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.

Saturday, September 8, 2018

AFTER LOVE ~ Poems


The Esthetic Apostle has just reprinted After Love in a corrected, revised edition. This edition unlike its predecessor comprises my final emendations, and also unlike the previous copy is now registered with an ISBN and is available on Amazon.com. I would like to thank the Editor-in-Chief, Samuel Muiris Griffin, for his tasteful work on the book, as well as Benjamin Erlandson [benerlandson.net] for kind permission to use an image from his series, 'Escarpment Fog':


After Love is a short collection of wistful poems, 16 in all, that treat of love, loss, war, regeneration, conflagration, aging, illness, and the exotic. One senses slight, nuanced transgressions in some of these poems, especially in 'Nereids', 'The Disappearing Art', 'The Wasps', and 'Oulipo', where the exotic grows out of the macabre and sometimes even out of brutality. An allusion to the Tuol Sleng Genocide Museum in 'The Disappearing Art' finds its poetic correlative or analogue in 'Oulipo', while the miscarriage in 'Midwife' is recalibrated in 'Our Lost Son'. Curiously, even ephemerally, the poems converse with one another so that the theme of bugonia in 'The Wasps' finds an alternate treatment in 'Wildfire' and 'Ephemeris'. The title of the book, After Love, can suggest either a life after love or a yearning after love, and both senses are subsumed in the eponymous poem. The long poem 'Tunnels' expands on many of these themes and explores the larger one of aging, ailing, and the grief of departing our teeming earth. The old man in section III sees his world reflected upside-down and in reverse in the bauble-like apples hanging from the trees, and he tries to find answers to his own condition in their cycles, symmetries, and ultimate decay. After Love is a small book but its themes are large and highly provocative, and it captures in beautiful lyrics the extraordinary majesty and mystery of nature, life, and the human condition.

Wednesday, July 4, 2018

ABSENCES ~ A SEQUENCE


The Esthetic Apostle, a new monthly literary journal out of Chicago, edited by my son Samuel, whose aesthetic discernment is reflected in his dedication to showcasing beautiful prose, poetry, artwork, and photography, has just published my poem sequence Absences. The chapbook is available from Amazon ... Here. The artwork is by the wonderful Dutch artist Martine Mooijenkind, alias, Knutseltroep, from Gouda, The Netherlands. The dialogue between between art and the written word is itself one of the subliminal marvels of this collection, and Samuel was most judicious in selecting this particular pairing. He has truly given both works a new breath of life and has infused each with the unsayable essence of their own peculiar aesthetic.

He selected this precis to describe Absences:
Absences addresses the themes of loss of youth, loss of innocence, isolation, separation, exile, death, the absence of familiarity, affection, and above all the loss or absence of love. The sequence meditates on the natural world but finds little comfort there. There are no idyllic, romantic refuges from the self, and pathetic fallacies remain just that: instead of providing a balm to the sick heart, the dales of Arcady merely accentuate its angst. The poems find fitting motifs in poetic echoes and these are channeled into the poems' movement to harmonize their rhythms and oscillations and to achieve a kind of unsettling but restorative equipoise. The sequence resonates with allusions to classical mythology, Virginia Woolf, Gabriel Garcia Marquez, Julio Cortazar, Franz Kafka, Johann Georg Hamann, Paul Celan, and Bruno Schulz, and tries to weave its patchwork aesthetic by drawing on their disparate but unified themes. Ultimately, the sequence is a celebration of life, even if life's great peroration is death, and even if we all die the same death over and over again.
 The Esthetic Apostle maintains a Blog [Here], a Facebook Page [Here], and a Twitter Account [Here]. Be sure to visit often, read, and if possible subscribe or purchase.

Thursday, April 12, 2018

SNOW


~For JH~

There is grey in the blood of day
and the day is dying – wounded snows
lace and scar the horizon and tracks
the lead into the white woods
stop just dead of the woods.

Night is falling like a blue blanket
flapped out over white sheets –
soon the lights will dim and only
the fading inscriptions of crows
will remain on the virgin snow.

A stray dog that fed on a sheep's placenta
is dripping blood traces in the fold –
his guilty, hesitant steps and bloody jowls
nose color back into the pale complexion
of this ashen, anaemic evening.

Why did I return to this – I followed
vanishing footprints only to find
they were wolves’ tracking me –
now the howls I hear are my own
inside this prison of snow and ice.

Sunday, April 9, 2017

ALBUM

~For JH~

In these stills your life’s brackets
were still open and none there
knew what we all know now –
exactly when they would finally close.

Our times together were never still.
Life is not death’s camera,
shooting itself over and over as though
a billion running stills could make it live.

This album will never bring you back,
but just as well, father, for now these stills
can be run neatly into mine
as they never could in life.

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.

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
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.

Saturday, December 5, 2015

DECREATION


~For JH~

I bled but did not die,
for I was unable to lose
a single thought of you:

I could not unsee the air
or the sun breathing mind
into bonds of green —

I do not love the chains
or the cuffs my words imply,
but I’ll wear them till I die.

Just as well I’m the seed-
less fruit without harvest —
one cannot reap becoming,

though summers find us whole
or the jealousies of spring
wither on the winter vine:

if You are still here with us,
let’s decreate the darkness
that stowed the captive light.