I have no roses; all the flowers in my garden are dead;
And the public mourners come: the politic tear.
Patience flowers into death now,
Washing the mountains bare.
One slight bruise and we die,
Packed away in our crude beginnings.
I don’t want to go on being a root in the dark.
What if, after so much history, we succumb?
The dead are stronger and know
how to gobble down pieces of sky.
Each fall the graves of my grandfathers call me.
I meet my shadow in the deepening dark.
Lifted in the fading light of the hemlocks,
I arrive full of mud and death.
What goes, comes back. Come back.
Spend the spark of iron,
Sing small thing.
Much madness is divinest sense:
Avalanche sliding, white snow from rock face,
Versed in all ancient magic,
Great is the Battle God, great, and His kingdom.
I have chosen the Indestructible for my refuge,
Heaved the yoke out to Him for harnessing.
A cypress-tree gains strength, as it grows old;
And lions, when they’re old, rage all the fiercer.
Oh Love, despite your growing violence,
I cry, I burn, I waste away.
The greatest gift of the gods is honor:
To reach your hand in triumph up
Over the heads of the enemy.
Give me courage to stay.
It is the price of vision that we owe, the cost,
Frenzied but firm.
My soul was on my lips.
[With respect to Antonio Machado, Thomas McGrath, Miklós Radnóti, Robert Bly, Pablo Neruda, James Welch, César Vallejo, Federico Garcia Lorca, Etheridge Knight, Theodore Roethke, Emily Dickinson, Stephen Crane, Rumi, e.e. Cummings, W. H. Auden, Mirabai, Apollonius of Rhodes, Michelangelo, Euripides, Robin Robertson, Homer, Wendell Berry, Andreas Embeirikos, Plato.]