Gihon

- 1954-
They all wore little hats
Vermont that  I
Can see, the river its coronet
Of yellow beetles—crawling,
Flying—the flowers wearing
The river for a hat.
I can see that 
When I stand alone
Upon this acre as now
Sober and living, the same, the same.

They wore:
Hats.
They are not dead,
John and Johnny and John,
Which is a fine name for a river,
Only gone.
Having death out of the way,
The ill-fitting suicide discarded,
Pajama-like, on imaginary sand:
Good, good. We stand.

More by Donald Revell

Virgil Watched Them

Virgil watched them
Crossing the river away from him
The fathers without their children
Only a little while

Was he smiling
-Ly
-Ily
At Death the Golden Age

Falling backwards
In the Chinese restaurant
The tiniest fireman
I could see that he was smiling

Plenty of children in Arcady without fathers 
Our friends long before sundown

My Mojave

Sha-
Dow,
As of
A meteor
At mid-
Day: it goes
From there.

A perfect circle falls
Onto white imperfections.
(Consider the black road,
How it seems white the entire
Length of a sunshine day.)

Or I could say
Shadows and mirage
Compensate the world, 
Completing its changes
With no change.

In the morning after a storm,
We used brooms. Out front,
There was broken glass to collect.
In the backyard, the sand
Was covered with transparent wings. 
The insects could not use them in the wind
And so abandoned them. Why
Hadn't the wings scattered? Why
Did they lie so stilly where they'd dropped?
It can only be the wind passed through them.

Jealous lover,
Your desire
Passes the same way.

And jealous earth,
There is a shadow you cannot keep
To yourself alone.
At midday,
My soul wants only to go
The black road which is the white road.
I'm not needed 
Like wings in a storm, 
And God is the storm. 

Vietnam Epic Treatment

It doesn't matter
A damn what's playing—
In the dead of winter
You go, days of 1978 -
79, and we went
Because the soldiers were beautiful
And doomed as Asian jungles
Kept afire Christ-like
In the hopeless war
I did not go to in the end
Because it ended.

The 20th-century?
It was a war
Between peasants on the one side,
Hallucinations on the other.
A peasant is a fire that burns
But is not consumed.
His movie never ends.
It will be beautiful
Every winter of our lives, my love,
As Christ crushes fire into his wounds
And the wounds are a jungle.
Equally, no matter when their movies end,
Hallucinations destroy the destroyers.
That's all.
There has never been a President of the United States.

And the 21st-century?
Hallucination vs. hallucination
In cold battle, in dubious battle,
No battle at all because the peasants
Have gone away far
Into the lost traveler's dream,
Into a passage from Homer,
A woodcutter's hillside
Peacetime superstition movie.
On a cold night, Hector.
On a cold night, Achilles.
Around the savage and the maniac
The woodcutter draws a ring of fire.
It burns all winter long.
He never tires of it
And for good reason:
Every face of the flames is doomed and beautiful;
Every spark that shoots out into the freezing air
Is God's truth
Given us all over again
In the bitter weather of men's
Hallucinations. There has never been
A President of the United States.
There has never been a just war.
There has never been any life
Beyond this circle of firelight
Until now if now is no dream but an Asia.

Related Poems

Jacksonville, Vermont

Because I am not married, I have the skin of an orange 

that has spent its life in the dark. Inside the orange 
I am blind. I cannot tell when a hand reaches in 

and breaks the atoms of the blood. Sometimes
 
a blackbird will bring the wind into my hair. 
Or the yellow clouds falling on the cold floor are animals 

beginning to fight each other out of their drifting misery. 

All the women I have known have been ruined by fog 
and the deer crossing the field at night.