Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Who is Kurtz?

Who is Kurtz?
by Gideon Burton
after a passage from Conrad's Heart of Darkness

I say a name that's hemoglobin red,
a talisman, a paradox, a charm.
I might as well attempt to raise the dead.
Can you perceive the man? Hence my alarm.
No wealth of words can say what can't be spoken,
absurdity, surprise, revolting tremors;
the circled squares, a dreamer's logic broken.
How can I speak what I can scarce remember?
Impossible to summon or preserve
the essence of a decade or a day;
whatever is the truth is bent in curves
that language will confess as it betrays.
     Our mind in isolation hosts our dreams;
     we live just as we dream, alone, it seems.

Photo: flickr - Baronvonhorne

From Joseph Conrad's Heart of Darkness

He [Kurtz] was just a word for me. I did not see the man in the name any more than you do. Do you see him? Do you see the story? Do you see anything? It seems to me I am trying to tell you a dream -- making a vain attempt, because no relation of a dream can convey the dream-sensation, that commingling of absurdity, surprise, and bewilderment in a tremor of struggling revolt, that notion of being captured by the incredible which is of the very essence of dreams. . . . No, it is impossible; it is impossible to convey the life-sensation of any given epoch of one's existence -- that which makes its truth, its meaning -- its subtle and penetrating essence. It is impossible. We live, as we dream -- alone. . . ."

Monday, November 29, 2010


by Gideon Burton

To find a form sustaining me enough
to hold, to hold unweathered over time,
an instrument both sonorous and tough,
with sturdy words shaped smooth by ending rhymes.
Not every patterned art nor instrument
makes time both tow and flow in even turn,
So many words are brutish implements,
stutter-pulsed or bruising with their runes.
And there are books and symphonies whose length
is little argument, while most haiku
are pearls so tightly wound their strength
invisibles itself within their youth.
     I've found a form who forms me line by line;
     she's brief, yet most my thoughts she can refine.

Photo: flickr - jcarwil

Sunday, November 28, 2010

He Bears No More

He Bears No More
by Gideon Burton
a remix of Parley P. Pratt's "Jesus, Once of Humble Birth

Once humbly born, a lowly lamb and meek;
once groaning in his bloody tears and loss;
once left alone, rejected, bowed and weak;
once weighted down while lifted on the cross --
In glory now returns to waiting earth,
His chariot a blaze of fiery cloud;
in glory comes to give us second birth,
the Savior meek and mild with thunder loud.
Exalted to a throne, Almighty King,
debased no more, ascendent and supreme.
With hosts of angels shouting as they sing,
He breaks the night with morning's brightest beams.
     I shouldered all, all suffering I bore;
     my sacrifice complete, I bear no more.

Photo: flickr - brainedge

Saturday, November 27, 2010


by Gideon Burton

The argument of Winter settling in,
the light receding earlier, the wind
as weak as grasses browning in the thin
decay of foliage. How do we begin
retreating? Layering layers on our skin,
and waiting for the earth to slowly spin
its tilting path back where the warmth has been
direct, unsubtle, never wearing thin
but garish: saturated saffron rays
that boil or scorch or scald with burning heat;
high noons to span more hours than a day,
and lava pavement melting down our feet.
     Outside, the night descends at half past four.
     Inside, a second blanket, then one more.

Photo: flickr - lensfodder

Friday, November 26, 2010

Cosmic Skeptic

Cosmic Skeptic
by Gideon Burton

With little lenses pointed to the sky
we calibrate the universe and know
its origin and destiny. With dry
equations tallying the cosmic glow
of supernovae, all that dust and time
and space beyond all measuring of space,
and we unable anywhere to climb
except from rock to pebble. Yet we face
the past and future, scooping every gram
and ray and eon, everything toward
a set of numbers countable by man,
in confidence though all has been ignored
except our sets of observations, graced
with certainties. Our faith has been misplaced.

Photo: flickr - rickz

Thursday, November 25, 2010


back off she's mine
by Gideon Burton

Your love is the pimento, red and sharp
that slumbers in the olives’ salty cave.
One sample of that taste I nibbling crave,
and I become an angel with a harp.
Your love is a bazooka, armed and ready
a missile primed and smoking for its flight.
If only I could give your fuse its light,
we’d have a rocket reason to go steady.
Your love, an orchard ripe and overgrown,
and I the migrant minimum in wage.
Oh apple tree, please toss this dog a bone
at least an apple tender in its age.
     Your love is metaphor a mountain thick
     It’s getting past the words that is the trick.

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Red Wheelbarrow

Red Wheelbarrow
by Gideon Burton
after William Carlos Williams

So much depends upon the window pane
above the double sink that frames the yard
where she is watching as the evening wanes,
The light is growing heavy, thick, and hard.
The wheelbarrow is sitting on its side,
its rust invisible against the mist,
the tire caked with mud.  She stays inside
and sometimes wipes her forehead with her wrist.
The chickens do not seem to feel the rain
or hear it tap the metal barrow's edge.
She tries to see how little day remains
by peering from her kitchen's little ledge.
     So much depends upon the glazing wet
     arrangement inked in silty silhouette.

Photo: flickr - sgrace

The Red Wheelbarrow
by William Carols Williams

so much depends

a red wheel

glazed with rain

beside the white

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Why Walden

Why Walden
by Gideon Burton
an imitation of a famous passage by Henry David Thoreau

To be deliberately alive; that's why
I went, confronting the essential facts.
I did not wish to find out when I died
that I had wasted time on lesser acts.
To suck out all the marrow from each day,
to sacrifice the petty and mundane;
to chase from vivid prisms middling grays;
to range the heights and depths, the joys and pain--
I had to melt away the dross and foam
and drive the price of living to the true
accounting never found except alone,
prepared for silence and a world to view.
     By walking through the wilderness and sky,
     sublimely quiet, rarely asking why.

Photo: flickr - hz536n

from Thoreau's Walden:
I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived. I did not wish to live what was not life, living is so dear; nor did I wish to practise resignation, unless it was quite necessary. I wanted to live deep and suck out all the marrow of life, to live so sturdily and Spartan-like as to put to rout all that was not life, to cut a broad swath and shave close, to drive life into a corner, and reduce it to its lowest terms, and, if it proved to be mean, why then to get the whole and genuine meanness of it, and publish its meanness to the world; or if it were sublime, to know it by experience, and be able to give a true account of it in my next excursion.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Thanks List

Thanks List
by Gideon Burton

For chewing gum, whose minty fibers scrub
my after dinner plaque. For asphalt, smooth
and new, replacing random rocky nubs,
allowing swervy-rapid skateboard love.
For polyester in my cotton shirt
unwrinkling mornings with its magic thread.
Formaldehyde, that keeps cadavers pert,
and students weeping as they probe the dead.
For tutus, tap shoes, cheese that comes in cans;
for popsicles and broccoli and paint.
For sneezing dogs, samosas made with lamb,
for teachers not too proud to say they ain't.
     For pageant teens who speak in gnomic riddles,
     For muscles I have found to make ears wiggle.

Photo: flickr - clrcmck

Sunday, November 21, 2010

Help Thou Mine Unbelief

Help Thou Mine Unbelief
by Gideon Burton
after Mark 9:24 ("Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief.")

If once upon more lonely shores I stood
in reticence before the puzzling wreck
of elements and time, of breath and blood,
uncertain what to fear or to expect --
No longer, Lord, though darker raging seas
push up their acid tides, press down their might
and trembling earthquakes drop me to my knees;
or salty winds and sands shred dimming light.
For I have seen the clean serenity,
and I have heard the calming spacious spread
of deeper peace ring through eternity
and animate what in me I thought dead.
     Unfinished, my belief, and sapling weak;
     upheld by Him whom I am sure to seek.

Photo: flickr - MattWhale

Saturday, November 20, 2010

O Magnum Mysterium

Today my wife asked me to translate the Latin from a song she's singing with Martha Sargent's Christmas Chorus. This was the "O Magnum Mysterium" text from the responsorial chant of the Catholic liturgy. As I did so, it made me miss that time when I was more immersed in reading Latin. I find the language both an intellectual puzzle and provocatively mysterious. So I decided to expand / adapt my translation of the text into a sonnet.

I composed my sonnet version while listening to this very moving contemporary musical setting of the text by Morten Lauridsen. Enjoy.

O Magnum Mysterium
by Gideon Burton
after the responsorial chant

So suddenly in sacramental awe,
in marveling, in mystery, in grace
as plain as bleating animals that saw
the birthing virgin, sweaty in her face,
another burdened woman made divine
in suffering and blood, in sacred price.
Eternity, enwombed in mortal time,
in labor to deliver sacrifice,
how like thy mother, present to the pain
and fear, uncertain of the body’s bounds.
Can wearied, shaking flesh at last contain
infinities of yearning, sounding sound?
     As mute as night, I stand among the beasts;
     My God, my Christ, my child, my friend, my priest.

O Magnum Mysterium

O magnum mysterium et admirabile sacramentum,
ut animalia viderent Dominum natum jacentem in praesepio.
O beata Virgo, cuius viscera meruerunt portare christum Dominum.
Domine, audivi auditum tuum et timui; consideravi opera tua,
et expavi: in medio duorum animalium

Friday, November 19, 2010

Post Percussion

Attended a drum concert tonight with two of my sons. It was both very primitive and very civilized. Mesmerizing.
Post Percussion
by Gideon Burton

A phantom hammering, the drumskin white,
residual with heat. The stinging palms,
blood bright. The ringing ears, the sweaty bright
persistence in the air, though resting calm.
The clap and shimmer, mallet, cymbal, bell.
The evening evened, cadenced into time.
Hot tides of sound that burst, recede, and swell.
The clack and friction buzzing up the spine.
One hears the drumming, then one is the drum.
One feels the rush, the rhythm's breaking crunch,
the muscled snap, the surfaces that hum
and shake, compressions tight or loosely bunched.
     So primitive, to beat and bob the head.
     So primal, thunder raised to free the dead.

Photo: flickr - Miguel Sánchz

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Good Chemistry

After hearing today about some friends divorcing, I felt another one of those waves of gratitude for having a sound marriage. Thanks, Karen.

Good Chemistry
by Gideon Burton

They see you need some chemistry; as though
cologne adds zesty charm when on a date.
That's not the sort required in a mate,
not spritzer pepping up a rosy glow.
Ammonia for starters, so the flow
of ever-fresh forgiveness won't abate.
Plus milder solvents, suds to soften late
apologies, or balm to soften blows.
The chemistry is deeper, though, below
the skin and tissue, in the blood and bone,
the neurons trained to feel and to forgive.
Our bond is not with words; it's something stowed
in genes, the primal code. Our love is sewn
like atoms stitched to structure all that lives.

Wednesday, November 17, 2010


by Gideon Burton

The infinite. How can we think this through?
What traction tracks eternities for us,
the moths of six or seven breaths for whom
an errant breeze returns us to the dust?
What frame for the unframed when all
we have are thin durations, end-to-end,
extrapolating endlessness from small
extensions, mathematics crudely bent.
The best we have are repetitions, paced
in spiral iterations and the arts
of ignorance and hope: the past replaced
implies a future as a whole's implied by parts.
     And yet, I stay more certain of forever;
     the rest remains, though I change like the weather.

Photo: flickr - caese

Tuesday, November 16, 2010


by Gideon Burton

As though it were a platitude, abstract,
a homily, a pleasantry, or thought,
commodified into a thing that's bought
or traded, something needed to transact
one's business, lubricant for social tact.
Perhaps, to some degree. Yet I am caught
within a web of wonder: moments fraught
with suns and thunder, atoms coiled and cracked
as moonlit evenings open their array
of silent supernovas mutely splayed.
In gratitude I find that ballast scope
that centers me in patient, latent hope.
In gaping thanks, routine as meals or sleep,
I'm safe from depths in fathoms brightly deep.

Photo: flickr - jmtimages

Monday, November 15, 2010


I ask my students to write sonnets. This is one of those. Thanks for letting me post it here, Taylor. This is her photo, too.

by Taylor McComb

The sky above my head has grown profound
For Fall is framed in varied shades of grey.
The time it spends here rivals time away,
And only cold is sharper than the sound
Of beating wings, and leaves churning about.
But dappled ground will give to frosty slate
And all the beauty heretofore I’d hate
Will quickly turn on heel and hurry out.
The taste of autumn on my lips will fade
Misfortunately settling in will be
My hunger for it, searching for the key
To lock out ache of winter in the shade.
     My yearning for a season like my home
     May ask too much for one who likes to roam.

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Thought's Bodies

Thought's Bodies
by Gideon Burton

Due diligence: do diligence toward
electrons and to ink; to paper's fiber,
to hyperlinks, to images, and wider.
Be generous to weigh each way's rewards.
As words engraved teach what each word affords,
or fluid speech can teach agility--
so, find in writing writing's true ability:
how pen or keyboard mock the might of swords.
The pace of thought is metered to the means:
whatever matter mediates the flow
predominates in shaping one's intent.
Impossible to one way (so it seams)
comes clear in a translation that's more slow,
transforms as it is spoken, written, sent.

Photo: flickr - boadiceafairy

Saturday, November 13, 2010

Still Life: Woman and Blue Marble

I came across this photo posted by Douglas Wheelock, one of the NASA astronauts aboard the International Space Station. He took this of a crew member,  Tracy Caldwell-Dyson, who returned to Earth after six months in space in September, 2010.

Still Life: Woman and Blue Marble

by Gideon Burton

She'd walked in space, an engineer, afloat
above the metal pods and trusses, far
above the humid atmosphere, thin moat
of air dividing most of us from stars.
How easy to recede into the black,
that deep-dark silent cold beyond outside
where gamma rays and meteors attack,
and yet, like gods, the astro-sailors glide.
As though upon a river bank she lay,
unhurried by the passing of the day,
content to hear what stream or sky might say,
she followed drifting clouds where they might stray.
     Be still as she, absorb the poetry;
     and with her walk in space and sky and sea.

Friday, November 12, 2010


by Gideon Burton
after George Herbert's "Love (3)"

As though a host who welcomed me to eat:

"Come in," he said, yet all my dust and sin
prevented me. He saw me balk, retreat,
then kindly asked just where he could begin
to help. "I am unworthy. Let me be."
"Let me be judge; I've set for thee this place."
"How can I? I'm unfit to look on thee."
"Who made those eyes? There's no disgrace."
"Except what I have done to mar my fate."
"But I have sounded fate, confounded hell.
The way is hard, but near. It's not too late."
"Then let me serve," I said. "I would serve well."
     "Sit down," he said, "for I have born the blame."
     I sat, I ate, in grace to know his name.

Photo: flickr - Sifu Renka

Love (3)
by George Herbert

Love bade me welcome, yet my soul drew back,
       Guilty of dust and sin.
But quick-ey'd Love, observing me grow slack
       From my first entrance in,
Drew nearer to me, sweetly questioning
       If I lack'd anything.

"A guest," I answer'd, "worthy to be here";
       Love said, "You shall be he."
"I, the unkind, the ungrateful? ah my dear,
       I cannot look on thee."
Love took my hand and smiling did reply,
       "Who made the eyes but I?"

"Truth, Lord, but I have marr'd them; let my shame
       Go where it doth deserve."
"And know you not," says Love, "who bore the blame?"
       "My dear, then I will serve."
"You must sit down," says Love, "and taste my meat."
       So I did sit and eat.

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Autumn Sky

Autumn Sky
by Gideon Burton

The celibacy of the autumn sky
recedes so easily with nudging hues,
with tissued wisps of clouds that downward fly
across the fading azure, darkened blues.
The night is coming, wet against the leaves
that paste the windows and the quiet streets.
It is already nesting under eaves
and through the fields of corn and ripened wheat.
I must preserve my vows to know this chill,
to blend my hair with breezes as I walk
along the lake, to let the season spill
its ambers and its skies of winging flocks.
     Above, the shadows germinate and grow,
     and swelling stars pour smoky light below.

Photo: flickr - spodzone

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Again the Grandeur

Again the Grandeur
by Gideon Burton

Again the grandeur, craggy canyon steep
with walled antiquity, with wintered time,
with pressures muted, violence in heaps
of silent folded rock face misaligned.
Again the cracking ashen dome whose wet
persistence chisels granite, limestone. Damp
with Autumns aggregating subtle threats
as Winters clutch the stones with icy clamps.
Again the slow erosion. Nothing holds
the crumbling running out of sandy night.
Despite the shivering toward a cold
conclusion, nothing, nothing shades that light
     That sun returning, shaking off the covers,
     The warming sky, the shuddering of lovers.

Photo: flickr - snowpeak

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The Grandeur of God

The Grandeur of God
by Gideon Burton
after Gerard Manley Hopkins' "God's Grandeur"

I have been witness, watched his flowing robe

shake loose the western amber sky, condense
to moonlit dewdrop silence second sense,
the potent graces faced with open code:
the land in spans of grandeur, prairies sewn
in fertile fabric, folded gold. Why fence
against this surge of surplus awe? Dispense
with lesser rhythms, prices paid or owed,
attenuations worked by thinning toil.
Dig down, unbare the freshest deepest core,
unhide unspoken remnant promised peace,
the lease of dove's down skin stroked morning oil,
oh, holy ghosting flow of something more,
the springs uprushing, wings of dawn release.

Photo: flickr - Roger Smith

God's Grandeur
Gerard Manley Hopkins

The world is charged with the grandeur of God.
It will flame out, like shining from shook foil;
It gathers to a greatness, like the ooze of oil
Crushed. Why do men then now not reck his rod?
Generations have trod, have trod, have trod;
And all is seared with trade; bleared, smeared with toil;
And wears man's smudge and shares man's smell: the soil
Is bare now, nor can foot feel, being shod.
And for all this, nature is never spent;
There lives the dearest freshness deep down things;
And though the last lights off the black West went
Oh, morning, at the brown brink eastward springs--
Because the Holy Ghost over the bent
World broods with warm breast and with ah! bright wings.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Turning in the Gyre

Turning in the Gyre
by Gideon Burton
after William Buter Yeats' "The Second Coming" (below)

Of things that fall apart, that cannot hold

their center; loosened anarchies, the tides
of bloodied time, of innocence that slides
its fathoms dark till frozen, dirty, old.
The best withdraw, or worse, to worst are sold,
and surely some conclusion will divide
this scene from seeing. Something died
to rigor mortis' feigning peace I'm told,
rough beast, whose thudding trunk has stunned the hour,
has from its desert lair in roaring anger
upheaved its widening maw and turns its mass
to strip Jerusalems of latent power,
to mock the weak who shield themselves from danger,
and slouches, scorching sands to ashy glass.

Photo: flickr - gartmann

The Second Coming
William Butler Yeats

Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity.

Surely some revelation is at hand;
Surely the Second Coming is at hand.
The Second Coming! Hardly are those words out
When a vast image out of Spiritus Mundi
Troubles my sight: somewhere in sands of the desert
A shape with lion body and the head of a man,
A gaze blank and pitiless as the sun,
Is moving its slow thighs, while all about it
Reel shadows of the indignant desert birds.
The darkness drops again; but now I know
That twenty centuries of stony sleep
Were vexed to nightmare by a rocking cradle,
And what rough beast, its hour come round at last,
Slouches towards Bethlehem to be born?

Sunday, November 7, 2010


by Gideon Burton
a response to Gerard Manley Hopkins' "Spring & Fall" (below)

Not grieving, no, though wistful at the haste

with which the paper leaf-gold scatters, bruised
with ruddy blushing once the crisping taste
of orange Autumn smacks the morning, fused
with musty rusts, with browning greens, with all
the sudden-subtle transformations stark
along the gilded leavings steeped in Fall.
And though the season leans toward the dark,
these worlds of wanwood leafmeal never lie,
but ever promise Sparrow Watcher heats
the coldest air with what can never die,
though guessing ghosts might spook their own retreat.
     This is the golden autumn birth we're born for:
     to so expire, there's nothing left to mourn for.

Spring & Fall
Gerard Manley Hopkins

Margaret, are you grieving
Over Goldengrove unleaving?
Leaves, like the things of man, you
With your fresh thoughts care for, can you?
Ah! as the heart grows older
It will come to such sights colder
By & by, nor spare a sigh
Though worlds of wanwood leafmeal lie;
And yet you wíll weep & know why.
Now no matter, child, the name:
Sorrow's springs are the same.
Nor mouth had, no nor mind, expressed
What héart héard of, ghóst guéssed:
It is the blight man was born for,
It is Margaret you mourn for.

Photo: flickr - kern.justin

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Stompers, Humbled

Stompers, Humbled
by Gideon Burton

The Epsom salts assault my toe with heat,
the tender inflammation mutely screams
around my swollen toe. And worse, it seems
I'll never walk again, not with these feet.
Not ever normally and far less fleet.
(My poetry has had much better themes,
but love and such must wait within my dreams,
as I sit here in pain upon my seat.)
Some years ago I slipped and broke my toe.
I hobbled, limped and sobbed for countless weeks.
I paid my toe-pain dues, I learned my lesson.
How careless of me letting that nail grow,
as now the costly doctor I must seek!
With baby steps I'll walk off my depression.

Photo: flickr - Brother O'Mara

Friday, November 5, 2010


by Gideon Burton

“So much has been given to me, I have not time to ponder over that which has been denied.”
-- Helen Keller

Among the highest gifts He's given, these:
the absence of His richest, present being;
the silence of the speaking God; release
from certainty, from daylight's darkest seeing;
mundane and everyday in every day;
unanswered prayers, tears soaked into tears
spread over under inbetween the rays,
those sudden-quiet silences that spear
the swollen soggy sorry saddened fright
with peace unearned, with grace anointing eye
and ear and swollen knees and blurry sight
and staunching blasphemies no use to try.
     So much remains when all the rest elides;
     So many gifts through light that is denied.

Photo: flickr - mooste

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Return to Dover Beach

Return to Dover Beach
by Gideon Burton
again, after Matthew Arnold

This darkling plain where struggling armies clash
and fight. These roaring tides whose sweep and flight
rake light to bruised confusion through the night.
No help, no love, no peace except the rash
array of ignorance that steams the salty, vast
incontinence of worlds this weak, this sleight.
No beauty, youth; no certain truth, just fright
and vacancy where deafened atoms smash.
Ah, love, beguiled by earth's variety,
bewitched by potent potions from the sea,
the washing, waving, purifying ocean --
be true to me. These stark impurities
unbuild the timbers that have steadied me,
and faith itself unweaves in murky motion.

Photo: flickr - Norbert Meffron

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

On Dover's Beach

On Dover's Beach
by Gideon Burton
after Matthew Arnold (see below)

Calm sea, full tide, fair moon upon the straits.
The cliffs of England standing vast and grand.
Come to the window, sweet the air that sprays
where -- look -- the glimmering sea meets moon-blanched land.
And listen, hear the grating pebbles roar
as waves draw back and fling them up the strand
in cadence slow, returning as before,
the same that Sophocles found sadly bland.
The Sea of Faith once folded-golden full
withdraws in melancholy moaning back,
so many pebbles roughened down to dull,
as night winds' naked edges sink to black.
     This darkling plain, this world, sans joy and light--
     My love, be true, for we are swept by night.

Photo: flickr - Stuart Hines

Dover Beach
by Matthew Arnold

The sea is calm to-night,
The tide is full, the moon lies fair
Upon the straights; -- on the French coast the light
Gleams and is gone; the cliffs of England stand,
Glimmering and vast, out in the tranquil bay.
Come to the window, sweet is the night-air!
Only, from the long line of spray
Where the sea meets the moon-blanch'd land,
Listen! you hear the grating roar
Of pebbles which the waves draw back, and fling,
At their return, up the high strand,
Begin, and cease, and then again begin,
With tremulous cadence slow, and bring
The eternal note of sadness in.

Sophocles long ago
Heard it on the Ægean, and it brought
Into his mind the turbid ebb and flow
Of human misery; we
Find also in the sound a thought,
Hearing it by this distant northern sea.

The Sea of Faith
Was once, too, at the full, and round earth's shore
Lay like the folds of a bright girdle furl'd.
But now I only hear
Its melancholy, long, withdrawing roar,
Retreating, to the breath
Of the night-wind, down the vast edges drear
And naked shingles of the world.

Ah, love, let us be true
To one another! for the world, which seems
To lie before us like a land of dreams,
So various, so beautiful, so new,
Hath really neither joy, nor love, nor light,
Nor certitude, nor peace, nor help for pain;
And we are here as on a darkling plain
Swept with confused alarms of struggle and flight,
Where ignorant armies clash by night.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Ready for Sleep

Ready for Sleep
by Gideon Burton

Against the leather atmosphere I press
A wrinkled face. Expiring daylight scrapes
The hours jaggedly into the west
Where grizzled clouds are hung like dirty drapes
In limp abandonment. Uneasy birds
Still rummage through the odd remainders of
The songs they have forgotten. Healing words
Grow thick and sour, fail to crest above
The briny fog engulfing waxy ears.
And who will watch the yellow-needled pines?
And who forgive the graying flowers' fears?
The sunset spills the earth with bloody winds.
     I watch the sinking, ready for a sleep
     As thorough as these seasons and as deep.

Photo: flickr - manfred-hartmann

Monday, November 1, 2010

Love in Four Seasons

Love in Four Seasons
by Gideon Burton

She whispered moistened trellises of breath
Against the skin of expectation. Seas
And currents, washing oceans may caress
The rounding pebbles into sand to please
the eons. But to me the petals wet
And white confess her touching them, enough
To lend her fingers pollen and regret
Perhaps–perhaps the taste of winter’s rough
Persuasions dormant in the thickened rain.
She reconciled the atmosphere’s delay
To ready poultices of music, strange
And supple on the spreading bruise of day
     She spoke to me in words, in water, all
     The seasons: summer yielding well to fall.