We are unable to proceed any further without extreme
Help. There are no visions here. What people we have
Encountered are without usable dreams and can speak
Only of the mundane. Even the dawn seems no special
Event to them, even water is dismissed as a common thing.
Earlier today one of us noticed a play of light as it moved
Through the leaves of a tree. We were compelled to watch
It as it made its dances for quite a long time. It was so perfect.
It touched a few of us who were gathered there, moved across
Our skin, the edges of the fields, the fence rails, eventually
Making its way to the tops of the hills across the glen, so close,
So far away at the same time. Ramon made an event of it
So we could repeat that feeling again after it was over.
We discussed the fact we could feel the flesh of our lovers
By the mere process of thinking about them, imagining them
In an ecstasy and the hair on our bodies would rise and how we
Wanted to make love to those close to us and there was
The lake and the steep run of rapids that came to fill it
Even as we watched with lack of shame and great erotic desire.
Please help us if you are at all able. This place is not like
What we knew before this time. How can such a garden
Be seen as cursed or, worse, boring and uninteresting.
We have but to turn our heads and the place is a place
For kings of high station. We will look for others who are
Able to see this way. We are not at all worried we will
Be unable to recognize them. They shine so. They shine.
The line refusing to break,
We were caught by the heels by the clock.
The hunters crouched down in the blinds.
The weather was close to impossible.
Nothing would fly in this wind.
From under the snow
Could be heard deep explosions.
The snow glowed golden for a brief second.
Someone had mentioned that no one
Was in charge of placing the stars
In the heavens this evening.
We all could hear the winds
Begin to call to each other.
We reached the edge of the lake
Long before we knew
Anything about the morning.
Ramon said that a lot of angels
Were very close to us this evening.
He could see them out on the lake ice.
He said they were singing.
I pulled my scarf closer about my face.
I couldn’t hear anything singing.
The line was refusing to break.
The snow was blowing hard enough
To force its way into our bodies.
Our lips could barely move.
Out of the empty space of the lake
The giant owl that we had heard
Dwelt here passed close over our heads.
Its white was brighter than the snow.
Its shadow was brighter than the moon.
Ramon started to sing a song
We all knew but had not recalled
For many, many years. As we sang
The ground once again began to glow
And the soft explosions resumed.
We looked to one and another.
Our eyes met those of the others.
Ramon pointed to the center
Of the lake. We could see
A large chorus of angels
Begin to materialize before us,
Suspended in the air.
We could hear their songs.
The hunters abandoned the blinds.
We were able to stand up even
In the wind.
Why had all of this happened
At this moment?
The line began to bend and then to break.
Ramon said we should build
A fire. The worst was over.
We could not hear the wing
Beats of the great owl
As it passed above us once more,
But we were safe. I called
Out the name of a friend.
He answered and we moved
Toward each other.
*Spalpeen is an Irish/Celtic word meaning rascal or even seasonal worker.
THE LAMPLIGHTER EXPLAINS
They kept waiting for the trembling to stop.
The men kept close to the devotional lights.
The flickering was magnetic and had the feeling
Things were closer than was actually possible.
A man who buried fish offered a small
Song played upon an even smaller button accordion.
It made no sense but it seemed innocent enough.
There were, of course, other songs, but they seemed
Of little consequence. They were about birds,
Mysteries and carrousels. The older boys
Would understand this much better than we could.
When we began to dance we knew it was perfect.
The light got itself trapped
In a word that lived exactly
As long as men lived.
When they opened the bodies
Of men, they thought they found
Fire inside of them but
They did not.
The fire was inside them only
While they lived. The word used
To describe this is Abrakadabra.
RESTING WITH TOADS
It’s mostly about waiting,
The texture of a lacewing’s
Wing, the disgusting colors
Sunset brings to the table.
Hiding. There is a lot of talk
About hiding, the places,
The feel on the skin of good
Places, the damp at the bottom
Of water meter holes buried
In Summer lawns, escaping
The heat with its relentless
Fingers into everything good.
And water, the blessing that
Water is, its colors, mostly dark
And the huge comfort it gives
The body, of creatures that get
Stuck in water and bring food directly
To the mouth without effort.
Finally they speak of sleep and
Resting, its huge gift through
The dream of Wintertime,
The songs in Spring all but forgotten.
THE BLACK WATCH
I feel like I’ve been holding my breath
A long time. Glaciers sigh against
The mountain sides, ease their milky
Tears down the gullies and dark
Canyons to where there is some
Kind of silence, some understanding.
Red ants deliver their promises
To the earth. They too are radiant
Beings even as the golden lion is radiant.
The heavens are always near enough
To touch, even below the earth.
Their red songs, the red dirt, their
Own idea of dark not so different
From our own. Oh but that they could
Speak to us in words we understood.
The Angelus rings across the fields.
Let us hurry toward the fence.
We will want to be there as sun
Does its performance of the end of day.
Dreams won’t do you any good here.
Be it done unto me according to thy word.
He pulls his raiment up close to his throat.
It offers little protection
From the intimacy of air
As it prepares yet another disguise
And enters his body as quietly as a knife.
But the body does not tear
Despite the relentlessness of air
Entering our dreams and nightmares,
The waterways that pour through
Our lungs with the tumult
Of whirlpools, back and forth.
Every living man and woman
Recalls the gasping of all things
For it, even in the making of these
The waves of our lives
As we become its shore.