I saw the town guard burning crops

outside the castle walls.

Cabbages carrots and corn stalks

drafting the wind like a fire cloak.


My niece has been scrubbing my face with the sun

she can spare, falling out of her hair.

And rolling my shirt collar round her fingers.

Trading affections and asking me questions.


When they burn the corn how do they know when it's dead?                                                      

It's dead when you've told yourself that it's dead.

      Like a town?                                                             No. A town has a pulse.

You can feel a town's dead arm when it falls.


The pollen of Marigold spreads across my back

in a slow design trying to catch me off guard.

You look as soiled as a moat, my bride says

as she turned me around by the shoulder.


Twenty fingers became dusters and brushes

and I became a dust mat hanging from a rack.

She laughs. You can't even keep yourself clean,

how can you promise me you'll always be alive?


I said there are warm arms and warm charades

warm songs and endless toad murmurs

and falling branches and wedding dances

inside the place of this day.


And I can sing but you will have to lead

the dance, for I will stumble inside

my own mind's music, my heady conversation.

A stone in a burning cornfield.  But I know


the only chalice your mouth ever gave

my hands was to harmonize and to follow and

the only scepter your throne ever gave

my hands was to deny you of your kingdom.


But I could hear you clapping for me,

through swarms and seas of clapping and I can hear you

now, through racing dogs and cafe girls and

coal dust boys all coming to our day.


And I can hear you pulling me, a pollenated stone

like a crown falling onto your shoulder.

And when I fell against you I could hear you say

"I can keep you     in time     but please     don't stray."

December, 2013

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