In the Middle of the Road

It is startling now how
sexual the poems of 15, 16 were — not
surprising, closet ached, but
the almost classic images
of bells and candles, apples
hair and bridges came
completely without calculation
mixed with vague
communistic slogans
this obviousness of compulsive
wildass lack crapola
still carries the mysteries
I must learn
Later, I was raised
to please my father
now it may mean more
though I have not sat in lodge for 10 years or more
as what the hometown
centrum had
for holding, I could make more of
than they did — not even Pike
certainly not my father’s
Grand Mastership, not Kipling’s
profound, nor Mozart’s
care for the brotherhood in craft
— my father’s middle name —
nor Kelly’s occultry imagining
though closer — no closer
to my brother and I outside the closed lodge room
before the Eastern Star
“Pomp and Circumstance” on the piano the smell
of downtown Fort Scott 80’s upstairs
so at the edge of an ancient, in me
          of my other eras
cliff never there, above
          the sealess plains
the Bobbsey Twins at seashore cottage
a nostalgic domesticity
that would be the street surge
leaf surf, as at an edge
a vista Fort Scott was the vantage to
every town has in it another town
it looks on to —
on Seven Hills, “like Rome”
out over bottom lands
but the hidden vista
there is a secret trail of connections
(as there are those who have never absorbed houses
or been taken in by the woodwork
and reemitted in the dull hallway gleam)
the secret connecting trails, as Buck Clayton’s
Parsons to Shanghai, but no so obvious
and far more direct — the early
still certain backbone
Ft. Leavenworth to Ft. Gibson
Indian lines — the Kansas City
culture cut, as
to Mississippi, Kansas, via
Memphis, the Frisco
track web
mysterious — where
did the crude fedora feather go
in the ballast mud by Holly Springs?
an intestinal
cantaloup rind
we came to Fort Scott from somewhere else
North Carolina
was my mother’s state
so it seemed a hidden family blood line finding
out years later my father’s
illegitimate child, older than my brother
in North Carolina? Virginia?
[1972, Boston, MA]