Swan song

How hangs the moon?
Its swells all aglow
contained in essences unguessed,
or unremembered.

How dies the sun?
Its fires all but claimed,
mortgaged to the teeth,
unable further to dim.

The stars still hold their own, it seems.
Orion still hunts the bear,
faithful mutt dogging his footheels,

bow at the ready, at least until
one or another of its strings
explodes across the sky,
uncontrolled, reckless.

If there’s a lesson in it for us,
mudbound, entwined, encoiled
in rumored codes, blind to the stipulations
of our own existence,

it will be told too late,
our gasps of recognition
insufficient to sustain us.

Gulag

In winter, stars seem uninterested,
cold, like the wind against your face,
not white-hot, but just white
without a trace of irony,

and the moon itself,
while sympathetic,
just shrugs its way
across the frozen sky.

You dig yourself deeper
and sleep, aware
of the special cold
of a pointless dawn.