Songs of a Texas Mockingbird
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Collected Poems



To have and have not,

and have still ...


Arrangement in Purple and Gray Flannel
My Brother the Coon
A Country Christmas Carol
The Dance of Spring is the Dance of Life
Death of the Count
The flowers of the night
the forest of steel
Fragment from an Anarchist's Hymn
The Ghost Rose
In the Manner of T.S. Eliot
Insincere Sonnet on Radiation for our Nation
Irregular Stanzas
Kenneth's Poem
The Man Without a Net
My Lady Sleeps
Negative Thoughts for Astronauts
The Right Of Spring
Shepherds Song
A Short History of Philosophy Ph. 101
Song for a Noble Savage
The Soul of a Rose
Stanzas on the Perishability of Beauty
To an Angel
To Each a Day
To a Kitten
To the Swan-Lady from her Knight

  • Kenneth's Poem
    Oh, I know how lonely life can be
          the shadows followed me
               the night did not set me free.

    Will I ever see you stand
          holding out a loving hand
               on the silent sand?

    Yes, I know how loveless life can be
          I will always dream I see
               you waiting there for me.

    When at last I am free
          to fly over land and sea
               do not grieve for me.

    Love for you I'll always bring
          in all the songs I ever sing
               in winter and in spring.

  • The Soul of a Rose
    In a dream a lover wandered
          into a spectral garden.
    He saw around him magical flowers
          from all the worlds.
    In their midst he saw a red rose bush.
    Without fear he reached out to pick
          one rosebud.
    When the thorns pricked his hand,
          the rosebush vanished.

    But the memory of that ghost rose
    will last as long as he.

    In a dream last night
          I saw to my delight
    The moonglow on your silken hair.

    I saw like a magic sign
          A glowing halo shine
    Around your face so fair.

    I dreamed we sailed
          On an enchanted lake.
    I saw your form unveiled
          Mirrored in the gleaming wake.

    I trembled and held your hand ...
          You smiled and
    I dared to kiss your cheek,
          The blessed meadowland I seek.

    When I thought I saw the lovelight
          In your eyes,
    I saw the stars reel in the skies.
          My heart's blood I would spend
    To dream that dream again.

    I was so beguiled,
          Lovely woman-child ...
    So proud and yet so mild,
          Like a tigress in the wild ...
    That beneath the hunter's moon,
          The lover's boon,

    I rashly pledged my love to you ...
          Not by the inconstant moon,
    Nor the laughing loon,
          But by the white plume ...

    O lovely lady,
          What joy it was to see
    You so true and good
          Blossom into womanhood.
    Beloved, you are more to me
          Than land and sea.

    O lovely lady,
          What joy sublime
    To know for a time the bliss
          Of your tender kiss.

    I have missed much in life
          Full of care and strife ...
    But although I bear the scars
          Of many wars,
    For justice and the right ...
          (The only worthy fight),
    Not many tears
          Through the years
    Have stained my honor bright ...
          Nothing evil daunts me.

    O lady, will I at last
          Forget the past
          That haunts me?
    Will I reach the hoped-for goal,
          O my soul,
    A haven from the stormy blast
          That flaunts me?

    Apart from the feuding world
          My banner furled ...
    Content at last
          I could live and die
    Without a single sigh ...
          Except for you my love,
    And the dove of peace.

    Name the price, I will pay it ...
    Seek the dragon, I will slay it ...
          Ask of me what you will
    Except the dove to kill.

    Because of you, beloved,
          Home is the hunter,
               Home from the hill ....
    Home is the lonely one,
          Who loves you ...
    And always, always, always will.

    It's a long, long way I know,
          From May to December.
    I would it were not so,
          But time cannot backward go.

    My love will last to my dying ember ...
          But when I depart
               O my heart ...
    Only remember perhaps once a yrar,
    Me with a smile not a tear.

    Just once in a while
          Cast a red rose
    Into a lake of blue ...
          Or skip a stone or two,
    Watch the ripples spread ...
          And be glad,
    I was your loving friend.

    I hope to see spring again,
          And you happy and free ...
    That's happiness for me.

    Look, I see ...
          Above in dawning sky,
    A morning dove!
          That dove is you, my love,
    Flying far and high and free ...
    But always, always, always nigh ...

  • Death of the Count
    Count Pierre dragged himself across
    The drifting dunes of the moonlit desert,
    No longer feeling the pain of his wound.
    At last he came to rest, away from
    The scene of battle and the debris of war,
    The shattered bodies of horses and men.

    Lifting his head, the Count looked back
    Where loomed the impassive Sphinx.
    But recently he'd heard the Corsican shout,
    "Soldiers, forty centuries look down upon you!"
    Then had come the charge of the Turkish hordes,
    The feudal Mamelukes in full red trousers,
    Strange standards of horsehair waving
    Above thier white and scarlet turbans.

    He remembered the shock of the lance in his side,
    And thought of the death of his beautiful horse.
    War had been but a splendid game,
    Charging into battle thinking only
    Of pennons flying and sabres flashing.
    But now he knew what war really means.

    He dreamed of the soldiers of Napoleon,
    The pomp and panoply of an Empire to be:
    Chasseurs with white capital X's on thier
    Crossbelts against the blue of thier tunics,
    Foot artillary and grenadiers,
    Cuirassiers in gleaming white breastplates,
    Old guard cavalry with curving
    Helmets like Roman legionaries,
    Red lancers in uniforms of green and scarlet.

    These and thousands like them would go on
    To shout "Vive l' Empereur!" on the fields
    Of Austerlitz, Jena, Wagram, Friedland,
    Vienna, Courland; but not the Count,
    For war means death and Pierre was dead.

  • {untitled}
    As a moth the candle flame
          I seek my star.
    Moon burst star flame...
          You are not to blame,
    No matter how far
          I fall in love tonight.

  • To an Angel
    Though the cowboy was in the saddle
          And the oilman is on the throne,
    Diamonds still dust the desert, and
          Serpants slither the sand.

    The wings of morning still climb
          Over the rivers of our time
    And my soul still peers
          Thru the windows of my mind.

    Dion-Apollo, Muse.
          I must choose.
    Never, never confuse
          My songs of love
    With legends of lust,
          My lovely wingless dove.

    I believe in angels, true
    But the only one I've seen is you.

  • The Ghost Rose
    In youth I wandered in a garden
          of spirit flowers.
    Among them was one blood red rose.
    I kissed her petals and felt her thorns.
    That darkling rose has danced away forever,
    But the ghost of the rose still haunts me.

  • My Brother the Coon
    He staggered blindly into my yard,
    Death-sick, hindquarters dragging.
    I did for him what no one would do for me.
    I aimed carefully,
    Gun against a tree,
    And squeezed gently until crimson
          stained the sand.
    In convulsions died,
    My brother the coon.

  • To a Kitten
    Pretty kitty, kitty cat
    Ate a rat and then he sat
    Up upon a stump so high
    He could see beyond the sky.

  • A Country Christmas Carol
    For Arthur Sampley, the best "poet
          lariat" Texas ever had.

    In a December dark and drear
    Another happy Christmas is near.
          When snowflakes fall
          Around the hall,
    Will sleighbells jingle
    For old Kris Kringle?
          Will reindeer prance
          And old elves dance
    On rooftops far and near?
          Will children glance
    Out of windows clear
          at icicles on eaves,
          And frosted leaves,
          In winter sere?

    Will songbirds arrive again
    And honey bees thrive again,
          On the clover in the spring?
    Will mockingbirds nest
    With the same old zest?
          Will all the creeks flow
          Underneath the snow,
    Down to the Gulf of Mexico?
          Will catbirds sing again
               In the spring again?

          I think so.
    In this season of joy and mirth
          Let's seek a rebirth
    Of love and joy and peace on earth.
          I hope Santa brings
    The gifts of the kings,
    Gold and frankencense and myrrh
          To every him and her,
    Fruit and nuts and candy,
          And everything dandy,
          Not rockets and guns
          And nuclear bombs.

    All us Texas cowboys know
    When everything is blowing in the wind,
          We all have sinned
    Against God's green earth.
    In this season of joy and mirth,
          Let's not kill the life God created.

    The greedy god of war is never sated.
          His taste for blood
          Increases with the flood
    Of his rapacious appetite
          For sorrow and strife.

    The Prince of Peace said,
          And he was right,
    Give us life not death at Christmas,
          All things good and brotherhood,
    Peace and good cheer to all mankind
          At Christmas time.

  • In Memoriam: FRED REINMILLER
    Socrates' reincarnation, or a damn
          good facsimile.

    The eagles screamed
          flying aloft,
    Talons entwined
          in nuptial flight.
    I saw them at Delphi,
          tumbling down the gorge
    From Parnassus height,
          toward the sea
    Homer's wine dark sea.

    The topless towers at Ilium
          Cassandra's wails
    The blood red sails
          The tortured tent
    Dido's lament, Aeneas' flight
          the eternal night.

    The Pierian spring was dry
          at Delphi
    Where Socrates saw the light,
          gained his daemon
               in a dream,
    Became Athens' fright
          the gadfly supreme.

    He died happy,
          quaffed the hemlock willingly;
    Died content he'd done his best
          to make men happy,
    Good and free.

    All he knew was that
          he knew nothing,
    And those who knew more
          knew less.
    He reasoned and asked questions
          to the last,
    And said with his dying breath:
          "Ah, Crito, I owe a cock to Aesculapius,
               Do pay it."

  • A Short History of Philosophy
    Ph. 101
    Socrates he talked too much
    Of philosophy and such.
    He drank the hemlock cocktail fast,
    And talked to friends until the last.

    Plato wrote the others said it
    Till they got all the credit.
    He wrote it well but it don't sell,
    The Book of the Month never read it.

    Augustine he lived it up,
    Hoisted many a brimming cup.
    Aquinas write a SUMMA many-leaved,
    Convinced himself he really believed.

    Descartes said he was because he thought,
    And works of wisdom wrought.
    He said that men were not machines;
    Now even that is taught.

    Dewey said we must be kind,
    Not make the children mind,
    Now the land is full of brats
    With nary a brain to fill thier hats.

  • Insincere Sonnet on Radiation
    for our Nation
    Since mankind by brainworm drilled
    Has forced the atom all unwilled,
    Since black snow falls into our bone,
    Dare we take it all alone?

    If with species tinker we must,
    Let's raise new empires in the dust.
    Legions of crayfish not our blood,
    Raising towers all built of mud.

    Catfolk yowling in night-time copulations
    Shall but increase the enslaved populations.

    Feel our dominion, heed our sway ---

    When Mr. Gill begets baby Ray,
    When Mama stings and Papa has scales
    Shall we not govern our brother the whales?

  • Negative Thoughts for Astronauts
    Let us not to distant planets roam
    Till we make Earth a better home.
    Lead us not to distant stars
    While Earth still bears our ugly scars.

    Let us not the farthest galaxies seek
    When our rivers still of sewage reek.
    If progress has become but another disease,
    Will new worlds to pollute give us ease?

    If moonsick man must leave this earth,
    Do not stir the gods of raucous mirth;
    If we must voyage to outer space
    To solve the problems of our petty race,

    Let's save the beauty of this our land
    Before our borders we expand,
    If our planet we must deface,
    Don't make the moon an adman's space.

    Save our children from these scourges
    Before we yield to cosmic urges.
    If twenty trillion we must spend,
    Let's find some worthier end.

    If we travel outward toward the stars
    To set our billboards up on mars;
    If Pepsi adorns the moon at full, it
    May bring the assassin's bullet.

  • Poem
    Nowadays in a poem is always considered trite.
    So are roses,
    Singly or in posies.
    And falling leaves,
    And snow on eaves,
    And the patters of rains
    On window panes.
    But what shall we do for poetic expedients
    When we use up ALL the ingredients?

  • The flowers of the night
    The flowers of the night have pale blossoms
    That slip between the fingers
    Like ghosts of petals long dead--
    And the white moth flits languidly around them
    Drinking phantom nectar of ineffable sweetness--
    Pale flowers swaying slightly in the stagnant air,
    Lighted by stars dead a hundred years ago ...
    The breath of the night is so heavy
    That all sounds are echos, all things dreams, actions thoughts.
    And moondog howls at moonghost pale.
    The flowers of the night have pale blossoms
    That will not endure the day, nor any man's looking.
    Palid blossoms around which white-winged moths tremble in ecstasy.

    Flowers will not sing any more
    Birds will not bloom again
    Waves will not break on the shore
    Tides will end where they begin.

    Hawks will kill all the doves
    Fish will die when they're born
    Waste will end all the loves
    Earth will be all forlorn.

    I will cry till I die
    Lament the beauty that's gone
    Ever sigh for a birdless sky
    Refuse t accept what's done.

    The trumpeter swan I hope
    Will live in my art
    The mute swan I know
    Will sound in my heart.

  • {untitled}
    I longed long to cheek your kiss.
    My love I hope you never miss
    Love amid the roar
    Of breakers on that shining shore.

    I hope to see you happy and free
    Longtime loving life and me.

    Someday we'll dream of love and then
    Find that love is not a sin
    When it brings not pain nor stain.

    Those who prize but self,
    The mother lode or panther pelf
    Will never gain the eldritch gold.
    That's a tale that's more than old.

    It's the tale of the world's long loss
    The search for all that turns to dross.

    The false the futile
    The empty ever gasp
    For what's beyond their grasp.

    It always fails it always stales
    The endless chase of heads and tails.

    In dreams I steer the skies,
    Beyond the pale of paltry lies
    I see upon the peerless pond
    A valley'd moon beyond despond.

    I hold out my hand
    And seek a nobler land,
    I live to see a new day dawn
    When peacocks stroll upon my lawn.

  • Fragments
    The grace of a glider is
          like a motionless swan,
    Whose beatless wings bear it
          soaring through thinness...

    Until next we meet
    In sunshine or in shower...
    Remember, my sweet;
    You are lovlier than a flower.
    I pray forget me not,
    For you can never be forgot.

    You are a singer, I know.
    I sing too, in my fashion.
    I sing of love, without music;
    Do not you sing music without passion.

    The tosspot Bacchus doth his pleasure take
    And with Ariadne a couple make;
    To drink and play, a voluptuous pair
    At love, with vine leaves in thier hair.

    Long ago, in the world primeval,
    Before the invention of good and evil,
    Wandered here a mammoth elephant,
    Big, I admit, but not very elegant.

    Although I've never seen, it's true.
    A mammoth, even in a zoo,
    Lest this should seem to hinder my conception,
    Niether've you, so don't take exception.

    As for his gait, "lumbered's" the cliche,
    But much too hackneyed for me to say.
    His long hair was far from academic;
    Fleas, with him, were quite epidemic.
    His legs were big, almost Mastadonic,
    His bellow loud, but unharmonic.

    But mind is you to say the same
    Are ever prompted, scientists claim --
    You're the cousin of the beast,
    Nay, the brother, at least.
    It pains me greatly this to state,
    But he, just like you, was vertebrate.

    Now the beast is dead, quite immolated,
    Eaten by men, it's insinuated.
    This, if true, was quite immoral;
    It rouses my stomach's abhorral;
    To kill him was, indeed, indescreetm
    But what shall we say of--to eat?

    There are people, I have heard,
    Who must have a moral with every word;
    Far be it from me to disappoint,
    Even if the subject's an elephant's joint.

    If we must have a moral, this it must be:
    (You asked for't, don't blame me.)
    Although Nature, too, has been debunked,
    We, as well, may end up--defunct,
    And 'though we are here to exhume Parelephas,
    There may be no one to even tell of us.

  • To Each a Day
    In the manner of Emily Dickinson.

    To each a day, a night;
    No more. 'Tis easier bourn
    Therefre do not mourn.

  • The Right Of Spring
    Passion in the desert,
          Thornbush in flame.
    Virgin bit the cobra,
          Cobra died of shame.
    Viper stung the python,
          Python died in pain,
    Squeezed the lion gently,
          Lion took the blame.

    I don't mind the thorns
          If you're the rose.
    I don't mind the nails
          If you're the cross.
    I don't mind the pyre
          If you're the flame.

    Eagle on the rock,
          Snake in his claws,
    Rattling death without pause.

    White stallions prancing,
          Chained maidens dancing.
    Sword cleave the thongs,
          Right the wrongs?

    Pierce the womb,
          Broach the tomb...
    Bring back life?

    Sheath the knife,
          Drench not the alter
    With the blood of life.

    Hound of Heaven,
          Give the lie
    To the Rite of Spring.

    Vent not the stain
          and the pain,
    On maid or youth.

    Listen to Ruth:
          (among the alien corn)
          "Whither thou goest,
               I will go."

    That is the Right of Spring,
          the end of woe.

    Save the world,
          Make us free,
    Good and beautiful,
          As was she.

  • My Lady Sleeps
    My lady sleeps
    And yet I wait to see
    If still she keeps
    The smile she wore for me.

    My lady smiles
    And sleeping sighs for a kiss.
    Her waking wiles
    Shall win her more than this.

    My lady wakes
    And I her waiting lover
    Greedily takes
    Her place beneath the cover.

  • Stanzas
    I'll make thee songs of love no more
    Nor sing to a loveless heart.
    Thy minstrel shall no longer adore
    A mistress so cold to his art.

    Even now my wand'ring gaze
    Hath ventured farther afield.
    No more melodious nights and days
    Ever to thee I'll yield.

    Dost think that I'll not love again
    'Cause thou art fair i' the face?
    I'll sing my songs to the sweet Elaine,
    Whose heart is soft 'neath its lace.

    Christ in anger smote the simple
    For selling pigeons in the temple;
    Meekness he preached upon the Mount
    Yet scourged the money changer's count.
    How can man consistent be
    When it's denied divinity?

    Man must wander man must change
    Through fitful vistas fully range,
    Know the greatness and the woe,
    Run with the fast, dawdle with the slow.
    You cannot fix the laws of man
    Any more than desert's sand.
    Sing me n songs of tried and true;
    I wait for the better, wait for the new.

    The winds that whispered in the pines
          so lovingly kissed your cheeks
    And briars bent before your steps
          for fear of drawing your blood,
    That you were the one for whom I held
          that love which was at once
    The blessing and the curse of life,
          the living and the dying.

    Oh, let me say this once I loved you;
          Then none can part my soul
    From yours, though I be far away
          and you another's bride.

    Although I dwell in realms where all
          who walk know fear, and
    In company of loneness fearing
          not loneness but the knowledge
    Of being alone; I fear not, for there
          are those to whon the door
    Of loving is forever shut.

    And there is comfort in having loved,
    If you, my love, despised me not
          for loving where the church and man forbad.

    But too much of this,
          no more seeking in the past.
    The sun has cleared the mists, and
          my soul no longer dwells in darkness.
    My unhappiness flees...
          As evanescent as the fog,
    As unclutchable as the air,
          As amorphous as the clouds...

    Places of beauty rarely seen,
    Where a sound is small and silence swells,
    Unspoiled by man and still serene,
    Where majesty reigns and grandeur dwells.

    Heights untouched, aloof, alone,
    Mighty pinnanles soaring above;
    Great white-capped towers of stone,
    Proud defenders of heaven's love.

    Lofty peaks that reach the sky,
    Where even the lonliness is grand;
    There only the strongest of birds may fly,
    And only the bravest of men may stand.

    Warm silent earth
    Raped oh how many times
    Forgive us what we do to you
    In all the nations, all the climes.

    Our sins are many;
    Can we find the means to save
    Us from our folly
    So we make not Earth a grave?

    All hours of the night
    The white-clad searchers seek
    Ways to make the earth
    A sad inheritance for the meek.

    Voices of Spring I heard
    Before the sprayer brought his blight;
    Now the birds are silenced
    To the bureaucrat's delight.

    For nature is untidy,
    They say, and proceed to destroy it;
    Concrete is much better,
    No need to enjoy it.

    Warm silent earth,
    If you could speak and we would hear,
    Might not something be arranged
    To have progress not cost so dear?

  • In the Manner of T.S. Eliot
    From my heart's citadel cry aloud
          All the longings of my days and years,
    Are they the weakling cry of a craven spirit,
    Or the grand resolute protest of me,
          an Identity?
    And cannot I then be convinced,
    And do I dare to think, I am?
    And does it really matter at all, at all?

    Do not ask me, I cannot tell.
    I will not think!
    At least I cannot prove I do.

    The days pass,
    More and more than I have ever seen,
    Or shall see perhaps again.
    And what are the uses of things and men?
    And what are the uses of things and men?

    I saw the lace adorning
    The meadows of the morning.
          I saw the valley between
    The dunes of dawning day
          No one else has seen.

    O, will you ever love me, say,
          at or after
          half-past May?

    Does the gyrfalcon scream
          At every golden gleam
    In all the skies avove me
          Under the silken sun
    On every rippling run
          In every gleaming valley?

    O, tell me, tell me, Sally,
          Will you ever, ever love me?

    Or shall I hang for thee,
          Only lonely from an old oak tree?

    Killed at last by heartache and rue,
          Just alonging
               For lovely, lovely you.

    "While the orchestra breathes fitfully
          the music of the spheres."
                                                                Edgar Allan Poe

    What is the sound the poet hears,
    What is the music of the spheres?
    Is it there for you to find;
    Can human senses hear it, or human mind?

    With none to voice and none to hear,
    With nought but nothingness near;
    Can either chord or discord be,
    In limitless infinity?

    Then quiet, dear, unhurried, meek,
    Must be the music you must seek.
    I beseech you know what I have known,
    For silence hath sweetness all its own.

    Venus, alone shining in the west,
    Alone save the narrow red-orange new moon,
    Low in the darkling sky.
    (They say it is dust that makes you red.)

    Venus, through an illusion of the light years,
    Not appearing your own new-moon true shape.

    Venus, first star of the beginning summer night,
    Sole fore-runner of the millions to come,
    While the sun has not yet finished his

    Salute, dead star of promising infinitude!
    For if your light is borrowed.
    Who wears it with more grace than yow?

    Venus, source of inestimable beauty,
    Not mental, spiritual, sensual...
          Perhaps a mixture of all?
    To the mathematician's equations,
          To the astronomer's charts,
               To the poet's dreams...

    Yet a little while, Autumn,
    The dead leaves hang heavily,
    Hang heavily, but none can fall.
    Then quickly comes the wind,
    Hurling the leaves,
    Whirling the leaves,
    Filling the gutters to overflow.

    And the leaves dance in the street;
    Then quietly lie.

    Cover them decently with a blanket of snow,
    Or burn them, send up to heaven
    The corpses of spring.

    Oh Earth! Thou enemy of greatness,
          Thou prizer of the mediocre!
    How is it thou hast been given
          So much greatness to defile?

    Oh, mankind! Canst thou not see
          The immense gift of art
    That divides thee from the beast?
          Thou oppressors of the sublime,

    Thou rapers of the beautiful,
          Guilty as the petty
    Turks and venetians ruining Athens
          In thier trivial war.

    Be crust then and wallow
          In the miserable filth that
    Stimulates thy base emotions,
          For thou art no better.

    Oh, Earth! Thou enemy of greatness,
          Thou prizer of the mediocre!
    Bear then the weight of my contempt,
          For thy vileness.

  • 52
    The calendar's conventional lie about spring was
          true today.
    A robin or two came early to watch the last ice
          melt, a few days or months ago,
    And now spring's annual miracle,
    Greater than any ever performed by the dried hands
          of doubtful saints,
    Has re-made the world and re-stated the old imperish-
          able truth:
    Be happy now,
    For now is all there is, or was, or ever will be.

  • Fragment from an Anarchist's Hymn
    It's sister Jenny's turn to
          throw the bomb.
    Mama's aim is bad,
          And the cops they all know Dad...


    The winds were whispering in the pines
    Along the top of the ridge
    As down the valley
    Through the snow
    Lumbered the great hairy elephant...
    Toward the swamp.

    The light dry snow under the great column-like legs
    Rose in clouds of snow-dust,
    Poised a moment after his passing,
    Then slowly settled.

    The great beast, his tusks swinging slowly from side to side,
    Plodded on...
    Toward the swamp, toward the swamp.

    As he entered the willows at the edge of the bog
    His great feet began to sink into the icy muck,
    But he did not stop...

    Seeking... Seeking...

    The chant of the victorious Warriors:

    Let us celebrate the slaying of the great elephant
    In the great swamp.
    The spears of our warriers have slain him!
    Let all feast and rejoice,
    For the great beast, our enemy, is dead.

    He will trample down our huts no more,
    No more will he frighten our game...
    No more will our warriors writhe, impaled on his curving tusks.
    Let us rejoice and chant the death of the great elephant,
    Who was our enemy, and who is dead.

    He was old and angry, and vengeful of his age...
    He vented his anger on our villages and on our people.
    He was old...
    See his teeth worn by the long years of his life.
    His tusks were yellow and brittle,
    But none the less dangerous to our young men,
    Who now are avenged, who now are avenged.
    Come and chant with us of the slaying of the great elephant,
    Who now in dead.

    The song of the great elephant:

    The great elephant did not seek the swamp
    Without reason or purpose.
    He was old and he felt a vague but irresistable need
    for the swamp.
    He felt without knowing it
    Himself a living anachronism
    Out of balance with the world...
    It was time for him to die.

    Postlude: The little animals with sharp-pointed sticks
    thought they killed him,
    But the wise men knew he sought the swamp himself.

    What use had he for a swamp,
    Except to die in?

    Poised on the brink of his enormous existance
    He knew which way to fall.

    O moods of earth, calm and wild
    Now terrible, now mild;
    Seasons changing, passing years,
    Bring new terrors, bring new fears
    That all the glory long beloved
    Will in eager haste be shoved
    By the 'dozer on the move
    In spite of those who beauty love.

    Save the remnent we have left
    Lest the future sorely bereft
    Set the blame upon us all
    For nature's bier, nature's pall:
    Tenderly turn to the earth agian
    Give some meaning to our span.

    Let's go for a drive in the country.
    Yeah, Daddy, let's go for a drive in the country!

    Get Bongo pills.
    They'll cure your ills.
    Get Bongo now.
    You'll save, and how!

    Red! Damn!... Green!
    First, Grind, Second, High...

    Merrily we roll along
    (In our custom-built, eight-passenger, chrome-
    plated, white-side-walled, extra-super-deluxe
    Through the Land of the Free
    (Plus tax, handling charges, etc.)

    A TREE!
    wHEEee ---

    A beau
    He steals
    The show
    A slave
    To burma...

    Slow down, Daddy, I can hardly read the poetry!
    A COW!

    Stop, Daddy, we want to see!

    (screewheech to a thudslamming haltingness)

    She's half a mile back now, Daddy.

    (Can anyone smell
    O'er the gasoline fumes
    The redbud mist
    Or the dogwood blooms?)

    Let's go home, Daddy, there's a movie on Television.

    Merrily we roll along...

    O say can you see
    Between the billboard's stare
    Either grass or a tree
    In the neon's red glare?

  • the forest of steel
    monstrous distorted horse-head pump levers


    with seperate gasoline-fed abdomens nearby


    well-tended by obsequious faithful attendants


    driving the long hollow metallic stingers

    that bore deep in the flesh of earth

    sucking her rich black blood

    into enormous aliminum pill-boxes





    skeletal obelisks

    pointing toward the sky

    but boring netherward to drain the earth

    to feed more man-made animals

    these are the trees

    in the forest of steel


    The dark sweet drop of sleep
          Falls from the spoon of night
               Upon the troubled souls of men,
    And falling brings a lull
          In the mad race toward
               The darker sweeter drop of death.

    Doubt the stars in secret skies
    Say my sadness is empty sighs
    Believe the songs of birds impure
    Think that love cannot endure
    Doubt that texas rivers flow
    Down to the gulf of mexico.

    Doubt the silver silent swan
    That sings when time is gone
    Term truth a trait'rous liar
    Find the sun a frozen fire
    Lost in a lonely loveless sky
    But never think that I could lie
    When I sing of love and more
    In songs I never dreamed before.

  • Song for a Noble Savage
    I would like to go and live among
          the trees.

    And they would be my friends,
    And there would be someday
    For the building of a house;
    And my bed would be of thier leaves,
    And no discomfort would I endure.

    For once man was a hunter of animals,
    And a picker of berries,
    And a fisher of streams...
    And as far as we know,
    Was happy.

    But the trees are all crosses now.

    I woke early this spring morn
          (such is not my custom)
    To write some lines that may bring scorn,
          Do they dare I'll bust 'em!

    My people know I'm sort of odd,
          They often look at me,
    Then they whisper, then they nod;
          I'll fix them, you'll see.

    I'll pick some mushrooms, Amanita,
          Lovely as the Devil.
    I'll stew them nicely. When they eat a
          Bite they'll surely shrivel.

    Now I'm not mean, and I'm not bad,
          I'm really very nice;
    But those who knock MY verse had
          better run like mice.

    She grows in beauty
          like the first star, bright
          in a cloud of shining stars
    Of a beginning summer night.

    A wise man follows his star,
          The light of all his nights and days.
    The brightest and best by far
          He follows always and always.

    Has my wild bird flown away
          Will I see her again
    Will she sing to me another day?

    My love is like a wild thing, found
          Trembling in a net,
    Struggling to be free and yet
          Longing to be bound
    To a love that's true,
          To one who loves her too.

    My fairy tern flies from pole to pole
          Her wings are strong
          She carries along
    My hopes and my song.

    She will return I know
          In sunshine or in snow
    And I will be there...
          On the sea or in the air
          For I truly care
    And O, I love her so.

    The light that flares from out our eyes
    And leaps and lingers and never lies
    The tell-tale targe of all the spies
    That gape and gasp with lustful cries.

    Or what they seek
          Or what they wreak
    They spoil and stain the skies
    With dust that always dies.

    When clasped too fancy free
    For all endless eternity,
    The evitable finally flees
    With futile footloose ease.

    When I at last attain my goal
    You and I will leap the sky
          my soul...

    You were the wind that filled my sails
          When the wind failed
               My sails collapsed.

    When the hurricane came
          My masts were stripped
    Of canvas and rope.
          I lost both ship and hope
    My bark foundered on a shoal.
          Adrift I was cast
    A lost and lonely soul.

    You were the wind that filled my sails
    A sailing ship sails against the breeze
          With ease by tacking,
          But when the wind fails

          All is lacking.

    To the holy valentine I pray:
          Send this love song to her today...
    I love you, love you, love you,
          forever and a day.

    On wings of song,
          Lifted by the winds of love...
    I soar and soar and soar,
          into blue skies beyond above.

    Arise, maiden fair,
          hear my paryer...
    Love me, love me, love me,
          forever and a day.
    And I will love you just as much,
          All the live-long day.
    Your sigh to my sighs
    My lips to your lips shall
          be applied.

    Your raven tresses
          and your scarlet dresses
    Shall not die
          But live for aye.

    Your dream of love,
    My snow white dove,
          Shall ever fly,
    Above, above, above...

    (Free translation from the Spanish)

    In the shadows of my life,
          I felt the years passing.
    The time that remained time
          was but an abyss.

    Perhaps in the shining future
          your soul will join with mine
               in the light of the day
                    in the blue of the sea
                         in the warmth of the sun
                              in the dark of the night.

    Like the eternal agony of the wind
          which sighs my sorrow.
    I sing the emptiness of this world.

    In that time when you
          meet my soul with yours
    And join your life to mine,
          the sun will shine
    And all sadness be forgot.


    Nuthatch, brownhead, here you're rare;
    Brood your eggs with tender care.
    The dentist's mirror I used to see
    What was precious to you and to me.

    You carved your nest from post of oak;
    I heard you peck and saw discard
    Oaken fragments in my yard;
    About my pines feel free to poke,

    Fields of yucca creamy white,
    Dancing, dancing, down the light,
    What you tell to me today
    Is more than I can ever say.

    Black terns sailing, dove-gray wings,
    Just to see you my heart sings.
    Goodness and mercy are called divine,
    If I have a god, Beauty's mine.

    Grass I tread, remember me
    My flesh shall be food for thee,
    Earth I walk remember me
    You my final bed shall be,
    Soil I have loved love thou me
    When I am scattered to infinity.

  • The Dance of Spring
  • is the Dance of Life
    If my words had wings
    I would sing to the heirs of all the springs,
    Of the mountains on the moon
          ringed with craters,
    Of all the valleys and shadows
          inhabited by satyrs
    Of the chimes of the wind
          in the sinkholes of Sind,
    Of the sounds of birds and unspoken words,
    Of the songs of youth that ring with truth.

    If my words had wings
          they would all fly to you,
    In all the airs of all the springs,
          To the one I love so true.

    When the daughter of the earth raised the knife
          over the alter of the sun,
    The dawn horse cried out, "Hold, maiden,
          leap upon my back.
    We can canter on the clouds, you and I,
          to the pastures of the sky!"

    When he left her lovely thighs
          press his trembling flanks,
    He sprouted wings and flew,
          Left hoof prints in the lunar dew.

    Now they gallop down the Milky Way.
          "Gone is the longing, gone the lonely wait,"
    The dawn horse whinnies to his bride,
          As they celebrate thier fate.

    Thiers is the dawning,
          thiers the day.
    Thiers the nights of loving,
          As among the stars they ride.

  • Irregular Stanzas
    You offered me
          Wanted with respect
    Your friendship, dearer
          Than life itself.

    Yet do I love you,
          You alone.
    Yet do I love you
          And forever you.

    Your love would be
          Sacred to me,
    My love in fee
          For eternity.

    Your dear face
          Will haunt my dreams
    To the utmost trace
          Of all, it seems.

    I thought I would know how
          To release with love
    When part we must,
          As we did with a kiss.

  • To the Swan-Lady from her Knight
    In a dream last night
          I saw a lovely white swan
    Gliding on a moonlit lake.

    In the shadows crouched
          A loathsome beast,
    Licking his lips and trailing slime.

    I approached, drew my sword,
          And plunged the gleaming blade
    Deep into his vile throat.

    He belched noxious fumes
          And expired in smoke.
    A haze drifted across the moon.

    I awoke and knew
          That this had all been true,
    But that it would never happen again,

          Lovely swan-lady.

    We were together when the world begun
    We shall be after its course is run.

          Eve brought apples to our wedding
          Adam poured flagons of wine.

    They thought to comfort us
          That we were sick with love
          They were wrong as Lilith knew
          For love heals those who love.

    His eye is on the sparrow
          And on the sparrowhawk.
    The goshawk kills the dove
    To feed its young with love.

    The peregrine lives in cities now,
    The cliffs above the sea.
    The sky is for plovers,
    The earth for lovers.
          like you and me.

    Starless stormy night
    Trembling trees ablaze with light
    Demons howling about my bed
    Told a tale of love long dead.

    Witches trooped about my head
    Thunder crashed until I bled
    Harpies screamed I'd soon be dead
    To perdition straight be led.

    I awoke to dream of love
    I awoke to dream of you
    I could climb the snowy peaks above
    If you could only love me too.

    Lovely lonely country girl
    It would be a truly wondrous world
    If you never ever run away
    From a love that's true alway.

    This I sing, and will forere
    Let me love you if I may
    Today tomorrow and yesteryear
    And perhaps another day.

    I sometimes dream of you on my arm
    Forever free from haste and harm
    Walking to'ard a welcome light
    Past the shadow canyons of the night.

  • Stanzas on the Perishability of Beauty
    The fairest flowers soonest fade
    And scatter petals brown and bare.
    They only serve to make us sad
    That life is short and love so rare.

    A golden voice from memory,
    Singing scintillant bubbles of sound,
    Now dead, once beautiful and free,
    On ancient records now is found.

    The lark of the field that sings for joy
    A silver trickle of melody
    Oft falls a-prey to truant boy,
    And sings no more so joyfully.

    Why must the fair soon cease to be
    And furnish forth thier song no more?
    Oh, tell me where does beauty flee,
    To pleasant isle or dismal shore?

  • Sheperds Song
    O come to me i' the spring, my love,
    O come to me i' the spring.
    The shepherd songs I'll sing, my love.
    O come to me i' the spring.

    O come to me i' the fall, my love,
    O come to me i' the fall.
    The redding trees will call, my love.
    O come to me i' the fall.

    O come to me i' the day, my love,
    O come to me i' the day.
    My lambs are all at play, my love.
    O come to me i' the day.

    O come to me i' the night, my love,
    O come to me i' the night.
    Lovers flee from the light, my love.
    O come to me i' the night.

  • Bee-Balm
    As the bee-moth assails
          the glutted nectar pails,
    The pollen-bearer brings
          as he sings.
    Freighted argoseys of love,
          filled with tuns of treasere trove.

    As the behemoth assails
          the glutted pollen pails,
    Of calomel and asphodel
          of colombine and eglantine...
    And trembles as he sips
          from honey-petalled lips;,
    So tho' my faltr'ing fanes of posey,
          may scorched be by thy flower flame...
               you are not to blame!

    On singed wings I'll flutter by,
          and die, without a sigh...
          most gratefully.

  • The Man Without a Net
    Once was a man whose head
          was full of butterflies,
    Which is not to say that he was mad,
          but simply that he had a penchant
    For designing diurnal Lepidoptera...

  • Arrangement in Purple and
    Gray Flannel
    It makes me think, the things I do,
    My days shall be short, mournful, and few.

    The people who drink Diet-rite cola wake up happy;
    They have another new day in which to consume Diet-rite cola.

    Oh to have a purpose in life!

    My heart is a desert where Arabs sift the sands
    for semiprecious stones.

    Brand XXX, for those who wouldn't dream of accepting
    anything but second best.

    The tongues of adders forked be;
    Each bears another lie;
    They hiss with high unholy glee,
    And of thier own venom die.

    Don't you know the cost of dying is increasing faster
    than the cost of living?

    Oh, there's no more cotton to hoe,
    At the end of the long, long row.

    Cigaret manufacturers have pledged themselves not
    to appeal to youth. Smoke Brand E---, the brand that
    seperates the men from the boys.

    The pressure is building to kill our mammoth aid program
    to South Korea... (How many do they need?)

    Poets hanging from the trees,
    Swaying slowly in the breeze...

    And with your new set of stainless steel dinnerware,
    a free gift of Mr. Scrub, guaranteed to remove all stains.

    Oh, oh, the snows of earth,
    Once they were white...

    If your athlete's foot won't go away, get rid of the
    whole athlete.

    Pain has a bitter taste. How shall we color it?
    Color it purple.

    Put your money on the Great Expectations Oil Company.

    Remember when you have a thirst,
    The oldest drink is not the worst.

    What are dreams but memories of the future?

    Proud flesh, sighed the witness tree,
    Conquered the worm, conquered me.

    And so things go on as before,
    And will again and will again,
    Forever, evermore...

    The earth died a little more today, as did you and I
          and everything in it.

    Our mother daily dies birthing not more life but more death,
          her pain not of renewing but of ending.

    The bitter fruit of the tree of knowledge is fermenting, to
          be destilled into ever more virulent poisons.

    Better things for better dying, for fun and profit, Senator
          Exxon and Senator Dupont.

    We are to be saved this time by a new sacrafice, not of a
          lamb or a man, but of our only home.

    The water planet becomes the waste planet, as we clutch
          at devalued dollars, wave a futile flag and gasp for
          breath to recite again the pledge to the New World, Inc.

  • festival
    born of the wind
    dragonseed I sow
    dog-gods penned
    pissing on snow

    launch on the sea
    vanes of the mill
    sorrow on the lea
    skeins of the will

    though we undream
    the festival of lies
    though felons scream
    still the swan dies

    It is now that time of year
          when on moonlight nights
               the mockingbird sings
                    with drowsy ease
                         all night long.

    Like me he has found the night
          too bright for sleeping.

    The cat has seen my light
          and thinks it breakfast time.

    The mockingbird is the repertory
          company of the feathered world.

    Chuck-will's-widow, meadowlark,
          thrush and quail--he knows
               all the roles.

    I wonder if he will be
          singing thier songs when
               they are gone forever.

    It is injustice to think him
          only a mimic; he does not
               mock from scorn but
                    from love.

    His borrowings are only
          interpolations in a
               sustained flow of
                    improvised song.

    I really must get blackout
          curtains for my windows.
    I realize now that my body
          too must feel it getting up
               time, though it is
                    not yet three.

    Trills four, chirps a dozen,
          grasshopper rattle rattle,
               squeak of rusty hinge.

    Sometimes the song all his own,
          sometimes a recital of
               all he has heard in many
                    hours of eavesdropping.

    It is not really summer yet,
          only April, but summer
               nights are like this.

    Naturalists say that male
          birds sing to establish
               thier claims to territory.

    I do not believe it. All the
          other birds are asleep now.

    Silver trills, flute obligato,
          calls, cries, roulades,
               whippoorwill, whippoorwill.

    Periodically I go back to bed,
          but I always get up again.

    Moonlight casts deeper shadows
          than any other light
               and is more intoxicating.

    On summer nights the
          mockingbird sings with
               drowsy ease all
                    night long.

          Fall is here
               Winter near
          Spring beyond recall.

    A poet knows his love is all
    But fears King Arthur's fate.
    King Marke learned too late
    What Hans Sachs always knew.

    Young love will have its day
    In spite of what old folks say.

          That's the way
               Of the world,
               My girl,

          Was and always will be true.

  • hypocalypse
    though the world is falling down
    and down a down down
    though the world is falling down
    down a down day

    a day is a day, but say
    a down day is still a day -- hey

    love resembles death and
    so has meaning
    love mingles breath and
    so has a leaning toward

    the buried god is perhaps
    a seed
    perhaps a reed

    that death is not sterile
    which sprouts again
    a wasteland is not wasted if
    it yields other than pain

    burning asceticism
    and cold lust or
    unsterile love
    fertile death

    though the world be falling down
    though the world be falling down