Storm

The church bell speaks twice.
The cat seems to sense,
and the dog,
something in the wind.
Yes. A flash out to sea
clouds white as day.

The trees will whisper,
and the grass,
in the night while we sleep.

Dawn brings rain
clattering into our dreams,
but then, a song!
Nightingale, we both say
and laugh
with the wind
in our mouths.

Love sings
us back to sleep.

Deya 1980’s

Birthday

The clock above the town has tallied one
more day. The tones suspend like domes
no longer than before, the hours have run
the normal pace. Gabled Rhineland homes
as ever sleep beneath the pointed church,
a crystal tree beside the wall like lace
or moonlight woven in the craftsman’s search
for all the lines that vanished with no trace.

Yet struck in brass tonight was time that made
me count thirty, ten thousand days that froze
into as many separate criss-crossed roads
with no sign of where my youth is laid.

Slender shadows stain the Gothic rose
cast from the ghost beside the chapel stones.

Ingelheim, 1963

Elegy

Grandfather’s bred brother
Was a black leather Bible:
Each day to heaven
Was begun and ended
Between onion skin leaves.

He boldly led
A life of Sundays
Of rollicking sermons
And week-long revivals loud
With trombones and banjos:
A leaping preacher
Was his carnival:
A joker who knocked them down,
One to a ball.

(Never a night
Fewer than a hundred
Rolled down the aisles
To the altar.)

But now let the congregation
Remove its hats.
The steadfast preacher has preached his last.
Hum the chorus once more while we wait;
Won’t anyone else come here and kneel?

The stone in the ground
Is no tribute to the man.
He was one to shout glory
To the rafters and railings
Each day the door was open.
Never was he so still as the granite
At his head saying:
      Rest in Peace
Forever.

New York, 1962


Here’s the poem as I first found in his files, date unknown. I subsequently found the electronic version posted above.

Elegy

Plea

My love, I know that I have been a clown,
And, bending with a rose in hand, no claim
To formal loving should I have again;
I know, who never knew before, the sound
That rain makes kissing the dark before
It tumbles to the earth and breaks in crowns,
That you are painting beauty where it’s found
Seizing images I saw but never tore from objects.
You fold the word beneath your tongue
And taste the essence of an elm: reflect and lend
And air of legend to my life. Recall
And take the bloody thorns from my hand.

Greenwich Village 1961