From Corridors 1 (Spring/Summer 1979)
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 hes 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 lowthen we would all remain men.
Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving.
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.
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 theres no one there.
There is to take
For those who stick around.
Crowds leave behind
The thing they came to get.
Its fate that grapes,
Oranges, peaches, cucumbers, yams,
Carts, pockets, baskets, boxes,
And whats left over
Multiplies and grows big,
And none need hunger
Unless he helps himself to it.
Beatrice has requested some high-class art.
Make it about me, she says,
Im approachable as well as serene.
Such are the ways of the Region V math champ.
Notice how, when shes a little older,
She and her girlfriends laugh behind my back.
Ill marry that fool with the grey beard,
And take and put him out to pasture.
Meanwhile she rings the bell Sunday morning.
Those dogs are out at the end of the block,
At which I patrol the streets stick in hand
To the greater glory of The Detroit News.
Over the parapets of
The School Center Building
The moon is a fat girl
Who is eating candy
Made out of ears and eyes
Down river from Detroit,
Before you get to Toledo,
Horses are nuzzling each
Other in fency pastures
As if they were playing
Lover on daytime tv.
Could you go up with me
To the top
And look out as far as
We could under the fat moon
And see if we could see
Those far, faraway horses?
Someone in the famed Penobscot Buildings
Trading cut glass for wax fruit.
Zeppelins of air break against the parapets:
All winter she keeps warm by the gardenia
Where courtly life, in this half-moon of bone,
Proceeds with the gestures of droll flamingoes.
Will you walk with me in Cadillac Square?
Languid acolytes devote the forenoon
To the display of the bird with elbows.
I am seated at my desk, my valved heart
Tolls for the lost virtuosi with their eyes
Fixed and wise as the eyes of lead soldiers.
Through gills of turquoise and hammered silver
I breathe in The Detroit News, The Free Press.
I want to touch you everywhere at once.
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.
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.
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 days
Cold and the lakes are frozen
We lower you into the grave.
The good must always be good.
Cave of time in the stony place;
Yet sunlight filters through glass,
Theres a new hasp on the door.
They would not know me standing here:
None of work, tax, chapel bearing;
I match what I have with this. . .
A small stone house at roads end,
Field rising unimpeded to the sky.
You buried your dead at Penegoes.
One you baptized at Darowen
Where the moony yard hung with Yew
Overlooking the stone of Talywern.
Glaslyn brooded over Uwch-y-coed,
And over the top, the cliffs of Pennant
Sprawled down the belled volutions
Mapped by the creatures winding home
Who might lead me to such dark places
As Id forget where and how I stood.