Oration: Half-moon in vermont

A horse is shivering flies off its ribs, grazing
Through the stench of a sodden leachfield.

On the broken stairs of a trailer
A laughing fat girl in a T-shirt is pumping
Milk from her swollen breasts, cats
Lapping at the trails. There's a sheen of rhubarb
On her dead fingernail. It's a humid morning.

The huts at esquimax

for Dave Smith
Our clothes are still wet from wading
The Chickamunga last evening.
There is heavy frost. We have
Walked on the dead all night.
Now in the firelight
We are exchanging shells and grapeshot.

I can still hear our loud huzzah
When late in the day
The enemy fell into full retreat
Along the pine ridge to the east...

We chased them until we were weary.
Each night this week
There’s been something
To keep me from sleep. Just an hour ago
I saw

Thomas hardy

The first morning after anyone’s death, is it important
To know that fields are wet, that the governess is
Naked but with a scarf still covering her head, that
She’s sitting on a gardener who’s wearing
Just a blue shirt, or that he’s sitting on a chair in the kitchen.
They look like they are rowing while instead outside in the mist
Two boats are passing on the river, the gardener’s mouth
Is opening:

Deep south

Baton Rouge, 1940
These are savannas bluer than your dreams
Where other loves are fashioned to older music,
And the romantic in his light boat
Puts out among flamingos and water moccasins
Looking for the river that went by last year.

Even the angels wear confederate uniforms;
And when the magnolia blooms and the honeysuckle,
Golden lovers, brighter than the moon,
Read Catullus in the flaring light
Of the burning Negro in the open eye of midnight.


At two thousand feet the sea wrinkles like an old man’s hand.
Closer, in a monotone of peristalsis,
Its fugue-like swells create and recreate
One image in an idiot concentration.

From horizon to horizon, this desert
With the eye athirst for something stable
When off to southeast-ward —
It was a plane all right, or had been,
A shipside fighter, her pontoons floated her.
Smashed like a match-case, no one could be sure
If it were ours or had been one of theirs.