George Herbert’s Jordan (I)

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Jordan I
by George Herbert

Who says that fictions only and false hair
Become a verse? Is there in truth no beauty?
Is all good structure in a winding stair?
May no lines pass, except they do their duty

Not to a true, but painted chair?

Is it no verse, except enchanted groves
And sudden arbours shadow coarse-spun lines?
Must purling streams refresh a lover’s loves?
Must all be veil’d, while he that reads, divines,

Catching the sense at two removes?

Shepherds are honest people; let them sing;
Riddle who list, for me, and pull for prime;
I envy no man’s nightingale or spring;
Nor let them punish me with loss of rhyme,

Who plainly say, my God, my King.

 

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Asher Blake’s Blues/Verse

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Click on the link to read my new poem. It is primarily an assemblage of found text. Hope you like this humble blues.

Blake’s The Night Drops Carbon

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The Night Drops Carbon
by Asher Blake

The bath of night is a shining pig,
the wicked drive into its teats full of hooch.

There is music forgotten by the musicians;
pagan orchestras
but they are heavy with milk from the sky.

The night drops on its children
like a weary blessing.

The night falls
like a rubber spider somewhere to force a laugh.

The night is a genie
for an ignoramus.
As the robber dons his dark
clothes quickly so we put the night upon us.

The night only falls
continually before us like a moth
as we speak.

The bath of night bedevils me,
drains between my legs.

She is pockmarked and porcine;
But I have smashed my evening tea set
for the music.

I swell with her like child.
I assume what we all assume, the night
before our births,
exhaling the holy cistern like a stream back into
my mother, or back into thine.

With all the locks of wisdom shaken
loose – hold my hand
or I will plunge into the black sleep
for dreaming.

Save me from the night it poses for a mug shot.
Save me from the future already black and white.

I am afraid I’ve read the black book
of night, for now she is naked
and I know her easy lies.

Still I marvel at the salon of women lovers;
how they labor with risen dead girls on their backs.
They swim on and on, as sudden as a flame
or school of fish.

The honeymoon does vex the spinster,
and the spinster intrudes upon their sex.
And the girls who dream
only seem to have good taste,
but tease their long hair
with wavy permanents.

Alpha and Omega, with stars in His punctured hands;
the Lord of sky and soil knotted His bandanna up
to disguise His feathered headdress,
blue and red and white with glory.
Sky is a holy mountain, the Sinai only He can climb,
black spangled in your paisley sigh,
your sunset’s exclamation!
My God has mountains
like darkened domes instead of shoulders!

Have you ever seen the reaping of the foil hat?
Have you ever seen the weakling lower
his head and plow into the Devil?
The Lord in His peaked helmet of night,
bends and plows into us now. Praise Him!

Asher Blake’s Astrolabe Prayer

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An astrolabe is a mechanism for taking measurements of the stars, it means literally, star taker, and has an elegant circular shape with precision nodes or engravings. This piece speaks to how we face the otherworldliness of Heaven in our (often insufficient) prayers, and by how Earth too can feel otherworldly. This poem fell in my lap as I first listened to a fantastic album by the Nightblooms, Star-Taker.

Astrolabe Prayer

On my knees I bend my ear so close to
the scuttling
insects, hear the tiny
mechanics of their holy travail
I have feared they entered in,
dreaming.
It is the world I cannot hunt or devour,
by no means overcome,
that balances me in the digital
war-room of its eye.

There are many songs in his dance in the dust
step; four dimensions spill the crackling
energy, just as sperm (and spore/seed,)
can fill a jungle.
Speak on the grinding glacier,
emote the epic course
of victory in a weary warrior’s heart.

Type your prayer, lacking carpet and collection
plate for eucharist, commune with me.
We are as wounded gods, poisoned by
our bite, smoldering creatures
hating to be cast off, but playing
at puppetry ourselves.

Truth to my dog: saying,
the patience is all with her.
Even my beard, fuzzy
ball around my face frustrates me,
but she reclines like a prodigy matured.

Yes, I am taken in my prayers,
I say Sunny, to thrift, to knit
all the little hills we rove,
the rain-rivened, alien hemmed
fields. Like a paper astrolable
I am taken to the contemplation
in my prayers.

They are not even a hill
of beans. My folded hands
are flightless bent-nosed
paper aeroplanes a child throws.
I hold not the power of displacement
in an ant’s possession,
for he exerts all his being
making home,
where I have less in this plaster
cut, these closets that cloak me,
offer me a day.

Loss unless the backbone has been ghosted.
I lie along the skirt, the fringe
of a creative mastermind
in common, like a doodle of a cat
on a napkin’s back.
God, turn me over.

Flip me in your hand like the life of Samson.
Seven zones and locks, seven
dams and docks.
If we can heart lie,
how much can we bear the silver sheen
in wing when we glorify.

Edward Thomas’ Old Man

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Let’s have another poem by Edward Thomas.  This lyric amounts almost to song not through sound but through the movements of the mind, recurring, wistful, and meditative.  He dwells upon a mystery: how can a man long for a bitter knowledge, loving what he does not like?  How sweet these modern English garden poems of his.  Click on this link to read the Old Man.

Cesar Vallejo’s The Black Riders

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The Black Riders
by Cesar Vallejo
(translated by Robert Bly)

There are blows in life so violent—I can’t answer!
Blows as if from the hatred of God; as if before them,
the deep waters of everything lived through
were backed up in the soul . . . I can’t answer!

Not many; but they exist . . . They open dark ravines
in the most ferocious face and in the most bull-like back.
Perhaps they are the horses of that heathen Atilla,
or the black riders sent to us by Death.

They are the slips backward made by the Christs of the soul,
away from some holy faith that is sneered at by Events.
These blows that are bloody are the crackling sounds
from some bread that burns at the oven door.

And man . . . poor man! . . . poor man!
He swings his eyes, as
when a man behind us calls us by clapping his hands;
Swings his crazy eyes, and everything alive
is backed up, like a pool of guilt, in that glance.

There are blows in life so violent . . . I can’t answer!