The Vessel Song

The Vessel Song
Chant “Old beyond old time”
Slow even breaths now
Don’t fight it: sleep.

The recurring dream returns,
Again the Augean dreamdig

Layers of turf, soil and stone,
Paper, plastic, and rustnails lie
where all things tremble and hide.

Fight in the dank dark deep
Pull it scratch it yank it
Soilstonetrash, deeproots and moist moss
centipedes white flies worms spiders
Wrestle with you but you


From its refuge the amphora older than old.

Burnish your bright night vessel with moist moss
as centipedes white flies worms and spiders
inscribe your vessel with swirling figures.

Thus your prized vase, so perfect;
Sob and fill it with salty tears

As it chants back to you “old beyond” every night,
Your tears and vessel crumble into pigment and you begin to


It is said that M
of the squashed nose
large arms and larger reputation
Went to sea with his only child, his daughter,
Dead of a broken neck, little cross-eyed thing.
He laid her arms left above right,
Her legs straight with toes pointed upward.
In a vessel of floating wood
M drifted into the sea from the mouth of Ostia,
And asked the salt water to take them to Paros.

Past Naples, past Brindisi,
Taken by the current into the Aegean,
Trusting in the pull of Paros.

Parched and exhausted even of dreams
Dragged ashore in Paros by startled fishermen M awoke to
thwack thwack
The fishermen pounding live octopi.

This island is all about pounding,
From mollusks to hammers and chisels.
M came through the treacherous Cycladic sea to Paros
To bury his daughter with her exact likeness in stone:
A Parian doll with painted crossed eyes
Crossed arms, arched back with toes pointed
upward with a
broken neck

This tale is true
for I saw with my own eyes
The tell-tale signature of M
carved inside the marble quarry of Paros.

After her entombment,
After his bereavement,
M remained in the quarry living on sea creatures and wine.
He chiseled day in day out into his final years,
Making not the figures for which he was famous
But four spheres
in homage to Giotto.

For the tale goes thus:
Giotto drew a perfect circle for the Pope as proof of his abilities.
So likewise,
M carved four planets of marble
After which he died content
on the island of Paros.

The fishermen laid him beside his daughter and doll
Both real
Both necks broken
With his four spheres
Into his wooden boat
Into the quarry

Their sarcophagus.


F fills his stoneboat
with iceeyes
Sets out.

But furyrowing
takes him nowhere.

after years or an instant
his stoneboat arrives in
memorious olive trees,
desquamated birches with moss coats,
fluorescent amsonia,
erethizontidae fur, quills, paw prints,
abandoned detritus.

There everywhere
A library of 1,299,827 souls (F counted).

He unloads his iceeyes
in years or an instant
eyes to each soul’s sockets.

The last pair, his grandmother’s eyes.

Her death date, his birth date
Her iceeyes

Now his eyes.

Filo Legno Tessuto

Sono il tuo pupazzo matto

Il tuo pupazzo infedele

Il tuo burattino divina

Vivo dentro di te

e non lo so perche


I hear the ghost in Webern’s chest
I hear, “pin pin within –
heed the skin. And
So I do.

“It’s in his skin –
his skin scales of soiled green shoots
and flies
where the signs arise.”

Within his skin
I hear the ticking Ghost, “ Spring damp dew,
watch the flies come to you.”
So I do.

And when they arrive, flies find a sweet perfume.

Here lies Webern gone away
Shot in the chest
is all they say.

21 January

This night.
Night rain.
Drink my tears, she says.
Drench the soil.
Seep into tunnels
Where roots hang
Like chiroptera.
Fill your veins to overflowing, she says,
Until my nectar drips –
My nectar that blinks bright
Like night’s fireflies,
Calling the sleeping hordes to rise,
Wave after wave,
And break the silence with marching feet.


She says, drink where I drink, where
The ghosts of deer go.

Drink their shy silhouettes in watery vertigo and
Ride their wet fur and
Kiss their salty eyes
Under the nefarious light.

A firefly steals the one spider web
Whose elastic orb re-threads Linnaeus’s quilt and
Whose piano strings bind wing to wing.

This is your map, she says, my maze,
That takes us back to our nest of sleep,
To the dizzy embers of fire and fireflies
And shaded silhouettes.

Take this spider map, this sinuous map.
Take this so you can find me,
Find me always
Where the ghosts of deer go.

Table Piece (Bonampak)

Maybe it is bleached white from the desert:
A discarded hurdy-gurdy
Turned to stone in the Kapadokian sun.
Maybe it is Parian marble chiseled by Myron.
Translucent like skin
White as flake salt
Fused ice.
Maybe it is my first piano, my toy piano.
Prized above all my pianos
Where once I banged away
Like Nancarrow.
For this was the beginning of it all, the It.
Now in my late years I paint my toy white;
But it is not a toy but the yearly ritual
Of my decay.

Centurion (The Observer)

His point of view:

His lineage is Quixada or Quesada,
His plumage blue grey.
With armored beak thus the great heron
The grand fisherman
The hunter.
In the tall reeds where bass feel safe
The heron stalks.

My point of view:

This comedic error on stilts of sticks and string,
Lug nuts, recycled bags, rotting newspapers:
Spare parts.

Their point of view:

Oblivious to danger they glide
Among the reeds
To nibble insects and make bubbles

While above, the creature stops.
His neck arches, arches back, his arrow beak points.
Wait, wait, tense, wait. Pupils dilate.

The hunter, now perfect, now Mithras,
Shudders and chokes it down.
With gills gasping for water, its eyes shocked
That its purpose is not to swim forever
But to be sucked into this horrific cave of muscle.

God’s point of view:

This heron is my prime number, my Quexana.