Cover Art: Éctor Sandoval
Early spring, somewhere in the thickly settled midst
Of this Tidal River and Jersey Shore bordered
Bedroom Community village, a nesting pair
Of mallard ducks may be found foraging unescorted
For seed and ducky snacks on a neighbor’s lawn,
Or resting in the sun, waiting, for the equinox to pawn
Their avian humanity for egg-warming weather:
Then to be seen accompanied by their brood
Of fluffy, tumbling hatchlings, recently emerged,
Of unregimented Chinese order, from the secret wood
Of shrubbery; their roosting, good and dry, threading
Their way back to the streams and habitat of their wedding.
In a week after the hatch, the ducks and hatch are gone.
My neighbor, to compensate for this unannounced
And undisclosed non-public loss of his mates,
Has purchased a mother and two ducklings silenced
In porcelain materiél, to take their place in the sun:
A memory, their ritual nature, a priest and his nun.
Despite the obvious intrusion of the wild presence,
Few neighbors took notice by spoken comment, save
The substitute memento of porcelain duck: the mallards
Arrived and departed within spring’s flowery wave.
Yet no-one preserved their contribution or the precious
Hatch. The ducks, endangered by the civil and tenacious,
Both mattered greatly or of the lack mattered not at all.
The seasons of years of rejuvenation pass unnoticed,
Unless recorded within by some local, written history.
The merits memorializing thereon the ducky topic said,
Is silent, and debate for the next aqueous brood bred.
Ignoring the gap, the civil, of the wild, married:
Divides duck and man: as a brown-capped chickadee
Takes up his “human” perch on the ceramic duck’s head,
So contrasted the immutability of nature’s antidæen sea.
To Helen ---
Summer’s civilized, afternoon flotilla, of clouds,
A ceiling as an inverted surface of an ocean,
Flatiron grey, or, U.S. Navy’s paint, resolution,
Beneath irregularly stacked fistfuls of cotton,
Raw and unseeded, their alleged bridges in shrouds!
Musing on this coasting seascape over land,
One might ponder, in Irak, in théâtre,
Do these ships reflect the warrior metre,
“The face that launched a thousand ships,” and see her
Goddess’s visage, motive, in our Army’s command,
Operation Enduring Freedom? Theatrical training,
Does report back parameters, some perceptible,
Seeing this flotilla’s clouds, classically intelligible,
Reflecting a Persian Gulf relatively peaceable,
The action, only past onshore, not a sonnet remaining!
The Star of David appeared east of Bethleem,
In the direction of Mesopotamia, Persia,
Above Baghdad; so, the American Army, de l’Asie,
Returns to God’s Little Acre antique sem;
’75, World War II, the injuries, le terroir, cim,
The treaty, the mail-bag white, à la nasse,
Twenty-eight years, since ’03, thirty-three,
The Gulf States, uncertain, scriptural scene:
Now, two centuries past Peace, Napoleon l’I
And Anthony Frank’s Post Office, Iran-Contra,
Comes Tommy Franks’ sortie to follow Christ;
The Star of David, the rival Firmament’s Sun;
Appears in its withdrawn orbit, Galaxia Intra:
Barabbas’ clamor, praising the interregnum’s heist!
Mid-Morning in Mid-November
Pedestrian in a daylight fog
Heading back to my haunts in a sortie for news
A white moon sunlight breaking through
The shore mist, a cloud of colorless hue
Touching down to the ground, wafts
Between houses, and towering trees
Colored in Champagne shades of oranges,
Red berries, and pears, shifting, imbues
The scene with mood as a woman, striking,
Intelligent, educated, tossing her ample hair
Captures every artist’s eye at the show;
And a shadow as a cloud, scudding, where,
Fleeting across the paths of the sun,
The colors of autumn trees are caught,
When in the curve the shadow swoops
And blackens the spectrum wave of thought,
The blackest of black hawks magnificently
Hunts, darts and waves, and coasts
On the current, wing-fingers, feathers
Spread, five feet, the spectacle, he hosts
Almost silently before below
An uncounted number of spectators
Maybe none but the pedestrian
Autumn scene’s seasonal vectors.
Variation of Azalea of White Lilac
Classic red and hugging it in surround,
Unusual peach, magenta, violet and white,
The lower azalea bush, such a natural
Spray rarely seen, and flush above it
The glory of white lilac’s heavenly scent.
So, the pedestrian passes by the season.
Knowing he has passed lilacs and azaleas
Before; but no spectra of light, ever, so lent.
The next time the pedestrian passes the design
Will be gone. Green the azalea, dormant
The lilac, aquamarine. He will not notice
As he will not estimate other sites that want
Color or composition, in perspective, at location
Across the field, of this capable view, of variation.
Landscape with Ducks
A pair of nesting mallard ducks
Heads twisted and tucked
Between feathers; bills
Behind wing’s sleeping quills;
The affluvial pink of dogwood petals
In spring. Pastel petals, unfolded
Of winter wood; space of no metals
But metallic color: wood unblindfolded.
In a background of trees, another, blood red!
Thicker of leaf than the March dogwood;
More of a screen; of the decorative bed
In this landscaped garden common good.
Then, next, and above, burnt red and red-brown,
A taller, rounder, brown maple deeper
Shaded the leafy lamination’s unsown gown;
Landscape with ducks, the architect, usurper!
Socioeconomic frustrations: that dwell and promote
Reaction to impressments, success, career individual
Professional, tranquility and domestic violence,
Alliance, amity or provocation, in
The man-dominated, “built environment”
Culture, or, constructed social territories;
Are greeted at the shore-line, beach-front,
With a pre-historic visitor, the brown pelican.
This truly ante-diluvian, larger cousin
Of the cormorant, has not been seen
Hereabouts for fourteen years. A true brown,
The pelican dives like an osprey, also brown
And white, but is not a hawk. Its fierceness
Lies in the texture, in the ocean it hunts,
And the dark end of the spectrum it contracts.
More of another direction before the mast
Than a hiatus in the system of the habitat.
As a bird of prey, think of a prayer of justice,
As a definer of true color of plumage;
Think of its putting-in a rare appearance
On the banks as arbiter of the Deal;
The scandalous “Justice” deal that compromises
All truth, by the one who gets the fish!
The brown pelican timelessly defines the wave line
Between the red and blue and ocean and sky.
Its plumage marks the visitations that establish
The light spectrum separating blue and black
And red, of sunlight yellow or white gold.
Without the pelican prismatic appearance, a color
That would not be, of the difference, a physical reality.
À la différence. As its own entity,
The pelican’s plumage deploys a timed color
Only its own, transcending deluge and scripture.
Its infrequency of appearance punctuates its frequency,
Not seen for years; when seen, the pelican, redefines
The verifiable understanding of the time segment
In which the pelican was, not seen, no participant,
In the daytime sunlight continuum of measuring, … .
The nominative brown suggestion is an history.
Today, of ocean’s Iraq to Nam’s George Brown,
President of NATO, and General George S. Brown
Of Korea’s Herbert Brownell, Attorneys General.
An hemi-century, more, that evolved
Out of social justice the Justice “Deal.”
A notorious, an infamous, lit de justice,
The brown pelican punctuates, hunting and fishing.
One dive penetrates the span of littoral time.
Whitaker Hiss, Munich Games, Al Fatah:
The infinite ennemie, German Israeli, series:
George Hanover, Saxe-Coburg, Profumo:
Marie Avignon of Viet Viennese Terror.
The Justice “Deal” for Gassy Knoll money.
The pelican strikes the ocean surface for fish.
In place of the pelican presence of visitation
With its sense of balance brought to the scene,
The Justice Deal is cut and made and nailed
Shut to second opinions of conscience and review;
Brownell and fifty years of Brown Music;
Nixon, Bork, the Ave Maria Law School
Of Law, the absent pelican, and the lawless sea.