Three Poems


The Whales 


Belied, be-laired, in sleep’s massacred vista

of blood that is the sea within,


like a god, entranced from above,

I felt the whales before I saw them, gorgeous


foetal continents, lost, glistering, parental,

mare-blue beneath sediments of stellar silks,


planktal glass, moving the wrong way

up a narrowing, inland stream.  


With all my blindness, I wept

to save them, mysticeti, their kimono lobes,


pharyngeal bells, and lonely spume,

their homesick crying like a scarf of fox grapes


reaching sailors still hundreds of miles

from land.  They placental.  They 


in four-chambered beyonding.

And my own heart, beached — erupting 


into hollow room, to closet door, 

to clock face,  where I failed 


and failed again to help them 

over the rhapsodic rasures of this world.



City Lust


Impossible to will surprise,

that particular other invading the inside—


scabbly sycamore pushing arms

through rustbelt caries,


anemic rowhouse, medieval ruin.  

Carnage always in any talk 


of awe beyond language:  

that Mews in London, 


rented hothouse warren, 

where, from bed, recovering


from a winter’s falsetto spring, 

I saw through a lucent file


of back-lot windowpanes 

the pristine interiors of three houses,


glimpses into the “litel books”

of minor tragedy, triangulated love


pain converts to fundament,

to act of will, to wild bewilderment.


Reading an Old Book


Its inside a yolked tulip 

   clad with snow,

toluene, benzaldehyde,


almond sleet, vanillin,

   a ragged span,

like the seagull blown inland


by demented sky, storm,

  my father a widower

just one week, stalled by its bluster,


blizzard pages rappelling 

   toward the windshield & back, 

something leaking through


the traffic, the roundabout,

   his scientist’s doubt,

deciphering now a “w,” 


now an “m,” then away

   in mackled breakdown

of sky, lignin, he might say,


releasing chemicals, nostalgia—no,

   admit it, the neural mesh of being,

the yielding vehicle that lets him go.