Monday, July 18, 2011

When Lightning Strikes

 Nicola Tesla, alternating current pioneer
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
For more about the role of Niagara Falls (D.R.'s home town)
in the development of electricity, as well as
info about the "War of Currents", go to 

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

From time to time I forget how
This whole thing works and what
The words are supposed to do.

It is like they have rooms somewhere
And retreat there unable to join me,
Unable to form the landscape,
The feeling, the color that is so needed
At that very moment and I dry

Inside, unable to recognize anything.
A great stillness that I must fill
With a recording of a solo koto
Hooking itself into the night
While I sit on the side of my bed
Watching the words struggle onto
The page, one after another.

They have no worries. They do not
Need meaning to be seen. They acquire
Meaning when they remain there
Afterward. The small light next
To the bed, on the dresser, trying everything
To keep the night from feeling
This way to me and I stop
Believing they might have an answer.


The clarity of early Spring
That unlocks the early evening
As a precious but transitory thing
Will not surrender to the night
Even when offered a moon and stars
To ease the push of frog voices.
Crickets pick up the edges, nightjars
Wings, the thoughtful flight of owls.


—D.R. Wagner

The darkness got into my room,
Crossed its arms and went
To sit in the corner without
Saying anything to me at all.

Like it knew that would piss
Me off and make me keep looking
Over to the corner knowing it was
There and not about to do anything
Ever again except brood and be glum.

“I don’t have to put up with this,”
I thought and remembered I could
Write about it and then hide it
In a book where I wouldn’t
Have to look at it everyday.

I don’t know how it’s going to end
But tonight I’ll feel better
When I pull down the shade,
Look around the room with
My hand torch and forget
Its dark singing.


—D.R. Wagner

We were looking out the window
Toward the sea. There was one
Tree on the left at the edge
Where the cliff dropped off
Bringing the blue light into
The room and carefully placing
It on the few pieces of furniture.

There is a forward motion that
Takes your entire life to understand
Or begin to understand, when the words
Find their own power and there is no
Deliberation any longer. One may
Not know where they are going
But the perfection is both pure and lonely.

We would stand here for a long time.
I would watch the light change in your eyes.
I would make up stories to myself
That had absolutely no words, just
Sensations sliding over my nerves,
Lapping at the synapses, sparkling
At the crispness our breathing could be,
Loving how the rest finally comes.


—Katy Brown, Davis

He made his way across the evening campus,
stepping from shade to shadow,
disguised as an older student in jeans
and a Hawaiian shirt.

When he passed by, he trailed the scent
of nutmeg and clover. His eyes, the color
of damp cinnamon bark, held sparks of gold.
His shoulders, slightly hunched

from playing his pipes in the twilight:
a faun— not the baby deer— but
the spirit of myth and midnight—
a rascal among the co-eds.

He would have gone unnoticed,
but he looked up with a roguish smile
and a wink that hung like a secret
whispered in a bed of ferns.

Along his path, the women paused,
tempted to follow him into the shadows;
inclined to undo several of their top buttons;
wanting to know the sound of his flute.


—Taylor Graham, Placerville

Here are the clues:
hassock overturned before the fireplace;
above the mantel, a frame with
picture removed; red splatters
on the wall; backdoor ajar.
No one there.

Who could be contained by closed-in
spaces, a sad room with no doors
or windows? She had a pen full of colors.
Here's a poem, metaphoric life-
blood on the wall. The picture? Maybe
a dim painting of a mountain-saddle
between high peaks, ventana,
window to lands beyond horizon
expanding into distance.

Hassock overturned as she reached
to cut the picture free—aren't
we all shorter than our longings,
our imagination?

She drew herself a door
and walked right through it.


Today's LittleNip: 

We don't know a millionth of one percent about anything.

—Thomas Edison


—Medusa, with thanks to today's contributors for continuing their poetic conversation. D.R. will be reading at the John Natsoulas Gallery in Davis this Thursday; see the b-board for details.