Open Prayer to W.B. Yeats

by Burt Bradley, from After Following


Unlike you, I have no tower
of symbols, no great lust for Helen of Troy,
no Maude Gonne to fall madly over
for years, and no Madam Blavatsky
(thank God and all seven orders of angels).

Just this rose, this skinny bush
climbing my porch, thorny green
with rouge, red flowers half
wilted now from the hundred
degree heat like blotches of dried blood.
They are more a symbol
of poor watering than anything mystical.

Still, I won’t let them go or this poem
even as night descends
like an electric blanket on high,
smothering the moon, a sad crescent,
and these roses now drooping shadows,
the blossoms gratefully erased,
the thorns dulled by darkness.

But, this world, unlike Blake’s
treed angels or your widening gyres,
clings to dot.coms caught still buzzing
in a world-wide web, sans spider,
patternless, and consumer ridden.

So, I pray for your help, my dear Yeats.
I’ll take one fake fairy, or one occult fib,
even some mumbo-jumbo automatic writing—
new metaphors or dead—for any vision:
even with glasses, rose-colored or cracked
is better than no vision at all.

Burt Bradley

Burt Bradley


Burt Bradley lives on a bluff in Northwest Wyoming seventy miles from Yellowstone National Park. For over thirty years, with his wife Janet, a photographer, he has delved into the wild serenity of the greater Yellowstone ecosystem. His writing has appeared in Ring of Fire: Writers of the Yellowstone RegionMichigan Quarterly Review, Best of Writers at Work, among others.   He is currently professor emeritus at Northwest College in Powell, Wyoming, where he taught Writing in the Wild classes in Yellowstone and the Southwest Desert.