poems and poems-in-progress

Saturday, March 15, 2014

White Irish


for Maureen Mullen (6/19/61--3/17/10)

The white squall left its scrim of lace last week upon the cross-
thatched summer screen door. How cool was its hum of peace
coming to, called to order as it were, lolling in the hub of wherein
your fascinations smolder, a nook where only you go, your working 
spot. There at your drawing table beside the washing
machine, the particulars of womanly mind fell in line.

You claimed the turf, your broom, the brush a white witch
might use to push away clouds leans now
against a wall like a flute filled with sand.
An interest in herding stars in order to harness and release them 
to their light is in evidence (I’m coming over.) 

They lie, a spray of doubt upon your fertile
certitude and crescent and cross and star
of David hovering over the terra firma your investigation fairground 
ever is and shall be Selah. 
Amen I say unto you here and there your free-
range gods and graces amble and try their frenzied
circle dance we call “The Color Wheel.”

All join the reel and whir, but salt burns my baby
blues as I go off this March evening. Your gallows
Saint Patrick’s Day joke sinks 
in. Your mettle gave up but your lubricity 
refused the buyback ghost. Your last words 
to me: ones only a painter could say to a poet
leapt out as from a harp to indicate
you were already half-way there
when the yellow promise of spring jutting skyward 
in sharps came at you with its naked glory
blades. Heaven now 
and then is more 
than I deserve but I’ve got to have you there, none-
theless whether it is possible or not.

We Irish enjoyed you for a spell.
You took on our manner and tongue with changeling zeal.
As much love as ever I have had for any woman
makes me want to hurl a rock at God
but your tenderness holds me
back. “Tender” your favorite word, how it trumps as it 
harrows and invites, coming in on cue firm 
and cool as marble, but swift like the revolving
door your mind in drive is 
which stops just long enough
for a clod of the sod like me to clamber on board.

As a child I wanted nothing more than a sister.
And now I have one and you are mine truly
yet I wish tonight it were in me to love less 
hard because your capacious eye still narrows 
in that squint that flashes right 
before a Lucifer guffaw takes your voice by surprise. 
How can you be going
where the Holy Spirit’s got your back?
When you get there, you get mine.
I will see you again, my dove and everywhere, meanwhile.

The snow came the week your pallor
got the best of you. You became white
as a sail and flag you flew that was the sum
of all colors. May your vessel remain 
dream-worthy, its canvas full and perfect
as a belly gravid. May your travels be soft

as your hair upon the Queen Mary-blue
your uncommon confidence is,
as you head straight for the depths
where I pray God will deliver you
from evil, but not from temptation. 

Friday, October 5, 2012

Two Franks



Broads
Birds

Booze
Stigmata

Fedora on a tilt
Zucchetto

Trench coat in the rain
belt of rope

Francis Albert
Giovanni

Rat Pack,
Lepers

Rapt bobbysoxers
Forest dwellers converted

Old Blue Eyes,
Old brown cowl

My Way
The Way.

Witchcraft,
Grace

The Mob,
The Church

Friars Club
Friars Minor

Voice like an angel
true saint.

Rags to riches
Riches to rags

Hoboken
Assisi

Italian
Italian




A version of this poem appeared in Hanging Loose 78