V.30

The gateposts flutter with sonnets
in rich florentine hands. The work
of sculptor and vile abuser
Benvenuto Cellini stands

in his walled garden, unfinished.
Dukes and Duchesses pay handsome
fees to see it done. In the shop
the cracked furnace bears stigmata

of bronze. And a stray cat stares at
you, the reader of this poem.
Its eyes are black and you shiver,
looking up at the cinder hole

in the roof where hastily rigged
boards let rain fall on the steaming
ash pile, the dark droplets of bronze.
What are you doing in Florence

during the renaissance? and how
did you come to be in this hall
of works? Nobody knows. A girl
stops and waits in the cold doorway.

Without a word you both agree.
In the garden, the nieces watch
the statue grow white hot and melt.
“Medusa!” they say. “Medusa”

V.7

You’ve got to find the people who
are fighting the good fight and then
somehow you have to support them.
You’ve got to hold back on holding

back with the praise, and criticize
only when you think it’s a fire
to the forest that requires it
which it turns out is basically

never when it comes to most art*
because art is not a war, you
know? no matter how many dolts
want to make it so boring it

shatters through density. holding
art is like making a gesture of
greeting like reaching out your hand
on deck. Let us lower anchor,

let us stay now in this lagoon
and watch the sun set together
on our shared future. and I won’t
stop you if you want to go back

to shore, to go shore the ruin’s
baseline, you aren’t ready to join
hands and think of death and greater
things. learn to throw your shade inside

*bearing in mind that the stupid can never be art.

Crow Absolved

The feather pile in the bin moans
I say, it’s okay, you Crow.
It’s okay. Sleep now.
A last few syllable caws come –
“I’m saw-ree” and I am exhausted by
The real difficulty of innocence
almost impossible
but just
possible

With a faint clinking
the bird bones roll in the wind
taking up shapes
and finally gusting off as sand
dissolving into heaven
or whatever there is

God is there with me in a wheelchair
and Dove,
and we all three cry
for the darkness
and the beauty
and the coldness that has come.

Dove has the last word.
She writes in the sand with her branch
‘absolution’

The Letting go of Crow

Across the courtroom, Crow sits
His black feathers litter the floor,
a hearse of mahogany boards.

Arraigned by the universe, he is bound
to try some old tricks – but Dove,
his opposite and cancellation, now

stands with a sigh, coos and points.
On the projector the horse’s dark body
whose beautiful and terrible hooves

are tied. “Did you create this nightmare?”
Crow’s mouth opens, and out pour stars
Books, portents. Series of things fleeing.

Crow feather-bunches up into fists
little tight handfuls of blackness.
He parrots back “Nightmare, nightmare”

Dove sighs again, changes the slide.
A schedule for housework – “and these,
your claw marks but I see…

Crow your name is not here.
Do you think a horse deserves
this kind of torture?” Oh bright Dove.

By this point all Crow’s feathers
are out. He’s a plucked little terror.
Dove just looks sad. “Sweep that up, please.”

They work, while Crow is croaking
“god’s nightmare. god’s. violent…”
But it’s too late. I’m leaving.

Walking past the curled up
wormlike bird on the stand, and out,
I drop my copy of the book in the dullness,

hold open the door and Dove walks with.
Her feathers’ pearlescence gallops across.
We talk about her day, and I make her tea.