Issue 7: Richard Owens, Eight Ballads


 Columbus Stockade

            turned as we lay sleeping—our antiquities

            sent their herald with a letter

            harvesting new centers—they too turned

            from Genoa—followed by atrophy still

            some distance from headway

            unblinking as I believe they fought against

            too many mornings to waste a good deal

            their effect grossly mistaken

            for the ludic rest of a murtherous wildness 

Black Mountain Rag

            to cling to—smash—smallest thane

            burnished chance to spill

            bereaved so kind of a common world

            out there in the dark—we poor thing

            where were we all night

            who could at least come back for good

            on these poor legs—taken round

            long—into the black

            lashing blind at rock & thicket flung

            och skammen—affection is so often

            an unyielding thing

            maligned by a far more available fruit   

Early One Morning

            hazard ruine—combustion all sides round

            they do not deceive in the valley below

            when overwhelmed by the deluge they fall

            from sense to skies beating like hearts


            till then who knew grace could offer up all

            burning offal against ceiling cracks

            with adverse power opposed—yield unto

            a fixt sum masking settlement patterns

            stopping at a well to rest—durst dislike

            but settle for a place so far afield

            stunned by an unconquerable acquaintance

            squarely at the center of this cadence

            so it beats—blown away by redacted light

            how people feed themselves at night

            can else inform the blind force of token arms

            scouring settled land for branch or bone 

Billy in the Darbies

            his marrowbones shackled out

            (ignore paraphenomena

            patterned winds—cycloid—smile

            through the trauma in their hearts

            (auguries sound this hour

            so sleep fathoms deep—slake notes

            crossing unsurveyed surfaces

            (greasy hogs to brood

            on the collateral organs of others

            muted—signal bright derivations

            (disendowed questions or

            the congratulated weight of tongues

Joannie Works with One Hammer

            then—she goes to sleep

            glaidly to thoill

            n qhua is they hounggrie

            when they work with two


            by the frost—taken to raise

            greit mercie on principle

            to lend—drains

            gude work instrumental to

            three hammers simmer

            in the hole

            overnight hotter than coal

            orchards link directly to

            four hammers

            quhais power is nocht theys


            secured—in the pit—for

            their fude they work

            with five when then to sleep           

Daybreak Blues

            an account told or enacted

            —tooled into an absence

            on the finest milling machine

            tomorrow belongs retooled

            take the dirt road home

            meet undiminisht what untold

            to avail though forget we feel

            often an instance to grieve

            do deceive under sovereign pact

            four at the foot six at the head

            suffer a surface like blood

            burned before us by permission

            we belong to an ordered design

            scaly rind—enraged

            but serving well to bring forth

            forthwith the backward slope

            in billows blind by right

            we run with force for morn delay           

House of Sad Retreat

            floating rates of exchange remainder 

            next of kin—an occasion

            intensified thereafter—an internal

            policy—this act of union

            fathom stroud waters convey the whole

            —bargaine among thieves 

            stable reserves—currencies desaturated

            by law—so prepared all treasons

            administered justice—fast misprisions


            bullbaiting—cockfighting—bear beating

            contract out the public house           

Wabash Cannonball

            transpierced rounder gliding all

            oblivious at length to advance

            the jingle—the rumble—the roar

            struck do strike iron straight rail

            whosoever unknown raises

            cosmologies of scale—rippling fall

            indiscriminate on the first parable

            crying out to all—waving

            from the rapid Wabash Cannonball 

Richard Owens is the author of Ballads  (Habenicht 2011), Embankments (Interbirth 2010) and Delaware Memoranda (BlazeVOX 2008). He edits Punch Press and Damn the Caesars, a journal of contemporary poetry and poetics.