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Homage to John Frederick Peto

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                                   1

Fitfully in pictures disappearing now,
They are not toys but, rather, tiny horses
In the parade of youth: polish, spit, and display
In fire companies throughout our country.

All in green we went out rioting.
Lute music damasked the commercial radio,
And girls knew everything.
Old friend, I remember your first wife.
She brought a loom into our world.
We turned the music up to drown its sound.

Now I am face down in a disappearing picture.
I would know Christina Rossetti in a minute but not you.
Such is my skill set,
Blazon of a pathos soon abandoned.


                                   2

Muted extraordinary radiance,
Complicated if not impeded
By many things, most of them
In heaps where stone is stone,
Where wood is wood at close range,
Makes a fair portion of mind at midday
In desert mountains hard against my home.

Any ornaments for the poor man’s store?
Any moments of leisure at the fish-house door?
I could show you rain just before the rain
And a black dog sniffing earthquake.
We die. Our children do not know us. We die.
I pray real prayers to a star too old
To climb these mountains up into the blue.


                                   3

A loop of string in the free space otherwise,
And no, and more beautiful to see indigo
Buntings taking back the sky to me.

Littleness sometimes even resembling sunlight
Overflows with colors, with intervals
Like wingspans the wind drills of a Sunday.

To enter a flower is to find a child
Not one’s own unharmed.
Our Lucie has a loop of string.

Time will come again to talk perfection,
A succession of creatures in midair.
I won’t be there.

I’ve been given back the sky that was gone:
Five colors of rain, five new colors.


                                   4

Haphazard constellation of midges and old flowers
Blows through the garden shambles as slowly as the sun,
Vision somehow keeping time with itself so vision
Shows the kindness of a moment to the man
Seated beside roses planted here by his own hand
In the shade of a first heaven and the quick confidence
Of his humanity’s evanescent song.

Creation’s a funny word.
I think of noises rounding a corner
Becoming names, and then a child for each
Of the names climbs down the sun.
Creation’s the soul of haphazard.
I was old. I was young. I was old again.
Anymore Johnny, all I feel is fine.


Source: Poetry (April 2010)

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This poem originally appeared in the April 2010 issue of Poetry magazine

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Homage to John Frederick Peto

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