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Henry Gould

a chapter in the book THE GRASSBLADE LIGHT  


A dead kingfisher pivots in the wind.
Limping forward slowly through the snow
with a wounded knee. . .  Wovoka.
Sitting Bull in the last doorway - go
find him. Buried in a salt cube
south of Africa (one
tardy judgement day)
a remnant, rube, or stub
grows light and empty, now
all wind (quality
of equality)
(slow photons
a wing
of palms
in wheeling hands - your
bronze hoop of water
moccasins circling a
standing lake suspends
eternity). Your spine of refugees. . . 
Kosovo pivots in the hard wind,
hobo - missiles whine. . .  find
him - there - in the doorway -
sees you first. Across human
prairies through a gnomon-
vortex. . .  clay-solemn, one-
thing-necessary needle's eye.
Unless I go through the needle's eye. . . 
the eye that was, that saw me to windward
through Stephen's Gate (in the cold
snow, down the hard path, with a refugee,
navigated by the sweat of palms beyond
ash-rimmed golden trumpet-towers'
pride of plumage (hollow-callous)
and between the stray-wide
herds of fickle buffalo that feed
upon each other's grass). . . 
never to come upon the stony speech
of Blackeye Sioux through a raven reed -
Caw-caw. . .  Cawtantowwit. . .  to-woo. . . 
goes the low murmur of a mourning dove
or slow palm clay your calm play dove
through my lapwing lake to cue:
baton gold signal smoke bloke - black
fogman at midnight - okay, rook book:
here, where - whirr were we - one lock
of her - back there - together, Moloch-
eye - way, way before you were!
Were we one then, in the coral
echo? V spurs antiphonal
as your swing-wide Sir
Purseful sheds it all for a shy soul.
So smile now, rolling Ur-star -
she's your pored sungloss. Somewhere
we all are. Verily we roll em long. Vertizontal.


Anointed with greenery and vertigo
I go then toward the gate. Among drop-
offerings (the goat and the bird) my dive-
afterings between your palms row row
upon row, row upon row. . .  Time beats
a lost and prairie landful firs and water
under your soles while piles of uttered-
forth impressive graves fan gentlest
array of buildings - so much phosphorus,
Chorazin, Bethsaida - mirage
of marriage - inverse Roman holiday
baptized in firewater
- where your body lies.
Here in the square where the children
are waiting to watch the tailspin
of a funny fellow fool - and now will begin
again at the temple to make my impression
of your palm, little one - see what you are!
You herd the two lazy wedges through
a bisonstone condenser and. . .  stir:
slowly, slower. . .  slowes. . .  star.
As we walk across these coals reading
the manual of laboring in the womb
where slow lamps mingle sodium
and moonlight, Lakota bleeding
Red Dog Joe gone disappear-come-back
blood red Strong-heart again. Said,
carrying his potter-cup of lead-
the-way-way dancing. To the rack.
Day after day, among the branches
dry and green. And said to them,
you will all be baptized with photons
and sodium. . .  with prairie phosphorus
behind your eyes (while the body goes
on toward the grave). O ineffable
wings - my unbelief! Marble
crumbles into indeterminate clays -
where a slow light rivering from stone shows
everyone one aviary - doves, pigeons,
undivided - and the soul glows, ashen,
from the residue - and each spry sparrow
is - Alpha and Omega - and the whirlpool
in the dusty mudpie is - warp-sped
(whrpmn) substantial manuscripted
leaves - Love's Mississippi level -
. . . troubling the pool with a plumbline
in the shape of a lamb, played from
a lamp in your palm a thrum
of a sphere (Nile-mud with mine
own hands thrown) within a square
of salt - imago in the hand of the potter,
whole-eyed world in the hand of the potter,
rodman even at last - Thou Hand of Fire
merged, emergent, toward you -
as you dance there in the fiery furnace
and petrified are through smoking matrix
lifted up. . .  clay Quetzal - bronze - Coatlicue.
Ghost dancing still as the sun rose
clothed in red (like a furious lamb) and
climbs (gnomon-sword) up the pine limb
ridgepole toward the point of the gyro.
And I follow into the sifting blue.
Clay lumping toward the kiln.
Swallow-swooning reed-frail
braille-red river wind. Slough
of sighing - mind in whorl
of your steep index. Potter's
pinhole - tepee apex - there's
your needle's eye at last. Swirl,
sway, worm-swarm. . .  spirit
full of wind and grass
become a light SW
mystery - Cawtantowwit.
The soul light floats off - toward you.
My son, my son. . .  and the wounds
bound tight now, the tree groans -
the tribes surround - hey ey yo
your spirit grows. . .  all wind
as in the husk of buffalo
hide fluttering Jonah
rides it. . .  sun
blade across your halcyon
last day come liberate
blaze at
last all won


for the miracle of seeing fingers. . . 


The night grows dark in the neglected garden.
Sleep falls to others. Lord if you please. . . 
take away this cup of furious
wind. Your utter silence. And then:
I go blind. When eyes go blind. . . 
skin listens. Whorl of fingertips.
Meek light, Michal. . .  so slow, so sweet. . . 
laps against my clay. An April wind,
warm air. . .  breathing. . .  So forth I go,
hidden in pink palms and mountain
laurel, toward the fourth. Unseen
yet and unseeing yet. I go.
Braille of brave body (my beloved
donkey now). As Peter's keys
rattle across one swollen prairie
tepee. Finger. Notched in the grove.
Who am I to thank? In the silence of the night
and the forsaken grasslands by day's
abiding sweetness? Even without poetry?
Even mute - stumbling, limping - upright, burly?
Blind evening. . .  God, they have forsaken me.
With every ounce of strength. . .  with history. . . 
with books, with charms, with fairs. . .  cant sees.
As I lie here mumbling to myself - prairie,
. Ground down. Great drops of red pour
from my eyes, my vain eyes, my blind eyes, empty
- while your invincible palms rotate the clay.
Whirled I shall not betray this - your hour.
Until sated with flesh all the bards of the air
muster beneath a maple tree. Stir
Mississippi - Red River, gather
here - where thunder blooms. Sum - somewhere.
Hey ey yo. . .  sound of running water
out of a deep faucet. Kedron, Missouri -
cauldron of misery - sweatlodge - weary
harness, tinder, pipesmoke - fire.
Rose up spirit from sad bones once again
ey hey yo. . .  toward the milky queen
lover-bee: there, elm-top deacon
cicada-king - your rivery one:
miss sappy tree, miss twirly cubitry
(Miss Memphis Mr. Nine Ms. Mystery)
mis-stumbling Brooklyn I-taska-you - see,
droning King Like-you-me? - my prairie
ceremony (even you, odd ballerina) -
there they go, wheeling over the meadow
(- double roses, in a borrowed wheelbarrow -)
followed by a swallowtail (yellow-black, blue-eye).
An Itza hair-on-your-head muttery spirit
lifted toward Mount Orizaba on the horizon!
Plunge your hands now into the swaying
zone! Seaboard, all! Itza infinite!
Mount on. . .  garnered
green garnet of the garden -
starlet in the barrel, swollen
with Jordan! Herd
every tendered mess-of-pottery Messiah-
shambling assembling anisy-toiling
swan-divining Stevedore-St-stealing
gypetometering ring wassailing Ra
Ra Sun Ra Chippewa watering
stone-whistling Osiris ocarina-raining
sub-sub-sub-remaining sighting bell-
ringing tomorrow morning's   crossbearings


The Grassblade Light is the sequel to a book-length poem titled Stubborn Grew, forthcoming from Spuyten Duyvil Press this fall ( The Grassblade Light is available in limited quantities in a set of 8 chapbooks, printed by the author. Contact for more information. (In this email address, there is an underline character, not a spacebar, between Henry and Gould.)
Henry Gould  
Henry Gould lives in Providence, RI, where he co-edits Nedge. He co-edited & published an anthology in honor of poet/translator Edwin Honig titled A Glass of Green Tea - With Honig (available from Fordham University Press; the Contents list is available at the EPC site at Buffalo at
His poems & essays have appeared in non, Talisman, Witz, and elsewhere. His "neo-sonnet" sequence Island Road can be found online at Mudlark (
A book-length "countertop-epic" Stubborn Grew is forthcoming this fall from Spuyten Duyvil Press.



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