When thistles to a father
mean starlings to a tree
the names of constellations
cease to mean a thing.

When war has subdivided
and sired many sons,
where grows the master
in whose trust we shall succumb?

Can a mistake be unlearned
or must it be paid off in full?
We promised no one but ourselves,
with no one but us to lose.

In glacial focus warmed by ice
vaporous tracings lend device
to a precisely positioned skeletal hand
aiming a magnifying glass at the sand.

Erasing all traces and even memories
the names of relations disappear in the trees
the foggy invasions, the birds in the eaves,
the stars in the window, the whispers of thieves.


shaun said...

written aug 29, 2004
black ink pen, final
poem in the cleodora
blue wireless neatbook

el topo said...

i like this poem, and any poems that explore our psychic need to seek out authority, at least until we gain the wisdom and experience neccessary to let the more false varieties go. in the moments that ring true, it seems authority belongs to nothing but the thing itself.

el topo said...

beautiful poem.

Dee said...

In my view all subsequent stanzas must point back to the ultimo. However because for the life of my dunderheaded self I cannot figure out what thistles have to do with fathers, I have no recognizable frame of reference to follow. What do you mean by 'thistles to a father?'

el topo said...


It almost seems as if you are missing the point while it stares into your face...which happens to me a lot too...

but try reading it again, and think about the relationships set up... the equation...:

"When thistles to a father
mean starlings to a tree
the names of constellations
cease to mean a thing."

shaun said...

Thanks for commenting, Dee. The short answer: the 1st stanza is a sort of poetic analogy. "If thistles are to a father" / "what starlings are to a tree", then "the names of constellations cease to mean a thing". Its a reference to the paradox of our having named things (see: Adam in the garden of Eden) when in fact, All is One. The title of the poem is the common denominator of all life, i.e, 'from dust to dust'.

I hope this suffices to kickstart your appreciation of the poem.