Bucket of mud, front-end thumper,
Patron saint of wheel alignment,
Godmother of new tire sales, Auntie
San Andreas, cousin of the Fault,
Excresence of plates in the surface
Of Earth, cauldron of sludge and gutter
Of detritus; effluvial bowl--
Yes, you, you gash in the abyss.
Get back to Hell where you came from, you
Tire-wrecker, car-breaker, anomaly
In tar, you tumbler's jolt, yes, you, you
Crabbed base original, Platonic
Form of custom-crusted Hellhole.
for Maria Argy, translated from
Giuseppe Battista (b.1610, Lecce, It.)
Figlia del mio pensier, nuncia veloce
Daughter of my thought, messenger swift
Who runs without feet, flies without wings,
Faster than gale winds, or even arrows
Where the air freezes and then scorches.
You lay open my mind, but have no tongue;
You plot treasons yet you are loyal;
Nightshade you're not, but just as lethal.
You're no Libyan beast, but just as fierce.
Spirit of my steps, tongue of my heart,
You lead me where I've never been,
You call to me without ever blushing.
As for traces, when you leave them,
Their lightest step feels like an earthquake,
Their residue the brass fanfare of fame.
From the bay, the Westport Rivers resist
entry at change of tide, or in Northwest
wind, or a South wind and a following sea.
Yachts churn off the Nubble, make no way
under full throttle against changing tide.
Off the Point of Rocks, the same can be said.)
You'd do better to stay at Cuttyhunk
or even Padanarum. Once in the River
you will not see the Tautaug nestle in mud
all winter, their jaws prognathous, their eyes
bulge like a turtle's. Cormorants dry
their wings as if crucified. I've seen more
pleasant sights. They look like they're Death's Door.
The same may be said for the high cry
of the osprey, eerie. One dropped a ripped fish
ten feet from me, torn in half. An omen.
In the shallows, sticklike Blue Heron pace
like a politician, picking their way.
Their prey, the fools, mistake them for the sky.
If you take a humble skiff, a catboat
or a sailing dinghy, the swanery
you may see; or five goslings in line
between their parents; or an eel in weeds
by the swimming beach. In the fog something
flaps by, the River slaps the hull.
Your ear fills with the gulpy cry of gulls.
For Tess and Dan
m. 30 June 2001
The way a vernal storm glowers from
Pikes Peak, or when summer showers beat
On the windshield, or the surf builds up
At Elephant Rock beach, these can stop
The faint of heart. But you two meet
The gusts and heat of the camping trip,
The horses' manes on waves from offshore deep.
There's more to see within us than wihout.
One rafter's but a stick, two a roof;
One bee's a mess; two can make a hive.
One shoe's hopeless; two, an industry!
One leg cannot stand, while two ballet.
A pair's greater than the two parts' sum.
Adam and an Eve, a Tess and Dan.
I know who can make a laser or a drain,
Who can coax things in by the deadline,
Who can make a website or an ale,
Who can tell when writing has turned stale,
Who knows where the doggie needs to scratch,
Who can make lasagna in a batch,
Who can turn a trashpile into fun,
Who has seen the light, the western sun.
It's time for proverbs: so here is one
From Italy. Who marries in haste
Repents at leisure--which to avoid,
You have lived in suspense and love
And come here to confirm the choice
Which you keep choosing, and in which we
Witness and bless as well as rejoice.