(for Terrence Joyce – thinking of the earth and your elephant painting)


Poets in brutal times

Farmers when fields blow by

Dust unto dust

and ice bear can’t go home.

Dispatch from lost Arcadia:

“The marsh is full with birds!”

But this is the scorching day of now.

Remember poems of daffodils?

Nor can I, riders on the storm.

Nor can I.

We are poets in brutal times

Aware of the closeness of ledges

“The news is bad from here.”

But try – anyway — we will try

To write again of laughter,

the shouldering of hoes,

and flinging wide the seed … anyhow

Remind you if we can

of clean rain and

future victories of the bees.


–RRC 2017

Older than iron, Older than vice

The way you trap us, us crushables,

Under your hobnail toe and heel.

You drain us with your quenchless suckery,

You ha-ha rich, you pow-powerful.

Harder than prisons, colder than calculus

The way you catch us, the way we bow low

and still you slay us — no mercy

Or we spit back, and still you slay us

no mercy no quarter.

Older than blood, Older than oil

You count no gods but gold

Age upon age, rage upon outrage,

the human tragi-comedy

That is the humor of it, older than sorrow.

But still

Like a dandelion many

we pop up, the rest of us, sun yellow, sun bold

To claim your cool green lawns.

With our dent de lion, we come against you.

Call us piss-a-bed, swine-snort, doon-head-clock,

Still we come against you, both taraxos and àkos

Disorder and remedy, riot and restoration

We shine like buttons on the breasts

Of marching bands, of marching armies,

Risen and perennial.

Even our old ones, gray and pale, cargo-ed with seed

Dispatch themselves to ride against you,

astride the wind,

Puff-blown and dangereux.

— RRC 2017






Life now is too big for humans to live.

We are not cut out for the enormity

At this velocity

or the next big thing

gunning to mow us down.

Gnats in the gale are we to

the great, great disasters,

or like skaters tripping

on the blades of a too-sharp world.

We may have been best when we dwelt in caves

Or on the open plains.

We watched the coming on of seasons,

the departure of seasons;

counted slow plopping rains,

driving ones, rains broken open by sunshine.

Were we better just watching the way

shadow moves across a beach

or the tide flutters in and away?

Time was we wondered much but knew little.

Beneath the sky,  I have heard, we felt small

so, pointing upward, connected stars like dots

to make the simple archer, dog, and bear.

When we walked at dusk we feared the lion and the fog.

At hungry time, we felt the thrill

of glimpsing berries unexpected

or a sudden school of fish among the shoals.

I have long suspected that we were better then.


— RRC 2017