Gripping the lectern, rocking it, searching
the faces for the souls, for signs of heartfelt
mindfulness at work, I thought, as I recited
words I wrote in tears: instead of tears,
Cattle egrets in the dry grass waded
like white clerics at the hooves
of brood cows, heifers, and new calves.
When fever burned the last light out of my daughter’s eyes,
I swore to find and kill the ones to blame. Men
must mount the long boat in the dark with spears.
At dawn, where the flowering spicebush hid my scent,
The waterfall in sunlight is God
talking to herself. Her voice
poured into the trees asks
nothing, to prove nothing,
The pelican in scripture is unclean. It pukes dead fish
onto the hatchlings, and it roosts alone, like Satan
on the Tree of Life. Nobody told me. I liked pelicans.
I liked owls, too. I used to lie awake and listen,
I made sackcloth my garment once, by cutting
arm and neck holes into a burlap bag.
A croker sack they called it. Sackdragger
they called the man who dragged a croker sack
On a hillside scattered with temples broken
under the dogday sun, my friend and I drank
local wine at nightfall and ate grapeleaves
in goat-yogurt glaze. The living grape vines
The wine of astonishment
is house wine at my house.
The whiskey of it is a sauce
we savor. The cocaine
of thy judgment also
It was the fortieth year since Buchenwald: two thousand
Jewish refugees in Sudan starved while Reagan visited
the graves of Nazis. CBS paid off Westmoreland
for their rude disclosure of his lies and crimes: