Brad Haas

   Setting Stones

              ...When your children shall
              ask their fathers in time to
              come, saying, What mean
                      these stones
                Then ye shall let your
                     children know...
                    Joshua 4:21-22

          At the toll plaza, Washingtons
          unfolded, fanned and counted:
          twelve dollars.
          May these be 
                    fruitful and multiply
          and not run into trouble
          as their numerical brethren,
                              the Tribes

                             Two left behind.
          Ten others cross to 
                             another land
          clothed in Levi's 
                             priestly blue garb

          Ducks dabble
                             in shoal water,
          egrets stand in shallows
                             of shoreline rip-rap
          A casual crane dives
                             for an iconoclast

          The height
          in girders,
                             in tension-wires,
                             in shadows

          Below, boats - 
                             sails and smokestacks
          span beyond sight,
                             assimilate into sunset

          Headlights illumine
                             twinned signs on
          intermittent posts
                             that read:
          and seem to answer the questions:
                       'How are you doing?'
                   'What are your chances?'

          This thing straddles 
                             the gap   
          between shores, runs
                             in air, walks
          on water with
                             concrete trunks, stands       
          by welder's arc - 

                             an alliance of elements
          conveys convoys across
                             a sea 
          of ruby ripples -

          Is there no sound 
                    of chariots? need 
                             for a shepherd's staff?
          Who beats a tambourine, 
                    dances or
                               sings Hosannas?

          After education has ended,
          beyond some remoter horizon
          are found

          unset stones
          shaped to show,
          not to set
          but on their own
          set to show
          each facet's light,
          what can be shown.

         From Syria to foreign land and Spirit.
         Forebear of faith and Bethesda,
         egged to excess at water's edge
         six times. Some gawk.
         Others would jump in and drown themselves.
         Naaman must separate from these - 
         life in the village advances disease.
         In congress on the bank 
         the chorus queries:
          Is the water sacred, 
                              is the water pure?
          Can the water heal, 
                              can the water cure?
         Yes, so saith the prophet Elisha.
         tho gentile
                   rubs water on leprous shins and thighs,
                   then turns on these same shanks
                   to the light of spotted scrutiny.

          SMALL FISH
          Small fish, you say
          re: breaching 
          propriety and prudish 

          You stir the bowl's water to 
          a flurry of fins and tales - 
          small fish swirl in sinking circles.
          See, you say,
          they're sucked under,
          yet surface again.
          Plucked out one sits in hand,
          its slick skin cool,
          flecked, metallic 
          shingles tacked 
          in sheets
          over pale organs.
          It struggles for air.
          An impulse passes 
          to flush it in the toilet.
          I see, I say, 
                    small fish
          on cars, in catacombs.

          Chromed emblem, trident
          circumscribed, of Germanic descent,
          perched on grilled precipice
                   over waving lanes 
          a blessing
          of Mercy,
          that of seas.
                            *  *  *
          Through the windshield nothing,
          nothing in the rear-view mirror
          save two infinitely spotted white lines
          delineating the Asphalt Trinity,
          the Three Lanes in One,
                   the Faster
                              and Hardly Go

                             *  *  *

          Cloverleaf, Patrick's lesson,
          seen clearly from above,
          felt here below as conflicting
          centripetal and centrifugal forces:
          watchhands seem to stand still.
          As sojourn corrects bearing by
          trefoiled compass, needle points
          along fanning veins of a geometer's 
          protracted vision:  
          the knot tied exerts stricture, 
          NEWS secretes from concrete botany: 
          gas gauge reads E, sign of spent fuel,
          or oracle, that each impetus must  
          end at its origin, despite maneuvers 
          à la Jonah.   

          Funny, when the machine stops
          those riding stop with it.

          The car slows as it 
          rolls to the shoulder.

          There has been no accident
          save the varia that informs us,
          no tragedy but the everyday -

          the engine is given over,
          has run to its limit -
          must we lie with it?

          This was my vehicle, a white whale,
          this my fish in whose belly I sat,
          that spewed me on the roadside -

          its metal bulk seemed
          to imbibe flesh with life;
          the hulk now exudes
          a stench of  

          I miss the small green roads,
          foliage framing the pavement,
          wood & wire fences, wildflowers.
          That I were on such a road now,
          left by a field full of fall corn...
          Can we excuse this interlude
          of 'telling'?  Say
          'It is all in the showing'
          and it rings hollow:

          macadam covered with gravel,
          thrown treads, glass shards,
          the day's road meat next to past's,
          a paper clip, a Heineken cap -

          slim materia 
          for a new order, but

          It is as I see it,
          means as I shape
          - who knows,
          by another's design?

          a sell-out?
          Some say surrender,
          others Will.  Whatever
          the case,
          'First there is the need;
          then, the way, 
          the name, the formula.'

          There is need
          for love
          like a valentine,
          an appraisal of accidents.

              GRACE ON SUNDAY

              Grace untarnished, in gold:
                   a memorable fancy.
              Yet I may remember more
            mundane meals and manners, 
                  Thursday afternoons,
                      and find Grace
                       in styrofoam,
                   Grace in all things.