Played it for my delight...
Painting by W. Heath Robinson
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
This is a child’s moon.
It is that yellow, crooked
And obviously wants someone
To play with, anyone would suffice.
Here it is above this written landscape
With ascending letters playing the part
Of buildings and the windows of other letters
Allowing an entire city to be built
Below it, making a small night in a village.
When we can’t remember names
Any longer and only the sweetness
Of faces comes through the door
Of the soul, tossing their light around,
Let us remember this child’s moon
With its big eye and bright smile
Glowering upon us, trying to be serious
About it all and knowing we have
No way to explain that we would have
This evening no other way than how
It now appears, throw in a few more stars.
They will find where all the heart goes
When it must break. They will
Arrive at dusk on cloudy horses,
Hooves wrapped to make no noise.
They will steal into the passes, the canyons,
The long distances where the heart stands,
Sighing toward the fingers of the evening.
It will look like a mission, a tactical
Movement planned and commanded
But it will not be so. It will be
The hands and the emotions reaching
Into the holy body and twisting
Until the whole thing falls down.
First to the knees, then prone upon
The ground, all the sense kicked from
What was its home and breaking the eyes
That nothing may be recognized again
As it once was. All the words
Changed to other meaning. All the
Looks changed with deeper meaning
Undone, unlocked, left to flutter
On the evening, victims of wind.
We will not be able to hide.
We will see the fires coming for miles.
We will hear ourselves disgraced by lies,
Begging the beloved for a moment of sanity
That is not forthcoming. It will go
On without touching one another again.
It will seem like midnight but we are still
Not sleeping. We will not sleep.
Our pockets emptied of the lovely charms
That once meant everything and are now
Smooth stones in grays and dark
Ochres that can fall into the water
And never be seen again for ten
Million years when that land finally
Lifts itself from the sea
And becomes a road, a trail, a path
Leading somewhere that seems both
Vaguely familiar yet full of foreboding.
We will head that way anyway.
It will be the way that seems
THE WOLF THAT BELONGS TO TIME
You are not the ocean
And I am not a sailor
But I’ve spent my life at sea
And meaning may escape me
But nuance never does.
I can wear music like a glove.
I can wear even deeper dress then,
In the name of love and walk with those
Sailors across the feckless path that wind
Uses to tear the edges of the land,
The edges of the soul like windows taped
Against the coming storm. We can stand
Watching glassy-eyed but keen as blades
Leaning on the sheets before the wind.
This is our ocean. I will speak to you
In the language of the sea and you
Will understand it as the voices of all
Those upon the earth who used the water
To hold their nerves and muscles,
Tissue and bones together, look out from
Watery eyes across watery mornings of drifting
Rain. And I will hold you there becoming
Only another day in your life when something
Extraordinary happened and we discovered
Desire alone on the high places
Announcing the end of all waters
And saw it listened to by thousands
Of non-sailors like ourselves carrying
Our cargos of ginger and of nutmegs,
Of bolts of fine cloth and raisins
Yellow as the sun, exchanging them
With one another, trading memories
Of this time back and forth
Until the wolf of time itself comes into
Our bazaar and leans against our flesh
Again. “How is this possible?”
We all say of this great wolf.
It is immense and faceted as diamond is.
It holds our names within the great
Confusion of the days and asks a
Thousand times a day,
“Can you feel it brother?
Are you speaking? Is this our spirit
That makes me howl aloud this way?”
THE NIGHT PARADE
There is a kindness in watching the fires
Coming down the street carried by so many
Men dressed in radiant plumage and terse
Straps wrapped around their body.
They carry the lights high above them
On long poles so they swing to and fro
As they go through their series of routines
That mean nothing to us but seem to reflect
A solidarity among these men.
The people without clothing follow in the
Shadowy darks punctuated only by flares from
Lighters used to fire cigarettes. They show lips,
The form of a hairdo, the lurid makeup of evening,
A smear on the mascara the night wears to
Prove it is beautiful. There is so much more.
The dead move through these ranks and files,
Streaming through the air, dangling their shrouds
Behind them, sweeping and looping over our heads,
Silent in their endless forward press to escape dawn.
From the top of the buildings we watch this night
Parade, thinking is must have some profound
Meaning connected to it and discover nothing
Of the kind, just shape shifting and the sound
Of heavy garments against the ground, a dim
But profound gathering that mounts the back of night
To declare its property before all light ceases and
Before the moon can shake free of clouds and rise
With book after book of sweet tales and fears,
Tides and trysts, longing and fulfillment
Learned only in her pale reflected light.
There were birds here.
One can see where certain
Kinds of grasses have been bent
Down to form places for their
Courting. There are hollows too
Lined with feathers and nests
Made of twigs and string, of floss,
Bright bits and scraps of paper,
Forgotten by all else but them.
Here too are tracks upon the ground.
Here, a book of soothing gathered
From their shapes and movements
In the sky or by the nature of their calls.
Yet, when we come here now,
There are no birds at all. Only
Signs of them remain. We must
Learn a kind of quiet, a special
Patience too and remain long
Enough for us to see them
With our own eyes, hear their songs.
They are like our own dear souls
In that souls must be regarded
In like kind to reveal and be
Revealed before us, full of colors, voices
Moving through the air, among the trees,
The shrubs, upon the waters too. Looking
Deep into the heart, toward dreams, toward
What is every morning of every blessed
Day that we may find birds there,
And know them, that may be quite enough.
Blinding heat divides day from night,
Brands short shadows into fecund soil.
Green tendrils, heavy with beans,
Coil around rustic bamboo racks.
Violet flowers gape erotically among velvet leaves:
A single gourd contains the entire world's dream.