Take Dove Street to Fox Point

The 2000 Spuyten Duyvil edition of Stubborn Grew was dedicated to Francesca, my ex-wife, and our two children, Alexander and Phoebe.  As we have seen, the poem twists & gyrates around like a snake nailed to a board.  What began (surveyed in early posts here) as the sketch of a grand American epic poem - sending tentacles & vines out from Rhode Island into a vast interior, in search of Juliet & Crane & Berryman & Kees & national redemption & resurrection - instead swerves inward on Providence, becoming more local & personal as it goes along, fracturing on a vortex of infidelity & break-up.  What was an epic becomes a "personal" epic, a confessional poem.

Yet traces of place are imprinted on the story.  Henry & Bluejay & RI Statehood Day, all tangled up in violet.

In this third chapter, remorse for a broken vow becomes explicit.  The poem shims into lament.  As the chapter proceeds, the refrain from a Shoshone dream-song echoes through.  So the epic link with some "larger picture" is not completely snapped.  These things find surprising recurrence in the (unplanned) sequels to Stubborn Grew : two volumes, The Grassblade Light and July.  (As noted, the completed long-poem trilogy is titled Forth of July.)


A lion, as purr, sd Henry to himself, while 
spumedust arose and spread from a mess of 
implosives, and blackered coffies spouted fitfully, 
like Old Yellerstone, blurring the windowsill.

If you sloop righthand, upperdownside, nor'sou'weast 
from the Terrace, you wind up eventuality at
our old RW's spring again.  Then, string a PG2 pivot 
peg from the end of his stone kenosis – it can't be beast!

The full-white wait is in espresso, you blackguard
the waitress was saying [to someone else, perhaps?] 
so why don't you just shove that swill – shovel cap
a little further up your crapula, jerkhead.

What's eating her?  Or what am I eating here?
He gazed down at his Roman X ground sandwich, 
dipped in a cuppa sand inner hourglass (fresh). 
His potentage (straight from the scupper) was bear,

and he felt a colossal headache of lil Rhody coming, 
lean-toing over a peasfull sea of sour gas soup; 
his Peter was still very primate [we hope] 
although his portable Masonic temple throbbing

across the road from the State House added 
another thousand jeers worth of Gs of pressure
and on top of not knowing his Ps and Qs there were 
that all the other epics pickled in pewter and padded

to fill out the enormous gyring speech balloon
designed for a non-Euclidean ukelele [not RI Manny's –
the other Gee's – Navigrating Henry's –]
because the pontoon

broke off suddenly.  Against the gathering grain 
of river water.  And the musky scow, inkremlinated 
with red herrings, headed, south, southeasted, 
the pilot washing his hands in a golden pan

while the whole thing was listed aboard steers
in the pitchblack, lowing overloudly, loony.
But the sheep were shipshape.  Sleepily
they waited, in Newport, for the Black Schooners;

the blind bookworm, reading his heavenly massive 
borgesmurder smorgasbord, swaddled on downstream; 
blithely, into the ravine again, the whipcream
rising, dregs dragging, awkward, unlucky cleaver

toward the delta floating.  It was an upwardownwar,
foldunfold hexagonal startling origami game 
played by a fatland stealth boomer – a lit, lame-
duck, shakeyfooldy, doublylooney huffelynx copper

gave Suzie a black Sinai, I'll say! – when it fell apart. 
Because the flipped side of a tricornered egotrip
is in the poignant coign of a family give-up;
a black whole equals a white croissant there, Bert.

Eastward, your Veep decusstulates – a precipitation 
of legionnaire's disease, jetlegged around the globe
on a purely theoretical plane.  A disrobed orb
grows skeptical when you forces kiss the Blarney stone;

why don't you ditch your I.D. with that fib-related 
copper down there with the raven too –
we all know Gepetto's ghetto
train goes nosing along toward Ashlantis,

we don't need your imploded photo-finnish Vishniac 
to tell us which crystalloid lucky stars
were not so lucky, when the Passover is shards
of a bloodsoaked moon quaternion, from way back –

your ship's a cup of bitter tears. 
The star's in the cold well –
harsher now, more truthful, 
salt.  Squared up from Mars,

westward the course of Empire takes its way; 
the beast at last.  And your somystical Sofaship
is an O.P. dictator of leather bound boxed-up 
Public Works – all we do is read about it and cry.

Your papier-maché mock-up puppeteership 
unfolds, and then hexplodes, scattering
miniscule hailstones aloft, hung
over, weightless; the verbs go drip. . . drip. . . drip. . .

until we go ahead and drown, Daddy-o;
if only you would shatter your oppressive puss-
heater just a little more so we could discuss 
the family – the whole thing, all together now,

you stupid sew-and-sew knitwit you.
Because I've waitered and waitered a long long time 
just to tell you how sick of your blank rhyme
we all are – you can ship your Pegasus to the glue

factory down south anywhere nobody will notice 
and we'd all be better off, facing the facts for once. 
Dad, you are a dunce,
and a real bastard to boot – get this

straight, from me.  What the H was it all for
to get you off the hook with some fine-assed finesse? 
You dug your own shit so much, you can eat that mess. 
It's a cruel surprise, but you're not the only squire

under the sun, okay?  And you try to talk us
into your roundhead Okeefenokee crocodile smile-
cage every which weirdo you can – those endless trial 
balloons. . . but we aren't going along with this!

Because Cesca, Phoebe and Alex, dodo, we can jay-
jaw you undergound anytime, you – barkin orf-orf-orf 
with your mouth full of brit and metamorph. . .
it's disgusting!  What more can I say?

Northwards, into the snow, with you, big Daddy.
Go on up now with your Roman V – get cleaned up 
and frozen for another millennium. So long, Pop! 
And don't forget that leprechaun – lucky-ducky, Paddy!

His lowered lip asweat, is she talk in t'me? 
Henry thought.  Here, he wroth, his wake! was
finned again for those grand polar nightcaps! –
his great hand-pickled epic, circling-immensity –

and yet this gal – calling his H? 
Out of nowhere?  What gives? 
What for gives,
brotha.  Outa yo reach.

Faintly, through the smoke-funneled, clouded pane, 
southeastward, out in the bay, he thought he saw
a tanker.  Gracefully maneuvering the narrow
waters; moving forward, slowly, past the last shoreline.



Through the steamed-up and fibrillated porthole 
(Henry's eyes blurring) the ship grew dimmer.
Where once was a bond, is now a liner,
he thought – Lion Line, QE– negative mole.

And without the bond – that lightwit burden –
the line goes blind – blinder and blinder,
up down (signally) through slats in a cellar –
a phony Phoenician Blind King (overdrawn

and circulating) draining down around Puss Eddie's.
 Stubbed at the Point, growing obscurer
and more trivial; a misty drawer
full of resin waters. . .

Through the glass on the tables of his heartstrung 
dimly strum, espied – the vessel's marked now, 
near its prow.  An anchor hole? or
apple, in a hexagon (a yellow sweeting)?

Or is that a reflection, on the bow,
of a whirlpool, starboard, there?
By God – the ship is going down! [Where?] 
Towering (132 ft. tall) into the blue,

the stern of a titanic goner's gondola
wobbling beneath a tall, uncaring campanile –
woven from nothing – frescoed on a wailing wall 
of waves and people, slowly

sinks. . .

At the foot of the crossroad – Hope's end, 
at wicked Wickenden – where the whisking 
wail of the freeway charcoals the sky 
with exhausted oils and fumes and

where was Daily Bread and the aquarium 
fish shop window and the hair salon and 
"Golden Thief' on all four corners – and
it was the very end of Hope [millennium?]

and crawling like a cat or horizontal pillar 
along the seafloor of the fishbowl
she remembered herself the whole polar
treble, O treering circus in I R –

unbeknownst to H, I was in the Exchange 
watching his I wander, pushing his woolfink
ravine down the peterways while he sinks 
contemplating his toyed-up naval derange-

ment, a clay flit-flot rhodomontade flotilla 
(mere object dart, that would never
float down any neva-neva)
while our marriage went down the river

there.  And strange how he remarks
his victims – lets them wear his troubled 
star, so, so.  Steadily (at the foot of Hope) 
she murmured to herself, and walked

Phoebe's middle name is Grace,
and Alex is a Falcon Ace – they'll steppe 
round his fog-end potholed stubbword.

Whole fleets of leaps.  He'll never know. 
And love will knot again (one woven-
firmly-warm and wifely woof) one 
warped weirdsmith – in a golden poncho

threading out of Mexico, or high Peru. 
He thinks his tic-toc titanship's 
gone down – gave us all pink slips. . . 
put us on his list. . . (the goo

headed idiot) – wants to take us
with him – his heartfelt paper wings 
and all – pulls all the sentimental strings. 
But he can't make us.

She walked out of the coffin shop 
the long way home, strolling
to India Point.  A scroll
of endless traffic surged (blip

on her horizon).  The sky pale
blue, the sun beamed down, spread 
sheer diagonal arrays, the wind
(in spurts) performed – a spirit-whale,

a dolphin, joyful.  Here we are
she thought.  I'll take stock, take 
the kids, to Rome.  We'll break 
this prison-patterned coo-coo patter.

Because my children need a father, 
and there's no one here.  His clever line's 
gone down, he thinks.  Mine's
iron, though.  It's just the anchor.

Only my canker, worming down.  Splash, 
to the very bottom of the bottomland. 
A secret sea.  Take my hand,
Alex, Phoebe – we'll hash

this out somehow.
Her mind's made up.  Heartbroken, 
undeterred (the word already spoken), she 
returned, a waltzing mourning dove, to 1-3-2.


Site of Roger Williams' spring (Providence)

Dove St. (Fox Point)

Fox Point (view from Providence harbor)

The Coffee Exchange


No comments:

Post a Comment