Joshua Henry Jones Jr.
Count o’er the million leagues from here to yonder star.
On then. On to the next count of a million more.
Sum up the myriad gleams that light the night;
Add too, the orbit where the cold bright moon doth soar.
That done, return to earth and with thy mind outline
That huge expanse called space; and then out from our Hearse
Of changing dust dream out the words-The Universe.
Ode to an Encyclopedia
O hefty hardcover on the built-in shelf in my parents’ living room,
O authority stamped on linen paper, molted from your dust jacket,
Questing Beast of blue and gold, you were my companion
on beige afternoons that came slanting through the curtains
behind the rough upholstered chair. You knew how to trim a sail
and how the hornet builds a hive. You had a topographical map
of the mountain ranges on the far side of the moon
and could name the man who shot down the man
who murdered Jesse James. At forty, I tell myself
that boyhood was all enchantment: hanging around the railway,
getting plastered on cartoons; I see my best friend’s father
marinating in a lawn chair, smiling benignly at his son and me
from above a gin and tonic, or sitting astride his roof
with carpentry nails and hammer, going at some problem
that kept resisting all his mending. O my tome, my paper brother,
my narrative without an ending, you had a diagram of a cow
broken down into the major cuts of beef, and an image
of the Trevi Fountain. The boarding house,
the church on the corner: all that stuff is gone.
In winter in Toronto, people say, a man goes outside
and shovels snow mostly so that his neighbors know
just how much snow he is displacing. I’m writing this
in Baltimore. For such a long time, the boy wants
to grow up and be at large, but posture becomes bearing;
bearing becomes shape. A man can make a choice
between two countries, believing all the while
that he will never have to choose.