The Auspex in the Winter Light


it is addressed thusly:
A vision.
it reads:
Under the frosted limbs she sat
Draped like lace, the jeweled glint
The bench was cold, hard as flint
And shadow scattered in the light
Under that sky both gray and flat
And added not a mite of tint
To the snow, motionless and white;

A small chocolate in her hand
She rolled it, cold from colder air
On the glove, just left it there
He said, stopping his shovelings
"I don't really understand --
Why you eat so many where
You might eat better things."

She said, looking up at his ruddy face
"If I feel lonely or sad or tired when
I eat something sweet I feel better again."
Smiling then his sharp eye met her
And said, admiring her gentle grace:
"The world must not be a woman then
Sweet things don't make it better."


Stepping Out


it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Stepping out onto the stoop
Past the porch and pillars
The air is dense, the tree limbs droop
With clouds of icy fillers
The light of lamps is caught within
A net of falling whiteness
Though everywhere its likeness
Is hanging, drifting, closing in
The sound of common life inside
Is gone before I make a stride
A step in chiaroscuro
Soundless into night I go
The street is dark and bright and wide
And silent in the snow.


The Rose of Love

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Red, silver, black and gold
Pale-white as the moon
Patience may make it unfold
Though don't be asking soon
By nature wild, a briar tamed
Whose beauty caught the eye
Of some perceptive passerby
Whom need not now be named
Tilling soil most diligent
To him was this labor sent
Which passion once inflamed
For nothing was his labor spent--?

Such work is even one of those
This flower of the spring
To make it bloom, where it grows
All goodness to it bring
Though the thorns may come amiss
Strength has its own reward
Let them not long be ignored
Prune them should it come to this
Was it strange, do you suppose
A thing only a gardener knows
The petaled hair, the thorny kiss --
Every woman is a rose.



it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
The power of life and death
Rests in the very body of man
His hands, his loins, his breath
From nothing, like no god could do
But God - if he does speak true
And man is for this not deaf
Those who never were are new
Yet for all this did he understand
Who the truth from him has hid
Like a man that burns coal for soot
Or grows flowers but for the root
Away from passion will you bid?
If pleasure is work, virtue is free--
It is plain for everyone else to see
If they even knew what they did
They might have done it differently


The Exile

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
"I really should thank them"
Is what no one ever says
To those they exile among men
To those who cannot join
Who are dismissed without a phrase
It is only he who truly stays
Whom none can come purloin
Then who can speak for his days?
Any fool can think he's strange
Make meet what he may derange
And bespeak what he was when
He was born, by revelation claim
As though God had come to him
And took away shame from shame
Of each his darkest whim
Oh! Such a tryst to arrange
A false likeness of the outcast one
Who, to whom can he make uprightness
What reck, what roil - to yet bless
Your enemies, did you know them true
Or were you but the fortunate son --
Do we speak now of the color blue?
All things -- go out from among men
To where one belongs - and when
Exile is as true blessedness
You really should thank them.

Raeleen's Song


it is addressed thusly:
A song.
it reads:
I came from the bottom of a matchbox
Numbers and letters printed by machine
Someone's voice somewhere talks
Someone's eye must have overseen
Do they even know that I am alive
Who thought to perfect the world in time
Who sought to end every petty crime
Do they care to know that I am alive?
Do they care that life is, beneath the glow
Of every platitude, but spoken below
A whisper, they dare not even strive
They dare not say that they do not know
Of the every rich thing they made to come
To the hands of those who do their good
Who should dare to speak against anyone
Who knows and says what anyone should?
But I who speak, am I mad because
I am as one always without a hope
Not well-adjusted, I could not cope
With their humane but inhuman laws?
The tongue they bless with also mocks--
A joke that moves - a punchline that talks
That is what I am! Still the artist draws--
I came from the bottom of a matchbox.


The Song at the Cusp of The Sky

it is addressed thusly:
An ode.
it reads:
Knowledge is not ever ours,
Who stand now at the edge
With it doubt is coming
As hounds run on all fours
Fell doubt is quickly running
Do we dare trespass the hedge
The darkness of unknowing
Not knowing if beyond the ledge
All knowledge there it devours
Ours -- is our resolve yet slowing
Or building to a greatness yet
A meet act to make a challenge met
To know what, strange, is showing
Beyond the veil of blinking stars
Which light once pierced the sky
Whose wheels made straight the hours
To what, strange, beyond it lie?
But our expression sours --
For at that edge, beyond the sun
Knowledge and faith are one.


Burning Down the House


it is addressed thusly:
A vision.
it reads:
Roaring down the street the firetruck goes
Snow falls as we watch it pass
Not knowing, alas, where in these snows
Fire burns and smoke billows fast
And snow does not slow or dowse.

A quiet prayer is said, not really knowing
Where going, and whom going to
Go the firemen who rode while it was snowing
Not slowing, but riding fast through
As fast as the raging wheel allows.

The day is gray, and what man-made thing
Sheltering, permits that unbridled flame
Just the same, with each fire-ax swing
Bring fast to cold, to sight, to name
That water which through the fire plows;

Man has in his belly a fire darkly hid
Though cold and dead outside he be
Does in his folly, keep jealously amid
What should be given a word break free--?
But see-- It is burning down the house!