Sunday, March 6, 2016

Poetry By Jack Harvey

Michael the Paphlagonian

Michael’s fingers
were big as his arms,
riding in from
a good war;
sick as a dog, 
he won acclaim.

A long disease does more
to our souls
than our bodies;
the fretful blood
and flesh accept.

God called,
Michael answered
at the last;
the crown of gold
exchanged for 
the white robes
of the anointed,
the helmet of salvation.

At the sacred font,
omphalos of
God’s mother,
Michael stands;
dipped in the 
watery hole
Michael emerges,
waiting on death
like a good servant.
The mystic waters
close again,
as Christ’s belly.

Take, O take
these bleeding guts
away, whispers Michael
to his servants.
Tottering off,
he remembers Zoe
betrayed in her palace,
a moment’s pleasure repaid.

He has gone to 
his reward,
they say, 
looking skyward.
In a golden halo
he smiles from 
his beautiful picture;
art for life. 

Psellus told too much 
and not enough about
those troubled times;

again and again
never to touch
the groping fingers
find the reins.


    Dead As A Doornail
 (Odyssey Book XI- Nekuia)

Farming not at all 
we like,
the pasture boggy and
the day dirt-long with toil.

In the kingdom of the dead
Achilles’ flap 
about working a live sharecropper
than ruling the death-house-
he must have been kidding.

He was.

Toil is lady luck’s backside,
unfurnished and smelly;
give me ghosts and
the rest of eternity.

Poet Jack Harvey

      Good Night Nurse

Nearing once again
the legerdemain
that forced my wandering gaze
to the gate in
that grey wall,
like China’s wall,
that rises and falls,
following the hilly terrain
between today and yesterday;
swallowing once again regrets.

So silly to forget
that what’s planted
comes up or doesn’t-
falling far
from the tree
the acorn borne
abroad by 
noisy winds
discovers newfangled
its parent oak
couldn’t care less,
pitched down to mold
or chopped and trimmed,
its strength lost
against the earth.

Nearing once again and losing
what little time
I spent diddling
my accounts;
unbalanced, the books are shut
before my eyes-
red and black ink run.

Fearing once again
I fast on dreams
untasted, unadorned;
before my eyes
my lovely children
live on without my
devotion; without me
Sanskrit and Volap√ľk
are spoken.

In my grey coat
lost in Constantinople,
old whore whose
veins of streets
stand out
on a Cleopatra forehead;
her sacred heart
leads me through
door after door
to the hidden keep.
There, I wait
for the sun, raining
through a grate,
to touch with light
the lonely hermit queen.
Attendant physicians
at the birth of beauty,
do we treasure the event?
Leda’s eggs,
shimmering like pearls,
pass through hairy gates;
on their way
the sundering twins,
the queen to be
drawing Greeks 
like bees swarming.

Forget the war,
the waste,
forget the cure,
forget history;
to the pure
all things shine like 
the sea on a summer day
and a golden mirage
courts the mind’s eye,
hangs in the sky,
night after starry night.

In the earth
the termite queen gives
births upon births;
we don’t see 
her patient labor
or care.

In the reaches of eternity,
observers and observed,
to that unwinking third eye
we blur so quick
that even August’s
meteors slow down
before we change our place.

Veering once again,
time, a word,
a metaphor reversed,
runs backwards,
ram’s horn uncurled,
eating and emitting light.

Christ or chaos,
I need air,
air more than light.
Let Goethe see
in the last violet 
of the evening;
I want to breathe.
Coming up empty,
time running
short as a 
baby’s foot,
loses its place.

Let’s start again
with nearing once again
the despair that’s
so stupid in a
grown man;
grown old,
phantom, dream, shadow;
to himself
life’s little dear
onward he goes;
his stronger-than-sorrow heart,
his essence,
his esurient greed,
whatever you call it, 
needs no time 
like the present
to show its force majeure.

Nearing, nearing
forcing us through
the crack in the gate,
hark, the magic
is a picture of,
is a study of,
is numbers.
One number.


And when winter comes
it provides;
itself an
ant among ants.


     Girlish Lips

Red countries,
of smiles,
grimace of 
pain or love,
fat heroes
of composure.


The Persistence of Beatrice

Yes, then I kissed you
behind the barn and 
in the barnyard things
went on and on.
You quacked 
like a duck and 
I honked like a goose
behind the barn and
then you went to heaven
and we all cried.
At your grave
the birds
sat on the ground 
and blinked.

But soon the 
grass grew in
behind the barn and 
in the barnyard
you crowed on and on.

Jack D. Harvey’s poetry has appeared in Scrivener, Mind In Motion, Slow Dancer, The Antioch Review, Bay Area Poets’ Coalition, The University of Texas Review, Innisfree Poetry Journal, The Piedmont Journal of Poetry and a number of other poetry magazines over the years, many of which are probably kaput by now, given the high mortality rate of poetry magazines.  

The author has been writing poetry since he was sixteen and lives in a small town near Albany, N.Y. He was born and worked in upstate New York. He is retired from doing whatever he was doing before he retired. 

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