“And a man wrestled with him until the breaking of the day”

Jacob Wrestling-1Convinced
Arrival would one day 
Receive him
In forerooms furnished 
With futility, strain,
Defeat – 
The like

Or (better yet): that he would catch
It prowling the gloaming tallgrass 
Beyond the dark eyes
Of women, hidden there,
And indenominate

Or (better still): wrest it
Straight from cold, 

Gazing up now
Into the swaying branches
Of the trees: how they
In the morning emptiness
That is our only
Claim, our sole
Knowing that, ineluctably,
We are all seeds strewn
Widely, stars
Set burning
Across the
Sweeping canvas:

Never touching


Veil of the Temple Torn in Two


New seed, a new

Sown in the emptiness of every night
Spent alone,
Past and future;

Culled and cultivated out of the abysses in me;

And then finally brought forth to bloom
By the tender hands
Of the One who loves me…

Oh, where are you now old man? Where have you gone?


Like the blowing of dry leaves in autumn;
Like the obsolescent crumbling of pagan marble
In twilight halls of forget…



Before the steady four wheels
Of cradlebound infancy
Could become in him adolescence’s
Fledgeling, jump-start
Two, sorrow made him to know,
In the secret dwellings of his heart,
The “inconsolable origin of all tears.”

In other children, youth flourished and
Grew strong, like young cedar,
And out of their propitious lips
A summer song would issue, limpid and flowing;
And with palms thrust radiantly upwards towards the sky
(as if to offer up to God innocence’s abundant first-fruits),
They would drink copiously of the sunny breezes
(as if to, in turn, partake of the chalice
of His glory and happily, guilelessly, say, “Amen”)…

– And meanwhile, he would shudder in his room at night,
Alone, enfolded
In the yawning weft
Of Sorrow’s shadowy mantle.


Lord, you made me to be without a home
Where all the others seemed to find one;
Turned my blossoming lea into a barren landscape
Riddled, as after a fire, with the smoldering,
Broken bramble of heart-scraps,
Upon which ashes would fall, and still fall
Softly, silently, cold – the fallout of dreams…

All those long, twilight hours at Father’s,
Where with door closed Waiting
Would stretch wide and thin
– Like the growing shadows –
And the Abyss would seem to open up,
Press in upon me, and
Brush up against my face, lightly…

What were they, then? Lord,

Are you listening?

I will answer: Training days,
Training days of longing and lack,
Where longing grew strong, and lack,
To the full stature of manhood

And now a man I am become indeed.
In place of a warm hearth somewhere,
I make my home upon the stillborn plane
And wander beneath the silent firmament.
And the weight of a thousand, thousand years
Flickers dimly, like ancient stars,
Out these obsidian eyes

Upon Spying a Phainopepla


Night-herald, there you sit,
Poised atop a winnowing tree branch
Pendulating plaintively
In the gloaming breezes

…The color of deepest night,
And drawing all solitude to yourself,
Like the growing shadows
Of this darkening landscape

Ebon polestar of every lonely creature
This night, your sable garments
Conceal the menacing flame in you, flashing

– like spurts of blood –

Out those eyes
And into this heart

Ficus Carica

“Abyssus ad abyssum invocat”

      That time of year
when the fragrance of orange
    blossoms will alight
upon the gloaming
air, and like
primeval threnody,
remind you
of what you once had
and will thenceforward always         yearn for –
Will remind you
of that need
             uncoiling,  as out of the
spool in you,
into the tangled
and bewildering
weft of

Currently 8 o’clock in the evening 
Once more the fig tree    and     I 
regard each other once more – silent
                               companions absorbed in each other’s solitude beneath April moon’s
unearthly pallor
Perhaps     we are    the only two things on the wide Earth
ripening now,
each the mute witness to the other’s slow unfolding 
Tempting to think the somber breeze
Flowing through its callow
Leaves (big as hands) flows
Through       me,

too, setting

                   into motion…

Listening for it…

A mounting shudder:
First gentle, demure,
Like the rustling
Of promenade dresses –
Now suddenly
A madness, a craze, something hateful
And demented.

Something like the hoarse clangor
Of Hell’s deepest

Oh, even here,
In this moment,
Where inside is the
Radiance of hearth’s soft glow,
Of aurulent smiles,
Warming my flank
Like happy fire – even here,
I can’t escape it, this
Horror that lurks in shadows
And prowls in empty spaces.

“This American Life”

Running deeper than
Coincidence, and the meaning
We try
And cobble from it,

Deeper than the
Utterances of our newspaper augurs, or
That special kind of benevolence
We call miracle,

There is the commingling
Of Blood.
Yours, mine, and

A shooting star alights
While we kiss in the twilight:
Might portend something –
Might not.

So might the fact
That we knew each other
For a time
As kids

We try. God,
Do we try.

But there is a harrowing
With which, despite ourselves,
We cannot contend, cannot

Which will despoil
Us of what we arrange
So delicately, like crystal,
In the reliquary of the heart.

The only thing, therefore:

To feel the magnitude of it all
Become music in the clear
Night air,
Become dancing.

“Thy Kingdom Come”


Lord, our life ripens
On branches pulsing with
Your darkness. And you are
The unseen center of the world’s
Solitude, woven like spider’s
Web through every shadow
And dark corner,
Draped like pall over every
Tomb for ruined hearts,
Scattered like manna across
The desert of our
Ceaseless wandering



At the base of the mountain, at
The point where the folds of her
Bosom, like furrowed satin, tumble
Downward into graceful, flowing rivers
Of rounded foothills, and
Join the darkening flat-pan below,
There is a place
Where one can sit alone, or stand,
And under the flickering faces of all the stars
A Presence, dark and holy, feel it
Descending out of vast spaces,
Out of chaste silences –
Something like the Mystery of this life…

Inclining like a kiss
It strains into fingered pierce-point
To rive ribs partite, then
Brand all labored breathing with
An effulgence of song
– set a holy rumor through
The stagnant blood and ashen
Members, unto the
Final, rapturous rest of all things.

“Master, it is good for us to be here.
Let us put up three shelters.”


Oh God, and yet…
“He did not know what he was saying.”