Famine Ship (for sculptor, John Behan)
From the forge of his imagination comes a boat
out of the past, carrying our ancestors and our shame.
Flaunting it. The sight knocks the wind from my sails.
Moorings loose, my mind slips as my body remembers.
Hands grip the masts of a ship too small to hold them all
and they ride the wind as if born to it. Their open mouths
catch the ocean spray and cleans the slime of rotting spud
and the stain of seaweed ink from their throats.
Thin as the sheets of sailcloth they replace, their flesh
sways in the breeze like rags on a line whipped by the wind.
Larger than life they are, on a sea without a horizon.
It must be hope or despair that holds them there.
They have nothing left to lose but all of our lives.
Nine seeds were all it took
to thicken the plot into a myth
that cut the year in half
and half again.
Sticky when wet, the pink
gold skin of the fruit is thin
but tough. A sharp blade,
a swift slap on the black
counter top creates a path
for the red juice to drip
along fingers and down wrists.
The bright seeds
glisten in the air as if
aching to be spooned.
Nine seeds consumed in the dark
were enough to cause a cleft
in the earth, allow the daughter
to lose herself to desire and find
her lover in the underworld.
The mother held back the wheel of time
while she covered the earth with her heart’s
frost until her daughter returned,
stumbling toward redemption.
Last night, a white clad moon called
me awake from my dream of Mars,
of fire, flames, and hidden reservoirs.
She called me down to the abandoned
street, out to the clean sweep of the strand.
Even the wind was elsewhere.
Like a voyeur I watched the slow
covering of light with dark, the formal
mating dance of the moon and her master.
The morning the moon rose
naked, but for a nimbus of gold
and never called me at all.
Scriptwriters of a Norse God
At dawn, a cloud of finger-winged crows
flies into the forecourt of The Osprey.
Like a bee swarm, it sails between walls,
waking us with joyous, if raucous calls.
This is Odin’s tribe, these his messengers
their feathers the ink, the air the page
their song the prelude. The script is a fleeting
sketch of sacred geometry, a dizzying
Escher print animated and vocal.
Life, Death, it is all the same. We are
carrion or soon will be. Time for us
to wake, unscramble the design
drawn by a murder of crows
and listen to the song of a gypsy cabal
of birds, who prophesy the ending
without using words.