Oil on Canvas


The Logic of First Things

A pot and a pan –

subsiding in the dig –


even by the discretion

of a soft brush.

They had to be.

Prepared somehow

in a manner

antecedent to form

and to all ascent –

(inexplicable abstractions)

from a random concavity –

a moment of utility


above and beyond wolfing flesh

from bone and fire –

red, yellow, black

ground, crushed, stirred –

perhaps hatred was behind it,

shame, submission –

in anticipation of prophecy –

moistened with grief,

shivering with recognition,


Tacitean Cento

They raised their swords,

a thicket of arms,

to the moon, which had

inexplicably vanished

from a clear night sky;

unfavorable planet, withdrawn

from the clamor of their cries,

vows, performance of sacrifice.

Barbarian night lanced the wood,

wrenching roots from earth,

opening dark gates,

portals of the downward path

through snowmelt, marsh and thorn:

to harsh altars, harsh gifts.

They knew the grove:

tracked its atrocious shade

where bones gnaw through

breast plates and greaves;

heads nailed to the trunks of trees,

hair still matted with sweat,

all fierce panoply torn.

Arminius smeared his face with blood,

mask of death in a world of fear,

the clogged and sliding field

breaking and turning,

always opposing itself

to escape and final flight –

enclosed, turned, tangled, ground

by the riderless horse,

whose limbs

are the limbs of men;

whose bared jutting teeth . . .

From a Distant Province

No one could mistake the voice sounding

from the middle of a field whose harsh grasses

describe so much of windy rhythm

and recurrent reply;

from the town square invisibly marked

by lines drawn taut in strait enclosure

triumphantly proclaimed in red,

costly blue and gold.

So many listen and hear (though nothing remains),

unexpectedly calmed by words of kitchens,

kettles, ailing children, wells, gall bladders,

wild bewilderment.

Time and space fold as rain falls miraculously

when needful upon open mouths;

delighted tongues extend to catch the snow:

arrival! – from so far away.