Consume my heart away; sick with desire
And fastened to a dying animal
It knows not what it is; and gather me
Into an artifice of eternity.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

HEARTBURN


~ For JH ~

I fell down the stairs of your words
into the landing of your heart 
where was littered the cold cuts
of our re-pasts - all was ravished there
until longing found us, famished 
and forlorn, chewing on gristle,
digesting the emaciated years,
and gardening the desert 
that was our parched plot.

Now morning shadows rise
around the razor rocks,
and griffons climb toward noon
on manky wings - we chase
the many mirages of ourselves 
across that fine line where water 
weeps on water, where oases
shimmer and the sun drops low 
below the vanishing of each day.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

DIRIYAH


~For JH~

It is Winter in the Wadi and no birds sing.
A low sun plates the desert floor with gold
but the dead air soon dulls it back to bronze.
Wild dogs bark along the escarpments
and Bedouins like ghosts drive caravans
of shadows homewards over the dunes.
In the camps the camels bawl and kick
at their halters and rams’ heads are craned
toward Mecca. Blood will spill and stain
the stones but no cries will carry in the still air.
Already the dark is down and a twilit calm
is choked by the chill smoke that coughs up
sacrifice and piety and ruin. I am alone here
on the old wall towers. The Adhan sounds
across the valley and men are on the move.
Now something else is stirring in my blood.
I can feel the tug. I won't hold out much longer.

Sunday, August 14, 2016

MOHER


~For JH~

It wasn’t stone but original sin Sisyphus tried
to heave beyond the tug of guilt,
and recurrence wasn’t the absurd part
because that is how we are –
sinning the same sin over and over,
and thinking the lift or expiation will absolve us.

That summer when I thought I’d driven far enough away,
it was déjà vu hauled me back again –
Dark rains fell violently on the waves
and recalled your vicious imprecations.
The sky betrayed then teased you to distraction.
You became the weather you reproved.

It must have been some curse carved those cliffs
out of water – In this charcoal weather
I imagine something chilling out of Dore or Piranesi:
Immense colonnades and a sculpted frieze,
bridges arching towards a molten center, fiery wheels,
a prison and stairways into mountains of stone.

It is Easter on the island and sculpted boulders
wall up the tombs, but two have been rolled back –
one to reveal a risen myth, the other finds Ophelia
perfectly laid out and awaiting her lover’s kiss …
But I’m no Romeo to sup a cup like that.
The pull is on. I can feel it. I will surely fall again.

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

REMAINS


~For JH~

… Nothing is ever entirely
right in the lives of those who love each other.
                                                   Eavan Boland

In the end she sized his sickness
like an old raincoat and put it on
as a curious fish puts on a hook,
or a dandelion whose seed-bulb has blown
dies stark in a meadow so beautiful
and wild it could be her grave.

He wanted his ashes saved in an hourglass
and willed it be turned to time her eggs –
the first one hatched, the next exploded,
but the last boiled so hard she smashed
the glass and littered his heirless ash
across the kitchen floor.

She gathered what she could into a dustpan
and swept the rest out the back door,
but a sudden draft blew it in again –
so she showered the last of him
from her body, bagged what was left
and dumped it in the recycling.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

DIE VERWANDLUNG


~for JH~

The thin man is starving himself
out of hunger and back
to judgment, his final feast. 

He grows thinner on jealousy
and drifts downstream
on a raft of anxious bones – 

Fever speaks and names itself
but only in the mirror
and only when alone with its symptoms; 

sleep shrinks ascetic and awakes
to itself like a benediction –
even the air is dieting and thin, 

a mole in search of a hole to inhabit …
There are stones enough to weigh him down
but we all cast them first, 

and that is why there’s nothing left to say –
why desire’s knot tightens its noose
or infancy becomes its own vanishing point: 

a bird hovering above an empty nest,
a bee lost among dead lilacs
seeking the scent of home, 

or vows rushed into print, silence
hearing itself crash into music,
and music closing on its own center.

Friday, June 24, 2016

SPURS


~ For JH~

Even the sands awake –
We have seen colossi bloom and disappear,
a word’s breath cloud a promise,
and eggs of quartz hatch traces
a wind of blades cuts clear again. 

There is a glass pulse
tremulous as longing at the bed of boding –
love rocks the posts and shells dropped
along the shore remember faintly
the morphine-laden deep. 

We are immersed as sleep –
the hosts of dreamers banished
to a threshold like guests:
we stand in the long hall of midnight,
Föhn fevers waiting for the sun to strike.

Wednesday, May 18, 2016

MOAI


~For JH~

(In Memory of the Fallen Fathers
of the Irish Free State, Easter 1916)

One day I will arise
On the island of Easter
Where my fathers are, 

And I will find them
Standing in empty graves,
Still petrified, still naked, 

Their fossilized sockets
Shorn of the coral
And obsidian eyes

That once looked
Brine-scorched
Away from the sea.

All around the fields
Will be wild and bare,
The trees gone, 

And the people all gone,
Ruined by time and tide
And the winds of famine – 

But you, fathers, will remain,
Sentinels still, dead still,
And still blind as the stones.