“In the beginning there was poor information.”
There were endless rows of doors,
Unclaimed ideas, high places that had
No reason to be there.
Huge herds of animals wandering
Aimlessly over vast distances,
Foods we had no idea what to name.
Feelings that were omnipresent
And capable of causing great harm.
Ideas that probably belonged to angels.
Places where memory was totally
Unable to function.
Those dances what could not be explained
And who was dancing anyway?
Why just one moon?
Why did dogs seem to like us?
Supreme beings with no idea
Of what to do.
There were too few cathedrals,
Rivers seemed to run in whatever
Direction they pleased. No one knew
How long people lived.
Music said things differently
Than anyone remembered
The same things actually happening.
Myths were true, true,
As symphonies were true.
No one was tending
The natural laws.
This writing became a labyrinth
A semantic galaxy.
Time kept looping on itself.
The place became the beginning.
There were endless rows of doors.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
A MORNING FILLED WITH ROSES
Bullets dream the taste of flesh.
The parting of the skin to red
Fountains and the splinter of bone.
Saints speak with tongues made of fire.
The names of God split with desire’s
Sweet tooth pulled up against the spine.
The night is away from home.
I have seen where it goes,
How it borrows morning
From the dream. Listen to this wind.
It clots just below the sky,
Squats on the tops of hills,
Staring down at its own rivers
Deep, like blood.
Look here. A hand dips down
Into a palace of feeling.
Perhaps it is someone loving someone.
We might not have noticed except
That the hand squeezes drop after drop of blood
From the wells from which we drink.
This kind of language is full of pretty
Things like this. Come out here with me.
The sun seems about to move from
Behind those trees, to wake up the birds.
If we are so perfect just this once
We can watch the bullets pick their way
Through the body. The smell of gunpowder
On the air. A morning filled with roses.
HEADDRESSES (a tale from the hills)
I suppose it was broken long before
We got here. There were rubber bands
Holding the wheels to the axles. The whole
Thing tipped and grumbled every time
It tried to do that walk it did.
Everyone still found it very entertaining.
Perhaps the questions it posed
Are unanswerable, like skeletons
Waiting by a windmill for the grass
To reveal the grim beast of the wood.
The forest listens to each leaf, each
Signature of love. It breaks the heart
To see the fields aflame like this,
But oh and oh and oh what
A wondrous view we have of heaven.
The swans. The clouds. The magnificent
Headdresses all comforted and astonished
That they are. We are forced to think
Of our mothers and when they finally
Showed us the great birds and
When we finally touched them
Any idea could be ours. The whole
Thing just clunked along like a good habit.
No one has used this road since
The end of World War II when
Rain came down for eight days
Drowning the wood, abandoning
Even the golden voices of the animals
That once lived here.
It wasn’t that it was dark,
Thoughts could easily become more dense
Than the crippled light that insisted
On being there despite having been foreclosed
And locked with thorns that seemed
Sharper than memory when unfolded.
But we came here anyway, if only
To be troubled by the fact that the road
Refused to go away or stop leading
To anywhere; a cut where, looking ahead
One could see the trees break and an open
Meadow lean ahead all the way to the lake
Shore. In the summer there were fireflies
That received the place like a memory.
Summer is gone, the war is gone
And we, for want of learning something special,
Something to place at the service of trying
To understand all the histories all over again,
Cause us to falter a bit and look
Cautiously about us to see if we can
Explain anything about this loss or the place
Itself that might leave us feeling
Intrusive about our need to be here.
The placid shadows, the mothers calling
Their sons home to dinner across the fields.
The skies realize themselves not
Because we are watching them.
They own the clouds, worship
The wind, demand all those birds.
Sometimes when I lie on my bed
Staring at the ceiling, spots that are
Stationary seem to move of their own accord.
The pale wolves of weather descend
Talking to us, pushing us toward the world.
How is it that the animals of the wood
Follow us so quietly. It isn’t blood or fang
Or ripping teeth and claws that keep them
So close. Yet still they follow us
To the edge of our knowing they are there.
They see us cry, the tears and sobbing.
Tears have strange beauty to conquer fear
The way they do. Their heartbeats in the
Thunder, their nerves built with lightning.
We too demand the birds. They are
A kingdom we can almost approach
But never embrace. To remain serene
In this splendor, filled with faith, knowing
Joy, we choose to believe the skies
Unsubstantial, conspicuous, the open
Hands of our true nature beyond understanding.
All literature is about deviation from a certain norm. I am fascinated with everything I see as a deviation from normal logic.