clean     & swallows its tale of America

A palm leaf divided the sky &
lined the donkey road to the contested city.

But I shall always be faithful unto you, dogwood
though I was untrue     like a bad American shepherd
weak & hysterical     in a dead decade's light
it's just     the principle of the sword     that tries
like a royal finger
to blot out all those memoirs     made of sighs



Silver will never disintegrate or fade
because it's dead. Charlie emerges from the mine
a washed-out half-life     blue eyes blinkered
for the hole ahead (no parakeet, no sign
of life).     It is a metalloid eternity
that slides life downward-forward into decay of
everything around the cave mouth crumbling
a furrowed hillside Charlie's mastery...

Under the steel sword     over the mantle
a leaf of petrified coral smoulders     fitfully
surrounded by black lakes of glinting coal

& what was mirrored there     dark eyes could tell
no one, no one     arose     petal by petal
leaf by leaf,     rose     everlastingly



Very deep in his mine called "mine"
Charlie were consolidating him deposits.
Over a bullion pit he a-hoist an icon
of Aurora Borealis (his light departed).

& out of her eyes of tempera & petroleum
she overlooked his temper tantrums
tawdry bawled-out longings
& repulsive victories. She, she understand
when the Quest draw to a close finish,
smoothed over, evened out...finally
(& incommodiously) lost! Her wish
came true when he parlay his last penny

to the camp girls, gave his shoulder a bored pat
& help him into a cab. & that was that.



          i.m. Henry Pussycat

The gals is angrier, it's all the rage,
& boys am angriest, & selfisher,
& sans that do-re-mi
you won't be bacon on no Sunshine Stage
besides hotels. --You done blanch ornerier,
Mr. Bones, that is fo sho!

& rust was spoken, up the wheels,
& baby birds, plebeian mighty low,
& golden bowls, be broken too,
til Slocum Henry tired of all them spiels.
He feed his sheepdog nag a whackeroo,
& sets off, awful slow,

& heftin his heavy northern pikebone stingray,
goes on, his merry all post-humorous way.



The true, not the calendar November
has arrived. I float beneath gray clouds
the color of brain, or imminent rain
& scrabble snoozing screed beside the river's
stolid girdle. Megaphones explain
(across bank troughs & boring crowds)
the blaring's sponsored (by somebody or other).

Only these vacant, granite spaces bother
to remember the cost of all that labor,
& it's shrinking Grandma under her arbor
hard by Grandpa in the ground
comprende better than any still around
how Adam plowing in the fado dust
taught them to fade, as each we must.



    Deep in his mine, Charlie lay perched on a scaffold,
intent on his labor of love, his masterpiece, the Magdalen-
as-Fallen-Woman-Repentant Almost Gored by A Mastodon-
Blessedly-Cuffed-from-Behind by the Silver Shackles of

    How devoted to his hobby Charlie ferociously was!
Many were the nights the gracious Mrs. Gould spent
fending for herself with the gimpy misanthropic Doctor,
their homogenized houseguest. The surly, withdrawn old
medical man adored Mrs. Gould, his hostess; he would say
(with that wry, habitual shrug so characteristic of him),
he confessed, he knew next to for nothing about art.

    One day the winter cold snapped the aluminum
on that scaffold. Charlie was left hanging by a stalactite!
And a stalagmite (one in each hand)! Until he was
rescued by a blackened crowd of Costaguanian riffraff,
who had been observing him there, regularly, on their lunchbreak.



A strange justice prevailed in Costaguana
like the 4-way iron needle on the Courthouse clock
in Providence     pointing forever to high noon
because it's broke
like the industrious neatness of the piranha
or proverbial goodness     evinced by the monsoon
or divine palm oil (grouse or manna)
a strange justice prevailed in Costaguana.

He hung there     anchored to a beam     and shot
guy wrong place wrong time     wheedling leather merchant
scum     rot     animal, to be blunt

Take him down & keep him     he's your boob
like a toothpick in the lip of a gentle scribe
pursed with reddening petals     3, 2, 1...     Atone.


23   Sea-Shanty

Splash     (the clock on the wharf strikes midnight)
no other sound     but that anchor going down
in the lagoon     (and the medusa ringlets, the
dark petals of water & salt     soon vanish)

& mirrors     vaguely rippled & dispersed
the granite on the promontory     a hand     blessing or
gathering     at the prow, the poop of some vessel
a-tilt in the stiff wind     of a fresh curse

harpoon     Ahab     captain     follows
the snapped     iron going     down into the hold
of the sea

which swallows him
surrounded by fold     on whispered     fold of
blind     fingers     (& a reedy sigh)



What are you doing today...     it's raining here.
Election day--it's over finally,
the money's paid. Time again to stare
angrily-complacently at your favorite program.

I get the feeling you don't give a damn
while they do whatever they want to (in your name).
Whoever's running what are on a spree,
a sponsored corporate bipartisan     scam.

What are you doing today...     from water's world
looms from below     a cupola     of faded voices
forms     each petal of     concentric breakers

the sceptre of the heart, mirrored     centripetal
& rose     out of dogwood splinters     drifting coral
bronze veins     plow the upturned air     & the sea rejoices



Waiting to go to London on an airplane, &
wondering about the anagram of your name
& my hand mirrored in the threads of your palm,
O     costly Brazilian singer from Lebanon

Husbanded by cedars     heroin     microphones
where are you now?
running after quarters after
a quarter of a century somewhere

surrounded by child labor,
among sheep you are     a shepherd's quandary
building Jerusalem O
from hope     and feeble-hearted stones,

ALMA     my shady tree-lined
soul's in your palm again



Evening sky     vast, endless, generous. If only
sheepish human measure could compare
with cloud strokes floating so euphoric there;
full stop     holding their breath
in the abyss
of pastel blue. Verily
I say unto you. Unable to express.
What is this festive dusk,     the Preacher saith.

To show you,     ALMA     (crown of darkness
aureole &     balm)

(black hole
where hunger swirls     beneath your palm)

my     disintegrated     soul, one
turbulent     ink-blind     universe



It seems like London here today     the air
is murk     edges are gray     as the Professor
smuggles a bomb beneath a threadbare macintosh,
    sky tumbling around like dirty wash.

Wherever you are, you aren't here today.
Absent as a pendulum     this way, that way
swings in an empty cage     while
some folk keep faring forth     on arduous pilgrimage--

before the heavy snows bury their sorrow
& burden of nightfall settles     on the year
& the tattered     tattooed body     here below

recedes in white lime     a phosphorous glare
& the star in the milk turns black     yes     right here




                 near Norwich, by the Thames

Trees merge with the darkness     coral, camouflaged
above the river,     quiet, smooth and ceaseless.
Hidden by nightfall,     stars, arranged
in the heavens,     drift     reflected there.

You tugged your sweater close around your dress
& let me wrap an arm across your shoulder as
the last of summer pulled us both downstream,
so adamant, so casual, unvarying, and calm.

Those fingers lifted to my shivering lips
were hidden in the darkness too     & now
my heartbeat mimics you
& stained with all this darkness, steps
toward some anonymous London afterlife,
incognito (the ache     of universal grief).


29   An Icon

          woke up this mornin' with my mind
            set   on   freedom...

I wanted to make you happy with another poem,
& as the star of a nation     droops low
in the great NW sky     I wanted to flood you
with fishbaskets     from Rome, Byzantium

& as the voice of Marian Anderson
ricochets off the Memorial (& over the
heads of the D.A.R.)     I wanted the star
(with its consort     of muffled organ)
to surface--and plumb the mansions of heaven

& these desires of mine
hung there     pendulous     like fireworks,
or     all the other & Various     Works of Man--
waiting, waiting     (like sheepdogs--wandering barks)
for the miracle of your     ink-black     inspiration



               i.m. Joseph Bernardin & Meridel Le Sueur

A strange fortitude hovers over the fort
this morning     spangled pupils aim for the black
holes in bunkered irises:     with a bark
a virtual Putnam keys a command:     Foursquare alert!

I had a dream last night I was talking
to a poisonous spider like a little white ball
rolling toward me--     he was the King of Milk
in the murk of a cedar cellar     & he swirled,
ALMA     among his lambs     amid a UNION
swathed in silver pennies     & Chicago cardinals

From you, for you, with you     shall not
perish     though the sword rose in sorrow
& bitter to the taste--    each coin farmed out to the river
turned copper and rusted     in your streambed heart


31   Henry's Muse

                        by the Providence River

The river drowses like a flickering sword,
on past infinite farmyards gone to seed, a lamp
in a prairie palm     meadows & towns     loud
wail of a long-gone train (Transcontinental Tramp).

Anoint me with the oil of your guttering candle,
London, for     my mint is pennyroyal, &
my royal headache's eased now--     but I'm seeing double--
& blood will flush the curtained chamber of Jerusalem.

Shall I place it on my head?     I'm cold
in this coin of a bowling broken realm.
I'd put an arm across your shoulder, gal--

in the sceptred greenhouse--     should I be so bold?
It's you, O     green-eyed National Velvet     at the helm--
Empress my soul now, for     my mint is pennyroyal



If I were King, I'd put my alms across
your soul     Let go the superflux!
No more hung-up     long-drawn & hamleted
in quarters very-locked     bombed-out

Is Kosmos then     cut to the waistline of our gluttony?
(Yundt walks past the coffeeshop.) Can we
afford the theater in Dallas? Or was
the UNION all in vain, alas [etc.]?

Crowds of trenchcoats going by...     the Father
of his Country, greenish-faced, on magic carpet
in the sky...     & the sea     like a mother     rose
in my heart.     Small ring in his palm, the courtier
boned the envelope     with wax of paternity     &
like ALMA     rather than Mammon, chose     eternity




                        Property was thus appall'd,
                           That the self was not the same

The trees are withered to the bare bones now
& in the shallows of regret & out of work
I walk the streets     & make myself a mark
evading by a hair a roving     garbage scow

The skies are lowering     & shall these bones
live again?     I'll go evangelize the Stones
in London     & your green-eyed compass rose
must crown me not myself     like some Napoleon

& our Thanksgivings, now     shall be provisional
with the purity of a circus     & the order
of a dark street's gypsy camp     & in a tattered
Creole pilgrim flame     we shall be gathered up,
snowed-in again,     where streams run copper-colored:
my small estate, which is     the smallest coin of all



Shakespeare was Bacon on a sunshine stage,
a secret agent, or     unperfect actor
and if this is a crown
it's a fool's crown, or
crown of dogwood splinters, wreath'd
with your absent part     & three parts rage

Is it megalomania or is it shame
that drove me from the Doctors into wilderness
& set me spinning toward your globe of fame?

& when those Aprils born of tenderness
hail down sweet kelsons of the cosmic frame-
up     I'll be standing in my shepherd's weeds--     a wildness

tamed     by what I know comes not from me:
adhesive happenstance--O     Chair     of Anonymity



The snow fell, finally     on your birthday
ripe Thanksgiving earth all     a sheep     in sheep's clothing
but growing cold.     Your old lovers walk by,
lonely     & how did Lazarus     inherit everything?

Marlow knows. Sternly over the stern
he views a murky star beneath the wake
wavering goodby     all your white hair going down
to Sheol,     stellular     for Marlow's sake.

The air was dark above Gravesend.
He resembled a pilot. Promotion to the fleet
at Ravenna. & only later to apprehend.

Benign immensity. Unceasing service. Meet
the Dark Lady     around Medusa Bend
& delicate snow shall be     your wedding sheet.




                  Eternity, oh Eternity! That is our business.
                              --Roger Williams

With a mouthful of Narragansett conversation
& a scroll for London     to charter a star

With a handful of snow     (proverbial heaven's
scale of values, like a wheel
or buoyant garden     of aerial cedar)

the friend of Canonicus & Miantonomi
set sail     at Christmastide     aye
to gather firewood splinters     for the poor
& handshake freedom     for the colony

Aye     there was a kingly man
whose bare estate was     commonweal
a breath of air     unearthly, sure
like a flock of cardinals     hovering home
high up     in the cupola--     (afloat,    again)



II. A Midnight Masque (in Greenwich Time)



High up in the cupola, afloat again
above my mangy cradle     wooden cardinals
drift     wavering     mobile
in the mind's eye     & stream's reflection

Those light motes flicker     toward the shortest day
Lucía's     solstice     dying of the year;
in evening light     these shadowy things appear
revolving, wheeling round     in peripeteia     toward the clay

& from black shining clay     is born     a star
November star     gathering straw toward home
& shepherds' glinting wheat     & draws it near

like dust     the dusty origin of Rome,
Byzantium     my cardinals share
beginning     with the dark     & wintry tomb



Beginning with the dark & wintry tomb
of black-holed heaven for a fixèd star
& only heaven knows     I'm going home
at last     as the year dies     we are
upheld by hope alone,     as the lights fade
& the year dies,     & the Thames flows on
toward the minimum     I shall put on
my cardboard crown     take up my wooden sword

Lucía     ALMA     Black Madonna

& there     beneath your shadowy umbrella,
whirling double M     U-turn
of murky justice     swirling     NNW
you palm your nostos kosmos to the urn--
this clay-born sunburnt stage     put to the test



This clay-born sunburnt stage put to the test
my broken love,     nativity     and grave
of nothingness:     of this you'll make a masque
of merry Yule     & deathly Mexico
earth mother jigsaw     jaguar     brooding husk
ascending darkness     from your subway rest
you make a somber harmony     slow
sunken ark:     a turtle's     phoenix nest

This lacerated miracle     & long drawn-out
debacle-spectacle     enacts
the buoyant coffin: serious     Ishmael's womb--
the dogwood splinter     green-eyed mote     &
drifting flotsam:     heaven's cataracts
poured out in tears     to give the New Year room



Poured out in tears to give the New Year room
--thus Hamlet leaps into the grave again
Laertes     in his mirror     will resume
shaving portentously     & lifts his heavy blade
of wood--     crisscross the boards
they make a brooding pistoll'd sign
& pass away     into the Danish gloom

& over the frostbound earth     now floats the rain
& sweeps away     Ophelia's memory
her crown of pennyroyal     soaked, unwoven,
soiled with her     submerged     anonymous clay

& on the evening of the shortest day
but one star gleams     faint     unproven
there     in broken-hearted     sailors' heaven



There     in broken-hearted     sailors' heaven
a green star glimmers     out of death & life
arose, eros     crossroad     & sign of strife
uplifted toward eternity--     a stolen
eye     looks out for me:     my strictest
mistress:     cedar pole, sweet cinch
sky-borne:     clay heart's     arrest

& now rich Lazarus     before your bench
draws out the thorn--cannot resist
& flings it toward the deep     Atlantic trench--
London awaits     the prince will do his best
to steer his splinter coracle,     & stitch
his broken sword     into your burning nest



His broken sword into your burning nest
His ALMA     fractured     on the heavenly heights
his wheel set spinning in the slippery clay
his ark off-course     & sputtering in circles

his star gone down     his heaven out of sight
his name unknown--her name a roundelay
his reputation marked     & scandalous
his frame     disrobed:     unwelcome guest

begone into the night     that gave you birth
blend shadow now with shadow     palm to palm:
all goes to hell     & spirals upside down
& dances     mawkish clown     on frozen ground:
this frenzy     of the stateless pilot     calm
as death     that spice     of bitter mirth



As death     that spice of bitter mirth
& treason of the summer's treasury
smirks like a poison through the veinèd cup
& tips the sword-point of your misery
& gaily tippling     fever     laps it up
into the maelstrom     of a cardboard earth

Taste thy reward     O vengeful minister:
the playful sword shall pierce your own heart too
& as the streambed carries off your star
the scent of pennyroyal, celandine     & rue
hangs in the air     a muted melody,
an afterthought. Belated knight
your tragedy
is over.     --Ever born to set it right.



Is over--ever born to set it right--
revolves around again,     a globe
scrolled     with mummy     maple leaves
& sealed now     regal, mute     this orb
& bishopric     shall staff     your wooden flight
O donnish martyr     bringing in the sheaves

& mistress-master     Nobody     bereaves:
that admiral     coming home, one-armed
with ink     that Lazarus     his barn
undone     his sheepish camouflage     out-farmed
his one-eyed     giant rival (quite a blight)
puts out the sun     & leaves the field     all white



Puts out the sun     & leaves the field     all white
& spun away     a milky web,     unearthly
blind     & melted     into burning tongs,
hammers out the galaxies     high-tested fire
sword-sharpened     marked     by mockery
& hidden     bivalved moth     of murky tongues
you blaze, Aurora     tapestry of night
& turning     shining     constellated     Sire

your     mystery
unfolds             these
        lips'         petals,
rustle a     russet     sigh



Rustle a     russet     sigh
spread risen     pole to pole
& whispered     black     on high

Out of the shortest day     a narrow berth,
a vessel pledged     to covenant of grief
       & joy--
& lift your voice with voices     leaf on leaf
out of the mournful festering     of lying earth



Out of the mournful festering     of lying earth
the noisy nonsense     all my muttering
                                forth,     one
                                to me:

I am     that cardinal goldfinch--apple of your eye



I am     that cardinal goldfinch--apple of your eye
the shadowy ALMA of your soul     I am
that blackened penny--widow's mite
that brought down satraps & their soldiery

I the hand     that lifts your wooden sword
& renders peace     unto divided night
I the mind     that ponders sorrow--word
gave Dante voice     & flowered Mandelstam

So she whispered--so I wrote it down.
& as her features faded into sky
she looked on me     & said--     I am
the rood your bloodline bears--your palm's lifeline,
I am     the Lion     left out of your play
high up     in the cupola afloat     again


49  (Coda)

High up in the cupola, afloat again

beginning     with the dark & wintry tomb

this clay-born sunburnt stage     put to the test

poured out in tears     to give the New Year room

there     in broken-hearted sailors' heaven

his broken sword     into your burning nest


As death     that spice     of bitter mirth

is over--ever born to set it right

puts out the sun     & leaves the field     all white

rustle a     russet     sigh

out of the mournful festering     of lying earth

I am     that cardinal goldfinch--apple of your eye


(I am the Lion     left out of your play.)




Christmas is coming     to the ancient town
now is that ruby Goldfinch lamp unsealed
that Cardinals proclaim (& also Wren)
lights every soul     & overcomes the world.

Every soul is Kosmos then--a little world
that with a breath of nature     comes into its own:
so these pinetree boughs declare.     Be faithful then
& leave the wind to work: be patient--bold.

Here     in the poor & wayfaring East End
a reconstructed Globe is almost done--
rotund profundity that proves     no man's an

& here I am     in England's green & pleasant
to square that circle--a prophetic one
that lights both my beginning     & my end.




III. Don't Get Ready for Mardi Gras (blush)



The struggle of the mind to bring to bear
a pattern in the mystery     the quiet
balance     imaged in these wet
streams     circling the old town everywhere.

Here once came     the young barbarian,
who fell in love     with this integrity of
land     & gently curving waterway;
found kingdom come     a petrine origin,
where dikes     domesticate the ocean --
Atlantis,     very human now     & Dutch.

& here     within this village radius
the labors of a Mondrian     circuitous
uplifted principle     serene     would reach
a dreamy apogee--     & build a world to match.




                    In 1996 alone, between one million and three
                    million people died of malaria...someone dies
                    of it about every 15 seconds--mostly children
                    and pregnant women...A more fundamental
                    problem is that many people cannot afford even
                    ordinary mosquito nets, which cost $5 or $10.

                                  --NY Times, 1.8.96

Think of your body growing cold     again.
Think of what fades     and what survives.
Think not of the dark wind, rain
a-sway over villages     apples & leaves

Snow lies on the clay. Mosquitoes
& silver coinage. Malaria.
Mysterious unjust angel of woe,
hysteria...     head down in the white.

And through the fetters of a flimsy lattice
or stage-struck curtain--     an extended paw
quilled with fabled disappearances--that
mole of metaphysical law--

Shakespeare     vanished into pseudonyms
trimming his nails     frozen     sheer


53   Henry's Notebook

Everyone to be issued a gondola
and five dollars.

Proust stayed behind in Venice.
O sole mio. Bronze bells.

Silver mine in the crevices of your
self--where Mammon shines.

Non sine sole iris. Cold eyes,
Liza. Ears and mouth snatched
up in the velvet folds.


Longing for the dark spring wind.
Oscillating Milton sword.
Of dogwood.

~~wave goodby~~



Wave goodby now to the shadows passing clear
across the river in their coppery gondolas.
Charlie, Mrs. Gould, the Doctor, good
Nostromo, yes     the Man     uomo nostro
salt     of bold tormented fortitude

will     steer through
breakers of dusk     over the bow,

Only in Hades may     you understand
at last     this iron-anchored     tenderness,
a glinting curve     in the mud & rust--
her flagrant disguise--     one hand
leading the way     into a further darkness,
weighted     with all earth (& loneliest).



Surely the earth is a kingly vessel     buried
at Sutton Hoo     treasure--cups, coin,
crowns, bells, lamps, swords of high-
domed doom, of lambs, of snow, almonds,
rivers of golden birds, eyes
of roses, apples, silver palms, & clay
dogwood seas
                        & surely
all my turbulent & sinuous ways
are barrowed there     already

Seasons revolve     rolling     warming & chill
my body is     or was,     still
now     ever,     this
Brownian seasonal motion,     so angular-
insular, in muddy moats     of dust



Measured now     dark winding of the spring
beneath the cupola. (Fink walks by
the coffeeshop.) Amazed on Morris Avenue
(the gold-domed temple     launched into the blue)
you lead me down this island road     the ring
in my hand yours, O     mere breath of air (sigh).

As the bent palm leaf leads the king
(Blind King, Venetian--Federal Hill) toward
a national crown o'thorns--green
chastening around the track--a Florentine
all-monde roadrace crusade--or
lolling MW princess--thinking

double you     dark S     in me--
M     what you will     (a-wheeling Zee).


57   Henry's Riddles

                           It is letter by letter,
                           line by line.

It's only the bark of a gypsy sheepdog, set adrift.
Fractal ripples in the land o'lakes, anonymous.
Present the like time--no time.
The wing-ding blows horns--Jericho Mardi Gras.

Airfuls of brightness from the Roman front.
Streaming by in her late shift.
Hello fella--Midnight here--what she want?
The ring, what else--ride on your mule.

Played me     once & for all     for a fool.
Cross road w/lime--you get rhyme.
Do time, again.
Jailbird flutters through the dark bullpen.
Ready to pitch, Black?
If not--bus those two to the back!



                   What is this festive dusk

Rosa parks her butt where it belongs at last &
we're gonna shake this town with hallelujahs,
skinny-dipping the tupperware til kingdom come.
Disguise the girl & the boy's a dish
panhandler's paradise (I wish)!

HOPPING                            MAD?
     SKIP                      AHEAD
          JUMP              59



                    on Benefit Street

Unless you turn & put away these chilled
dish things--shore is delirious here, boats.
Children's books, yearning by rote

& the museum is usually closed on Monday!
Let's go for a walk around the block.
what's up with your--clock?

Pointing forever to high noon, just
because. She's waiting in the wings for him.
They only winged him. A one-armed
gamblin' hurricane     ALMA     got there first--

there     here & there     around the playground
where time stops     the wind is     re-wound



His birthday comes around just once a year,
dying and born anew, though, every day--&
if he weren't over yonder, he'd be here.

Meek baritone of the mighty Milky Way,
a tenor of the flock, he's where his words are--
soaring majesty!

Mark how blood shudders in the fixèd star!
Tin harmonica below--(a joe named Luther)--
King of sheepdogs--(doggèd sheep)--you are!


Papyrus--pink-palmed scrolls--about to flower,
my speckled maple stretches toward     the feeble sun...
some early spirit     of your ancestor
tenders black lamb's-wool     & a ruddy crown:
rose orientation     lent     serene     uplifted     fire.




IV. To the Green Constellation


61   Henry's Dream

   In my dream, Everywoman was an icon. We were at a conference on the malaria epidemic. Urban locale--refined, old European (Siberia?). We walked past the coffeeshop at 99 19th Street, around the block, past the museum at 145 10th Avenue, & entered the Birch Tree Grotto (126 Verde Triangle).

    In the corner, under a pastel postcard of Costaguana, a retired silver bell manufacturer was babbling into his bowl of mead. My colleague pointed out a petite, lynx-eyed Asian woman at the next table. "Funny thing--when we're in the field, she swims without her shirt on. I tried, you know...but she laughed me off--said (in her awkward English) 'You think you pick out for every woman pleasure cave.'"

    I saw her then, breast-stroking upstream underwater, as graceful as a yellowbacked red-ringed cormorant. Introducing myself in a mature & friendly manner, I asked whether perhaps she hailed from Thailand. "A native of Italy," she replied.

    Later I was sleeping with someone else (from the bookstore). A young Asian lad had the 2nd-best bed there (on the floor of the cramped hotel room). I put my arm across her shoulder, & she milked me like a generous nurse (before my time had come). Suddenly there came an uncanny ringing of applause--& when we got out of bed, I saw she was glistening, slim, fit as a runner. (I thought--she'll get acquainted with the Asian fellow more thoroughly later.)

    I spent the rest of my dream trying quite unsuccessfully to speak Italian with everybody, including the waiters.



                    my sweet shadow, quiet sister of dusk.

A January snow. What will the New Year bring?
I shiver--     someone walk across my grave--
in cedars     London-bound     the cardinals sing
apocalypso--     Jubilee arrive--

"When Norwich Thames do come to Amersfoort..."
this incarnation of     a devious rose
is watered with my tears--     the bells start
ringing     fair, kind, true     into the night...

That flickering sword     (so calm, so adamant)
would drown the body's spark, the mind's despair;
the ring     enveloped in your palm, my     cormorant
shows finer mettle--     saves the camel     by a hair--

& only a merciful     & midnight sun
from knotted multitudes     will burnish     one.


63   Henry's Siege of Moscow

At least 2 weeks have passed     without a call, &
I'm ready to disappear     into my dream,
set out on awful pilgrimage,     carol
through a mannered wilderness (or some such scheme).

A soused Paul Bunyan     lost at Mardi Gras
pursues your     motionless     & green-eyed mountain--
stomping     so Superior     in far-gone car
while black-ice brows re-hearse     Napoleon.

My shoulders ache     with so much borrowed bliss,
& rival horns     & slanderous esteem
& seething Time     would scatter all of this--til
beat-up silver     swings the pendulum--

your glancing silence penetrates     so far,
I'm roused from sleep     wondering     where we are



The evening sky's     sapphire & tenderness
would teach the frail wasp     to wait for honey;
this weedy waiting     as the light grows less
is measured now     (as every Jack can see).

My wooden     rhododendronship     would sing
your miracle of seeing fingers--branch
on branch alight (if such a backward thing--
& shy--could sing)--     a verdant avalanche

or undertaking     of the universe...
but I will wait--     & waiting     (drop by drop
as honey oozes from     the broken comb)

I'll hear your heartbeat     stem the flood of time,
as shadows of your chariot     wheel     stop &
stoop low     to kiss     my weak echo     of your course



Lust burns, decays--     a glaring half-life
Time's false staff leads     to oblivion.
Time staffs the dining hall     with frothing strife
(brief-basking dogmatists     define, refine)

& hurtles doomside-down     my send-up heart.
Eyes & mouth     breasts     back & legs--     just so--
three find it delicious--     & a fourth
sinks,     faithless,     in a crate     at Sutton Hoo...

Still     in your palm     (wide     as the Black Sea)
these sheaves of tears     ferment,     compost to wine--
one shady gulf     & odalisque     Eternity
you enter     ruby-scarved, O     purple     vine--

across tall buildings,     seas     a single band
will intercede for me--your     tendriled     hand.


66   Pussycat's Daydream

The sun turned black, & day     was turned to night,
a hurricane     sank all the gondolas,
it rained     until it reached skyscraper height
& reeking wires     crosstown     blacked out, alas!

Three leopards--     Lust, & Jealousy, & Time--
were stalking down my     allegorical streets
when suddenly,     a windy coracle--lambs,
birds--climbed up,     as if propelled with     sweet

mouthfuls of air--&     dangled like a tent
above     spiracular ripples--     (one leaf, two
broke off)     an island     --shimmering, distant--
drifting in that haze...     & it was you,

Atlantis, rose--     full sail, a-whirl--green     Dipper!
--clinching New Time! (machinery     began to purr)...



Titanic dreams remain     where sunk--they lie,
a dogwood scar     for all your jealousies--
Ahab's last glimpse     in Moby's blank black eye,
Medusa-marriage     tombed     in frozen seas.

Blind mirror queen--you     star     of my bleak deeds!
Atlantis! mangered     in lagoons' decay...cracked
silver frame, that     weights me     to the weeds...
your jewelled     junk     checkmates     decoded day.

That lucid, tyrannous & cold iris
drags earth off-course,     harpooned to nothingness--
& my short stake     in everlasting     Venice is
a pained & painted wail     to     Davy Jones--unless

those arrows in your palm     are not in vain--
plain words come tumbling through     your vine again.


68   Henry's Sleep Report

I saw a needle of strange fortitude
bolt through the vault, like     a mosquito farming
the blue     or unstable sable-yellow feathered
hornet's trumpet vine's     metamaterial     barnstorming--

an M     an S     whirled--miles over that tangled isle
like a bull's-eye of assassinated     justice
in the court of angels,     or     long-lost medal
of stolen honor, or     incarnadine boomerang of unbound     bliss--

&     this tiny cantilevered carriage     pricked the skies
across a verdant constellation--     binding the said
sad impress,     blessing     with mourning eyes
& pity,     spanning,     spinning across     with ruby thread--

& so     your guileless disguise     prevailed     on high, as
you unwound     your own     4th of July



Grapes, lilacs, olive-shoots--    like arrows
in a shower up my spine.     What strange bouquet
inscribes your presence,     phantom Rose!
We'll two by two now--travel in a ray.

& O how amiable it is--     your swallow's nest;
I'll be a doorkeeper by day, O     threefold
arch--     your bosom's ward--&     [skip the rest]--
bail milky cataracts from a footstool     scaffold.

& at the nadir     of midwinter sun
we'll stand in uniform     beneath the Admiralty:
him, myself & thee.     We'll form a union,
manifold     with evening marble     from the sea--

three musky tears     tri-welded     bands of steel--
true counterparts--     & all in all     --is real!



                and no one knows who killed the King
                or the two princes by his side...

Ray fading, dying. With him dies
a nation's truth--tongue-tied by law
& lawlessness. Must we forfeit the prize
those granite spaces, stony swords     foresaw?

If underlying all--conspiracy!
Low somber bells drone on--     a slow fado
for dissonant & dusty empires...     O     mercy
upon us all     (the moon     bleeds into snow).

Some sailor's heaven     is not vanity.
Her Florentine chessboard     shall be your bond,
Hamlet's plywood sword     your surety.
In pentagonal &     penetrating sound

the ring of truth     will wring out tyranny--     &
plow the plowers back (so these bells     prophesy).



71   Henry's Very Little Testament

"The morning sky was like     a robin's egg,
& winter sun     was burnished gold     & jovial..."
--my many-colored kodak zigzags here to
abridge this dicey coda     (sad confessional).

Your eyes     that mourn     for every buried man,
your arguments     that peirce authority,
with palmseed rays     begin     what you began
in palmy days--     the sceptred lie's decay.

O dearest dogwood,     sheepish sliver mine,
your subway token's trained     for Jubilee--
one handmaid's handmade     hobo trampoline
that [aggregated naughty admirals]     will never see.

To them--my iced cremains at Sutton Hoo. &
all my unremaindered hands--post-humorously--to you.



Between the swamp gas of     your ghostly Mardi Gras
& surly clowns attached     to every crossroad bar
between a ghoul-dug knight &     very bored Aurora
under cherubim above     the electric chair

Above the undertow     over the lead-gray sea
beneath the slippery clay     below the frozen ground
between the royal mattress     & his flattery
his beggared silver sword & her     deflected wound

Between the old has-been     & his all-wet twin bed
between the Queen of Beats     [a nothing there Will comes]--
& to the blinkered soul     a something sweet & red
a sky-burnt fire truck     or     handkerchief of plums

& in the savage dark     one scandalized blue lamb
one jacknife dove unfolds     & whispers float--     I am...



The wind blows through the tops of the pine trees.
Sound of things     passing into the invisible.
Above     their endless     dark green constellation
the North Star turns     eternally,     invincible.

I was your slave, she said.
Where the obscure selves     cross     into the deep freeze.
On salvation road     through the valley of slivers.
& her voice     became silver     on the point of a sword.

Ding - dong
the dark wind     & the rain
(heart,     petalled     on a spine     of steel,     rose
once again

into the dark green constellation,     graven where
low broken lives might     find your heaven)



The star shines in the barrel now     outside your court,
Earth is harder now,     incarnate truth
grows saltier,     more real.     I won't be Hamlet
going back to Elsinore,     or naked     writhe

with David     by the ark     outside Jerusalem--
but in Firenze,     on my knees     outside the Instituto
Henry Gould     where you sought refuge once:     a lamb
when I     a wolf     had left     your island road


& when this rusty orb comes round,
they'll find me     Henry     numbered

marble     begging for forgiveness there
from you     & from the flagrant Lord
of Florentine     pine-scented air



                        to E.S.

In a dream, we walked hand in hand     through Petersburg.
You held a black silk parasol     to shade the sun
a russet scarf     around your neck     the surge
of ocean checked     & mated     sweetly done

by stone     & curving banks     & tender light,
newborn.     This dream     (frail-woven, swaying
pattern)     floats through dusk...     lighthearted leafboat,
whispered through the channel     of my costly clay.

I woke & saw     the shadow of a goldfinch
disappearing overhead.     & so     I send you
cardinal     this blue-green valentine,     launched
in a bathtub ship     called Sophie--     since I know

though parted     by rose-fingered sea     & sinuous time
we never step outside the portals     of Jerusalem




How high we go     who     travel in a shadow!
Nor will I fear     the arrows of the sun     by day
nor terrors of the night
--     my general best     to show
(as one who sailed to London once) that     inwound RI way.

Sometimes     I think I'm more than halfway there
when swallows tear     across the firmament
& pollen quivers     in the pregnant air
& comely palms exude     an anchored scent--

I think of one     whose 52nd year
revolves around again     a blooming almond staff
& orbic Jubilee--     out of the mournful sere
of autumn-lying earth     a greenish leaf

is born...     a festive lion laughs!     He's
rolling     on that floor     where all his thorns     are chaff!



I heard those bells'     high sea-rose call--
five senses     tingled--     my ten fingers danced
& through a sunken constellation--greenish metal--
came     & planted in my house     your calm expanse.

Low celandine is for the eyes     & pennyroyal
soothes the roiled brow;     Ophelia's rue
floats upon the tide,     & Denmark's rotten apple
rules     by her side     at last     in Hades now.

The earth     instinct with vision     steals away
our term of life (careless carouse or     sensual feast,
unwound)     yet     still     that muffled melody,
that sea-borne stem of     chorded combers,     vast

rolls back to me     (like wind     through anonymous
cedars,     deep     in northern woods)     a woman's voice.



                    root pity in thy heart

I found a ruddy apple     at the foot of the well
of galaxies     like a slow heartbeat     in the tomb--
a scarlet ornament in     guttered hell or
pampered paradise,     that droned     I am.

& in disgrace--     disguise of every rude
awakening--     I saw that orb go     shadowed
rolling     ripening    like some     rotund
oration (car or ark?)     around a node

or hedge     of angles--     prism ship, or     plane
icon of human inclination--     very
scored     with wrinkles,     moods & frowns,
--& yet     miraculously ordinary!

--The finder of the gold I've stolen here
shall have my book & staff     (I'll let you steer).



London awaits the     latest buried man,
unlettered still,     to have them all in stitches
lionize     the iris of     spotlight sunshine     thrown down
ticker tape     handkerchiefs &     broken watches.

& so     green stars are shining     over every metropole
& you     entranced with tidal roses     & applause
play mother's part, & chase     your favorite nightingale--
a golden globe, the     apple of your eye [Ecclesiastes].

Remember then     our intercepted breeze
went whispering through     the broken silver mine;
casket of apple blooms,     lilies     fettered     snowpeas
bathed us--O     terrestrial,     & Caroline--

for Charlie Gould     was not yet 29
when he was finished     --by his own icon!



Bells ring as the days move toward spring now,
& bear the canker & the rose     in high noon's pentagon
of pulsing screed:     of comfort & despair
O     world     world     world     flow on,     flow on

flow on,     flow on     into the calendar--
sweet faded arbors     &     Ophelia's crown
have branched     a branded, flickering undertow
toward Jubilee.     O fearful provocation--

sundered veil!     Poor pinioned corners
bare     the harshest knife, & still     your balm
exfolds --O     silvered     Silencer!
& in the concord of     one star,     one palm

your Kosmos     mirrored now     engulfed in rest
combs,     in green isles,    your Love's     grave     crest.



81   His Toy Takes Off

19...     all systems hnefatafl go.
Square one. Fold up     your golden RI game.
2 seconds now. Venice to Sutton Hoo.
Way over fatal Henry's     phantom fame

[no sugar now] the stars     concrete     & ever-same
irrigate a mirror image,     balanced
on an orange     L-shaped     gyroscheme.
& Leo halo = mass x horizon event [entranced].

Binary,     buried men & buoyant     coffins
make a comeback now     on scaffold stage--
barbarians     go Dutch     in paper gondolas,
& somber subway harmonies     ring for the page

whose queen translates     my thorny hide & seek
& saved my life     just     for a new song's sake.



82   Henry's Footnotes

            Everything is safe underground.
               --James Pritchard, archaeologist
                 NY Times obituary page, 1.19.97

Obit.     Essential outlines &     whitewash.
Summa of your summer's     wanton     burden,
outward walls--     & pines within     to ash.
Thy body's end     by     terms divine

High noon.     Toothpick.     Hung there
melted like wax     a multitude of the isles
were glad thereof
--buy     clerical shares
in my main book--a constitutional     disguise.

Philip Sperling, 85...     Rare Books.
Mary Bancroft...     Spy in World War II.
James Pritchard, Archaeologist...    at 87.
Luba Rostova, 80...     a Dancer.

You vault to safety,     Luba     like spring
on tightrope--or     a pseudospy (without a string).



       Yet seem'd it winter still, and you away,
        As with your shadow I with these did play.

The universe     in teeming unison     intones the
silken, skilled     refigurement     of slandered
scandal--     harps begotten victory     above my bones'
corral     o.k.     she's deep vermilion-fevered

now...     prescriptions     lays     sweet smells & figures
of delight     [& trumpets also]     let the sea
make noise     floods clap their hands     O     marvelous
April!     your groinèd alphabet     engraves my clay:

Hibernian sheep checkmate     the rugged ground,
high cupolas     pinprick     dogwoods, lagoons,
your     constellate goodwill--flowering almond--
scents the New Year's air:     runes, vessels, premonitions. . .

& like a cardinal     in a cured ribcage
my carol     springs from winter's branches--age to age.


84   Henry's 13th Forward Violet Recital

                       ...from age to age.

I will be sing-song sowing one thing now's
though cunning winds     don'ts augur very well
for corporate gondolas or     rust-fed plows
in a waiter's world...     & yet     one rose from hell

climbs up the podium--one pied-palm scrawl
centers yourn yon     maple syruppity     Milky Way:
aye     there was a kindly man, whose     whole
wheat handshakes     put us in the black     today.

It's raining Newport stars...     a couple--Big Bear
& Little Bear--     & one     to navigate     &
circle up     stray astral flocks--that     yet prepare
height's thronging     dogwood crown--     inaugurate

one     sober     nostos     unison of     splintered     strife
fled sea-grave     prisms grant     transhuman life.




                   O go your way into his gates

My bones     yes     my bones were     in the coral
under winter water's     scandal sheet--
my herbs were stoned,     prescriptions     oral--a
textbook exhibit A,     mispoisoned, &     completely.

Diz     aster.     O kingly vassal!     Borrowed
almonds     rootless apples     blood-tombed Eric
in the clay. A     brown emotion. All     undertowed.
Palm fleeced in shade. A     gnarled mold.

O feeble-hearted...     --April--scent-benign-intensity!
Your anagram...     --the sun--the sun!
Light like...     a crooked knife is--blinding me!
& who is she?     Dark outline--in the gateway--graven

shade--     palm-leaf trowel in her hand--     a pilot?
Gardener? Who steals--delirious--     me from my plot?


86   His Veteran Hardtack

I was headstoned--unnoticed bit o'mortuary.
Some summer's bored Morton, gloomed in the den--
unfired. Unlocked the safety--vault--it was scary!
Unperfect sage launched by bent bluesmen

into a dishrag black abyss.     Barely,
I say, W.     Uneven S.     Sideways,
sidewinded     lolling     April     cot     untimely
wild     unkelsoned, intecinerated...     haze

princess!     Dark winding of your spring-
fed compost revolved a stuffed fella
my way--a secret truant, or sting-
adhesive band-aid chorister whose A

preceded the sea--with insufficiency! My
heart to sway--say--quick--link onto the lee!


87   His Pen Pal's Alias

Well I was roamin like a soldier     through upside town
with my poignard compagnard     just give her the slip
rollin bombed under my part-nobler macintosh     right on
Professor     I dont mean nothin officer     (your garbage-ship)

Anyways I felt kinda nappy     lowering the boom     yon gypsy
crawlers good enough for a snow drudge     I seize her
by her cop-colored copycat hair     do I     see
I dont mean no harm     you get my drift     Marie Grays

my loverstrangler     no weekend-steamin jailbird time for me
To go on puke-mulin please I says to her--what your name?
Suspect she was     pullin my knife says    --Alienavel (whee!)
Nostrowoman or somethin--     Yeah!     what kinda clam?

Claim she serve a years line-up time less one     a thief man
I tell you     mistaken i.d. No! believe me!     I just ran!


88-89   Doing Double-Time + 1

As small trees emerge from the darkness     so
I wanted to anchor your hope     with a mother poem
& as the voice of     one of the daughters of J2 goes
steering across a never-never mirror     home

beneath the memories     I wanted that star     at last
where it belongs     in UNION with     my shivering heart.
I'm cold     iced eyes are eyeing us     the mast
is burning 3 springs back     I cannot write no more

& yet your calm     queen-star-spangled fingers     fly,
& satisfy my mouth     (that is but dust & grass)
with eagles' fare,     token     of your vast     pacific sky--
have wrung deep oaths     your kingdom come     to pass

into the hands of children     this long gift
may come to mean     what it was meant to be

& from the sceptered greenhouse     there might drift

a glory     glory     hallelujah     victory
go ricochet--     new-minted     pennyroyal frisbee     -- swift

cardinal draft     afloat     upon flushed chambers now:
high ceiling     lofted with     the midnight sun
Lenore on carpet ride     &     Poe in tow
a winged     clay fireboat museum--     hurricane--

& Hamlet's maiden voyage     waxed for snow
will hang there,     pensively,     & mimic you (turning
ample     apple     pear-shaped     seedling choir,
& ringing     curving out of sight)--     the river far below

where,     garnering the dust     (so evident, so visual)
the summer mansions pulled us     both upstairs,
& fire-trees     storked us free at last,     & all
sheepdog creation woofed     my deep-dyed,     wide-warped airs.



V. Scattered Bells & Whistles



       i.m. Henry Darger

I've wrapped a rubber car-rack strap (like a winebarrel)
around the splitting dogwood now, so it might survive.
Here in Providence, like many an average middling burg,
you sort of, you know, make do with what you have.

Midwinter spring is its own season. But
we haven't had much snow here anyway this year--&
it's not as though that's going to make us all jump for joy.
In fact some of us could have just come from the morgue.

Why that is--I'll tell you the reason.
In this little town we all look vaguely familiar--
but not so familiar that we're gonna hail-fellow-well-
met everybody! Which foot forward? We're never quite sure.

It's just a local variation on the principle of the shroud.
We're in disguise. It rains a lot. We're under a constant cloud.




My web's afloat now, nude     sans string theory
& though I can't see where I'm going in this cloud
it's pebbled in the quantum foam--down to 10-40.
It might even be visible someday (out loud).

These partial masks we wear--abhor--applaud
donned quickly for each grandest late finale
are portioned from a general evening shroud.
Odds are we're gypsies all--beyond the pale.

One--a regal Russian poet-son (of Riga leather man).
Two--a frank Swede belle from Algiers (alias Luba).
(Floats pas-de-deux with Ballets Russes.) (--Can, can!).
Three--that flautist Henry (plays the tuba)--he

whose ALMA now     canoed across (aquamarine)
a warm canal     lame ticker-time     has never been.


92   Henry's Baker (Chet)

           stay and we'll make     each day     a Valentine's Day

Touring through Holland     one more time     you fell
from a window     like an evening angel     emptied out
into the valley of the blues     (this well
of the horizon     filled with your     lost trumpet).

Your craggy face     was hollowed     long before
dragged from the harem     to the heroin
--quarters tossed     halfway to 88s--     the score
is nothing-not-nothing     (future-has-been).

My funny Valentine     her face has changed,
her hair     it's still the same     melodic thread
(your bread & wine)     & it is so arranged
we never leave--     the river     flows ahead

into heart's mournful gulf     &     stays, sustains
your     veiled demise     with victory     & peace.



              You're handsome, ominous...

I ken your anonymous osmosis.
Muzak crowds rush bingo hall,
gun mall. & tardy kitten Cisco

says: Hell I dunno what it's all.
Red Flag on that Huey over Frisco.
&, &      dud birds on the aerial.

Who's that masked mannikin?
What? Too loud in here!
Now where did Ken go? Hide seekin?

Obituary of an X. Canned.
Is Wanda over there

by the process--Aisle? Cheese?
Jeez, Louise!



In the last island     of his Lenten mind
in that gray London     of his final shroud
with snow upon his heart     John Donne

had glimpsed     a razor's lucid     edge--of
winter sunlight--&     feathered down his page:

Hell's bruise     & heaven's laws     are wise
& in the halls rose all     in willing praise     &
hills wells skies walls holes--all ways--always
will pause to hear     my sighs     &     tolling bells

& setting down his pen     slowly     at last
his heart     still balanced     between strife & rest

like Prospero     when his dear ding-dong play was done
rose from his island bed     & praised     out loud
Love's wonders--once so lost     & now     at last     rewon.


95     His Parable

The Chosen One     after all that he'd been through
was lying still--     & sirens wailed,     & silver bowls
were melted down     & the Garden,     the Garden turned blue.
The mournful town was     filled     with sheepdog howls.

& when the Magdalen     with green-eyed glance
rolled back the stone &     let a blade of light
break in     He was confused--dazed by the trance--&
wondered who He was--&     whether it was right

that she advance     & touching,     lift his arm
across her shoulder     (there     in the dank darkness).
But soon her eyes (like ruby lamps)     glowed warm
& on his lips     she burned a mordant     morning kiss

& said     I am your servant     Mary,     here
to wake you now--     rise up!     & be my valiant--volunteer!

                                Prospect Park



There is no salvation     for the dirty deeds
of plunder     treachery     & greed. The land's
not ours     nor worthy of its smallest seeds
are we. The blood is on our hands.

Still     a fleeting gypsy blessing might redeem
innocent children from the general's curse
& serve as model toward     a better scheme
for our rude ways &     late benighted manners:

I'm thinking of (once more)     one hearty pioneer
whose bark's capacious sail,     so purposeful
set free the civitas--shrouded     his clear-
eyed friend     Canonicus     in his best-woven shawl--

& closed     those regal lamps     that spied his own--
escorting him     with eagle feathers     to his town.



My early years are winding down     spirals
canal     O     lead me     river     to that sweet
shy     lock     of your     Italian walls,     &
set me in     your gong-sent     gondola-casket.

I have not seen     those verdant     smoky domes--
dove-hearted     Bogotá--     those     roseate peaks
& sheer-strung crevices     inset     with palms, &
spires     uprisen     high     in playful pinks--

& yet     collegial petals can     play Roma too--
& loop the loop into...     --that gulf of roses,
buried     in my chest     might     grant you
amorous fortitude!     & winestained poses!--as

dancers     (rising to     their constellated task)     quick
check their mates     & soar--right through the mask.


98   Henry's Fake Book (out-takes)

                  one and only love.

Every thought of you     the veritable heart shakes
Soar, &     showers my paired dice high--O hell it's low--
But then I'll take a chance & say     goodby's     hel-lo...
Pennies from heaven--     but my love's     a
Wormsdens-war-da-cross-stickum-bro-ella thing-
SKing's Queen's to Jack's     son's brothersome, blac-
Khole in won-der!     [o.k.! now--try it to sing!]

Dawn shadows fall     & spread their misty day,     a-
Carolling     sweet red & blue,     & gre-en matchsticks, too--
Her you & me--I am in love     with you     this     way way way
                            way way way way...
               [read down/up 3 bars]
Jaybirds & larks & stars     might sing a ding-a
Ling ling ling     but still my     aching heart
Tacks o-ver & sails     in lo-ve     with you-hoo!
Fly     [G cleft--no H note] [time to play up]
        were you in my arms...


99   from H.Q.   Re: Final Report

    Glancing over her sunlit shoulder, Dr. Louise Chan U.N. Littletree (the arch-geologist) virtually blinked a moment in astonishment when she noticed--lying in an anomalous, undistinguished corner of the Soberlost Dig Project potshed--a small sherd of blacquered Arpeggian cupware, datable not earlier than circa 1386 B.C.E. [...] "Whoa!" she shouted, just as Melrose the mule was about to pulverize the precious relic with his iron-shod left back toe. Melrose, fortunately, desisted--and as a result, we have the following inscription (transfigured into angles by Prof. Wedgeworth Crease):

[...] gold &     yellow-black-leaved     book of spinning
Jenny Double-essencell-El Chris O'Ferrous Balm
shelled giddy hailstorms     up & down my waning
spine, Doc!--     Out of my hands--     My diving poem,

that is! That is! That is! That is! That is!
& though this whorl street constellation's     programmed
darkening green day, one's quantum foam     begins to fizz

new yolks! &     Petrograduate     I'll cease my roaming
since the aspiring baker-bacon is     already hamming-jammimg
&     to Seedling City     (all-wise node)     some
    dumbig     polarbunionbrain     Nord
                            Easter is coming [...]


Henry Gould

Henry Gould co-edits the literary journal Nedge. He is a founding member of the Poetry Mission, an RI-based arts association. He recently co-edited and published an anthology in honor of poet/translator Edwin Honigentitled A Glass of Green Tea - With Honig (distributed by Fordham Univ. Press); his poems, essays and reviews have appeared or are forthcoming in: alea, apex of the M, Electronic Poetry Review, Free Cuisenart, Happy Genius, LVNG, Negations, Newport Review, Poetry New York, Providence Journal, Talisman, Taproot Reviews, and Witz. Chapbooks of his early poems were published by Hellcoal Press (Where the Skies are Not Cloudy All Day, 1972) and Copper Beech Press (Stone, 1979). He lives in Providence, and welcomes questions and comments about Island Road via email:

William Slaughter, Editor
Department of Language & Literature
University of North Florida
Jacksonville, Florida 32224-2645

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