Monday, October 8, 2012

Three Poems by Jack D. Harvey

Bird Wagner's
vast moaty throat
sings bastions of eagles
up through the
smoky aether.
Either he's mad
or me:
Before the honest sound
crashes into
heroic bric-a-brac;
pukka Mercury
crowds above
the storm of notes,
landscapes of cymbals
and violins;
the escarpments of Moses
smoke like chimneys,
dwarfing the vast vault
filled with the
music's life.
Across the misty deep,
pea-green meadows dissolve
in emerald raindrops
as the chariots
troop without end.
Fiercely we watch,
dressed up
to beat the band,
but the doors of
the dream close,
soft as sleep.
The bulk of bird
Wagner shifts
enormous feathers,
and colossal chords
anticipate flight.
Fear it more than
your death.
C.J. Whitman
(Killed twelve, wounded thirty-three,
University of Texas, Austin, Texas, 1966)
Blessed are those
who run amok
in our times
reason is not
the law of life,
never has been:
that's why so many
ride the black horse
in Plato’s piece.
The tower is
lonely and high,
power comes easy
as we look down:
like boys playing
in a tree,
we throw apples
and exorcize hope
with bombs.
The phoenix
was a bird
that was idolatrous;
violence was no part
of its nature.
It lived alone
in the wastes;
but in its final flight
by desire
the finite became eternal;
in a bonfire of delight
the I murdered the me.
In the cities,
in the country,
there is no hermitage
and the madman
bolts the door
only in his dreams.
We are all plugged in;
wires stream around
us like Medusa's
gang of hair.

You ask,
what does he do
in the tower?
This madman in sanctuary.
He sacrifices?
Or does he warn us
that the ark is ready,
and the ironbound coast
even now hides its head,
as the flood creeps on.
Sacred the Braid
  (Euripides' Bacchae)
Hieros ho plokamos,
up till now
improvident horn of
a schoolboy theme,
an easy text,
an easy ticket,
a mediocrity.
Up till now,
hieros ho plokamos,
the good guy
was darn cute
on a horse;
now he's just another cowpoke
coming in
on a scrubby mare,
somber and stupid.
Up till now,
hieros ho plokamos,
salamanders died
pitifully in the fire;
now they swim
through flames
like glittering salmon.
Up till now
the unicorn
a white horn
delicate as snow,
a sacred mane,
a head
white as bone.
But now vultures
make nests of blood
in his mane,
turn his white
to Phoenician red.
His horn towering
frightful, awful
as the pillar of Taharka
looks down
on the Sphinx,
on the Acropolis,
on glorious buzzing Bangkok.

Hieros ho plokamos,
he stands there
sweet and young,
forever divine,
forever extinct,
starting his course;
look now
he nears his distant end.
Jack D. Harvey is retired and lives in a small town near Albany, NY. Old enough to have been educated in the classics, he has been writing poetry most of his life. He hopes there is still some audience for poetry although he is aware that poets these days serve at a ruinous shrine.

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