The Priests in the Trees

The priests in the trees
have changed their robes,
their yellow
substantiating earth,

to the brutal temple
of the woods have
brought back gold,
lit the branches’ tips.

In wind the sticks
have conclave
debating the
splintered month,

at last issue
a crown jeweled
with cardinals
whose gold melts

through the rusting dark.
The priests of
render God’s voice

in blood colors,
shear down the veil
that parses hung lofty
from earth-bound,

to the undone temples
of a copse have brought
back music,
frozen the cardinal’s heart.


Author’s Reception

Announcement: An author’s reception and reading of A Bow From My Shadow will be taking place Saturday, November 30, 2013 06:00 PM – 08:30 PM, Asheville, NC. Alex Miller of Third Cardinal (and Luke Irwin by webcast) will be reading from their newly released collection. Space is limited–contact the authors for more details. 



At Castle Neck

A wave’s white flag unfurls against the headland.
We’re pleased with summer’s long foreseen surrender;
hot noons betrayed by maples fringing umber,
horny insects dying in the wetlands.
You told me victory can read as loss—
The pale moths of our days mating in long
grass until their sailcloth bodies fall
apart. That will be the way we gloss
a season. The way I’d name your legs
laid down together dawn horizon,
or you my beard a tangle of black weeds.
For both of us, the ocean’s tannin dregs
will mean September. But you? I won’t rely on
Proserpine’s name to frame you. Of frames you have no need.

The Loaming

Behind the grumpy
Powder-blue rototiller,
Interned in dust and

Shriven by the bloody
Stations of Essex county biting flies
Across my shins,

Hangdog to its blistering
Handles, I level bone-jigging,
Snarling progress against

The fastness of buried roots,
Wheedled stones and
Disobedient hedgerows,

Working the lines at Bothways Farms,
A wind-whipped acreage running away
With the declining light.

Here turned up loam ensconces
Me, black with fertility, a touch,
A labor bordering on

The verbal, in a rot-
Pungent atmosphere both
Suggestive and inarticulate,

Where I can sweatily
Follow through the mental
Seed-death in these trenches

That will raise me up another season,
Baskets heavy with a harvest of words
Equal to the speechless.

The Principle of Volubilty

An article about when “economy can become a vice” in poetic writing. If you’re already good, that is:


Station Clock Bomber

The sun’s round fist takes one mountain maple by the throat.
Breakfast steams hard in an iron pan, spitting pigfat.
Redstarts and thrushes tune warbly orchestras
among the fiddleheads.  Chill of dawn. The cool junipers
suffer their arthritis, turning knucklier in low-bound fog.
My neighbor’s taken him a lantern out to check his chicken fence
for fox holes, walking that gangly shadow down the stubble
of a well-grazed lawn.  Then in the distance, a tinwhistle,
the train. It was strange to us at first, who’s kin settled this blessed
muck as a tribe of Irish rejects, records to their names
they’d cross the Atlantic–a salt-slabbed grave without a bottom
–to erase. Then we settled here, and our days were permitted
to wax primordial. So a dawn-to-dusk routine
sprang up in our rudimentary furrows. Then came the city
planner with his tobacco wad, his cash wad and his deed.

Not long after, we got made aware of time, hooking trains
like the sun’s declension hooks the cows
by their shoe-tongue napes, marching them out to feed,
and lulling them again to the companionable shade
beyond a scudded clearing. Time rose from a turd
beside the railway where our kine waited to be packed
for slaughter out in Charlotte, one fly hatching,
cleaning legs and wings, then rising, then another,
and as the swarm filled our ears with predatory ticking,
we lost status–falling from the regency of cultural imperatives
to an amicable enslavement: Some town-wide
doctrine of promptness as alien to us as a separate
hemisphere. Time was an antarctic star rising through Orion.
Now so much is sour–the days packaged like bacon
in cellophane–but not all. I told my neighbor:
Not all. There’s still the statement of dynamite
to be made; proof even this hick excels at punctuation.

So now, the train yard’s absurd dins and silences,
the heft and thunder of iron meeting itself in the dark,
then nothing but the soft snore of cicadas. I’ve planted
enough year by year, only to reap nothing but a long
line of mayoral ink, so now the whirlwind’s seed is going to ground
in the heart of this industry. The station being empty,
I kill no one, or just the shell of me,
rough old corn cob that I am. But it’s a damn sight
I’ll take this clock with me, that’s pounded down our plans
to make a bolt or two in a caboose, or to cast
girders for a mineshaft. I choose this dark depth,
cold as it is, instead: Lighting the short fuse that
makes my name a curse to bless the land.


In the dream someone is yelling:
tell us a whorer story
take us to the maul
bundle ‘em in summer
give ‘em grottoes
a fringe goddess, a tower nanny,
corner spinners in palaver,
recalcitrants in wedding shops.

A wake. black silk. clouds. Then, half a wake,
half corpse, half dead, a half a loaf of pumpernickel,
Finnish newspapers, blue appointment books,
mahogany desk, marble tableau, ruin
wears burnt sienna, rests a hand on iron lampstands.
World without end, rain without end
church among blankets, window ajar
smoke from hedgerows, a whistle,
low laugh, people up in the mist
you’re in, you’re in someone whispers
and whispers do a foxtrot, a globetrot,
ripple the gunnels of your mind’s playdate
like bacon seizing up and sparking grease
in the morning of platonic excellence
when light opens and the wake is over
that is, waking up at home to the tiny glories
spilling out, overflowing the rooms, gilt air.