Poetry from Duane Vorhees


The sun is a gong hung low across the sky,
windswept.earthdirty.sunwhipped: farmers wait inside their bones
for the horizon to rise and beat the daylights out of the sun
and call them from their long dungrows for a night.

Your chastity's a song sung slow through long nights
on muffled virginals: muting babies wailing to be born:
golden arrows, a thong-strung bow        the dream night.
The night is calling: strong, gung-ho -- black hawk in flight.

(Tonight? When one earthtired husbandman works me in his hands
& periods this dry chaste day, waters these furrows hungry from famine?

But no.
             Just one more wrongtongued crow in flight.)


Ah! Nights you were a harem
and I the unmade Bedouin too long in the thirst.
Past the black eunuch of the night
I would steal to your tent,
unarmed save the single arrow in my quiver.
I'd draw sensuously back your damascene veil
and let fly my shaft
deep into your bulls eye arabesque--

Or: you were queen of the hive
and I a drone among the honeys
getting a buzz on and doing my job
plunging among the dusky clover
trying to pollinate the skies
to flower the night with stars.
To lose my only stinger would be to die--

Or else: you were madonna
awaiting your Jealous Commanding God,
The Spawner Of The Cosmos,
Beam Of Light Made Flesh To Hold You In Your Place
(while you shook in rapture for the coming of your Lord,
i a small choirboy would steal into your unguarded churchyard
and send a solitary firework into the cathedral's secret hole
and hope it explodes high up in those beribbèd vaults
and surprise celibate fathers from their sleep).


cruising The Moment,
arrowing past all awareness:
highway,enginewhiine,steeringwheeltrafficWorldsmuginnnngg past
while we, preoccupied, reprise Creation,
absorb Eternity and Logos, Eden/Gethsemane, Genesis-Apocalypse
and the Night the Night,
the private bleeding into the general,
and Ouruniverse proxying for ego.
Glorious cosmic fusion in an infinite minute.
      (or so it briefly eternally seems in our infini-tiny microverse)

The ends of love
are but two

:your V8 plunges from the surface
and, crucified like a butterfly in time,
helpless consciousness heightened,
you hover in slowmotion witness
to the juggernaut earth's decay
just as your metal-again grille
begins to embrace solidity

or: doomed foresight eludes
as you rearend that lightless


My wife is the flag
placed on climbers' highest crags.
 My wife is the mirror
who patrols my appearance
and makes sure all is fit
and I'm vetted to grace the public.
She's the armorer
who's forged our love and honor.
My wife is the ear
who grants the pre-clearance
for my poems' weight and wit
so they're ready to face the critics.
My wife is that fire
to kindle and quell desire.


My mansard roof -- its shingles 
lost so very long ago. 
In Lhasa at Your temple, 
at that brave school in Lisbon, 
I studied my imago. 
My music group's hit singles 
stopped so many songs ago.
I've learned my shakes and wrinkles
but still I wait for wisdom.