Spiritual Exercise, forthcoming 2017
Lost and Found, Pinecone Press, 2017
Two Cats & a Musician, Pinecone Press, 2016
Ripe Studies, Pinecone Press, 2016
Map of Art, Pinecone Press, 2015
Pool of Fire, Pinecone Press, 2015
Speech of Being, Pinecone Press, 2015
Child Sorrow of the Creek, Pinecone Press, 2014
A Strung Bow, R.L. Barth, 2000
After the War, R.L. Barth, 1998
Chantey: A Ballad of Young Love
Beyond the hutch,
Rising in the air, the terns twist,
Glide, and they touch,
The trawlers bob, the schooners list,
And on a white
Stone and blond beach, lift I a grain
Of sand as slight
As a tern’s veering in the rain.
Bony and weary,
Buoyed by the wind, wet as a wave,
It sings a teary
Sea chantey of the grave. “Be brave,”
It tries, “be bold!”
It cries, “Every line that is drawn
Here in the sand
Tomorrow all soon will be gone.
“What if the old
Are not,” tries next, “young, night not dawn,
If lover’s mend
A quarrel sweetly in the sun?”
Plays he with shells; playing love scenes,
She finds the end
Of it so justifies the means,
They hardly talk.
The boy is shy, and she, un-kissed,
On sand like chalk
Snaps on a bracelet, while she dares;
Joined by a string,
Its shells are twelve,
She hums a theme a tern might sing,
And, newly, cares
For him that made it for her wrist.
The hand that oils
The Sistine’s height,
The wrist that coils
Snakes of the light,
Was never young,
Nor pleased by men
With a sweet tongue
With a sweet scent.
Is a mean state
Of mind. Lord, free
It of the hate
Of nothing at
All at this time.
This priest is fat,
As a ripe lime,
These nuns corrupt
The bishop, carve
Roast and have supped,
Let the poor starve.
Let the chimes sound
At holy hour
On sacred ground
The papal power,
The fatal tree
Is paint to me,
And it my lens.
Preserve this vault.
Who will restore
It? Who will halt
At the high door,
See Aaron’s rod
Give birth to Pan,
The grip of God
Hands love to man?
If, to faith, I will not leap? By degrees
Next will not near the Divine on my knees?
It’s I and Thou
Are speaking now.
But if the Lord, unknown, will be ungratified
Except by it or, angry, is unsatisfied,
What distance in time, between us, and space?
And is it likely I will face Thy face?
If backwards I walk, I am on my toes.
Then note it, speak,
Who know this old attitude in any place,
At any altitude,
goes at it own pace,
To say I am closer says we are close.
Deprived of magic
Are you, mythic, to me, comic or tragic,
The true, the given, and the un-denied,
When faith is weak.
You get the news, not the bad, but the worst,
So the improbable is the true, cursed
You. Doc is divinity of the facts
In the data from the lab, and it lacks
Nothing, not an exception, the last chance
It might be wrong. Angry, dropping your pants,
Wrap yourself in a gown smelling of Tide,
Summon twice your strength and half of your pride;
Toting a study guide for the MCATS,
The nurse is sexless, and the tech is bats,
As you flop on the table at the spot
A map of the algorithms deems your lot
For half an hour, as the beam radiates
Next the therapy only a fool hates,
Yet you don’t love it much, and for three months
You, Monday through Friday, do the same, dunce
Of the hospital and the waiting room,
In a space vacant as a mummy’s tomb,
Read Maimonides, Galen, or else Kant,
Think of mother live and, Shirl, your aunt,
Take a yoghurt, free, for it rewards you
For being human, being in the new
Wing of the complex named for Mrs. Welthe
Lost to a tumor once in perfect health.