THE RAPTURE OF THE COWS
after a painting by Paul Bond,
Rise up, cream of the
herd, ye holy cows!
Then Bessie rose, awakened
from her browse,
They were surprised what
Some stayed behind, held
down like mud-bound sows,
You pasture-prophets who
would daily browse,
What if they’re headed to
A few convenient deaths
Knox’s ardor, Beaton’s
surely the Hand of God
but two brief years before.
A melancholy chore, the
search for Truth
and after years fell
deadborn from the press.
The Deist god is false as
And what’s behind the
Most of the newly-dead have just
accomplished the great event of their
entirely forgettable lives,
leaving behind eventless days
and their unspeaking husbands or
entirely forgettable wives,
and now a slab of stone remarks
on the unremarkable years that lead
to this tiny plot of land
where the chance dates and empty words
seem less encomia of praise
And so, another funeral.
No tolling bell that I can hear.
A prefab sermonette.
But we all loved old-what’s-his-name
and treasured most his (YOUR WORD HERE).
RETURNING TO THE HARBOR
What is a country for old men?
A place where song is banished, lust
abstracted, joy not to come again?
where only numbness softens pain
and any act leads to disgust?
A fog-obscured and restless sea?
A monumental apathy?
No one escapes from time in time;
no one can drop time's heavy burden
and not be crushed. The guilty dream
awakens, what cannot be pardoned
repeats in some chance face or rhyme:
a misbehavior in a garden,
a word, a love one kiss unmade,
a truth forsworn, three times afraid.
It is the self that is undone,
unravelling throughout its acts,
displaced by deed, the nightmare son
who's guilt's cartographer, whose maps
chart failure's coast, the corpse once drowned
revisits as a living fact.
The mirror reminds: the face must learn
the emptiness of all return.
Were there a pure province of art,
a realm composed of timeless joys
far from the sewer where ladders start,
it would be airless. Time breaks its toys
and easy rhymes betray the heart.
But still the dream seduces days
to the false voyage whose lead star
but brings us back to where we are.
Ceilhidh, 15, Robert Darling's dearly departed librarian cat -- here photographed while pulling out Gail White's Catechism, a cleverly concocted collection of cat poems, passed away on Dr. Bob's birthday