Saturday, February 11, 2012

Grey Clouds of Unknowing

February Sunset
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Grey clouds of unknowing
if the answer were just
it would hold up its head
like the rest of us.

I could talk about her hair, the way the country
moves in it, making cities and towns shine oh heart
with its rose, oh reminder of the weaver, sayer of the name.

Out she came from Belvador w’hands that sang themselves
into the air and gathered to her animals and birds, sparrows
in rings around her good feet and loved them all she did.

And wind across the desert under stars, they come and go
with their bands of dogs, travelers to the other fair,
I’ve seen you there among them, caught at your ankle
and tossed you down laughing to the silks, camel smell
on your body, you said you were the watering maid
and I was son to whom? It comes and goes so quickly
I miss the shape of your foot, the lashes of your eyes
so quick there.

Who has in hand the answer fair
I would give them to the fire
who has in hand the dreamer’s light
You’re well to call them liar.

Come out with me, come out with me
the night the stars are flame
all opened up like rose and tooth...
it shall not come again.

And what then this bird that rides above the words?
A sparrow or a dove it matters not,
it flies, it flies, it flies.

(first published in Cruisin' at the Limit, Duck down Press)


—D.R. Wagner

Torn from what I had supposed
To be true. Cars ripping the road up along
The lake after midnight. We were traveling
At over 100 miles per hour. The moon was
A blue steak across my eyes and the dashboard
Was a perfect twelve-volt yellow.

We couldn’t believe the land was as polluted
As they said it was. My cousin had a black
Ooze coming into his basement in a slow, constant
Flow. They told him he would have to move out.

Trekking through the stands of ugly trees
Just beyond the slag fields of dying Vanadium
Steel plant, where the night-time slag cars
Dumped their glowing garbage in the fields
So close to our homes we could smell the night,
See the lava flow of slag pour out onto the land,
Sit there and become piles still there in 2012,
As perfect as the day they fell from the furnaces.

Bloody Run was its real name and Bloody Run
It remains. It will never be returned to us.
I will dream into those nights with weapons
That now look like words. They will have
No dominion. The stench of a huge industrial
Death will not abandon us. This remains our home.
There is hope for sale in buried wastes, in the
Eyes of men long dead from a dollar-fueled love
That still makes the air smell each and every night.


            (after Kipling)
—D.R. Wagner

Broken I was and beyond repair
(I never could understand.)
I’d stand in the rain and think it was fair
(I knew I was wrong but I just couldn’t care)
But still I stood and still I stared
(I never could understand.)

I stepped on my dreams, or so it seems
I tried to keep them all clear
But there was never a dawn that could draw me on
(Now I can feel and I tried hard to feel)
And I struggled, but named it fear.

I was loved or thought maybe I might
(I never could understand)
Still I leaned into the fight
Broke my spirit to capture the light
(And the light it was never that bright)
(I never could understand.)

Oh the things I would do to make this seem true
Were never enough, much too bland
And now I can feel, as I am able to feel
(But please understand that I barely can feel)
Yet it still seemed all much too grand.

I’m broken apart, like it matters at all
(I never could understand.)
And I’ve tripped on the verge and I crawl
(But it doesn’t seem real, just small)
Still I grew, but was broken, was never so tall
(I never could understand.)

And now in the twilight I beg for a bright light
And it cuts like a curse from a height.

And I’ll never know how it caught me and so
(My soul has gone from me, faith, I never will know)
And I never will understand.


—D.R. Wagner

Late in the evening, the stores are
Long closed, I passed a bookstore.
In the window a manuscript page
From a 12th-century psalter
On a small easel with a
Price attached that made the page
Seem vaguely possible to purchase
Even by one as poor as myself.

I looked at the marks on the vellum.
The red ink that bent the capitals
Into a submission. The “Domine
Non sum dignus” pulled into the
Page with a pen and I desired
To keep the page with me forever.

The street titled. The store was so small.
They sold mantillas just across the street.
The gold ones in small drawers they would
Open if you were truly interested.

That night I saw the manuscript in fire,
In a dream. I could not read it
Fast enough. I awoke shouting, scaring
My partner, calling the names of centuries.


            (in the Italian style)
—D.R. Wagner

Saint Michael drives a ship of gold
And on the foredeck sits a cage
That holds the head of an evil queen.

And Saint Michael wields his sword
And pushes through the waves
To guide the righteous toward the green

The light of morning makes as it clears
The hills. Then songs do come,
Songs do flow, like milk before
A thousand cats, like salt upon
The food that once was bland,
Like beans that can revive an army.

So the golden ship Saint Michael drives
Will sail on and on and not arrive
At any port but become a story,
Become a tale of love and heart
And Saint Michael, his angel self
Drives on back to the very start.


—D.R. Wagner

“There’s a terrible risk here,”
I told my friend Baxter
As we sat, drinking wine and smoking
Cigarettes on a Saturday evening many years ago.

“What’s that?” he said, draining his glass
Of Vin de Tavola.

“We could grow old,” I replied.
“Well at least you’re right for once,”
He replied. “Let’s go outside to the
Front porch and have another cigarette.

We will talk about pain. Maybe
That will help.”

“I hope so. I really do,”
I replied watching the street light
Come on, flashing and complaining
About the charge pushing through the wires.

“I hope so. I really do.”


Today's LittleNip: 

Earth teach me to forget myself as melted snow forgets its life. Earth teach me resignation as the leaves which die in the fall. Earth teach me courage as the tree which stands all alone. Earth teach me regeneration as the seed which rises in the spring.

—William Alexander   

Every spring is the only spring, a perpetual astonishment.

—Ellen Peters



February Surprise
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
(Check out D.R.'s new photo "album" on Medusa's 
Facebook page: Spring!~with D.R. Wagner!)