The House of Death

Build you well your house my son
For every builder, every one
Finds his place of final rest
Beneath the beams he placed the best.



I have beheld it
Or grabbed it in passing
By the corner of the cloth
Of the thing, crying out
Son of David!

I feel it in my hand
my flesh tastes the
texture, the moisture,
the temperature.

It is there, hovering
Wordless lingering about
The places; the things!

How can I say such
But to say it is there
Not in the words so much
Or even now my thoughts

But the thing itself
Says nothing to me; and
Again it says nothing.

In the stones and sand
and dirt and skin and blood
and bone and wood
are more real.

And the mystery hovers
About that time, in the sounds
And the air, and the space

So I am there as in a vision
In my minds eye I see
The city streets and I know
As a man knows in a dream
That I am there at the end
The very moment before it
Where all of the strength
Of the world is crying out
And the air is too thick
And light and full of mystery
I cannot move, but moving
In my mind I find myself
drawing near, but each
street is empty, and the
places of her are poured out
to the very foundations
And there I am I know it
The axis of all things is
There turning, over and
About an eight-pointed rod
I feel I must grip the wood
until my fingers bleed
and there is a mingling
of my own tears and blood

And I feel then that I am
As much as brother of the
Dust and coal and diamonds

And I know in so many words
Of carbon, and the great sphere
Turning in the heavens
Through and round the stars

But I am no man of humility
Who can claim the title
'Adam', formed of clay.

No defense of greatness
No lowliness of heart
I cannot feign these for you
I am halted and held

Therefore I return to this
As water flowing to deeps
Dread and bright and still
The very moment before it
All of my senses cry out
It is here! And that cleft
rift, a moment, a time
a space wherein all things
Are being gathered.



As I enter
This room, empty
Is that sixth sense
Frailty, fear or
Is the nothingness
Not undone but
Unrun, the compressed
Ever at rest
Coil of a silent spring?


Our Temples

There is no vinyl
siding in this neighborhood
And eyes pass from one
bedraggled shack to
another, or are they
mansions of managed
life, lived at a pace
which wooly eyes such
as mine cannot

In that place on top
of the hill, those homes
that seem pretty until
nobody can afford the
Mexicans to come and
clean them? I can
enjoy them like a man
peruses a pin up they
look nice as long as
the insides stay inside
the white-washed
vessels that dwell
in these tall tombs.

And then one day they
all fall out and the trucks
come and take the long
couches and entrails
of broken eyes that weep
salt water and the bones
of the children's children
are there watching from
wombs yet to be born
and baptisms are done
three times in tears
of would-be martyrs
who die now daily.

And then there we are
Amongst the shotgun houses
Here we can "feel
The pain of everyone"
But it is beautiful not
because pain is pleasure
Or evil good or greatness
Of no account

But paint on wood is more
Honest how each man must
Somewhat wear his heart
For others to see blazoned
Across his buttress
Ere each castle a coat
of arms arrayed of angels
And nobody lies
For long.


The Old Traveller

On the road to Jerusalem
A traveller old I spied
For a fortnight follow'd him
Until an eventide

This fellow-creature was aged and wan
And stopped did he at last
Then in the light of setting-sun
Unto the earth he asked:

"Tell me, oh wind, a single thing
Where shall I lay my head?
If you traverse on gos'mer wing
To the edge; is it there said:
"I passed over these empty lands
Many hills and valleys on
Only now I rest my hands
Twas light work, tis done."

"Tell me, oh sun, a single thing
What now shall my work be?
Of skies and stars, you the king
Over deserts' golden sea:
"I shone on all alike in kind
Although my lands were barren
What then there lies for me to find
Where shall I place the cairn?"

"Tell me, oh rain, a single thing
Where does it now all go?
You pour and slide and roll and sing
Can you be he that know:
"All those I washed them clean I washed
Even those that I washed out
Many days were wetly lost
With tears of dark and doubt.""

But no answer was there given him
From the spirits of all these
No kind or kin of human whim
The day, the rain, the breeze.

You see by now I'd lost the path
Though we were by the sea
My map undone in stormy bath
My letters lost by me.

"Oh plan undone, my pilgrimage
And time is slipping by
To forget it all, and quell my rage
Where do my letters lie?

"My map and compass, over there?
And whence my ledger-book?
Appointed I can't-recall-where
Neglected, overtook."

So I sat upon the rock
Warm'd by the sun
And gazed upon the pocket-clock
Which said six-oh-one.

I looked and gazed and wondered why
I was gazing at the hands
They moved and roved and caught the eye
Six oh two it stands.

Then I knew I'd company
Over to my left
The crone had come to set by me
All his earthy heft.

"Dear son," he said in deeply rasp
"I know you're sore distressed
To fail and fall from fruitful task
Finds a man duress'd.

"Some things are lost by chance and I
Cannot be held to blame
Others through unwatchful eye
Or sloth are sadly slain.

"My song may sound sad indeed
For wounded are the words
But the rocky road too leads
To where the gentle curves."

With this his hand he gently placed
On my shoulder's round
"Come, a path is to be traced
Before the sun is down."

And walked we for a mile or so
Into the dimming day
Until fields were seen below
A rise of hilly clay.

Here a thousand-thousand flowers rose
Reflecting rays of eve'ning
Beyond the ox and cattle lows
A procession of bereaving.

"Behold my son the thing which one
And all find they must confess
Is beauty, light of moon to sun
Nature's finest dress.

"Each plant you see, has but in mind
(if mind we really see)
To make a seed, a pod or a rind
And have its progeny.

"Along the way are stems and leaves
Which all must go to rot
To make what more? more of these
The same will be their lot.

"But beautiful they are, be warned
That they go to spoil
Why not be short and unadorned
Organized just for toil?

"If you know the question to say
The flowers have the answer
The fruits and melons and grasses lay
Waiting while to chance her

"The form is beautiful you see
Makes the seed worth having 'round
Adorn your work with beauty's nee
You garden will have no bound.

"The difference between they and us
Glory in each moment made
Is it not so obvious
What leaves and petals said?

"And thus you see my song is how
My leaves are curled and fine
To sing and speak and paint is now
To make such songs be mine!"

And so in morning we went our way
He his and I my own
A song is fit to hear and play
Even on the path alone.

So long as seed is born to die
From our hobbled hands
Let us make lovely each laugh and sigh
That is heard across the lands.

I suppose then if I could say
About my pocket-watch
It least it looks nice each day
My number'd days are notched!