Maurice Ferguson


Every reflection, mirrors or otherwise,
Whether in this moment or in another time,
The visage of echoes upon wrinkled waves,
Always , the mirage of the desert oases

Or last utterances at twilight
And the giraffe-necked silence,
Cornucopias in rainpools of blossoms
In starry puddles of ink,

Intimations as divine as zigzagging
Fingers on charcoal windows at 4 A.M.,
Then, pursuant thunder, a note
About the tight noose of failed principle

And, likewise, the throats of tugboats,
Cobwebs and fog, metal-footed clocks,
The hum of insomniac mechanics
And glib-tongued forked mouths,

Well as the infant’s first full-flush squall,
Falsetto lilts and death’s base rattle,
Whether a brief or lengthy interlude,
Crescendo and diminuendo of it all;

Moreover, flags at half-mast, strewn feathers
On doorsteps, teardrops of downtown mannequins,
Chimneys homeless in untrodden woods,
Hypotenuse of shadow and trees and angles of triangulation,

Sounds of rats on rounds of vacant factory floors,
Ghost towns and hieroglyphics, hailstones like bullets
Through rattling corn, always the hypotheses of
Gods, lovers, bridges, rainbows and crocks of gold;

Plus, smell of gangrene in Nam paddies, turpentine-
Tinted pine seabreezes, breeches in levees
And the delta’s long-protracted anticipation,
A full moon in the oak in the fullness of time;

Furthermore, dust motes and cotton in the eyes
Of newborns and that unsettling glob and buzz
At last gasp, crepuscular wings of darkening,
The grasp for the intangible and Ariel dawn,

These poems in quest of verbs, spaces and unfilled blanks,
Niche, cranny and nook, the cunning dotted line,
Awestruck mystery and strangular explanation,
Cracked pots, abandoned boots and perforated souls,
And last, the possibility of maracas-jangling macaws
And caterwauling cheetahs, imagination’s grope
For the most revered and most powerful verbs,
For voices in moss and in old stones, for elixirs of surprise.


As a young hombre he pursued escapades
beyond these distant mountain passes.
Now summits and adventures
neither beckon  nor summon him
as no surprise or marvel kindles his heart.
Chivalry died long before he was born.

When young , brave deeds he dreamed ,
themes  Spain’s troubadours sang
while they traveled through his Andalusia
of men compelled to bear arms
in defense of noble worthiness
against the infidels at Alhambra’s gates.

Now, neither gold ingot nor silver bullion
Please the conquistador. A shadow has fallen
across  his scarred and battered visor
while he kneels like twilight kneels
to his evening vespers. It appears
the picaresque has become the mere picayune.

Perhaps , he grieves for a much simpler time
when  vintner and vintage were entwined
as neighbor with neighbors stomped
their vintages grapes and raised their flagons
and flasks to Bacchus- ah , to hear him
sing such amorous serenades.

Or , maybe , old age and second thoughts
Such as the recollection of how he set
his  almonds and olives in straight orderly rows
or the time he rode his frisky stallion
to the sepulcher of St. James where vigilers
spun yarns beneath night’s brilliant stars
while all the senoritas shook castanets
round the dancing campfire flames .

Oh, my weary conquistador your querulous eyes
hang in the master’s painting like
some dangling participle .
Your enigmatic teardrop smears
A question mark upon the canvas
For us to squint at to decipher.

Always, the explanations hide in a foreign
landscape  beyond the boundaries of
the master’s frame , buried in a land
beyond the setting sun , on horizons beyond the sea
yet some il Pensimoso beneath the surface
tugs and yanks for answers.

Tell me , did the unscrupulous el capitan
gloat  over the stones of Tenochitlan
when the temple gods were toppled?
Did you wince and look the other way
when  the gutted Sun King crawled
from his extravagant throne?

Did you flinch when no sacred
Quetzecoatil divinely intervened
to spare the plumed emperor ?
Did you condone all those who
Hurriedly Christianized the maidens
For slavery and intercourse ?

Who can ever decide what is truth?
Your tarnished eyes speak volumes
as if Velasquez abandoned you
between sea cliff and incoming tide-
the last knight amid a vanguard
of cut-throat mercenaries.

Maurice Ferguson lives with a lovely wife and a menagerie of animals, mostly strays and adoptions from the Angels of Assisi, down a farm road that deadends in the middle of a cow pasture. He drives a yellow Volkswagen Beetle that he named the Yellow Submarine after a Beatles’ song. He retired from a career as a counselor with a kind ear and a generous heart. He is an old hippie from the 60s who has a peace symbol on his Yellow Submarine and will flash you the peace sign in a heartbeat. He has published in  Artemis Journal, Foreword Magazine, Inlet, Metamophoses, Sow’s Ear and other journals. He has written book reviews of poetry for Foreword Magazine and has been the literary editor of Artemis Journal for many moons. He is fortunate to be a graduate of Roanoke College