Coda: Eight poems in black, after Goya

[N.B. What began for me with 50 Caprichos after Goya & has continued with variations on “The Disasters of War” will end with this Coda, first sketched in Madrid 2007, in the shadow of his darkest works. (J.R.)]



two women watch

a man    his hand

under his cloak

or in his pants    the act

that causes one

to grin, the other

wryly looking on

as in a dream




a procession of

old whores & madams


bearing fardels

& a gallant

from a former time

lined up along the base

of a grey mountain

holy crones

& well-laced fathers

of the inquisition.




A Pilgrimage for San Isidro


who but the dead

can scream so

with their eyes rolled back

their mouths

like black holes

whom a blind man leads

strikes a guitar

& to his left

two men in black

two women in half-white

without a face





devouring his sons

whites of his eyes

as brilliant as

the red blood flowing

from the severed


blood on his hands

his penis hot

& throbbing




man fighting man

with cudgels

drawing blood

a stream of red

across his face

& sinking

ever deeper

into the mud




a poor dog

hidden in the brown

& yellow mud

that could be clouds

– the way they suffer

without sound –




The Witches Sabbath (1)


Satan as a great

goat    black

& holding court

before a ring

of men & women,

too deformed

from watching

the small figure


covered with

white shroud,

& at the edge

a young boy,

almost cut

from sight

the only

gentle soul,

whose screaming

mother hollers

at the assembled





The Witches Sabbath (2)


red more brilliant

than her eyes,

the blanket set across

her mouth,

poor doll & witch,

& yet the eyes

are turning backwards

in her head,

the one who flies with her,

a rock between

his teeth, a tongue

made stone,

the yellow wind

spiking his hair,

who has no choice

but points a finger

at a hill in space,

a city on a hill,

that vanishes.

Nothing has changed

since then,

try as we will,

nor will it please you,

friend & father,

the ragged soldiers

aiming guns,

the line of pilgrims,

barely seen,

circling the lonely fell,

the old witch

like a sibyl

arisen from your dream

ready to tell it all.


* Originally published in J.R., Concealments & Caprichos, Black Widow Press, 2008.