Commonplace
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www.common-place.org · vol. 5 · no. 3 · April 2005
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Robert Strong
Puritan Spectacle
Three poems

Introduction | The 88 Hearts of Wm. Adams | Visible | A Bold Plea for the Easement of Suffering of these Confessed and Reading Red Saints

illustration
The 88 Hearts of Wm. Adams

                                                                d. 1659, Ipswich

Hollowed by shadow or shone forth
By sometimes more
Than ordinary stirrings
Against the awful ways

Occasion offers, I will tell you
The incision in my chest,
Let the mouth confess up
What the heart congests:

Pull aside my shirt, my
Addiction is stitched, stripped
Of circumstance, stripped of habit,
Confined to four chambers & their flagellation.

Pour black powder below
The smooth balls of shot
Set in each chamber.
Make fire by focusing, take flight

In the off-beat between
Each flutter—such like thoughts
Do much take me up—
It’s said this almost endless

Muscle is our weapon, in & out
It goes without meaning or sense
Being lost—limited
Only by half-life in a body

That diverts blood away
From less important humors
To keep an extra beat
From tripping the flintlock.

Armed, quitting earth
For the church turret I saw a bird
Change energy at higher elevations &
Clear out the thunderclouds

Like a topsail to loose itself
In the sky—my dull lusts
Let go as a fistful of dead petals
Flew round my feet & the war

Of good discord went off
In my chest. I fell with fatigue
Of breathing in thankfulness
For this new frame.

Limping home,
The storm seemed to go over.
I slacked my pace
& was overwhelmed in rain.

Will I falter like faith or
Will I falter like fear?
Things fall
From the sky we see

With our eyes. This spring
A swan did move easy
In the river’s shifting ice-splinters
As my flint failed, its neck motionless

As if stitched
To the white heart of a bird
Not beating her wings
& not falling.

 
 

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