table of contents
table of contents — poems


On Sunday afternoon
      with a low headache
            I think of innumerable beings
tortured to death
      so that I could be
            vague, dissatisfied, ill at ease
writing just these words;

they learned to breathe
      in the ovens of primeval beaches,
            one in a million,
deformed, faceless, stinking in the rot,
      crawling toward the next
            breath, or
God's heavy foot.

The stars we know
      with angelic indifference shone
            alike on the dumb rock,
the oceans endlessly grinding, and,
            the ancestors struggling
up, up, lightward —

Now in the papers
      I see they have learned to read
            messages from those angels
that turn the key of being in the lock,
      opening up the
            furnaces of creation,
it is child's play:

is and is not
      tremble in the balance
            of an angel's childish hands;
the dark faces on the fiery sands
      nothing to them,
            nothing the heat
and the dread, their — our — ancient fury.