Tuesday, November 02, 2010

Where Names Don't Matter

Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Waiting near the rock just where the river
Took a perfect right hand turn one could
See the water moving faster and faster.

As it tried to turn it forced itself beneath
The soft limestone and gradually worked
Holes in the rock above where it would
By force shoot straight up in the air seven to ten feet

Wait a few minutes and do it again.  As it did so
Its greater body began to move in a counter
Clockwise direction, seeming slowly but ever
Turning, ever drawing all of water to its vortex

Lifting entire trees caught in the river flow
Straight up.  Everything belonged to the water.
Things with no names populated the white swirl
Popping to the surface, then disappearing
Sometimes forever, other times bobbing
In and out of sight for weeks at a time.

The whirlpool owned everything that moved
Within its huge body and played upon everything
In a complicated mystery of change and constancy.

We watched it for years, its slow brooding
As it tracked the rivers profound turn.
No information was ever given by it,
Just the dull greywhite of the water itself
Insisting on all that passed downriver,
Calling every bit of that body its very own.

Thanks to D.R. Wagner for the inspiration for this week's Seed of the Week: Things Without Names. I like this concept because it ties in with the Poetry Trap of the Week over there at the right on our b-board: Thinking we have to make sense. Trying to talk about things that have no names puts us smack in the crack between the didactic and the ethereal, since naming things is the first step toward pinning them down—something a poet needs to carefully tiptoe around, yes? If things have no names, then we have to use all our descriptive powers to infer them, to bring them to mind without the convenience of obvious labels. Anyway, see what you can do, or rather what your muse comes up with, and send 'em to kathykieth@hotmail.com

"Harvest the Word" Author Symposium in Murphys Nov. 13:

Monika Rose writes: You're all invited to Harvest the Word, an author symposium with panel discussions on various topics sponsored by Manzanita Writers Press and Murphys Hotel on Sat. Nov. 13, from noon to 6pm at the Murphys Native Sons Hall, 389 Main Street in downtown historic Murphys in the Mother Lode. Why not come early and do a wine tasting tour of the town? We'll have door prizes and light refreshments, plus 10% off of a no-host dinner at the nearby Murphys Hotel and Restaurant after the symposium. Come join us for some great discussions about writing and publishing!

•••Research panel: Antoinette May, Zoe Keithley, Julia Costello, and Janet Langton

•••Column writing ~ Meet the Editor and Columnists ~ Sierra Lode Star editor and columnists: Mike Taylor, Ed., Sarah Lunsford, Scott Anderson, Jenny Baxter, and Antoinette May

•••Literary Press panel: Brad Buchanan, Roan Press; Helen Bonner, Starthistle Press; and Monika Rose and Linda Field from Manzanita

•••Ebook publishing: Lou Gonzalez and Jim Lanier

•••Preparing your manuscript for layout and publication: Joy Roberts and Joyce Dedini

•••Author Panel:  Glenn Wasson, award-winning humor book, Tales Mark Twain Would Have Loved to Steal, Second Edition; Ted Laskin and his new release (short story collection), George A. Custer, Please Come to the White Courtesy Phone; and Kathy Boyd Fellure, children's book author, When the Birdies Came to Tea

Nonprofit event! Nominal $10 suggested donation entrance fee helps support writers' publications projects and Manzanita publications. We won't turn anyone away for lack of funds, though. It's a public event, a book celebration, and we anticipate a good turnout! Manzanita affiliates and friends/contributors are encouraged to bring books to sell at our book table. All proceeds go to the writers for sales of books, minus a 5% credit card charge, if applicable. We will have people manning the book table. Manzanita volumes will be available at a discount for contributors, and for sale to the public.

Please RSVP if you are coming. We'd love to see you!

Monika Rose, Ed.
Linda Field, Events Coordinator
Manzanita Writers Press
(209) 754-0577


—D.R. Wagner

Lying on the ground.  I was surprised
To see how much it looked like a mantis
Someone had stepped on by accident.
The elongated body parts, the almost
Transparent wings covered in a green
Sheath, now sticking out from under
The crushed cover.  The legs splayed
And unnatural in their direction with
The exception of the praying legs
With their serrated edges, now neatly
Curled close to the thorax.

It was the head that most carried
This illusion.  In its expression
And large eyes a huge question
Still there, maybe a surprise at
Suddenly finding itself broken,
Unable to move, unable to accomplish
For some reason that would never
Make sense, but would always be remembered.


—D.R. Wagner

Me with my great mouth open
Seventeen tons of filter feeding,
The second largest shark in the world
Harmless to man.  The stuff that
Dreams of terror choose when fear
Is the wage and the sea is the story.

There was an arrangement where
We could see the danger coming
But not how to react because
It would not happen to us for awhile,
Like growing old and being unable to
Remember how to set the controls
On a washing machine as the rug and the rinse
Cycle took out our belief system
In the friendliness of machinery.

I stood on the edge of the platform.
Soon the train will be coming.
There would be a situation not unlike
A ‘B’ movie.  I would move quickly
To its edge.  There would be the damn shark.

—D.R. Wagner

We were sitting in the other room,
The one away from the woods.
We were unable to see what was making
The noise but we all could hear it.

We all heard different things.
That it was music seemed a general
Agreement but what clothing that music
Wore was what mystery would come
To claim as a definition.

I was dreaming the form.
Nothing had prepared me for it.
It kept breaking like promises,
The kind made when you’re really afraid
And will forget when the light returns
Or the danger passes or we recognize
Someone we know and everything isn’t
So scary anymore.  It burns.

When I opened my hand there were five
Planets, each in flames, each a different
Color.  This was unacceptable
But brought much comfort from the noise.

We had supposed it to be something,
Anything almost, a place to begin,
A room toward understanding but

It was not.  It was a mere stone,
A place to stand, to emote and to
Have a place where we could see

These planets in their luxurious fire
And gaze at them without fear
In not knowing what they were
Or why such a thing should be.

They were unelected, like love does
When it finds itself in a depth
It has never seen before, much less
Understand, yet still as true and wide
As the great Missouri River in full
Flood, everyone standing on the banks
Wondering if we shall perish or merely
Break into tiny shards of glass.

Today's LittleNip:

Knowledge is experience. Anything else is just information.

—Albert Einstein



Photo by D.R. Wagner