Irrigator’s Prayer
Water, you would say to me, is God
and kneel to touch your lips to water and water
softened soil and with your ever thirst
suck deep within you the body and the blood
of the only holy you could will your love—

I have never had Another and will not.
Though I sup at the white table with its foetor
of sorrow and crosses, its death of God,
though I lip sterile sips from cups,
though injuries bloom like roses in the palms
of my hands and I burn under the forty furies
of Others,

I have under the emptiness of so
much blue, with its scattered wisps of hope, found
no Hallow but the dumb murmuring prayer of soil
effervescing reverence and the resurrection
of mists rising.

Old Rodeo Man

The ground is an absolute, the air lets
you down. The way you leave your bronc sustains
a compromise with violence you embrace
the way you mean an oath. Forever.
Without fault forfeit or regret—
a repossession of what
you will never let go, even
when you lose stirrup
grip and (so finally) your life.

Some say God’s not in Heaven, but
in the fling of self into chaos,
and He’s there not to stop
your fall, but to join in
the glory of your need to make every ride—
if often much harder to ground
than bone prefer—always as close
to the whistle as will will provide.

A Memorial for Heroes

Stones arranged to the bearing of their last rest
along a solemn angle, and we are distressed
to honor the still and settled absolute
of their offering with just a stiff salute—

So tell me: what motion of arm
can lift from them this infinite harm
or mend the weight of terrible stones
to raise these young old bones?

Is there any praise hope or love we know
or pomp muscle can make or show
that will raise these now and forever dead
From under the overburden of their last bed?

Leaving Troy

Sail-scattering wind tousles
in ropey hair, whips ripped skirts.
We weep, waiting in ruins,
plunder for filling
a savage hold—

already in some, the seed
that will, though loving us, love Athens too,
and sing the cunning beast
whose belly opened and ruined
our lovely gazes—

already in us, daughters who’ll preen,
play at Helen sweetening dour Spartans
(as she did the night of our rough lading,
beguiling to rise above
common ruin).