Friday, January 21, 2011

Scurrilous Gestures

Snow Scene, Niagara Falls, New York
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Even slashed across the skin as one
Passes a doorway open to the street,
Just past midday. One can hear the
Day moving on concerned with its
Myriad of activities, constantly
Changing clothing, constantly reappearing
As newer fashion, never a composition of ordinary
Sounds, No trace left upon the skin.

Looking through the trees in the small
Park so close to the shoreline. The
Trees suddenly excited by a glinting
Tossed up by water into the palms,
Flickering there, frightening the pigeons,
Touching the fronds, the serrated trunks,
The oleanders, white and nervous pinks.
The sand beach becomes light itself
Before this light returns to the tops
Of wavelets and we notice the sky is blue.

Here in the Sacramento Valley, the long
Distances cause us to catch our breath.
Far away and close to the earth, tiny lines
Of trees and field upon field stretch
Away from us, taking us with them
In reflections from vernal pools and overflows.

We untie our souls, doff our mortal
Clothing and follow them as far as we
Are able, sometimes clear to the Pacific Ocean.


—D.R. Wagner

I am watching the evening insinuate itself
Into the conversation about the day.
Dinner time had no mention of her, there
Were still doves admiring the liquid amber trees.

The weather wanted to see things differently,
Clearing, then a haze and a confusion of cloud
Types culminating in a less than enthusiastic
Fury as the sun relinquished its part in the conversation.

The path went from the beach up a small creek
But as it did there were lots of trees in the canyon
Holding the creek. Shadows were setting up
Night camps and small birds sought perches

To watch the show. We watched the foot
Bridges ease into the landscape like rainbows that
Had lost their color and were waiting for the
Flare that would say evening was indeed here.

I will stand here until it is impossible to tell
One object from another. There is little hope for
The moon tonight. The evening begins to cup
The sun in its hands and starts to hide

It from view. Why even talk about a landscape
Except that we remember the others who are
Unable to see this evening, who climb to sleep
Without these blessed thresholds to touch them.

Every leaf on every tree closes its lights down
And cries for us to remember it, stores the moment,
Blesses us with change, holds the dark off for a
Final moment and considers the entire world as one thing.


 Face in a Tree

—D.R. Wagner

Forty coats of Coronado Red,
Rubbing each coat out in-between.
Smoother than lipstick and better
To look at, gleam in the night when
The garage door is popped open.

The air is a cloud of lacquer spray.
There must be no wind. Nothing
But air gonna touch this car. My,
My, my, how it shine. Only thing
Better is a Fender guitar lying in
Its case. Only thing sweeter is
Everyone just standing around
Waiting on summer midnight,
Smoking cigarettes and looking
Deep into the paint, seeing their
Lives in there, reflecting back.

So many of them could never get
Over how it was being there,
How it felt, how everything looked.
So they stayed. For more than thirty
Years they continued to talk, to smoke,
To paint cars, work on them, transform
Them so that they matched a single moment.


                                ...thinking of J. L. Borges
—D.R. Wagner

Like a mouthful of broken glass
From which blood pours between the lips
With terrible panic and suffering
An audacious remark rises and thrives,
Alarmed at its own vacant worth and having been birthed
From aspersions filled with a personal holy water.

When the body was tossed into
The river I was told about it and
Believed it like a student in a
Classroom eating a peach; the most
Serious of subjects was introduced
Full of the virgin and secret treasure
Stabbed into every dream that even
Recalled what had happened that night.

The anguish was terrible. There was no
Measure as days have no measure.
I didn’t fully understand until now.
The talons of sadness are a narrow pass.

These words needed a dagger. A real
Dagger as if someone had voiced
“His time had come.” Oh please!
The dead are always wax no matter
How much we are fascinated by them.

We continue to tell the story
But it is only a gesture. We believe
Someone has died. When we pray

All is different. The door opens.
We see who is coming. We see the hand.
The gestures are like stab wounds.
We try to hide begging history for any
Form at all to hide the pain.
I reach for my knife, make a scurrilous gesture.


 Pick-up Truck on a Farm

—D.R. Wagner

Night decides to take over the conversation.
The shadows stir, the spiders begin
Their spinning toward the dawn.

Spring begins its work toward those
Seasons it will never see. The exuberance
Of buds and bright flowers, the dazed
Spinning of elm seeds through the green
Air. Soon there will be no room upon
The ground for all will be growing.

We do not wait. We dig the soil, find
The seeds of plants we want to see
In particular, begin the garden rituals.
We too become fruits of the earth,
Laboring toward the harvest, privileged
To entertain the dance through all the seasons.

The morning excuses itself from the night.
The night pales before her great might,
Calls the dark spider back to itself
And bides until the story changes once again.


—D.R. Wagner

Traveling back and forth between
The woods and the edge of the river
I had never tried to understand much
Of what I encountered. It made everything
More dream-like and the days and evenings
More beautiful as if I were a child
Once again and all was not
Carried like blood being transported
To a situation requiring it for life.

There is always so much indecision
As if we wait for someone we hardly know
To tell us what is actually happening
Or later we see it in a film or videoclip
Thinking it is something we truly remember.

How long this hour is, whatever it was?
There are no measures that ever are certain.
We breathe and miss our own breathing.

Everything seems strange as we live within it.
It all eventually seems senseless. There are
Always cards somewhere on the table.

We never want to speak to the circumstances.
A long silence births itself and fills with
Dark pleasure. We are sleeping side by

Side and I never saw who you were
For a long time. We will be dust.
I may say I will see you again
This way between these woods and that
Grey-green river that moves so quickly
And once again it will be circumstance.
We become instruments of it and bow.

 Afternoon in Niagara


Today's LittleNip: 

A single man has not nearly the value he would have in a state of union. He is an incomplete animal. He resembles the odd half of a pair of scissors.

—Benjamin Franklin


—Medusa (with thanks to D.R. Wagner for his poetry and for bringing us the beauty and power of Niagara Falls in his photos today)

Wall with Snow