—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The living membrane has no
Color in its core. It is transparent.
We imagine the morning dawning
Clear above a high mountain
Lake. We are able to see far
Into the distance, hear the
Long calls of water birds and know
The secrets of the gold in the throat
Of the child exclaiming at the beauty
Of the higher ground, the perfect
I will promise to meet you there,
Where I can see through your skin,
See the transparent heart, the
Transparent blood flowing through
You, a transparent love more
Perfect than any weather still
Containing you, all of you, perfectly.
THE BLACK HORSE OF THE NIGHT
For a few moments I was standing
Where the canal met the river.
The water was blue, near black.
This made the light quite yellow,
Laced with the sound of water,
Of ships and the night time talk
Men make when they find themselves
Outside their bodies, watching the freedom
Their souls invent. They believe they
Are thinking...that lighting a cigarette
Is as powerful as writing a book.
No one has done this before.
The memory is so lucid but
It remains perfect and becomes
A story, part of a story.
I turn away or take a cab, perhaps
The turning away is the cab. Once
Again the light is perfect. I write
A book about it. I am on the seaward
Side of a large sand dune. It is no
Longer night. I realize it is quite
Possible this is a dream. I know
This could never be true. I extend
My arm. It is covered in feathers.
I wish to tell you about this. I turn
To do so but you are gone.
“See,” you say, “I have already
Left you here, alone.”
I don’t see how I could
Ever bring myself to the edge
Of that sea without thinking that
You will never stand here again
With me looking at the little silver
Tongues of the waves as they toss
Clouds of light back and forth
Into the dawn or even the days,
Or the months and years.
I can only see you lying in bed
The blue, white and barely gray
Of the late summer afternoon
Coming through the curtains lifting
A breeze across your sleeping face.
We have been here many time
Before, but now you are old and
Are unable to take even a lazy walk
Along the beach.
I imagine you are a sea gull at the
Edge of the pier. I listen to the
Soft sounds your wings make in taking
Off, your voice trailing off through the heart.
AMONG THE GUARDIANS
Everything has the feeling
Of correctness about it.
Fleeing from the ancient and the alien,
Rescued by the comfort
The truth makes in guiding us
Through the labyrinths, the
Glinting of the bride in her sad,
Beautiful time, so perfect,
So vague, so accustomed to being
Watched that these guardians
Will free all memory before her and grant
Death the single thing it does
Not have, time. It offers to trade
It for oblivion at least, for a moment,
A future, an unbelievable spinning
through rich days and nights,
Full of touching and real blood
Without memory, granted to very
Few, a mirror of the dreams of others.
We show up at the last minute
Hoping to stop the whole thing,
Bring something new to the conversation.
The guardians lose substance, become symbols,
The flow of the entire transaction
Interrupted and changed to an obscure
Dialect of Catalan or Basque.
THE RESISTANCE OF RELIGION
I am not the first one to see
A lion fall from the moon.
I am sure it happens more
Often than one would suppose.
Tonight the moon looks like the body
Of Christ transubstantiated
In the high broken stillness
That punctuates itself with
Darkness and the sound of automobiles
Trying to sound like the water,
Flowing water, but they do not.
And it is not. It is the moon
Only. The street paved with tongues.
It seemed we are always trying
To escape in whatever way possible.
Great animals spring directly from
The frontal lobes and are left
To chase round and round the park
Like old songs being played on radio
Receivers decades after they have
Been popular. Little churches
Springing up around them the way
Wayside shrines might in the Swiss Alps.
It is a waltz of melancholy and
Thwarted desire manifesting itself
In coded drawings and mythical books,
Science Fiction stories, Horror,
Fantasy and the mysterious, until
One could gather enough knowledge
To turn all those ideas into
Sexual contexts and begin to act
Upon them in new ways that
Had nothing to do with reading or
Literature. Hiding in the dark
Reading theology, trying to find
The top of the heap. Then,
Waking up in the middle of the night
With pajamas sticky from wet dreams
And a rosary clutched in a tight fist.
THE FINE CHALICE OF LARRIN
Whomever it was kept the moon
In that glass casket for such
A time as he did was finally
Convinced by the sight of the cup
Held by the glittering watchers of Larrin,
To give it up and put it back
To work the tides and pull
The heart strings of so many who
Dwell in the realms near
The Isles of Fog and Challenge.
How was this cup to have
Such power? How was the mere
Sight of its quiet grace to move
Such power to reach inside
And pluck the fair moon
With its light, paler than the voices
Lovers use when they keep the birds
At their whispered secrets calm,
Then release them to the night
To carry ships of dreams into
The lands beyond the woods?
We are akin to twilight
In that beauty is illusive.
We are driftwood from far-
Away islands come here to
Make the stuff of legends,
Fabulous songs anchored
Within us as if we were as
Substantial as temples,
Not mere acquaintances of a laughing
Wind, just ahead of the morning,
Just ahead of lightning.
We are asked to bring such
Things as the Fine Chalice of Larrin
As if it were some kind of song
Remembered by survivors of mythical
Wars or brothers and sisters to those
Who walked out of the dark
Splashing toward the sunrise full
Of their golden mist. We are required
To waken these stories, bringing amazing
Beauty to all. We are required to be
Divine, more mystical than women
Are mystical and offer this deathless
Chalice to those who believe in how
Words themselves can equal the greatest
Secrets without ever guessing their meaning.
CHANGE, NOT CHANGE
The bright and sparkling throat
I found in early evening, in early Spring
As it opened and released such
Bird song such as angels, dear,
Dear angels are able to do
Has been quickly lost here in the
Earlier evenings of the year when
Leaves begin to look toward the ground
But have not yet turned color
Or abandoned their trees for the
Dark of Winter.
The air was still too warm. Summer
Is still more than a kiss. The
Stillness of the night does not
Encourage change but settles in to
What will be a peace that could
Hold the sounds of these same
Throats close to us an an embrace
Before parting, as the sound rises through
This same air, Spring so far away
As any dream might be.
Contradiction: truths from different times joined in one moment of time.