The Young Lord Byron’s Bear
He represses you to represent that which
Almost escapes imagination’s scope.
Thus, in an obvious allegory, he
Has kept you in a cage in a Cambridge suite,
Hoping his Ursa Minor might change keys
And grow both brave and bold, but calm and sweet
Beneath her master’s touch, a perfect blend
Of wild civility—his only end.
Bristle furred and set off in a corner,
A member of menageries to come,
You growl for food at night and wake him up.
As he stumbles, club-footed, out, he shouts,
Matching your growl with his short-tempered rage,
That he, a lord, cannot be running about
In darkness, feeding you your evening meal,
Although he does not doubt your hunger is real.
Continuing he asks how he could think
To write of cloudless climes and starry skies,
When you will not conform to his one wish,
And let him rule the nature ruling him.
By trapping you, he hoped to have the key,
But nature hid the lock beneath the skin:
If passion does not end when one is caged
Can one ever control a bear, enraged?
And so he weeps and cries before the bars
That he himself is just as chained as you.
His lusts and wants are subject to the wind
Of chance, just as the bear is mastered by
His whim. He has not conquered anything.
Can such frustration end before one dies?
His broken body and his mad desire,
His cage for life, were forged in nature’s fire.
If one could know the secrets that he bore
To you, old bear, his too-short life of fame
Might not seem so distressing an affair.
Perhaps his words could never catch the brown
Shock of your fur, or how you purred and growled.
His poetry could not produce the sound
Of nature that he knew from his own heart,
The nature that had caged him from the start.
The Stork in the Heavy Trees
Why bend at knee and dip
your beak in puddles when
off leaves, a steady flow
you might as well look up to drink?
The calm rotation of your head,
long-legged, bright shimmering white,
reveals a passionate set, two
bending eyes, so purposive
I almost imagine your wings
stretched and dripping in the morning
as you rise into showers of rain
coating you slick in the pines,
your feathers shimmering with droplets
beaded as you shake and tend
your wings, arcing back your head,
your bill pointed toward that one
animation behind the prismatics
spangling between needles,
the tumultuous sun whose being
present lights up your awakening.
Proud of your task, lank, clean,
angular and present, the form
of your ascension through branches
mocks us and our lack of hope,
marks us, released to doubt
for wonderment, we assume a mantle:
you as the rooftop are alone,
a common-post, secret sentinel,
and we continue with you, climbing
into thinness, we hold you as a beacon,
a center-point to justify the sky’s
vastness as it spreads us open.
Where tenderness has left
Its marks on me
I will not cease to feel
Despite the end
Of words or looks or moments.
The new is every replication
Of the old renewed
In cordial concert with mind’s eye.
As we move away
We flock pell-mell into obscurity.
And nothing but a graze
Between the arms has passed
Between us, standing still,
Eyes turned away upon each other.
for Bradley Manning
A bother all along the groan
between the edges
when stirruped lads beat off on war—
in the street
shift perceiving grains
or not as you shit looking down
drift current sways
my gut like troubled wisp
of rumor wind
splits out across the plain
stench of dead things
such breath blows