i. 
 
It was not me, but a phantom
whose oath 
a variable star
moldering in the reliquary
is doubt.
 
I have not unsealed love, its taproot 
mouthing blackness 
nor seized the fairer woman
to purge from her her song—
 
This hell-house of primogeniture, bookish
and pale quartering what is also
  its own and only rule
this: fire
and the fire that comes from fire.
 
 
 
ii. 
 
Helen, dispirited
camera-bound Helen
fetching the paper from the front lawn in her dressing gown a lot of the time
and knowing when the phone will ring 
seconds before by the click of its current
 
Demi-goddess—not woman, not god
disembodied like a bowl turned over and its loaf thumping out
Helen
Queen of never-mind-the-time, of you can’t run on gin for all the everlasting
And such 
 
moths, broiling airlessly in a sodium bulb 
smell of it on her front porch
lights on home
 
 
iv. 
 
I do not insist that we retain the old names
          I would know you
 
     ever, light  as the seed
 
 
 
v. 
 
Marketting the daylong detente       for a sliver of profit
does not appear to bother the kingdom of saints
 
Ascetics her brothers—
Spartans whose only god is [insert here
the death of eleven days]
 
Wash the man by the road who turns
and seeing or not seeing
  is soundless, animal
wash him 
he is your brother
enter his encampment (of fuel-scarred fabrics) 
and listen to his black pronouncements
void of exhaust
   scramble up 
the highway’s escarpment
inviolate, good
wash him
or
be without brothers
 
 
xix. 
 
‘As a wheel on its axis turns, this book unwitting to itself,
Around the idea of thee’. [Whitman]
 
Helen of Sparta of Troy in Egypt
of no known address of no known nationality
refugee of no known conflict
stateless without property
disappearing under a veil 
of treason
 
 
xxv. 
 
Helen is instrumental
 
Laws permit me to refuse your advances
although I have eaten the salt from your table
 
As for your hospitality—
I like it anywhere just fine
so long as I’m coming or going
 
Helen is not all but
scattered like grain
 
Vituperate ghost meaning
 
to greet herself to make room
for herself at the table
 
to eat a meal of dry meat and vinegar
 
Helen is not vital
 
 
xxx. 
 
I am not the virgin mother lamenting in the hills above Ephesus
 
I am the invective injuring these dry plains studded with stone pines
 
I am the lateral commemorate of war 
as the steps up to my hiding place suggest
I am the birther of sacrifice      received back into
the earth heavenly rockface 
 
if you knew my real name you would not 
use it so lightly
 
 
xxxii. 
 
An idea is not a woman but many women    
the composite of an idea
 
Ours is an older civilization re-made
dramatis personae recast by different troupes 
rebuilt in the style 
of Ionian capitals 
and fluted pilasters
put through the ringer of the magisterium 
 
we see the real Helen 
is the false we 
is the eidolon
 
 
xxxvii. 
 
You are wild-eyed
You are Helen
 
The grey-blue dawn
the Rosey-fingered Dawn 
turning the snaking cloud 
into the body of a goddess 
raising her thin spear
 
we glide across 
the blue-eyed morning
changing flags 
as a woman changes 
her lover as often
as another 
lover permits
we glide across 
zones of conflict
 
The wind lays down a road
across the waves 
hiding us in a mooring of fog
flanks of earth lighten
like fantasy like Leda’s body 
to make way for our white ship
of a hundred tiers
and some thousand men
 
This parthenous soup
of buried cities 
held close we make out 
the scent of their joints
the only real thing 
in an invented eschatology
of free will
 
Did I mention the Indiana corn 
from whence I came 
and its hot unendingness? 
 
Proud like crosses on a prairie landscape.
Corn madness
industrial corn a devil
bleating like a harp 
made of 22 karat gold
High Fructose Syrup
infantile mass delusion god
sugar fix of empire
 
Helen makes out the morning freeze
in the stillness of a suspended harvest
what eviction has nature made 
in retaliation for these unkillable crops?
Out out for the outing acres of frozen heads.
 
 
xlvi. 
 
‘Put first before the rest as light for all and entrance-song of all,
 
That of eidolons.’  [Whitman]
 
 
No one alive 
remembers 
the unrecordable 
warmth of my 
breath
From Eidolon (Shearsman, 2015) (sections 1, 2, 4, 5, 19, 25, 30, 32, 37, 46, 50)