Our bed’s been drinking, spinning morning dry
As Lucinda pours her loud blood in song
From whiskey bottles, singing about why
Both love and coffee scald, both black and strong
As night – but sunlight lays its warning blade
Across your tapered thighs. There, spider veins
Put paid to what our nudity has made –
Now flush with alcohol – the blush that stains
My middle-aged desires. Your rounded hips
Are building flesh to slender curves; these rise
As, rolling on your side, you bring your lips
To mine and cut the lines that held my eyes.
The spirits, going sober, speak to bone:
We limp through love; you reconnect the phone.
Our bed’s been drinking, spinning morning dry
Marsh pennywort repays in dividends
As it multiplies interest, its coin-
Rounded leaves, dangling thin purse-strings for fronds,
Supports inflation of its foreign green –
Hard currency in wetland’s liquid time,
Precious specie preponderating pond-
Economies with toad-spawned tadpole slime,
Necessarily blessed because so fecund.
Now too, the marsh will pay what seasons played,
Yet holds interest in soil across the board
While reed and rush enriched by fluid coins
Of marshy realms devalue winter’s trade.
Resplendence sees pennywort well-prepared
To issue species: nature’s greener groynes.
*Thus begins an overhauling of my Carlos Linnaeus sonnet cycle, this time in the quatrain, alas, changing out the meditations on Genesis, which ended the old versions, for a more rounded, satisfying poem. In the revision here I attempt to stay true to the poem’s own interior logic, rather than attempting to impose an arbitrary logic on the poem based on a meditations which organically has nothing to do with the plant involved. At any rate, it continues to be a work in progress…
A few things to know about the Marsh Pennywort – while mildly invasive, it also does a good job of preserving marshlands by strengthening the soil with its root systems. Also, a groyne, as you may or mayn’t know, is a man-made jetty-like structure used to control shore erosion. Suffice it to say that the pun on the word proved irresistible.
Fühlst Du nicht an meinen Liedern,
Daß ich eins und doppelt bin? – Goethe
Maidenhair tree, you living fossil (also “Ginkgo”) –
Around tomorrow’s roots you grow from ancient days
Implying leaves evolved from petals each time they blow,
Dynastic in brilliant hues. In fan shapes you praise
Early autumn’s fanfare – flower house fandango
Neglecting neither flesh nor mind. You hide to show
High courtship with seasoned arts learned in woman’s ways –
As blushing bush will show to hide what loosened stays….
Informed by loneliness, your autumn-baring limbs
Release your leaves upon the cold-creek mountain air.
This plants you – orphaned phylum, species, class – and limns
Relevance to love as organic Yiji love:
Each fall you play the courtesan and let your hair
Enlighten Kingdom Earth through the pleasure that you give.
Like hushed antiquities ensconced in crates,
Excelsior, and mummy’s cotton gauze,
This roadside farmland holds no common cause
With time or place. A breeze investigates
The dialogue of rain and fog, yet yields
No evidence of crows nor their scarecrow,
But only emptiness in open fields
That proves a second harvest – stubbled straw.
So modern man, a target on the move,
Will enter such a landscape in his mind.
His feet will neither sound nor mark. The mist
Envelopes them, and rain is quick to drive
The point – the past erased or redefined,
Mere straw to scare the crowing nihilist.
Elisheba, young Aaron’s wife, saw
The scorching sun and torrid sand
On Israel’s treck avow no shadow
Nor soothe the azure sky – such land
Where all the colors drained from Eden
And drowns a rainbow’s hope for heaven…
The voided desert shades refuse,
In justice, spectrum’s seven hues.
Elizabeth, though, aging wife to
Old Zachariah, sits and rests
And waits to see her promised guests
Descend the everlasting hills now
From heaven’s blue – her mantled earth,
An advocate for mercy’s birth.
Autumn cries its hues, both burnt and hurry-harried –
Fox kit’s brassy exile-cry wassailed on spring’s wind.
Here, too, sloughed straw is drawn out and quartered, carried
Houselessly by goldfinch through canebrake, bracken-shinned,
Where crows shelter in a famine-branch of absence,
Tarry in tarry clumps amid tree-limbs’ smoke-pitch.
The gilded goldfinches flit in flame-tipped chevrons,
A panoramic whole, yet more a part by much
Of house-search, home lust, at the end of all fence lines
Where weathered wood of corn-crib and tobacco shed
Posts fascinations, falling slant with manqué rains
At the end of all fallow fields, marking what could
Make the finch declaim with barren bran, golden tare,
Harvest’s hatch, winter-cinched, abiding by its fire.
Condemned to shine, it’s rubbed or cut and set
Within a thorny gallery. Clean to bone,
The chasing hammer cleaves – and eyes forget
Their first impressions, leaving God alone.
With perpendicular inlay of place
And time, such stone is cold as early spring;
Its dogwood winter strikes a lifted face
For silver coins; it sounds the golden ring.
Its standard currency becomes the name
That royalty bestows with spreading palms.
It bites against the grain; it drills for flame
As shadows beg to seize at midday’s alms.
The ancients rightly called it βάσανος
For proving mettle with a tortured kiss.
… when firemen pried up planks from the sidewalk near the north end of the block, intense heat drove them back. The basements of buildings were roaring furnaces …
Jacob Furth, dressed in tails and top hat,
was hastening across Western Avenue
when he saw smoke rising around a slat
near the curb. He hailed a fire crew
busy hauling hoses toward the dock
at Pier Two, then knelt on the boardwalk
to get a closer look. Felt the plank
for heat. As the firemen began to yank
loose the boards, Furth stepped back
to survey the entire block. Up the street
there was a shout, then a blast of heat
as the firemen fell back, their faces black
with smoke. Furth stepped forth … nervous …
the basement itself was a roaring furnace.