Feeling Cowed By Language In The Night
Everything types its obscure message—cat claws
ripping up the welcome ivy on the hemp doormat
so the good intentions of visitors fray, moth wings
unfolding neat inverted V’s to bat at the lit porch
lamp; even the dim orb weaver is a cartwheeling
X in one dark corner, its spinnerets pasting gnats
into fat white O’s. I’m dumb as rock under flowered
sheets. Particulars unspell me. Even the cotton eye
of the blossoms’ carmine dye washes out, a faded
sun of the unsaid. One hundred count threads snip
loose in my head, each a little tail of the unwritten.
O’Keeffe’s Jack-in-the-Pulpit II
This jack shouts through a swollen microphone.
Its hitchhiking spadix nabs us with a bruised thumb—
(“In the pulpit” means the minister’s collar
is a flare of undone. It shifted gears somewhere
in the before-universe of blank artist’s mind, and blared
forth like a purple fantasy of Father Mozart—the hood
became a windblown noise, a trumpet of hemorrhaged
maroon.) It wears a bandage below the waist,
like any stunned heavyweight fighting past prime.
—Bloody thumb. Passion trips us.
The jack hot-wires that message home—
though the jolt is offset with lambent greens—
with a thousand jittery bells of life-force
blasting from all its bright seams.
Rembrandt’s Late Self-Portraits
Their lit-from-within moons god
only knows what terrors—
that polished scorch
mark gloom, that burned-up
letters of hope char
in the lustrous dim.
They shine like Cro-Magnon
skulls out of the frontal
past. They pulse with
the energy of the soul’s