From Ravenna Diagram




My mute-stubborn little donkey
picks his path among
boulder-words, unsung
Pedro – all the way to Frisco, he.

Across wide heartland prairie-
memory... past West
Branch, its Belgian bequest –
statue of mysterioso Isis, she

who veils the numbers with her smile.
Only another broken
nation now (Belgian
or Flemish?) – her iron trial

in Flanders fields, in fresher feuds
forgot.  How in this age
shall innocence prevail, O
sage, mule mine?  He broods,

noses sparse Badlands clover,
four hoofs planted there
in Hoover-dust.  Somewhere...
over the rainbow... windhover,

whirlwind.  Quietly, a violet
light rays from an aster
lens (its red is blurred);
this weightless photon, set

in a deaf mule’s eye, exfolds
(in atomic spirals) one
standing whirl – and her crown,
Rodinian, revolves (Pacific gold).






Fog shrouds a sheepish Providence,
mild air and steam over
her carapace of snow,
my misty speech-impediments.

Far off in Rome, soft-spoken latin
girds a retiring shepherd;
punctilious and learned
grandfather, his rocky throne

stands empty now.  Who will wear
the crown?  The Son of Man,
always, I hear an unknown
Pontifex intone.  Meek dove, on fire.

My muttering in murky circles
wheels through cloud.  You hear
the sound...  But will this air
grow clear – so pillars, pinnacles

appear?  Stepping-stones of Chartres
unfold a forgotten, cruciform
flower – lotus, golden worm...
an iridescent almond, shattered

into sparks... a milky constellation.
A breeze moves in the center
of your eye’s dark sheep-door –
the giant breathing of creation.

And down parched lanes of every
dustbowl Providence, the life-
blood of the future – strife-
worn wonder – sings : Venite, veni...






A fleet of ragged little cedars
harbored on a rugged
point of land (fog-
bound, sometimes – til it clears).

Wind skims burning through their
microscopic needle-
calipers.  Draws cheerful
tears – ski-trails thatching frozen air.

Mnemosyne Point, on Lake
Vermilion (up north).
Time’s wooden (4th
grade) ruler.  Not to break.

The placeness of quiet places.
Watercolor (frail, subdued).
No wide-lens tin-pan mood
music.  Glinting silver traces

plowlines, old broken ground.
Maybe a shimmer of poplar
at the road’s end... where
sea-muck molds copper marshland.

One saturnine pedestrian paces out
the strand.  His word
mutters a round solitude –
heartbroken yoke.  Ultimate weight.

Lifted; torn from the soil toward
his own snowbound wedding band
(galactic, Galilean).  Sand
underfoot.  The stream’s bright ford.






A stern St. Augustine (Piero
della Francesca) smolders
with sweltering bronze
gaze – massive leather quarto

(Bible, or Confessions) in
one hand – his big feet
firmly on the ground (wheat
sprouting underneath).  Someone

to reckon with.  His patchwork coat
of many Gospel scenes
(shaven sheepskin, shriven
palimpsest of pain) will float

us all into a new dimension
of dark matière (Higgs
bison, or withered fig
rinds).  Raven shade-mansion.

One cruciform lifetime, splayed
into landscape.  Muscle
shoals of a Michelangelo-
face, flayed by Apollo’s made

man (Aretino).  Untimely death
interrupting all vainglory...
passio, passio, scree
three ravens on lame limb.  Beneath

this rhodomontade unreels, decamps
the bishop’s crozier...
labyrinth in amber,
honeycomb spire (sheep’s lamp).









[Henry Gould’s poems, essays and reviews have appeared in Lit, Critical Flame, Ars Interpres, West Branch, The Providence Journal, Jacket, Mudlark, Poetry Northeast, Alea, and other places. He has published two books of poetry: Stone (Copper Beech, 1979), and Stubborn Grew (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000). For several years he co-edited the little magazine, Nedge; he also edited and published the collected poems of Edwin Honig (Time & Again: poems 1940-1997).

Copyright © 2014 by Henry Gould, all rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of Copyright law. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the notification of the journal and consent of the author.