David Wolf




Gist of attention, sturdy as the mournful kook I remain …
Hormones: where have all the flirtations gone?
I’ll survive, like the novelty act, Disestablishmentarianism & Hepplewhite.
Sunrise, clear the mountain, clear my ancestral hodgepodge.

A sally of blues:
Basking in the range of discarded forethought, I turned, nullifying my own honesty.
And I was in, a fetal dingo, my crosspiece glistening,
remembering that a splotch is just a blotch in some books.
Easy to forget in the midst of all our misty brawls (so ruled by fools).

Such is the slough of consciousness: Pillowed nothings? Words. Loves.
Once closer than rain and rain-slicked moss.

Still, I can work on parting further from the mind’s latest avowals, its old gilded mission
to stroll through all the talk, the stew, the ambiance, a self masked as the lost guest venturing

Will, voice husky at noon, lowers its bullhorn.


Duchess Sweet Fanny Adams, I dreamt of you once more.
You were lingrering over a Chartreuse at the Café Subterfuge.
Now it’s morning and I’m back to sluicing the halo’s glow from my brow.

More meandering ahead—bubbles blown by the beggar in me
whose song extinguishes nothing.

I feign to shred the sails, to yearn like a mustard seed for the hush of lavender (void-assuaged).

I did arrive like a tear (bristling at the sea).

I, too, once conjured an ardor ancient, nervy, asking some shifty angels surfing the foam
to conjure a trail of beautiful words, and this is what I got:
cerulean, periwinkle, typhoid, gallery, lament—

lament indeed—

lament’s octet splintering in the willowy aurora of it all, slipping, amended, hewn to the swirl.


Above the tree-line: strewn grief, ice-dicta,
sutured rock faces who keep the best company they can high above the valleys
of autumn’s blended shocks of yellow, green, fire.

This is no cracked mask, rather suppression’s upshot.

I’m long-tossed from the garden of the saints (where I hear the revolution has just toweled off
and booked the banquet hall at the Inn of the Gold-Toed Paladin).

Sierra, high Sierra, Sierra:

All this desire to rise above the hokum only brings more hail, thin air, thin light,
a lost scattering of tapers.


Ambition mocks the way you mislay it.
Shake to all its dead resonance.
The quiver’s in the lens.
Spirited thatch, this.

I’ll just go on lolling about in my quantum robe, clamoring for a little glee.

Death’s tight little cellar seems …

Full flight of fear—
just one of many weak wishes sifted from some ex-goddess’s purse thrown
from the last coach.

Song, dilute what severities you can, love the graying generosities,
the vaulting cloud-swim—
sing proof
of the lyrebird,
the mole-rat,
the core’s abandon and the harlequin sweep of it all.




I fear my turn back to the fog; my high spirits grieve, curdle—
tiny bone shadows fill the page.

The five rivers of Hades are…
blue arrow of a jay dives
for the worm in the grass,
gets it.

Let me idle through the haze,
waiting for the walnuts to fall as love splits all around me.

A quiet crow paces the dirt, stops, seems to eye the fallen yellow leaf—
or precisely what?

No song-starved knowing just now.


Frayed lining of the inscrutable, I’m chilly.
Though happy to be down in the flatlands once more.

Still can’t see the dust for all the sugar in the bowl.

Spring-like autumn light on early snow—
a few leaves beat some final flurries into the grass.

Intuition leaning toward nothingness?

Just prior measure, grating against the old wind-swagger.

pale deer, pale moth, things were fading, what can I say?


Other, otter, who would I be?

The smoke in the air of the Carmenere?

Tipsy Orion stumbling toward the horizon,
                               tripping into the winter trees?

Frayed pennon of blue snow

     blowing through a streetlamp’s glow

                       the wind

               pitching deference ousted

          I fume

                             like a spent patriot, mussed locus

                of the wind chime flung to the swirl

the dissonance—


           fatigue of gloss and creed—

 tapped from the dream:

amid the second hand’s ticks

ticks of ice flurries

against the window then back,

back down to sleep’s ragged epic


David Wolf is the author of three collections of poetry: Open Season, The Moment Forever, and Sablier. His work has appeared in The Hampden-Sydney Poetry Review, Hiram Poetry Review, New York Quarterly, Poet & Critic, River Styx Magazine, and numerous other literary magazines and journals. He lives in Des Moines, Iowa, and is Chair and Professor of English at Simpson College.


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MadHat, Issue 15, Winter 2013-2014