Blackbox Manifold

Issue 12: Henry Gould

From Ravenna Diagram


My mute-stubborn little donkey

picks his path among

boulder-words, unsung

Pedro – all the way to Frisco, he.

Across wide heartland prairie-

memory... past West

Branch, its Belgian bequest –

statue of mysterioso Isis, she

who veils the numbers with her smile.

Only another broken

nation now (Belgian

or Flemish?) – her iron trial

in Flanders fields, in fresher feuds

forgot.  How in this age

shall innocence prevail, O

sage, mule mine?  He broods,

noses sparse Badlands clover,

four hoofs planted there

in Hoover-dust.  Somewhere...

over the rainbow... windhover,

whirlwind.  Quietly, a violet

light rays from an aster

lens (its red is blurred);

this weightless photon, set

in a deaf mule’s eye, exfolds

(in atomic spirals) one

standing whirl – and her crown,

Rodinian, revolves (Pacific gold).



Fog shrouds a sheepish Providence,

mild air and steam over

her carapace of snow,

my misty speech-impediments.

Far off in Rome, soft-spoken latin

girds a retiring shepherd;

punctilious and learned

grandfather, his rocky throne

stands empty now.  Who will wear

the crown?  The Son of Man,

always, I hear an unknown

Pontifex intone.  Meek dove, on fire.

My muttering in murky circles

wheels through cloud.  You hear

the sound...  But will this air

grow clear – so pillars, pinnacles

appear?  Stepping-stones of Chartres

unfold a forgotten, cruciform

flower – lotus, golden worm...

an iridescent almond, shattered

into sparks... a milky constellation.

A breeze moves in the center

of your eye’s dark sheep-door –

the giant breathing of creation.

And down parched lanes of every

dustbowl Providence, the life-

blood of the future – strife-

worn wonder – sings : Venite, veni...



A fleet of ragged little cedars

harbored on a rugged

point of land (fog-

bound, sometimes – til it clears).

Wind skims burning through their

microscopic needle-

calipers.  Draws cheerful

tears – ski-trails thatching frozen air.

Mnemosyne Point, on Lake

Vermilion (up north).

Time’s wooden (4th

grade) ruler.  Not to break.

The placeness of quiet places.

Watercolor (frail, subdued).

No wide-lens tin-pan mood

music.  Glinting silver traces

plowlines, old broken ground.

Maybe a shimmer of poplar

at the road’s end... where

sea-muck molds copper marshland.

One saturnine pedestrian paces out

the strand.  His word

mutters a round solitude –

heartbroken yoke.  Ultimate weight.

Lifted; torn from the soil toward

his own snowbound wedding band

(galactic, Galilean).  Sand

underfoot.  The stream’s bright ford.



A stern St. Augustine (Piero

della Francesca) smolders

with sweltering bronze

gaze – massive leather quarto

(Bible, or Confessions) in

one hand – his big feet

firmly on the ground (wheat

sprouting underneath).  Someone

to reckon with.  His patchwork coat

of many Gospel scenes

(shaven sheepskin, shriven

palimpsest of pain) will float

us all into a new dimension

of dark matière (Higgs

bison, or withered fig

rinds).  Raven shade-mansion.

One cruciform lifetime, splayed

into landscape.  Muscle

shoals of a Michelangelo-

face, flayed by Apollo’s made

man (Aretino).  Untimely death

interrupting all vainglory...

passio, passio, scree

three ravens on lame limb.  Beneath

this rhodomontade unreels, decamps

the bishop’s crozier...

labyrinth in amber,

honeycomb spire (sheep’s lamp).


Henry Gould’s poems, essays and reviews have appeared in Lit, Critical Flame, Ars Interpres, West Branch, The Providence Journal, Jacket, Mudlark, Poetry Northeast, Alea, and other places. He has published two books of poetry: Stone (Copper Beech, 1979), and Stubborn Grew (Spuyten Duyvil, 2000). For several years he co-edited the little magazine, Nedge; he also edited and published the collected poems of Edwin Honig (Time & Again: poems 1940-1997).