3. Amen of the Agony of Jesus


Even in this perfect spring the air appears
to sort itself in circles, as the light culls
dust in Maelstroms made by devils.

In the widening circuit of these nucleii,
in the vast revolving miracle
of the galaxy, a cyclonic eye

of human making splays,
through the displaced breeze,
its devastating haze.

Even in this perfect spring
the atmosphere is laced
with helices and scattered wings;

even on the best of days
it rakes the waste and spatter
of the sun to raise

whorls in the wind and leaves,
those spirals of dark matter
and accreting griefs,

an entire country fading
in the wheeling rips
of tidal surge parading

down the lavish April sky,
while the fate of feet and lips
is scraped from ruts of shade

to lie, terrible and drained,
useless on the gutted street,
stations of the angels lamed

by concentric sheets of flame
in this facsimile of a place.
Today nothing is the same:

color leeched from the Charles;
summer washed off faces
of adolescent girls

in the harsher adult light:
anchors pulled up by gales,
childhood withered in the night,

and our fragile, flying world,
drowned, shivers with the sails.
Nothing is today as pure

as sunfish tossed on harbor waves:
boats that made the mornings sure
look today like shaking graves,

or rings that from a diver spread,
the boomerangs of time and space
newly risen from the dead.


A distant horn and screech briefly disturbs me,
Someone’s clumsy despair
Broached to us in our sanctuary
Above all grief in the filtered air,
Brought to life by whatever sorrow,
A slip, a death, an affair,
Emerges in the papers tomorrow.

So forgive us, those who can,
Whatever flying griefs
Whose high-voiced cries
Have power over
Our trivial lies;
Forgive with your perfect lives
Beaching on obvious reefs,
Rough and groundless dives;
From the scroll of your deep-sea waves
Save our careless drowning eyes
From all the shoals in the world,
The walls of our submarine caves
Mollusked with unreachable pearls;
Save us, small and lame, from the tide
That rots with its solar blast
The unsuspecting innocent rhyme
Of the shallows that bound us
In our adolescent time,
Washed-up snags of rope and mast
Ripped from the chaos around us,
Transparent, blameless, and vast.