They say that God is everywhere, and yet we always think of Him as somewhat of a recluse. – Emily Dickinson
Empirical Evidence can be ordered through:
1) The University of Georgia Press: ugapress or at 1-800-266-5842.
2) Powells bookstore or at (800) 291-9676
Steve can be reached via Email
2000 W Hampton Circle
Petition on the Birth of My Daughter
Lord, who made the earth appear from void, water
to lie upon the earth, sun to make the water burn
assuming upward like a saint into the air
and fall again to earth, who made the sperm
and egg that mingling made our daughter,
the unhappy seek you everywhere
and cannot find you, touch nor look nor word,
and fall asleep confused and wake confused, eyes vague,
looking into other eyes that falter
looking back. Protect and keep her always, Lord,
who made the well and nearly well and shelter
for the poor (with us still, this will not alter),
who placed the seed of mustard
tiny on the tongue.
The seed, the pith, the stone,
the marrow in the bone,
pillow we rest our head upon,
the appropriate passage fallen open in the text
that will or will not instruct;
all matter assumes gravity, draws one object to the next
and depends at last on nothing but mercy.
This world that makes us dizzy
spins and spins, yet stirs
the breeze that soothes the fever.
You're tired, Father, lie, down; how severe
this chastisement of mass - bag of silver
chinging in our pockets, a fulcrum
shifting that no longer bears the kingdom
to which we've come.
And kingdom – a habit inbred
until its law; gospel of heart and kernel and germ fast spread,
the hundred thousand miles between your pillow and the head.
Baby Daughter Half Asleep in a Swing
Whatever she's able to make of the world, it sprawls
before her now – a rollicking sky and earth.
Weightless a moment, the small arms and haunches
thicken with centrifuge. This back and forth
motion and blanched November sun have lulled
her to a stupor. Such sights should keep her conscious
who churned wide-eyed from the womb, (though coated
with a Lethe ooze as if to forget
the blurry sway of the world she'd chosen
and pass from her mother without regret.)
Galileo once clocked, by beats encoded
in his wrist, a censer's swing. Mass and motion
measured time. Worlds in his telescopes
pulled on each other: starry valences
of moons and planets wandering through space,
all tethered by delicate balances
at the far-swung ends of their unseen ropes.
I know time and motion will wear in her face:
Wallendas, the Hanged Man, the sagging Christ,
Harold Lloyd dangling from a city clock,
Jonathan Edwards' tenuous spider
scribbling damnation in its fiery arc.
All of it, even now, pounds in her wrist,
the green world falling away from under.
for Ivonne. . .Noah opened the window….And he sent forth a raven – Genesis 8:6-7
The clouds and sky as close as sea and coral,
He had no home or bearings left, and hurled
Out toward the new-found sun a raven
That it return with sprigs of some green haven
And fix a point upon the mapless world.
And still, the gyroscope heart blurs as it whirls,
Righting itself between the earth and heaven
And drags with it the axis of its circle
Till the center of the universe is plural
And no direction clear.
All night some feral
Creature strops claws upon the air and snarls
In his sleep. Stormheads gather and are riven.
And I, who leave my door at my own peril,
Sleep beside you now, and have no fear of moving.
You whose steady breath all night unfurls
Like a flag above a land richly believed in,
Who leaves the window wide to let the dove in.
Moon, our mothers and fathers gaped
at you, their eyes full of you parading
up the blue-black sky, stars and planets draped
behind. And now, illuminating
our triumphant back rooms, we sleep (small planets
ourselves), tired from love, slack-jawed, our teeth
gleaming and white like you. O shine on your poets
stymied at their papers, and snakes that writhe
in open fields, full of desire. But to shine
on that handsome boy who refuses to age
and sleeps till noon….well…and you, tracing lines
round your eyes before the mirror, yellow frock
disheveled, rubbing just a little rouge
on nipples he wouldn't fondle or suck….
Meditation at 7 PM
Settle down, my restless Sorrow, be calm.
All day you hoped for evening; your hopes
are granted: a gray light envelops
our city – a wound for some, a balm
for others. The masses, defiled and mortal,
chase their pleasures, whip themselves
round little circuses raising welts
on their own thin backs. Some order
is called for here, my love; please, take my arm.
Look, the unchangeable years, all in quaint dress,
lean out over a cloudy balcony;
wry Regret marches up from the sea;
the sun, beneath a bridge, sleeps, barely warm,
and – hear it, my dear? night drags its shroud toward us.
Our Home Movies
“There, there, all of this is only a movie, young man, only a movie,’ but I look up once more at the terrifying sun…”
Delmore Schwartz “In Dreams Begin Responsibilities”
We’d watch them in the living room
counting candles for the cake,
the kitchen clock looming
over the oven to make
childhood inch forward more slowly.
All this is pre-Beatles,
pre-Stones, fish is still holy
and renders our lunchrooms meatless
each Friday. Pre-Dallas. Pre-November.
Yet even now, years from home,
whenever I’ve watched Zapruder’s film,
I think how Delmore Schwartz – his parents
on the screen – rose shouting, overwhelmed
and half sick as he remembers
what’s about to happen. Nothing warrants
what is about to happen:
one by one the frames are dropping,
and each moment, unbound
from its little cage, makes the light stammer,
and the Texas sun’s dazzling the chrome
of their black car which rounds
that corner again. Nothing’s going to stop
them this time, keep the hands from flying up
to the outstretched throat or
the head from lurching
back as she clambers
to the trunk reaching
for something unreachable. And when, motor
still running, the footage
slips its spool, we protect our
eyes in that suddenly too-bright room. The projector
above us and the played out ribbon
shines on the screen where the car has driven
and is like a sun returned to mark our age.
I heard engines overhead, propellers
sucking in air and lifting, miraculously;
(as it’s said Elijah had, the stellar
hair gray, then white, then gold, played out loosely
behind him like embers in an updraft).
The whole glistening, silver, cavernous bulk
skimmed the stream of its making with the deft
momentum of a skater on a lake.
I wondered which of them would disappear first:
the rumbling craft, one moment white with sun
then as quickly dull, like a visual Morse
code; or the noise itself – a roar, then hum
then vague vibrato half heard but more felt
beneath my sternum and up into the bones
of my skull. I found its pitch inside my throat
till I could mimic then melt into its tones.
Time ceased (though I couldn’t say how long
with no time to measure its abeyance with).
I listened to the wide and hollow gong-
like sound and the after no-sound till breath
flushed my lungs once more. The motor’s whir
and the mercury-flashing plane had then sailed
past, and the world - as though I watched through the blur
of propellers - was again no clearer than through a veil.
In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread. . . Genesis 3:19
The air conditioners fidget,
rasp all night like a smoker’s lung
filtering the thickened air hung
outside our tightened jalousie
windows of all but a frigid
and post-edenic solace. We,
six days at our earthly ovens,
by the seventh would rest in peace
in rooms kept seventy-eight degrees.
So we sleep, our acclimation
gentle, winds from our singed heavens
rattling coils in each machine.
Each Judas Kiss
it might have been
a woman’s. The stars,
a pack of hounds,
bound down the horizon and
is over. And still, there is the prayer
learned in childhood:
What have I done,
what have I done. . .
The Only World
Voices from down in the kitchen –
my wife and daughter over dinner,
and the windows nearly mirrors now.
Though, for the neighbors, should they look,
clear, bright talk between the ones I love
and steam rising from the silver pots.
The scritch of my pen, and every inch of the house
is fragrant. Where shall I avoid
this omnipresent God?
I’d like to tell you what I recall,
though, it’s a photo now in a sunlit hall,
details washed away. I was a young man.
His skin as though of jasmine.
A night in…August? August,
yes, as the winds had changed and a gust
woke us in the morning when it blew
the drapes aside and . . . blue, his eyes were sapphire blue.
for my dad, born December 30
In midsummer my father was dead. He
stared right past me through his parted lashes
as when a newborn he watched the old year part
amid the cries of revelers. All ashes
now, I picture some of him sucked up the stack
in whitish flakes – those eyes, perhaps the heart
that guttered out – before floating back
to earth. Laughter, the air bright with confetti.
For My Daughter at Eight Months in Utero
Forgive me, a social engineer
on a runaway train,
myopic tightrope walker, arthritic prestidigitator,
a chemist following to the letter
his almost legible notes. Please allow
in your locomotive-chugging heart
(I’ve heard it seven times now)
for the nearly balanced books,
the Confederate bills triumphantly counted
and set aside for college, for years of sunlight
thick upon this thinning pate. Admire,
as I’ve come to admire, the circus bear
perched upon his ball perched
upon the bigger ball. For what I assumed
you’ve now assumed, downward,
into human form, beatific slobberer, Cousteau
of the knowable oceans. Lithe
at the end of the tunnel,
dance-card nearly full (the watusi. . .
the twist. . .) bless what is human
because it is human, my white dwarf
and red giant, my sweet jot and tittle, beloved
by your father who knows not
what is due, Lear-forgiver.
Bio Note for Steve Kronen:
Steve Kronen was born in Cleveland on September 2, 1953. He grew up primarily in Florida. Soon after high school he started reading poetry with some sincere effort and wrote sonnets. He liked Keats very much, perhaps for the sad romanticism of Keats' life and his noble character as much as for the poems. By 1976 he moved to Kripalu Yoga Ashram in Pennsylvania as a disciple of Amrit Desai (who years later was thrown out for practicing, with some of his female disciples, certain yogic positions considered unseemly for a guru). In the meantime, in a universe composed of an omnipresent god, concepts of spiritual and non-spiritual became increasingly untenable for him and he left the ashram in 1979. He moved to New York City to study calligraphy with some of the country's best calligraphers, quitting a few years later as he was a mediocre calligrapher at best. He moved back to Miami in 1981.
For about twenty years he was a licensed massage therapist till burning out and wearying of the fluctuating income of the self-employed. A better calligrapher than businessman, he went back to school in 1998 and earned a master's degree in Library Science. He is now a librarian, a livelihood he enjoys and for which he receives a regular paycheck, in Winter Park, Florida. He lives outside Winter Park with his wife, novelist Ivonne Lamazares (The Sugar Island, Houghton Mifflin), and their daughter Sophie who recently got the hang of fractions. (Steve: Sophe, your cousin Kevin is four years old; how long is half his lifetime? Sophe: I don't know, I don't know how long he is going to live.) Currently he sends letters to Congress and the media hoping to have George W. Bush sent to prison for being a vicious son of a bitch.
His first book, Empirical Evidence, was published by the University of Georgia in 1992. More recently, a new collection, The World Before Them, was a finalist for the Di Castagnola Award from the Poetry Society of America, and is presently circulating. He has received fellowships from the Sewanee Writers' Conference and Breadloaf, two Florida Arts Council grants, and the Cecil Hemley Memorial Award from PSA. His poems have appeared in APR, Poetry, The New Republic, The Paris Review, Virginia Quarterly Review, The American Scholar, The Georgia Review, The Southern Review, Ploughshares, Shenandoah, The Threepenny Review, Agni, and elsewhere. Of living poets, the works of Donald Justice, Anthony Hecht, and Richard Wilbur have been particularly inspiring to him. He received an MFA from Warren Wilson in 1988.
This is his first appearance in an online journal.