Friday, April 02, 2010

Shadows Pushing Shadows

Water Buffalo
Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Really now, it had nowhere to go
Except toward Summer. Wasn’t
That a given? Wasn’t Spring given
Specific instructions about the dawn,
The new leaves, those choruses of frogs?

Still there it is sulking in the first
Week of April like a schoolgirl
Upset over something she can’t have
But doesn’t really want anyway.

High in the Sierra a late season
Snowstorm has turned the world white
Again. There are no flowers, no buds,
No rivulets babbling and gurgling.
There is so much snow the dawn seems
Late, there is a smile on the lips
Of Spring, if only for a day or two.

Perhaps that will be enough.
We will go to the market and buy
Vegetable seeds, try to recall the
Heat after Easter creeping back, getting stronger.


This weekend in NorCal poetry:

(for a more complete listing, go to

•••Tonight (Friday, 4/2), 7:30pm: Judy Halebsky will read at The Book Collector, 1008 24th St., Sacramento. Judy trained in Performance Studies at UC Davis and is a member of Sacramento Poetry Center's Tuesday night workshop. Since 2007 she has been in Tokyo studying Japanese literature on a MEXT fellowship. Her new book, Sky=Empty, was chosen by Marvin Bell as the winner of the 2009 New Issues Poetry Prize.

•••Monday (4/5), 7:30pm: Sacramento Poetry Center presents Visions of Joanna Newsom: a reading with Rae Gouirand, Tim Kahl, Christian Kiefer, Brad Buchanan and others to celebrate Roan Press’s 2010 release, Visions of Joanna Newsom by Joanna Newsom. Sometimes mentioned as one of the most prominent members of the psychedelic folk movement, Joanna Newsom is a harpist and songwriter from Nevada City. Her music incorporates elements from Appalachian folk music and avant-garde modernism. She has recorded the following CDs: The Milk-Eyed Mender (Drag City, 2004); Ys (Drag City, 2006); Have One On Me (Drag City, 2010). She is the second cousin, twice removed, of San Francisco mayor Gavin Newsom.


—D.R. Wagner

The night unwound. A brilliant flashing
From the mouth, a moon in the crook
Of its arm. We walk the streets looking
For a warm place. There are lovely rooms
Just beyond the glass. From the street we can
See people smiling and are able to admire
The beauty of their garments. They seem to
Glow in the reflections from the silver and
Crystal. They show each other their bright
Weapons and slide the slim bullets into the chambers.
From here we cannot hear their laughter.

There are dreams sweeter than this one.
At least here I can hold you for a moment, never
Mind the wind. At least here I can trace the shape
Of your mouth with my finger and gaze into your
Face. It is as warm as the den of a fox. I push my nose
Into the hollow at the base of your neck and smell
The summer of you, honey in the wheat fields.

When the police got here we were leaning
On the window sill still looking at the ruckus
On the street. Nowadays no one wonders what
They are up to. Surely someone has done some
Wrong and deserves this kind of treatment. I
Watch shadows push shadows into cars full of circling
Red and blue lights. Someone says “Oh God” and then
Asks God’s mother for help. There are sounds I wouldn’t
Want to repeat in a poem. The street is awash with red
Weeping. The party lights shine on. I hold you
In my arms for the longer moment. We agree
Never to learn the words to these kinds of songs.


—D.R. Wagner

Came out last night.
It was snowing on the moon.
Pretty hard too.
Gusting about
like a room full of laundry
looks when you’ve lost something
in it.

Down here, I’m drinking splits,
looking at the road map.
Everything here is relative.
The moonlight on the beer foam,
bubbles rising like the stars.
The storms ease on the moon.
I ease out the back door
to look at the night again. Huge
drifts of snow slide through
the sky. I am amazed by
the intensity of the storm.

The moon moves across the back
of a fog bank.
Fingers of wind make noises,
almost music, across the tops
of the beer bottles.



in my throat that sounded
so unlike anything I knew
that I would scare myself.

I became ceremony in sound.
A whirl of phlegm, crackling
and sputtering up from the
rooms I guard against time
and her dancing princesses.

A quaking, as if a bear suddenly
came into the room on hind
legs and performed the crushing
of an arm as if it were a
dance and she the music.

Now, autumn pushes clouds
ahead of itself with a yard
full of leaves, I hear these
same sounds again issue
from their scraping across
the drive and think them
a familiar music, something
treasured, like a Nocturne by
Chopin remembered by the fingers
long after the mind has forgotten
the specificity of the notes and rests.

It is a rustling of lace
in a room draped with silences.

—D.R. Wagner


—D.R. Wagner

It bothers me
that the night
is outside minding its own
business while I am
in my room half
expecting you to appear
in the bed next to me.

You, with your brow arched,
surprised to have been
shipped across the night
like so much luggage;
the white roses of sleep
still in your skin.

I would be as surprised.
Hello? It would be like
saying hello to
myself on this late August
night, where the voices
of dogs are so small
in the distance, that my breath
seems huge. no, hellos
would never do.

The dark just outside the
window waits for me to put
the lights out. It has ways
of getting to me, of opening
the dreams like oranges
and spilling these thoughts
of you all around me,
before I can catch a glimpse
of you shuttling across the
night air, not alarmed
at all by this thinking
it is just the changing
of the season that causes
these things. not alarmed
by the love of it. not at all.

Knowing you will wake up
far away from this room,
the night being busy
with so much else. with
traffic and dogs and things
of its fabric as to
make such journeys a
matter of reaching to the end
of the bed and pulling
another blanket up above
your shoulders.


Today's LittleNip:

Ants are so much like human beings as to be an embarrassment. They farm fungi, raise aphids as livestock, launch armies into wars, use chemical sprays to alarm and confuse enemies, capture slaves. The families of weaver ants engage in child labor, holding their larvae like shuttles to spin out the thread that sews the leaves together for their fungus gardens. They exchange information ceaselessly. They do everything but watch television.

—Lewis Thomas



Photo by D.R. Wagner