—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Oh the path was green as green could be.
The path led down to the sea-O,
And from out of the sea and the night beach-O,
Came fishes three to dance upon the shore-O.
They danced on their tails as they told their tales,
Fins flapping on their sides. And they sang quite
Loud but they sang quite clear and their eyes shone
Bright and greeny as they danced in the blue moonlight:
“We have been to the lands of the fairie queen to show
Her our scales and how they shine, brighter than her armoured
Knights and she bid us go to the green, green path
That leads down to this sea, to dance upon the shore.
The sights we saw were the sights we saw and turtles
Large as dreams, they swam with us in the icy seas
Among the bergs and the herring schools with whales
White and Whales blue, bowheads, finned and the right ones too.
Through the realms of the squid and the great, great rays,
Past the thousand sharks and the octopi, the dolphins, eels
And the barracuda, past the sunfish and the bright sea snakes,
To come to this shore on this bright night to dance in the moonlight
Just for you, to dance in the moonlight for you.
And when you wake in the morning, child, and the day
Collects around you, you’ll tell your story of the dancing
Fish you’ve seen upon the strand. No will believe such
A thing you’ve seen, through it’s true, as true could be.
Such a sight they’ll say could never be and you’ll say the fish
Sang to you too and they will say this couldn’t be true, oh no,
They will say it couldn’t be true.
All you’ll have left are some scales we will give
And these words of our song we sang for you
As you came down the green, green path that
Leads to the edge of the sea-O, that leads to the edge of the sea.”
HAMMERING IT HOME
This should be a voice.
This should be a red voice.
I did not know that this
Would have this appearance,
That it would seem to be a collection
Of stars at a window, the blue
Eating away at where the moon
Was just reaching. This does not
Appear to be a voice. It is
So silent. I can’t get back
To it often enough. There isn’t
A sensation of sound at all.
Shaking the sleep away with
A voice. How can this be
As it seems. I will write
It down here. I will come
Here to listen. I will not know
Anything but the voice.
I will not be reading at all.
I will know what this really is.
They were shredding the sky.
Huge chunks of it ripped out,
The skin behind the stars
Showing its edges. They too glowed.
Someone was already sitting near
The piano when she entered
The room. There was something
Familiar about him. His eyes
Had seen rafts of the dead
Laid out in the sand and broken rocks,
A voice of pure red and dirty smoke
Before the bodies had come apart.
There must be a place for them
In music. Please let there be
A place for them in music.
It is bad enough they can never
Be put back together. The sound
Itself weeps blood and fragments of bones.
We walk quickly to find cover.
Perhaps we have not been seen yet.
THE CHILDREN OF THE BLIND
All around me, a gray rain,
A glance dropped so easily
It made no sound until it reached
The heart’s core and leaked out
Through the bottom, not understanding
A blessed thing about why
The coldness cracked the surface
Where love was smoothing and soothing
As much as it could when
Its truth was knocked out
Of its head and scattered
On the runway like
Porcelain gems spinning
The tires of huge jets and
Creating havoc every time I even
Thought of a kiss or your arms
Or anything that might be
Your body next to mine.
Well this is certainly harmless.
All the blood has been washed away.
They have recorded everything so they
Can relive it over and over.
The sounds of the working day
Are muffled here as if there
Was something no one wanted us to see.
I don’t know. Something just snapped
And before I knew it everyone was
Wearing red and screaming and I
Reasoned that the gathered throng
Was some kind of drunken giant
That never heard of Our Lady
Of Sorrows. I smoothed my hair
And my hands are covered with
Blood. I haven’t been taught this.
Just stand here with me, not hurting
Anymore, ever. We’ll talk quietly for awhile.
I wonder if we will meet again.
I can hear your voice, the crying
And that little star that needs
To hear us sing to it so it can shine.
(The bitter tears of the wind,
Much of rain is for the sky
alone to see.)
LANDING IN THE DARK
“The sea is like a splintered mirror.”
There is no moving closer to it
Or landing on it. We have no way
Of knowing if we are near the ground
Or if we are part of the snow and the terror
The edge of night brings to us
As we hang suspended in the air
Listening to the whining of the motors
That keep us aloft. They seem
Fueled more by dreams than
Gasoline or jet fuel. They do not
Offer us comfort, only remind us
That we are gods of the air
For a brief moment. Then we see
Three flares in the distance,
Decide they mark the edge of a plane
Where we might escape the clouds.
The runway of the night all around us.
We turn our craft toward these
Feeble beacons and begin singing
As if they were the most precious
Of jewels as we feel the lump
Earth becomes beneath our wheels
And we begin thinking of how
Exotic a cup of coffee sounds.
TESTING THE RAIN
The sea birds fly low
Across the water, just inches
Above the wave tops,
Like almost waking from sleep
But being unable to do so.
The ladder reaches almost
To the top of the wall
But still falls short
Before one is able to see
Over the top.
O the fire knows my name.
“The velvet voices of the drowned”
Wish this rain to rise again. It seems
So small. We cannot possibly
Be important here. The hours
Will wash over us. There will be
Kind words and the beating
The heart knows as its private
Voice is echoed in the thunder,
Describes the robes the heart
Wears before it has been harmed
By living in these streets, walking
Among the monsters of murder
This city fills itself with.
We watch the birds and decide to test
The rain once more, to fly for all
The days of our lives.
CHARLES BUKOWSKI AS THE BUDDHA
You can wait outside this place forever
And never see the same poem that went in the front door.
It was so shiny and full of order, clean metaphors,
Here comes one now. It is tired and hurt.
It looks like it got into an argument with Charles Bukowski
About a race horse. Thing with poems though,
They have been everywhere. They are like fire.
They are all our senses, these are poems after all.
They go everywhere, they see everything.
They see as well as the Buddha, for crying
Out loud. They might be the Buddha.
Later, when you finally get in the door and go
Looking for it, you will find thousands of them,
Most of them attached to poets however.
If you find one without an ego it just might
Be the Buddha. Or maybe it's just Charles Bukowski.
I found myself a fiction.
No one believed me.
Everyone read me.
I remain the truth.