Check out the animated show Bat out of Hell on Kickstarter!

The Sea as Heartbreak

43e575a2debd6adfa00f0f11f2510943

             I
A wave. —A wave. —Another wave retells
The gain and loss, the wealth without a cost—
Recalling how each wave crashes memory,
So far from home and counting what to see.
I stand upon the shore, where wind is tossed
As infinitely as clattering shells

Upon the shore. She greets my eyes with bold
Surrender, nothing returning but wave
And tide. As sun and cloud beseech their home,
So I had begged for shelter. Now sands comb
Debris, the shipping bits that time will save
As cold comfort. The shadows grow old

And light that windows offer to my room
Has nowhere to go, now shunted and lamed
By dying shades. She comes to bring me back
With meats and wine, with spells that crack
An ancient code: your deeds are lost, unnamed
By fame, undone by beauty’s beckoning doom.

             II
We watch cloudy shadows with sunlit cast
Across the waves, like dark monsters beneath
Our vision. Hand across your brow, you peer
Where sea and sky are married, lost in vast
Declensions: wind and water—spangled breath
Of glittering gems that glow and disappear

Beneath our separate islands. Though we share
A single epic, lyric solitude
Maroons these comic palms, their offered green
Is lost in ocean’s grey. For ghosts that bear
The memories of tragic war intrude,
Insisting a claim on blood, true and clean

As bodies washed ashore. Such is the loom
In Ithaca that plucks Ogygia
From its threads, woven poor with cramped regret…
Tonight the stars dine alone and assume
A feast of meats we would call nostalgia—
And waves. —And waves. —And other waves forget.

Splinter

splinter

A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh
Like any black worry aching the blood,
A fevered heart in dead February. Mud
And wood are piled as winter winds engage
In mortal combat with fields of white, clash
In dull retort with beds of wilted sage.

As hands are steeled to helve each ringing log,
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh,
Like ironwood and oak. What April wish
Can lick its roots with rain and shape the woods
To fly once more? Each leaf, a violent flag,
Slivers sunlight into a thousand gods.

Yard by acre, the grub denies the plow
Its seam in spring, but quick as silverfish
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh.
Each swollen sty keeps it from summer’s eye:
Did not the soot-grey sage die to know
The shed secrets that hurt seasons deploy?

Now in woodsheds, those secrets are kept locked
As hostages of summer drying out.
Agonies of decay never forget
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh
To vanquish the epoch and moment clocked
In concentric rings counting down to ash.

So summer falls and winter’s meat is fresh
For death—but first, autumn’s echo so sounds
Its drums from trunk and branch, and sun redounds
To arctic shadows drawn from night just as
A splinter tends to surface deep from flesh.
The whetstone sings its dirge in orchard grass.

Plucked as a loom, the bruised lilacs withdraw,
Unraveling a spool of leaves and blooms
Now bruised and left for beetles, mushrooms—
As forest floor enfolds the underbrush
And sawdust spits at the toothy bucksaw,
So splinters tend to surface deep from flesh.

The Judgment of Paris

judge parish
The Judgment of Paris

Eris:
A golden apple has no bruise—
Contemptuous of all that shine
Around it. Guests, you see the ruse
A golden apple has? That shine
Which vanity has lusts to choose
When discord’s mind cannot divine
A golden apple. Has no bruise
Contempt? Yes. Of all that shine.

You Among the Fireflies

lightning-bugs-fireflies-timelapse-michael-roman

The fireflies were thick in the back field tonight. Went out to watch the light show. Big, huge moon above, all peaceful except the drone of mosquitoes in my ear — at am an impasse — waiting for another.

You among the fireflies, you leaning deep
Among the dizzy fields of midnight haze—
How did we not meet the moon and stars in sleep?
There’s only calendars to blame. The maze
Of crickets cannot lead us from the past.
The myrmidons that make their tiny heaps
Are fierce as summer’s long—each kiss that’s lost
On wasp and hive discovers night and keeps
The honey secret. Your lips, the sweet
Mysterious defaults the spider shapes,
Are soft as flowers opening the night—
And sting.— With mosquito wings, blood escapes…
So I’m captured, lost as dark, a firefly
That burns your fields — urgent, silent as your cry.

Fathers and Sons

ADDED: A primer for those who don’t know why NYFG fans hate the PEs (and, yes, of course, the NEPs too.

ADDED: Exhibit A & B.

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia ("Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

How I Feel Now that Philadelphia (“Ptui!”) Is Going to the Super Bowl

 

There is the boy and there are the certain facts of boyhood
(Though nothing autobiographical
Is ever really deduced, is ever really reducible).

Yet the boy’s whole story is as any boy’s life, full
Of moment and followed by others, messily progressing
Along in the plain old myth-telling style.

There was the boy and his father — a fact which must go
Unverified as a creature’s cause. That which didn’t
Make self, though, inherited at least this knowledge:

There is the father and the son – met in boisterous love of sport
Which welded the lessons of thunderous anger
And the sadness hidden in laughter’s cloudbanks.

The boy’s hand consumed in his father’s, they would walk
The yard, policing November’s washout of light;
Spring would arrive only later in the Sun’s cult.

But now was the time to take all of creation into account,
To find the faults in the earth where hide the virtues
Of fathers, to corral the sins of the sons with a hard stewardship.

In these wintry days, the son played Icarus with his father’s
Crafted matchstick ships, motorized by cleverness;
Or played Phaeton pilfering matchbooks and cigars; or Ganymede

Holding the cold brown bottle of Olympia beer for
Father Zeus watching Sunday football, weighing and sighing
In the gridded and hashed balance of his favor-fought heroes.

Thus, Zeus’s gaze fell shadow-like on the U.S.S. Missouri’s
Jacked keel, but withheld just punishments for playing
Fire’s innocence, and hounded the N.Y. Giants weekly battles

Against his patience – all things that youth reaches for
In the hardened hands of time, the works and ways
Of which the golden scales tip in a boy’s growing favor.

Elsewhere

FallowField

Korrektiv is gearing up for a great and productive 2018. (It’s good to let publishing start-ups lie fallow every few years, planting only word-fixing crops like JOB’s poetry to replenish the creative urge.) In the meantime, Friend of Korrektiv and Wiseblood wizard Joshua “Word Bird” Hren has a new poem up over at First Things. Read it, and then raise your hand if you had to look up “numinous” to make sure you had it right. Now raise your hand if you had to look up “logikēn latreian.” Søren says, Raise your hand.

Adam’s Alphabet: A Poem for Advent

Adam's Alphabet

All faith consists in Jesus Christ and in Adam,
and all morality in lust and in grace.

-Pascal

Adam’s anguished alphabet bungles the blood
Because Beelzebub became the cause
Creating crass chaos—deadliest of deaths—
Demanding destruction, what Eden earned.
Eve elected her fervent fellow, framed
For feting that green-gartered gallant who grounds
Grey the groynes and hearthstones that heat his hell.
Her heart, his hands, iuncta iuvant,
Inked up and iodine-red, judge the jet juice
Jerked from jaundiced kinks, kiting and kept
Kinetic in kleptic larceny’s lust.
Lo, law and ministrations to mammon
Manumit nothing but the nihil noted
Now in nations, urb et orb, and ordained
Officially on parchment’s passing pips.
Past passages and quotidian quandaries,
Queer the question: Quid est veritas? Right
Remains a rash, a scandalous stigma
Settling the scored sill of temple and thought—
Together taking umbrage underground
Unable to unearth all the virgin virtues
Villified by a vicious, warring world.
Well would it be if excellence exempted
Xerxes from Yahweh’s yawning yen, yearning,
Yoked to yesterday’s yondermost zone,
Zany with zephyrs for Adam’s ashes.

Zealots of zero, though, yank yammering yesses
Yoemen yell from sexless texts — Man’s own
X-rayed lexicons of wode warnings.
Willing, the world waits, revamping vaunted
Venus’s vanities. Uranus unfurled
Understands useless time as torn tissues
Tied to each solemn syllable of sound
Signifying a sore sight — reason’s right
Rescued from this round reliquary’s quagmire.
Qualified, the quest for peace, each person’s plight,
Perforce prays to obviate Eve’s ovaries:
Observe in one alone who negates and nips
Negative notions of mankind, her mother-maned
Mantle magnifying a love lauded
Lusty, loud and long to kismet’s Kαλον.
Keeping kindhearted for Joseph the just,
Jerusalem’s jewel invites the in-dreamt
I AM to inhabit her hallowed house.
He inspires, instead, gaining from her grant
Given ground foreclosed from the fell fall
Free as fields, fallow to its fruitless ends.
Envious, the enemy, dares this dreamed
Damnation a done deal. But incarned
Caritas came to christen blood and breathe
Balm for ancient agony’s ache, always
As Adam’s alphabet amended in ‘zblood.

Night Rain

                …presently after they shall be honored and exalted,
                shall come to nothing and vanish like smoke.

Our kingdoms shall not last. The rain says that
In every word that drips from eaves tonight—
Soliloquies in sluices, gutters spit
Their gargle out on the driveway’s concrete
Like morning coffee pouring cold and hard
Into tomorrow’s undreamt cups. The words

Of rain are not to be trusted. Tonight
The roof sizzles with them—like meat on a spit.
We listen late between thunder’s concrete
Exemptions and windy inclusions that
Prescribe our mortared brick. End-stopping hard
And final as a trumpet-blast of words,

Each kingdom states the risk. What more concrete,
More sound and safe a thing to say than that?
But liquid eloquence is drowning night
And counting syllables with all the spit
And polish of modern minds that, pressed hard,
Mushroom haloed plumes, like songs without words….

What kingdom ever lasts? For those who spit
Upon their mothers’ graves have made concrete
The mystery that reigns in darkness—that
Which irrigates our time: The rain tonight
Succumbs to its own rules—its laws are hard
And fast as tongues evaporate their words.

Envoi
So rain takes note of rust, and toads (discrete
As thoughtful lovers) crowd the waterspout—
The weather front decays to scraps of snarled
And scudding cloud—the kingdoms of this world.

“One of Those”

bartender pic

FOR JOHN LYON, ON HIS 85TH BIRTHDAY

Some say the cocktail’s genesis
       Was — fiat decoctae — New Orleans:
The Sazarac, wry antithesis
       Of Northernmost mixorians.

Some say it claims Midwestern root
       In sipping supper clubs that branded
The Brandy Old Fashioned—and put
       As paid the spirit tongues demanded.

Some say the how and when of it
       Was sourced more cosmopolitan—
A toast to Peter Minuit
       Who drank the first Manhattan in.

But whiskey, bitters, wine and fruit
       (As democracy often shows)
Will always win the local vote
       Decocting taste with “one of those.”

The House of Haddix: First Mansion

for Louise Cowan

Wisdom builds her house,
But folly with her own hands tears it down.
– Proverbs 14:1

You enter the house to see the house, four walls
And foundation under constant hazard
Of frost and crumbling emotions in time.
You enter the house to see what the house
Is not: these four walls and seven mansions,
The ghostly heads turned from the weariness
Of history, the keepers of the shades
Now gone down to sacred rest and left restless,
Unburied. Enter the house and the senses detect
A quiet genius undisturbed as attic air,
Locked in a tomb, no part of the fixtures
But like a fiction, finding the locus
Where object and memory meet, escape
Time, and maintain vigilance over what
From root cellar grows in the house of Haddix:
Expressed, the elegant elegiacs
In the dust and mold, the fingers of bone
Trace the moistened tracks a snail will make,
Moving toward inevitable lessons of the salt-lick.