—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
The swarms are moving in. They pass
Through our breath and fog the glass of days
Completely. If they have bones, they use
Them to make music, a curious dry, music,
The sound of grasshopper wings in a still field.
We begin to write the opera they contain.
“I am more alive than you,” wail the flutes,
Lugging their way through storms and broken
Reed to light upon the quick scarves of the
Tongue and burst into colorful flame, capes
Unfurled, as if they were not paying attention
To how the story might go. They eat heroes
And heroines alike, spitting out the small bits,
Extinct and irrelevant but always catching us,
Making us regret their actions, passing us
With thick arms and buckets filled with fascinating
Treasures from the deepest parts of the sea.
Finally we are asked to walk among them,
Suspend belief, give ourselves over to their
Crackling displays that take language out
Of the senses violently, pulling our hair
To direct us in the direction they will have us
Go. We become weary meeting other people,
Looking for the light in their eyes that allows
Us to understand they have seen what we
Have seen, heard what they have heard.
From on high we can watch the doors of perception
Swing open and closed, millenniums of behavior,
Always similar to our own but finally crouching
Behind one another. As flies to wanton boys,
Are we to the gods. They kill us for their sport.
We will leave the room quickly, dress without
Caring, only to be warm, find our way into the snow.
We will get into our automobiles, humming to ourselves
To keep some sanity and drive off into music, finally
Done with it, lucky to be alive.
THE HIGH GOTHIC
And what is this then?
A tumbling captured by a harp
As it plays against the night
To form its own landscape.
We tell the tales. The symbols
Have their parade. The candles
Crowd to the sides of the nave and pulsate
As the breathing of angels might
As they gather our selves to the space.
I will tell you of the great spires
High above the cathedral roofs
Bouncing what small light is left back
To the precious moon. And we design
Dreams, oh we do, we do.
But they are not dreams for ourselves.
The centuries walk back and forth
Across them. The singing comes and goes
Within the choir and the sparkling from
The high altar stops us once again.
The moment itself before us, totally unexplainable.
COURAGE AGAINST THE LION
He will rend your flesh from your bones
And show his red and bloody mouth
Below vacant eyes caught in the thrall
Blood brings to that mouth.
Courage then, for yours is the voice
The beast wishes for speaking.
We are the ones to tell the tale
Of its lordship of the jungle and
The steppes and the plains.
The lion in the desert. This is
His voice then. “Do not touch me.
Look upon my words and see that
My own blood pours from them.”
Yes they will heal and I shall be
Once again stalking along with death
As if we had nothing better to do.
All these words gathered here
For the sake of what could be a roar.
TRYING TO FLY ONCE AGAIN IN THE WINTER
I have forgotten you
For over one hundred years now.
Here I am tonight once again
Dreaming of your thighs and your embrace.
I can see all the way over to the
Coast. The waves are growing
In size. Their edges have a glow
To them as they meet the shore.
I once had wings but it was at night
And it was cold. I could not fly
For long. I kept falling to the earth,
Picking myself up and trying again.
I could hear your voice.
Maybe I only thought I could
Hear your voice But I did fly.
The first stars are about to come
Out for the evening. One can see
Them dressing beyond the clouds.
I will climb back into
My bed and pull the covers
Up toward my head and I will
Smell you somewhere in this harp
Music that is playing in the dark
My room presents to me. Come here.
Kiss me. It is now
That you are able to hear this.
We shall meet the morning together.
We shall still be making love.
None of this will matter anymore.
THAT THE MOON
That the moon doesn't care for Spring.
That it doesn't fill itself out as an announcement
That a season is coming. It has its own games,
Water, the blood moving through mammals,
Huge hatches of insects making another music.
Still it shines brighter than all else in the night
Sky. It opens the earth itself in rain or clear
Light and gives names to the waking of the ground.
No matter where we go, if the night is open,
Clear and the course of this spinning planet
Is open and not just showing off the stars,
There she is, her royal majesty, directing everything
From the top of the night, not caring who or what
Sees her light, the llama races or mischief
In the eyes of old magicians somewhere in Mexico.
Slipping through the fog above the Great Lakes,
Holding court before the Northern Lights,
It is still the moon, careless and reclining
On the whole of our sky with us always loving it.
The tips of your fingers.
I wish there may be nothing
Ever else to talk about
Than what is clean, the wind,
The rain, in its many waves.
This dance the snow entertains
Us with, as we laugh at its
Pure beauty. And the flowers!
Have you seen the flowers?
What color is the wind?
Hate and war and power have
Gone now. Shhhh...No one can
Know them any longer.
Oh you angels.
They stood naked on the battlefield
Except for their precious pieces of jewelry
Shedding the fabric of uniforms
To avoid entanglement with brambles
Throwing themselves into the bonfire of dedication
Giving service beyond the call of duty
They perished like water under the bridge
With no medals of honor to outlast them
These battles repeat throughout history
The War on Drugs
The War on Crime
The War on Poverty
Each drawing more Gaesatae
Who surrender only their clothing
Which their enemies proudly hang
High above from telephone lines.
(Happy Birthday, Carl!)