monument (for Z.)

All your arching parts are great in Bronze
Age senses of the word: enthralling form
of a horseback desert bowman tautly drawn
to raid some valley decadence, a sword
to coax from serfs and sandstone towering,
scowling traces of you. The colonnade
where you first made me stand a bedrock plinth
for tributary calves, Old Kingdom thighs,
Assyrian waist, Olmec chest, and a nose true
to the Semitic recall of your name.
I gape to rub and study and unearth
you Saturday mornings from the budget
Target comforter in your little upstairs tomb:
the digging endless, I am gladly ruined.

the Secretary’s advice

“For goodness sakes, this is the 21st century. We’ve got to get over what happened 50, 100, 200 years ago and let’s make money for everybody. That’s the best way to try to create some new energy and some new growth in Africa.”

-Hillary Clinton, June 2010

We are all grown-ups here. Those teenage years
are rough, for sure (we too have had Mongols)-
but one cannot afford to dwell. Take, charge
up debt, invest in your own brand! Go sell
yourself! Prospective bosses will not care
for slaves to trauma. Market, then allow
yourself the luxury of melancholy.
You wanna remember or be happy?

Orbis Spike

The atmosphere recorded the mass death, slavery and war that followed 1492. The death by smallpox and warfare of an estimated 50 million native Americans—as well as the enslavement of Africans to work in the newly depopulated Americas—allowed forests to grow in former farmlands. By 1610, the growth of all those trees had sucked enough carbon dioxide out of the sky to cause a drop of at least seven parts per million in atmospheric concentrations of the most prominent greenhouse gas and start a little ice age.

Subtle Europe’s first great trick was bonding
not men in chains, but countries up in wood:
by fire and pox, Amazons and Congos
were fattened, grazed away settled pales, old
urban carbons shackled in cellulose.
Jungle-making men of cultivation,
sowing ruin, built Nature thus and loosed
a decade of arboreal cool. Eden:
blessed Abraham’s rapist children’s name
for wasted Canaan’s green and knotted scab

spring clinging

Four old (five years!) poems from an internet shoebox cleared of spiders:

B. splendens

Oil-neon, leonine, from the dark clotted thing it was,
a jarred betta pushed by a child’s accident against a mirror
tumesces. It is exactly the libido of an anchorite unexpected
in the tent of a perfumed eunuch: effulgence in excess
of the salt-mud clockwork of gods or genes, some eruption
kinking the cool smooth vectors of theology or biology,
a splendid allergy that wells genital and embarrassing
for the kid and the monk.

So when, in the aquarial brack of our beds,
some hand, or look, or word swells up
the piscine origami of glands –
mad ventricles flushing,
bruise-hued tissues
blooming laryngeally
something like:
I like you a lot-
You should not
push it back;
Desire is a fighting fish.

Irish Elk Sonnet Fragments Recovered from Shannon Basin Pleistocene Peat

Great sloping stag-thing that knew the bogging
tendency of lust’s rampant allometry: Megaloceros
giganteus, doom-antlered, direly love-racked, how onerous
was the added branching weight of knowing

that your line was fast collapsing under
the thorn-crown gravity of pleasure, every buck’s arch-necked, sated
bellow mounting deadly living stone upon your head? Heaney’s crated
air missed the point of skulls in muck-butter.

Easter 1994

Peeping
stops. Amniotic
liquor cools around
the egg-tooth whose
subtle mineral sawings
quell. A little boy breathes
the incandescent damp
of a bedroom incubator,
the avian forge already
smelling teary. Dare he
break the seal of foam
and shell and risk the
mother’s rude, rural
contempt of runts?
The historical
(not the Synoptic)
Magdalene offers
her bosom, to tell
of a morning spent
ear-pressed against
other stubborn
calcium: how
she too broke
over futile prayer,
the cruelty of
a parent,
a failed
pipping.

Ozarks Hermetic

A yarbman mules through a crick’s squirrelled
hickories, trundling spunkwater, morels
bundled against the depredations of snipes,
black howlers, and baldknobbers, fighting
nights’ visions of alligator husbands, white
spooklamps, hellbenders bipedal in moonlight.
Paused by a spring cave named mongrelly,
cold lime gospel and pagan in the shade,
he considers the incestuous albinisms which dwell
beneath, and shudders again, wading
farther from the city and the blind, blanched, cold
creeping things that haunt its karst souls.