go to my first illustrated
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breathless sky blinked its jackal eye
above the field of
darnel, foxglove and rye.
Along the lane dark
lit only by an
broomed by wisps of
Obscured by this
starry mask, the Swanmaiden
rose from her
slipping off her
robe-damask and feathery crown her troth to seek.
Thus fate-blessed she
quit her tramontine nest.
Foretold her cygnean
life she must forsake, she flew—
bound to her whispered
task—on bleu-blanc wings
six ells wide to the
distant shore of the West.
The cold crawled by
her, night refusing to thaw, a helix-en-air
purling from each
like a honeyed
sky-note to the Great Bear
urging Ursa to crawl
from his Cimmerian attic
to guide her way with
his vast paw.
Before the dawn she
lit on lofted gable runic-writ.
Upon the carvéd
wood the words ran thus:
“Down from above
cometh my life.”
The Swanmaiden smiled,
adding five strokes by her curvéd
above cometh my wife.”
This quietus done she
sought an entrance to the warmth.
Such scratching was
heard by none within,
but without it woke
the dunlin and weary pipit
ensconced on their
sandy tumuli. Each hatched a tiny greeting
to their great sister,
who heard not. She only tried the planchette
on the roof; found it
At last she forced a
window; stole inside.
So silently did she
tread, a calico cat never raised its head
but napped still upon
the hearth, her fur reflecting orange and red
from the lightly
danced on the walls
sloe-black pools ran
down the halls
while the coals purred
like copper wire.
The Swanmaiden found
the Master's bed:
above, her great wings
she spread, canopying his dreams with hers.
Underneath he stirred,
cued by the waning Moon not to wake.
As the cock crowed,
swan's form did she forsake,
his desire fatally
linked to a long-necked girl of pallid mien:
none other could he
is This Ghost
is this ghost I seek
or sylph or fay
Oh where is she
one I've seen
the long-haired one of shivered limbs
of downcast day
of silvered hands and subtle
Why should she only send her sisters
Wrecked upon this shallow land
penance for what hollow deed
Shall I find the countermand
rein the Apollonian steed
Or am I stranded utterly
or one like she takes pity
Is my fate for me to fix
I patiently await the Parcae's hex
Such as these speak when it
not when I beg or pray
A sentence is served
a fixéd day
but to that word
and to that thought
to that hour when walls dissolve
and I can walk away
all the damnings
across the lost eternal skies
the sharpest is saved for struck
encircled by ancient
and haunted lullabies
love not the living most
who love not the day and the
not the May and the morrow
but as in an aching
love and love
give your love so reluctantly
town imagines you a subtle princess
slight of waist, delicate
long-fingered and light-stepped
Your skirts follow
you like hounds
follow Artemis, rustling and attentive
jewels and speckled bands
delight the ashram eyes
younger men vie to kiss your sandals
but I know you give
your love so reluctantly
Although you smile at the
and seem to seduce the very gods
with your blue blue
and caress your worshipful cats with cool abandon
still I know you give your love so reluctantly
talk of flying spirits
and long hot summers of India
the words are tucked unspoken promises
of a red Arabian
Your dreams betray you, for they
float on golden
carpets and dive in warm waters
and you tell them in satsang,
surrounded by your acolytes
seemingly unaware of their
I, who do not tell my dreams,
dream long and deep
regretting to wake,
been thrown high by you
I had walked the clouds
assurances, proffered gifts
and gladly met the myriad demands
of a silver princess
Though you were said to be the
it is I that opened, petal by petal
nodding with the hours,
Moon-bowing, swaying in the dark
and legs to the four corners
I had made a bed for
stuffed it and mended it and canopied it with
a blanketed refuge from all that is,
that is too much
In a grand gesture, you had blessed
chanted, burned your incense
laid on your decorations of
quartz and adamant
and walked a flourished circle three
shedding your sage perfumes
But only I know how
you give your love
My hands have built the
in which you glide
my magic surrounds you
have loaned you my devis, and they invisibly
guard you as you
blithely haunt the world
And so you have grown even more
flanked by my paintings of you
wearing clothes from
my model's closet
You have climbed me like a sequined
and the stars flutter in your celestial hair
even after all these years
you give your love so reluctantly
Joan of Arc]
white-archangel bloomed high along the lane, nodding to young
as she passed, gentil,
rill ran beside, lambent with summer rains, brown below but
above, washing with tourbillons1
black woolly rocks. A grey heron, inglenooked in the brook's
eyed her, grimly conscient
the sound of her sabots on the cakéd earth. Nearer still,
the quail des
in hedgerows, hidden
among the stars-of-Bethlehem, la
hunched in their feathery pews, well-ridden
of their normal
foxy fears. The virgin's arrival stopped all chase and
the saints be bidden.
Her promenade closed when a dusky
warbler brightly warned her of the coming crevasse.
sought this moraine
as the appointed place, a wild and
wind-blown altar for an almost private mass.
maid of Lorraine
climbed right down, led by her fauvette
plumuled grey. He warbled
a trilling chant-montagne7
bless this fourre-tout8
the gods, this heap of stone, this mystery-slag
Nothing followed the pair
but the white
flowers, turning now to asphodel with calyx lightly pebbled
patches of campagnon-clair9
clusters of conopode-dénudé,10
Jehane did engarland like baby's breath
in her still-long
She removed the dented clogs for the final climb,
her toes cheating death
with subtle purchase of the ledge.
last she reached the bed, dry and sandy with white shale
Nearby, tufts of sedge
followed a fine line
of water, fed in silvery webs along cavern walls
split like a
The friendly warbler left her now,
frightened by his own echoing calls,
replaced by a martinet
Far quieter, he patrolled with a balsam whisper,
master of these low halls.
Jehanne, fashioning her a chaplet-en-air12
his wind-sharpened wings,
an implied corolla of the dell
protect her from all fées-rustique.13
so, the maid's silent imaginings
through centuries for an honest intention. They prepared their
like a balefire row,
Michael, Catherine and
Margaret in trinal apparition, musing the maid
angels clothed her in boucassin-blanc16
collar of silk inlaid.
With essence of plum they laved
hands, and about her feet a bough of musquet-des-bois18
In the folds of her dress ennaved
long green needles of cedar and leaves of durmast oak, heavy with
that Orleans and Patay would be saved.
they cut the woodbines,
freeing Jehane from her bosky
boat-of-dreams, and sent her back up to the real.
remained were the lines
in her memory, the clear etchings
of battle and proof, of providence, signal and seal.
was now of France,
her mind a book the angels would write, her
body a sword they would anneal.
With a shy and backward
she wondered that Michael and the rest—waylaying
her in that heathen deep—
should send her on the road to
from an enchanted gap of stone. Why not take her in
church, or in devoted sleep,
under eaves where all Christendom
Should she henceforth pray under sky and stars, under
Sun and Moon, her soul to keep?
But the birds would not
tourterelle des bois20
cooed and sighed,
awaiting the end of day.
walked back down her road, guarded by dogrose and danewort and
Dauphin yet spoke of tests,
no Cauchon of trials; only the
waking owl, crying in the fields like an earless muse,
nobly of the nests
of Englishmen, and of the fourberie22
priests, and of the blood-singed brevity of all fierce
But Jehane had no mind for the
prophecy of owls, Merlin though he be. Let them pierce
pellucid breast with a dart
or nail her to a Vieux
it would always be her sweet Jhesus who steers
and her innocent heart.
Accepting his summons might lead to
bitterest pain, but denying would be far worse.
The maid must
play her part.
the wheat 3St.
John's wort 4musk
warbler, the dusky warbler 7mountain
junk pile 9campion 10naked
cone-foot, St. Anthony's nut 11swallow 12crown
in the air 13field
local gods 15dream-boat 16white
fustian fabric 17sky
blue 18lily-of-the-valley 19rock
dove 21thorn-apple 22treachery
sennit in her hat was stolen,
picked from fields her father
did not rent or own—
a handsel from the petted
cropping purslane near the edge of town.
in the sedge shied away from the fence
as she climbed the
short hill beyond,
and the lambs leapt from mayapples
and the geese flew up from the pond.
that summer’s eve on the wold
scented with chervil and
Above her the regions of dusk did unfold
as a virgin sea.
Her hair burgeoned the rain-cracked
following the lines of stonewort a-whirl,
beetles about her beat paths through the scutch,
wide in avoid of the girl.
Bat vied with nightjar for
greymoth and brown;
vole gathered orache and hare hid his
all unknown to the dirndled girl on the
begging the Moon to come to a stop.
But the Corymb
above her continued to climb,
surrounded by surfeit of sky
and the waters between them bubbled with rime
sea wrack and red ramage and spice
flung by the Hunter to
coax the sea monsters
out from their dark caves above the
She saw his arrows fly, like catkins afire between the
burning out fast in the high cold breeze.
sarmentine wand, won from a pollard willow
she waved at the
sky and cast crooked spells
to bring hydra and draco and both
to burn all the houses and dry up the wells.
her the kine in the fields became wyvern
choking the village
folk with soot.
For her the cats that haunted the verges were
combing the reeds for henbane and wolfbane and
Varuna looked down on this floss-silk girl—
clogs, her sisalled arms and legs, her strawbraid brow—
sent four owls to rouse her from her curl
upon the copsy hill:
she should not sleep with rook and cow.
She wiped her mind
and wet her lips with boneset.
her like a bayadére on a dew palanquin
briony, and kermoak for a chaplet.
The laverock let them
pass with an orgulous look
from beneath his dark green
The yarrow bent and the groundsel shook
hart’s tongue licked its bluish greaves.
woke at home with eaves overhead
and smoke from the
Raffia littered her bed on the floor,
her mind danced like silver wire.
But a cricket calmed
her, and her sisters’ sounds,
and she rubbed one foot
with the other.
Varuna continued her subtle rounds
four owls left with their mother.
The Moon pales bosky
hugging the tattered rim of the wood
like a charnel vine,
one dim bloom
above the black.
Smell of charlock
the wind, and meadow rue arrives
the squirrel corn
and sweet mazzard with its tones
is asleep, curled ophidian
in some warm cave, her gowns
her breath of meliot,
her zaffre rays
reigned in for now.
Knowing this, the sciomancer blows his
subtle flame to life and greets the golemi
as they blink
and puff, their fingers
still sticky with dew of deep
their eyes leaking glaire,
their heads nine
timbrels, all in row.
He bends this coffle with a brew
coltsfoot and baneberry,
bribing them from their brides,
wands unwending them,
and they ride the night on a brood of
bred to malinger the fogs.
A codling moth
patters the rafters
and rains down dust on the books and
A clock’s crystal, chatoyant in the
places all this in the past
As a cruel charivari, the clock and
toast the man and his painted zenana,
golemi, gone to gather all whispers,
have left their weird
wives in a clutch.
The man looks to them, each to
desiring that ones throat, like a wake-robin,
that ones lip, like carnelian.
One white body he peels
from her calyx,
petal for green petal, til she stands a
parted from the mountain.
Another he limns in
her verge of kaolin umber waxing
bedded in finest bistre.
Another, hair in
carcanet of wood
anemone, murmurs a make-believe
de geste as counter-mesmer.
no avail: he will have her cowl printemps
as well, burning it with the rest.
he picks her pose as punishment—
last he likes in caput mortuum
the best. Purply she lies on a
long couch, sipping
blossom tea languidly
from a terracotta
It is doubtful she will even look up.
approves with arrowy glance,
finally rising steeple-high.
cares not for wives, sylphic or no,
and leads the golemi
dumbly driving their dream.
But at last
Ushas rolls back the rock,
cleaving the night from her narrow
The wind reverses, waking the plowbirds,
ouzel tip and turn.
The mandrake yawns, the vole
and the damselfly drinks a drop of dew,
like a tiny frond, flicking wet.
The golemwives run from
slipping under the wainscoting like Walkure
Quickly they dress themselves in calladia
lilies, weaving a lie for the nonce.
mud-husbands ask nothing,
seeking the warm soil, sighing a
No beetle above them will trouble their
And he, alone once more, returns to his
freeing the chalk from his fingernails.
He has no oblation for
Artemis, cold and white, distant and undoting
binds him somehow,
by some roll of the bones
above or by
from the shore of Cocytus.
has become his hymn.
brushed the flaxseed from her drapéd hair
mallow and malmsey
and picked the bluebells from her
and ladyfern and thistle.
walked a'home through moonlight and coppice
Sing mallow and
Unshoed through ponygrass and willow
horsetail and rushes.
thought "I be seed vessel and him wind fellow"
mallow mallow and malmsey
lacewing brushed Melissa's darksome face
and greenly paced the
air around her.
Melissa licked the night for passing
and whispered mallow mallow.
moisture messed her netherhair
and made her silver legs move
slipping noiseless and mothy and lissome
mallow and malmsey.
Cypress!" called she to a massive tree
"for one more
kiss of him I'd marry thee!"
And Cypress listened to poor
sing mallow and yellow malmsey
kissed her fellow by bulrush and weed
and eelgrasss and
And turned to white wife of swaying
sighing mallow mallow.
slept on a blue pad
in a sea of books
moved them off
rustling in their jealous stacks
room for me
waited like shorebirds
for the wave to pass
dreamt a river of yellow hair
my bed but a mermaid thought
bark of rushes
Your webby claws raked the raw silt, the silk
my tongue swam in circles~silvery fish
death was green
dreamt a hard sky, turtleback green
the moon a face without
"There I lie and fish,
reedpoles my arms, casting
up to the green." I thought,
"I am a tree, roots
among the weeds
dreamt a white island, by rushes
encrypt. An egg among
feathers, mossgreen weeds
There you woke like a
nestling, preened your downy hair
with pearly currycombs that
were bones of fish
dreamt a greensea of vase-shaped fish
or "cellos from
fish music," I thought.
They plucked a
long wavering whalesong of death green
and silkblack, on
strings of yellow hair
dreamt a muddy cave, mouth of weeds
clumped with sparrowbones
eyes and matted with hair
soft under white toes
like a floor of wet rushes
or riverbed rocks beneath
moss. Then I thought
this cave is but a mermaid thought
fisheyes ensconced in
on walls of blue-breen
algae, a ceiling of
pearl-white shells." And I fish
there for dreams among
the black rushes
the yellow hair
you are an otter seeking fish
and I a green rushclad merman
combing the weeds
for death or a thread of maidenhair.
dead may air an applewood of greenrippling bark
their bed of
below a brown bough
shady where it stood
in a white
shiny with the moon
leaves may dance an orange turn round roots above
through clay black grey and dust
and finger the
from those down deep
dig dirt and taste sienna-yellow sap
like mother's lap
spread wide in violet-sacred matricide
of fallen earth
silver-rimed graves in applewood know children too
I sleep on overarching grass
an apple canopy
buried her hair
there below boards seven ells deep
with a needle her goldenthread
iron eye dazzling the dead
bed was straw
She spun it yellow night by night
the weft with dead red leaves
the branches she tied into
torches she weaves
garden she dug
wet with sweetbrier, white eglantine
up a grey groom legged in vine
priest-king with a penny
her makeshift croft
hair lay long
like orphrey collar on moss-rose neck
limetree hung her broadcloth dress
her nest of silk
over muddy knees
buried the child
deep between roots where the river winds
bones a mother hides no one finds
and built for a boat a
knotted with hair
her own hands
curragh she sailt
brownbourn down rindle to sea
daughter yet mouthing a digging song
and threw a spoon to
In flaxen bindweed seven ells deep
is an Otter
is an otter
swimming rings around the moon
writing runes around the sun
is a fish
gills wide in flight from webby paws
son-of-stars, stippled child of middlenight
is a bear
dancing a buzzing whirlpool, fur fearless
is a bee
pollen-dusted in sexy flower hop
unaware of ursa
Where dost thou flutter
is thy song
Dost thou tumble from bracken
all the mornings fog to burn
lowly aloft on redgold
breakfast bugs astir beneath
naught but vapors up
which languishing night but now unwove
Will I see
thee again at dusk
sleekened by thy daily rusk
or shall I
lose thee to the claw
the all devouring, time's great maw.
harvestman prancing on whinneying air
shooting the dappled
pumpkins king of the Moon
Where are the Wiccans tresses a
testing the loom
will she spin long silver thread to steal my
Or must I run waters through greygrass and the
leaflimbs slender as a spiderleg
cicadabug chew quietly locustlady
Apollo seeks you from the
to burn your wings to singe your freckled
it will not do to sleep
or tongue your earthy
Make an offering child of dust
on the rooted altar
at river's edge
Delve your drinking hands elbow-deep in
and weave a worm from maker's mud
splay your dancing line longlegged
Like death your eyes go deep and grey
marble tastes of breath and sleep
and patient black and
Your hands raw willowroots a-sway
limbs move lithe and long-a-sweep
and eyes go deep like death
Winterberry lips do curl away
round mine more
murmur and creep
Go deep like death eyes of grey.
da tuo padre
do not think, my lovely boy—
fair face framed in ringlet
silk o'er citrus-alabaster skin—
drape will cover shape
from Devil's dreams or worldly
such beauty here—no heaven's coin—
buy you only Papish looks
and claws of fifty-year-old
O do not think, my lovely boy—
flowing line of God
following lithe Nature's willow curve
perfect mirror Ess of Soul—
such divine amanuensis is
Rome translates this snake as backward
sinister sign of Adam's fall
and Eve's corrupting
O do not think, my lovely boy—
aglow with atmospheric white
and brightest light subdued in
such subtlety, line to tint and colored
will capture eye, confined by gaze
shading depth for sons of
accustomed to Sepulchral tones.
O do not think,
my lovely boy—
strumming lute like fretted swan
piping flute (a childish toy)—
Polyhymnia is worshipped
Muses, Graces, Fates and Furies were pitched
Milvian Bridge and drowned:
and water-walker solemnly
does not dance or sing or finger his kithara.
do not think, my lovely boy—
mind outstripping history's
thinking thoughts Medieval men mistake,
air uplift your wings
and gaseous rock, Madonna's
containing as much Sky as Earth,
wide in Pallas' birth
like gems in Heaven's veil—
do not think, my lovely boy,
such musing makes one
Blood and veins and scattered bones
concern: Nero may fiddle
as Christians burn, his song and
a pyramid of dust that time erodes.
God will outlast
for the Sphinx to tell its riddle.
not think, my lovely boy,
perfection is the point: Paul
your place for penitent sinners.
cullers, scrabbling in the mud,
picking fruit from Mother's
tasting tree for seeds of immortality,
tithe the Trinity
or earn a place in Paradise.
your paints and pray, Mi Fili.
Give up your Ge and learn
With your right hand reach inside,
demons of your bet.
We know too well you traded hell
all your Mother's bounty.
But She will never save you, Bastard
Christ and you cannot be reconciled.
deep beneath your bed, sleeping one—
The soil is warm
and sandy and flies
like mist from hands that claw and feet
You will find, if you go deep below
the lowest catacombs that sigh
beyond the pale eidola, rocking
to and fro,
You will find a room, walled in green so
roofed in blue so mystery-sheer
warmed by red and
lit by yellow and watered clear,
and here you
will curl in shapes of round
here the skin will smell of milk
here the breath and heart will sound
friends are found and met.
Crawl up to the moon, sleeping
Swim by clouds that brush your cheek, like
lost forever from the brooming sun.
tide that thrusts and ebbs
lofting you into the white
the cold blue light, the shivering vault.
freezes, memory never harms,
yesterday is lost, the past is
Penetrate the walls, confound the maze, sleeping
You are not confined by day's hard lines,
night's fine confusion, a net that none
that is, that time resigns.
Look upon the horned monsters,
as they hoof their fateful lanes of dust.
they must roam and chase and ravage too,
so you look and
tremble and weep, you must.
But when the weeping's done
then slay the beast.
Lick your sword and laugh a creature's
repeat it 'til the blood and fur have ceased
the subtle fires haul them both.
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