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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.

Grace of God and raise your arms…Flood!

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So we had a flood – and thought it was a good time to have a craw boil, Nawlins style….

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Potatoes, 10 minutes; Chicken thighs, 5 minutes; Corn 3 minutes (after return to rolling boil); crawdads, 3 minutes; Shrimp 3 minutes; sausage (what the hell!). And finished off with Peychaud-laden (five dashes!) Manhattans (actually, at that point, frick! – might as well call them Birminghams!). Then cigars and port wine and conversation. Not a bad way to face the flood.

And her hallway moves
Like the ocean moves
And her hallway moves
Like the sea
Like the sea
She says “no, no, no, no harm will come your way”
She says “bring it on down, bring on the wave”
She says “nobody done no harm”
Grace of God and raise your arms
She says “face it and it’s a place to stay”
This, this is the way it was
This, this is the way it is
When the water come rushing, rushing in
She says
She says “anytime”
Raise your arms
Flood
And her hallway
Like…Like…Like a million voices call my name
Like a million voices calling
Not now, not never again…
Sitting here, now in this bar for hours
Strange men rent strange flowers
Seconds to…

Four-olive Martini: A Minor Drama, Last Call

four-olive-martini-keith-wilkie

Your eyes are drained as sapphires lost in blue
And ice. The frown your face is wearing tells
An adequate counterpoint to the tap
Of painted nails now playing up and down
A crystal stem. What is holding me from you
Maintains for us our several separate hells.
Our share in the punishment—your sullen lip
Against the rim, my olive quarto on
A cocktail spike—each rings as clear and true
As Gordon’s and diamonds (or Seagram’s and pearls).
Delivering the sudden burning sip—
The winter sting that splits us skin from bone—
“To each our own!” I say, and know it’s false
But wish to cut the crap with a little gin.

BREAKING: Wisconsin Marshmallow Farms Report Bumper Crop

What? Did you think they grew on trees?

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marshmallow farm cropped 1

marshmallow farm cropped 2

Early reports indicate that the graham cracker harvest will be equally vigorous this year—although no world yet on how the chocolate season will fare – it all depends on whether the cocoa fish will be as plentiful this year (last year they suffered from a caramel blight, reducing the total intake of chocolate oil for processing).

Film at eleven.

Does Anything Rhyme with “Nobel”?

nobel-prize-medal

When I first received this Nobel Prize for Literature, I got to wondering exactly how my songs related to literature. I wanted to reflect on it and see where the connection was. I’m going to try to articulate that to you. And most likely it will go in a roundabout way, but I hope what I say will be worthwhile and purposeful.

To Arena

to arena

            Corpus mortale tumultus
Non tulit aetherios donisque iugalibus arsit.

                        – Ovid

That day the beach crept up on us,
The tide a sideshow of seashells,
We began our sunburn early,
Soaked in warm beer against curly
Sails, a regatta of tassels
Thrown to a chalky blue chalice

Of sky. We drank and drank it in,
Your eyes going crazy with thirst
And whispering about your art.
I sought to touch your skin to sort
Out my feelings. Worse came to worst
And you dozed off mid-sentence, slain

By cervezas, college finals
And sand-strewn immortality:
So California left its mark—
White underbelly of a shark.
The running surf made us dizzy
As it swirled beneath us, runnels

That heralded a tidal wave.
Except it never came. Instead
Your white one-piece provoked a flush
Desire upon your slumber. The flash
Of flesh, your tapering thighs, fed
My eyes, a hurt longing that drove

Me out well past the surf. Earth’s curve
Swallowed up a ship to its mast,
And swam me to shore to search for
More than Crusoe’s evidence, more
Than Friday’s footprints…. I lost
You in the crowd—and lost my nerve

When I found the beach blanket bare—
As if you’d been absorbed and left
No farewell, except sun and shade
That marked your place. With sunset tide
As my witness, the shifting sift
Of sand had scattered you anywhere.

Five Tanka for Creation

800px-Flammarion

Ὅταν οὖν τι σῶμα κατὰ μηδὲν ἐξαλλάττηται
τῶν προϋπαρχόντων, ἡσυχάζειν αὐτό φαμεν…. -Galen

1
Photosynthesis
Before there was anything
To kiss or embrace,
Before our bed was warm with
Your soil or my seed — hunger.

2
Caress of plasma,
Hydrogen and helium —
Touches my face as
My giddy hands graze your thighs,
Heaven’s dizzying columns.

3
Tectonic spangle
Of plates on the lithosphere;
Your soft surf of breasts
Against my trembling shoreline;
You alone, tsunami’s love.

4
The original
Hertzsprung-Russell diagram,
This random order
Constellates your dark features;
Your fuse burns a comet’s tail.

5
Trout scales, clade branches,
Ascend in rainbow patterns —
Your body pulses
Shallows beneath coral cliffs;
Your eyes glitter dark, seaward.

6
Eukaryotic—
The foundation of all flesh,
Dante’s (h)O-M-O
Draws me to your deepest earth —
Creative, an act of love.

7
The cool part of day,
A sort of post-coital
Tristesse setting in;
For you walk in my garden—
So perfect, so incomplete.

May Day

bf6d59e2ce404839d3e9ff9e817b5c68

on the Occasion of the Marriage of Peter and Lauren

I
Lay by a sense of time, in all the works
And days that harvest out your bonds of earth
Under stars that will sift and shift like sparks
Resplendent, ever new as things that birth
Engenders deep within this bloom of May.
Now take again what time’s plenty bestows
And pluck this fifth-month day. Let no decay
Negate the moment. Build instead the rose
Deep as the hottest blessings of the sun:
Proposals are preludes to all the things
Enlightened in the asking. There’s but one
That gives an answer, shaded in songs
Exclaiming May the Sixth, a day in spring
Recalled in time: Lauren and Peter’s song.

II
Exclaiming May the Sixth, a day in spring,
The world has put its ear to earth, a kiss
Recalled in time: Lauren and Peter’s song

Is played with strings that circle squares. We bring
Our bodies to the dance, our souls in place,
Exclaiming May the Sixth, a day in spring.

But which among our million moments ring
The clocks to bring us round and feel the trace
Recalled in time? Lauren and Peter’s song.

The wine is pure, the bread is everything
That calls us to witness what will suffice,
Exclaiming May the Sixth, a day in spring.

The kiss that makes a mutual language sing.
So yours and yours becomes a single space
Recalled in time. Lauren and Peter’s song

Will play on — God bless and earth avow — these strong
And willing partner to a strident grace
Exclaiming May the Sixth, a day in spring
Recalled in time: Lauren and Peter’s song.

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