Saturday, March 19, 2011

A Collection of Shadows

Fallen Petals
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

I crane my neck and pretend
I understand the quiet
In the night. The empty
Rooms stretching out toward
Dawn but somehow never catching it
As it turns on its heels,
Changing clothing as it declares
Its surprise at being afraid to open
The packages left in the fields
Of six a.m. and five a.m.

Trained to do so by example,
Crouched over a journal
Writing furiously to keep it
Always searching for sleep
In roles of broken promises
Never verbalized until it is
Too late to stop the half
Dreams unloading themselves
To great sighing,

Shoulders bruised from the weight,
From moving through every blessed day
Reminded constantly that
One must not journey,
One must sleep, one must listen
To how the soul tells one
What the body needs, the
Body laughing, lighting candles,
Forcing books open and leaning
Over the hissing of thought
As it passes by dragons,
Its collection of shadows,
Trees waving in the wind,
Tears without cessation,
Glasses full of the moon.


—D.R. Wagner

A wandering of the spirit
Clothed like an idiot
In the worst weather, issuing
Sounds that take the heart
Away slowly so one can watch
It leaving through the filtered
Light of the jungle,
Past a small clearing then
Disappearing for a lifetime.

One becomes attached to
Living this way only because
There is little else one can call
Life but the high cries
From the canopy of night.
A Rustling of wings, some beast
Coughing into an even darker
Front where everything must
Be carried away by strangers.

We call loudly for our family,
Our brothers and sisters and the dark
Answers with measured howls and shrieking
They move the soul away from the body,

Expand everything we know toward
A false dawn or a golden moment late
In the day, evening in the mouth
Like rust, teeth clenched trying
To wake the moon to see
If it makes any sense at all;

Elemental traveling such as this,
The things we never get used to doing.


—D.R. Wagner

My uncle Elmo caught gas
in him, North of France 1914
and came home a year later
tiny fires in the top
of his head, when we would
rouse him in the morning he
would say that he was dead.

And he would sit smiling
thumbing through the pages
of a Sear’s catalog and
carefully scratching out the eyes
of all the models with a pearl-
tipped hat pin singing:

Over there, where the
woods are open and the
shells are shining in the snow

Over there, where the
stars are shining I wish
to bend the bow of mighty
Aries, soft and low,
watch his dog and black
bird flow.

As to some tune
learned in the north
of France, my uncle Elmo goes.


—D.R. Wagner

Sweet lady of death
in her colored balloon
was touched on the heart
by the breath of the moon.

She took it to harbor
and gave it away,
She took it to Satan
to name it a day;
She took it to heaven
to give it a mind,
She wrapped it in heather
and left it behind.

Oh sing, do da day
all parade and dreaming,
O sing, do da, day
My sweet heart she is screaming.

While most quietly the little dog
laughs to see such spite, and as
if from the last view of a great
city, the dish noiselessly lifts
its painted face and taking
the tiniest of hands in its,
runs away with the spoon.


—D.R. Wagner
           (for Joseph Raffael)

Frog sounds
in the early morning.
They have voices, move
together to form a great
voice, voice, in the air
we who listen, those who
care, lifting like the spirit
departing the body wearing
six colors and forming
an attitude of giving
with the hands. All this
falling, lifting me
up from the morning coffee
wiping the sleep from my face,
listening to the frogs
and thinking they are other
voices, children moving
in their dreams, those who
don’t come back from sleep
tonight, the breath of a lover
moving in my ears, departing.


Today's LittleNip: 

—Patricia A. Pashby, Sacramento

Dark clouds stretch,
as rain pours convulsively,
greening jaded lawns,
scrubbing brick walls and walkways,
nudging camellia blossoms to the ground,
freshening the breath of spring.
Inside—fresh brown ceiling stains.



—Photo by D.R. Wagner