A Messenger

We have taken from the head
We have thought
We have scarcely named sorrow
There is something to obey
Struck against a pole
Blood, dust
In the bright sea
A monster
In the message from the lady
He is greater
In the presence of the one the two
Whatever he urges you
Stick, hard and fast—
A messenger
Speeding toward the palace
In our hands, his pace.


(After W.H. Auden)


The human arm is sleepless.
Fevers, proves, paid children
on the head of love—
on the individual scorned.

But my arms break
with the day entirely beautiful—
ordinary matter, grave
vision, knocking bell.

The head breaks, the eyes break,
glaciers wake, blow tolerant,

pass tolerant into the night—
the boring cry of a whisper,
the fashionable knocking
enough to strike fidelity.