Steve Tudor


You rely on the code. Like begets like:
Only in dream or legend the monster
At the edge of the circle of darkness
That longs for you and hurts when he’s afraid.
And if someone or something should elect
To break the contract? Foxy as you were sly,
Elephantine as you were retentive,
Owlish according to solemnity—
And there would every animal in you
Appear, as God made you in His image,
And He is deep as the bestiary.
And you might see no more perfect person,
No man but possessed claw or tail or fin,
Unless it were most human to be both
High and low—then we would all remain men.

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Metro Detroit

“Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving.”
                                 — Bertrand Russell

Where on the face of the earth
The weeds of Mother Nature
Fell below the knee

There rose the City of Detroit.
To stroll down Twelfth Street,
Which is now Rosa Parks,

Is to picture storms
Blowing up over Lake St. Clair
In June of the year Seventeen-o-one.

And how we learned that Mother Nature scowls
And comes up alongside
The heads of her creatures

Is not only the story
Of the Rouge Plant and Dodge Main,
But is also the story of Bambi and Babar

Whom we have all petted and fed
Because they too belong to the animal kingdom.

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Eastern Market

Stand by for people
Packing up their cars.
We have choice
Knowing there is to choose.

I wish they may, they might,
Drop their loose change.
And the clown that grins
On the world of produce,

He swallows the goods
And the good people also,
Except for Sunday
When there’s no one there.

There is to take
For those who stick around.
Crowds leave behind
The thing they came to get.

It’s fate that grapes,
Oranges, peaches, cucumbers, yams,
Survive fingers,
Carts, pockets, baskets, boxes,

And what’s left over
Multiplies and grows big,
And none need hunger
Unless he helps himself to it.

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Paolo and Francesca in Detroit

And you, do you know the history?
How can I live here having forgot
How they searched the streets as they walked—

This town grew from the day someone beached
His boat to rest and take on water.
He neither planned the moment nor placed

The high and low streets on the north line,
House upon plot, that would rise, grow strong.
Nor could he sing the pity of them

That had no sense of the good orders,
Kindness and love capped with a rare bell,
Likewise brave to take your breath away.

[Francesca speaks]

“I will lie down in the field of my heart,
Put aside the veil of my promise. . .
The old sun rises, the world is new.”

And he: “to transcend the stone curtain:
Walls that have no substance, but to live
Construes the force of you, root and bloom.”

This is the way we lost our place,
By the hand of time, much liquor, weed.
Suns grazed upon water, grass blew down.

Of satiation, greed, ambition,
The shadows lengthened, lessened our sight:
The two shores darkened with smoke of fires.

Their pain was brief. Next day they were seen,
Early, in the market. We must live
In memory of the thing they gave.

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           Elegy for Marie

Stand not knowing what to say
But the life she led at last.
The fire has burned to the ground:
Seawater on her forehead
To purify, birds to break.

Let light shine upon my mouth,
For she has come to the bridge
And her long book lies open.
The old ones reckon with her:
Do you fear your fate, Marie?

Each day the beating of wings
(As we gather to mourn you)
Saddens the sheep in the fold,
The inexhaustible cow.
The twins of the spirit breach us.

We have divided your store
In chambers shadowed with law
While you lay like a parcel
The desert men would call back
In the rush of blood and length.

Even now I would close up;
To follow you where you go
Draws deep. Leaves, vines, tall grass
Hold me back; I want to rest,
Let the work of it pass by.

Darkness of sloth and anger
Drives at night between buildings.
The eye blinks and stares at time,
Down-curving for the present world.

You wear a wide belt of lace,
You wear a scar on your cheek.
Mazda was your life-labor,
Yet in your house Ahriman
Tangled you in his dark lines.

Each thing we do lies waiting,
Is counted and judged. The day’s
Cold and the lakes are frozen
We lower you into the grave.
The good must always be good.

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