New Madhuban

New Madhuban
For Mark

this forest,   
planted for a loaf of bread
and a dollar a day,
          is a solemn place

the hill
       it has taken possession of
drops sharply
    to a holler
       too steep for pasture
a place where small skeletons  
                       slowly turn to stone
this is a good place to be alone

the sun seldom finds entry to this grove
is a stranger here
                           off his path  
it's probing beams
only deepen the darkness
and threatens to ignite the brittle trees

one may only be here . . .  carefully    
this forest has no need of company
birds know it
they do not nest
                or sing
                   among its spiny branches

there is no undergrowth   
nothing pierces the needle mat

and the pines themselves
     have shed their lower branches
 becoming heartless    
         pitch-steeped trunks
                   with shattered limbs
they offer no place to rest

who comes here must stand alone
who comes here to dream
must dream
indifferent as the dead.

West Virginia