Black Vesper's Pageants

Henry Williams


                        i. morning departure


‘When I admit defeat, how many

                                                            do tremble on broken states,

transit thru earthy storms,

reverb this telephony in stone room

echo, a brilliant sway of decay

& accumulation

                                    propt without accent,

to simply express those tat-

tered ribbons off the tongue swept as

if fallen blossoms into piles

swirled with crushed butts

                                                                        while final caeruleus winter

breaths burpt eruption from

                                                  albescent Hudson; a million

ripples are terracotta warriors

of the heart where fine crystals pulverized

by touching lids sealed her eyes.’


                                    ii. mount bulbous


Then walled spring, its pin & scheme,

slung against abrupt tongues

                                                by glances gash where sprung

slits widened

                                    under diminution:

cloud forced on sun. 

Elias disguised as Ernst Curtius  directed

focus to wire spokes

                                    retained marvels, heapt

the dust of

old skin  dissolving onion paper

mingled for a sum

all spray back ashtray wet scents

rode autumn wind up avenues.  These hearts leather

crusht to pliable exchange

in creases  in contractions & expansions,

once as if forever struck.


                                                iii.            lower fulton


‘As feeble is, so crumbling follows

wherein arrangements of tin cans

dislodged from lustrum strata strode,

impeding glossy rolls, imperial laminators

shuffle spin thru  gears:

                                                            piece work

prospects neatly stitcht by orange markt

descent.  I am mosaics of colored glass, which

linger like aftertaste & rare cold

cola burn on winter evenings.’

There, in perilous leaned triangles, barge

bound slabs of a present dismissed

regain altitude, effect for Elias. 

Curious traces limn in lines, deposited; 

these past granules forge forward hard glow.


                                                iv.            acer sanguineum


‘A portable solace links to broken

fiends whose chains in coiled curl lap

sand toward the end of breeze.

Athienna’s foot follows a creak inside, falls,

old pine floors:  epoxy fills gaps between

the hard edge & infinity.  Dilacerated

arms skinny brambles roam swaying

turnstiles, shadow prongs;

this last formal hug, hands on heavy

wood---one small chest for your dust

both ground & blast---

                                                slopes where interment

is bell tower foundation, so we

bend:  each step, an inch of passing blown

passion from a crane’s choked howl.’


                                                v.            track work


Beams tangle, lush

moon scraps bounced thru checkerboard

window transparencies made by night’s

interior strips...their awful

sag would separate stone....

                                                The simple flat remnant


            sand burnished monument,

peeling by sneezed nor’easter, pure granite

from a frieze of troubled eyes,

all layers reveal this uneasy plague---

Cortlandt stop (stationed aside as if) reworked trestle,

golden spins rust garlands, autumn

stricken virginia creeper, dazzling Elias with

loops limp, impermanent glory like worn parlor curtains.


                                                vi.            hand memorization


Elias saw shadows already

etched where margins once stood,

far along the pictures appeared for

a first thought,

                        ‘The strain of stars holding up

sky flung & suspended

deep cobalt cloth where these 

push pin specks prevented enveloping

decline under midnight fabric.’

Raised collar like cat fur alarm,

made potions his charmed eyeful:

                                                                        Rose edges


                         bathe skyline turned back,

a bed prepared its lost regrets of

night.   So highlighted we caught his lazy steps,

in shuffled gait along

                                    Battery’s south cove.


                                                vii.            terrace overcoat


‘Wearing labors, the climb thru pooled

stagnant warm air, carved tile


                        dynamites slow brush strokes

coughing out our steamed throng

these desires to touch webbed under

stiff wires, empty space, excavated square

                                                                    the same barrier

as we pull beneath excuses of

exhaustion:   Justin Case wants off

the process.  Absolutes obscure glaze,

those hollow throats staccato forte

for apologia mimic raw bodies

covered to recover under heavy cotton mesh:

closed eyes tread where flesh scrapes....’


                                    viii.  inventory a


A hapless squander,

ten seconds off the pace of


plastic deception

where window slits suck

light out tower attic---

sluice white tongues in turn

around aroma from

squeezed beans which right

themselves on air stream

shafts, guiding me thru the only two


turns to the right in

a left world’s descent. 

Pure granite moorings leapt

like stilted clowns

maximus pantomime behaviors

under particular masks

thru atmospheres that such could streak:

she, he were every two...


                                                ix.            unfortunate humors


‘Hard to right, a blue tint of scar,

useless eyes up our amble,

... late flashes;  nacht by candle or

halogen strip beneath the dome

these straight poles bellow

off key & piercing,  to puncture

drums, thin stripes of blood loose

like sideburns

                                    & the song drew close

paddle steamers while rocks kept

simple faces.

                                    None sealed me but

mumblers, equivocators, to tumble from

the clown throne;  their moist descendent lacquer

met with laughter, certain & yellow.’


                                                x.            the main channel


‘& great risen green bumps on

American plains, eruptions across flats

struck original wagoners weird: here &

they dig now thru unsettled dust, by time

to mask our unease no smooth tangle done;

supreme steady currents grind

mound to pock:

                                    this hollow scrape

if to rebuild

                                     shapes, expansions


                                    to blank eyes (or) quiet fury.

Bequeathers of Indiana hills, those who

knew it best to move along,

were not erased under new designs.’


                                                xi. pyramids-on-hudson


The air is full of whim where Elias walks,

half sun distrustful of earth below

slow, slinging clouds; 

                                    safe but salted winds, a thick mist

pulpt out from overcast sag covers

                                                             his descent on thistle paths where toes

clench, curl under the mumbler...

                                                ‘this free willdom, right.

whatever gets you thru the tide.

& all steep nutters ride bluish to glade

prize;  tho ringlets silver dangled

down, these natural tricks decline.’

An emblem or disguise layered

like sod over those tall rounds

as a slight

                        release of uneven droplets

polka-dot concrete.


                                                xii.             change coming at hour mark


Under each eventual twilight,

the piles Elias saw reduced

to flat abstract bumps, spectral

                                                            contrite & fish scale granite

thimbled  backhanded kisses,

strained heat suckling flies. 

                                                & how those pink-eyed minnows

wormed thru ice, looting breath,

pulverized sediment plugged intake

stir, almost mutt congealed,

as striations blended

                                                even neutral space

leaned toward a pole.

This special code, blanched of spot-

light, sank beneath green boiling

whitecaps, drowning sequel steel.


                                                xiii.             crooked inlet


----it’s all absorption, pal, the pencil said,

what ties these streets to gutter

traps:  the suck being the essential

act of human progress.


ballerina manufactured by

leach fields & spills of ash pool, dust

in a crevice of downshaft       


                        Dreams of mop & squeegee

pulled out

                                    a rough, ripe reed bared to me

under exposure to the pounding until 

melted  matter breaks down,

once or twice or endlessly.’


                                                xiv.             ‘they aren’t foxy to me’


‘Weightless as automated barn owls in head

twist & hollow bones, a rain fell---

this decent mist torcht street lamps

icy glaze when evening bankt

winding hawk loops & spirals.

Skylit flares:  droplet sparks

crept over me like stray orange  gray

strands, orchestral light bands.

                                                            Stoops empty


                                    Sparer lingering flowers

left demands

                                    like them scared

                                    or eaten giving

commands to their consumers.’


                                    xv. inventory b


In black beginnings, a possible stench

quakes thru reductio glass & repositioned

dust:  the faint remains of concrete &

steel draped like blankets

tent the super structure of old kitchen chairs.

Implosion accentuates each creamed gasp

all-over underwire, skeletal tapestry

supports blackt out pockets where

eyes once held their towering

music--for at blank faces a new

worm, curt or shapeless but sharp cuts,

boring cylindrical shafts, felt silence...

them not to evolve to Chippewa

            ‘the noise of passing feet

                        on the prairie...’

                                                from ice descent

from Mandau, Hidatsa eros to

calendars & copper & conduits to stars, inverted novas...


                                                xvi.             horses at the gate


Those ragged forms of perpetual shade

within inverted rounds

whose dots appear on slow radar rotations

invited a fog-less glass to shine;  Thespis

masks worn like tint top obscurity

in reflection---the echo sight’s

hollow gasp slid from eye to mouth

where she turned back their slight

praise fortuna joints unaxled, wobble

or release each skull

against walls.  Their deep excavations

returned scattered shards,

bits of pictographs or small ceramic

blades serious but overwhelmed,

                                                                        & armored stalks

revolted against wind sweeping entry.


                                                xvii.    the identity of seedlings


‘All motionless display, wings pinned

in fold where Athena was habitless

yet chronic flight inspired:  treeless

greenless space, a tundra of shattered

concrete.  Woke her, a sudden flash

of ornithological maneuvers over

empty squares, meticulous of sand,

mortar trenches & barren earth saying,

---so often these areas left to their

own despondency will return

a chorus offering milkweed, bracciliah,

nightshade & a few choked evening-

primrose.  Lately her lacerated

hands have left digging to other

badgers & relied on flock reassurance.’


                                                xviii.    covered span


These ruined bridges still poked

for sky, a scalable brown, a twisted

iron.  Time outside drawn with clever

hammers on each pulse---so pulling

in new breaths Elias floods

                                                along this dive,

trimmed by steep heel to toe steps,

the almost stumble ate out urgency

with slices, & the coiled trail  of a

serpent infused with rich embroidery of diamond

eyes;  an argyle blinding

where placed feet connect


arcades (Its pounded vaults

crackt though the mound intact). 


                                    xix.        slight streams breaking granite


‘Behold the rock fur settled lush

& damp, majestic brillo forest-lime

carpets strapt

                                    over curves by this path

where none walk but run


sea-driven to complete

each nook or basin eddied scrape

twisted  arched & tunneling limbs

tear earth like fingers thru lode,

forced embedded bluestone chunks

signature struck

                                                with brush descended

paper terra tree level (read)

the character swirls

                                                & slashes left

a clear stroke:

                                    indentations where history

deciphered by giant eyes

                                                            (or satellites)

launched the makeshift capsule.’


                                                xx. inventory c


            The crisp wit blurs under the candles

            tubed glow.

                                    Elongated light lumbers

            like a dying bear

                                                out too long in the winter.

            There snow drifts on white strands,

            the beaded sheets blinding and

            dragging the head down.

            (I) rent a fire of broken


            the worn emblems: 

                                                rebar, sand,

            dust, water

            (heat more than fire) settled

            beneath unrolled sod pleasantries.