—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
Glowing after midnight,
I thought there were demons
in the room and that shape
kept twisting and turning
adopting the vajra weapons
as points of light and out
rageous greens. White
ring around each eye the
white of the eye black the
black white and seeing all
I stayed in bed late half
expecting she would come over
early and knowing she would not.
When she got here she was nice.
I was nice too. My words sounded
like they had been canned years ago.
I listened to how it sounded. Fourths
skinning into each other, up scales,
down scales. I worked in the yard
pruning roses. Red light danced
around her skin.
The clutch is slippin’
and the wheel’s dancing out
of control. The iodine’s on
the table, the grid has caught
afire, the rest is after midnight
, comes roaring through the soul.
The forward motion bottoms out.
The lower chakras turn into traffic
lights. Cars find it easier to
keep going. The comments get thick.
Yama slides through with his landing
lights on. I light some incense
and go to sleep. The coast looks great.
(from Cruisin’ at the Limit, 1982,
Duck Down Press, Fallon, NV)
PASSING ON A DOUBLE YELLOW LINE
There may be no coming back.
We had seen birds flattened
To the ground smack in the center
Where the road has no curve at all.
It began to drizzle and the day
Became soft. A kind of longing
Moved through the streets sweeping
Souls past translucent curtains in houses.
So beautifully simple it seemed
One could spend one’s entire
Life there, finishing a cup of tea,
Stepping to the window, gazing at the street.
Then they trotted past a filling station-lunch
room. Above the white-topped stools and chrome-
edged counter, there was a big stack of breakfast
food all neatly labeled and packaged and every
box was like every other box and each contained
exactly the same thing. Not oddly at all, they
looked very much like a pile of a certain kind of
best-seller—only the stuff above this counter
would not cheapen and sicken and make rotten the
spirit and mind of anybody who dipped into it—
so there the resemblance must end.
from See You In The Morning, p. 132
Like being in two places at once,
It was a move easy, toward the center.
Like we had always been in love
With each other but had never
Met and would never meet.
An old freight train went alongside
The road for a awhile. There were
About fifteen short freight cars and a bright
Light shone from the caboose.
It was like a last thing seen,
Two lights on behind as it moved away.
“Why did they send us here anyway?
We had enough of this constant weeping.”
The trail kept climbing and we have
Lost it at least twice today.
My hand still hurts from a branch
Having slashed it open as it flipped
Back toward my face and I stopped it.
A piano, the sign announcing the town,
A small flock of birds flutter
Up and disappear into the fog.
Someone lights a cigarette and inhales
Deeply, losing the smoke to the street.
Someone else buys a loaf of bread. We can
Hear the change click back into his pocket.
Someone puts a hand firmly on your shoulder,
Turning your attention back to the road.
There isn’t much further to go.
Please do not loose faith.
You are in a state of grace.
You can hear the horn as the driver
Leans on it looking for even more road.
CROUCHING IN THE DARK
From this far above the field
Everything looked like the surface
Of a plain filled with koosh balls hung
In the night.
A stiff sweet sweat rose from their bodies.
A beautiful flame rose from
The entire field asking to die
With a dignity worthy of dreams.
A fire that made me feel as if
Even their shadows had hollows
I could not fill.
There came a brilliance to my understanding.
We freeze as easily as water.
What happened since then is now gone,
Like spines, unable to rise up
Before us and say anything of their
Peril and condition. I reached down
From my position and found myself
Totally unable to touch anything
At all that could help anyone
Who knew what this
Crouching delegation given as a gift
To me was as I walked toward them.
The epitaph. The self is no longer
Standing at the end of the road
One or two cold stars twinkled.
The night lost its ability to carry sound.
When I finally recognized the form, they
Were thousand upon thousands of
Bodies crouched down in the dark,
Not moving at all, crouched and waiting
As they have since time refused to name them.
LITTLE THING THAT HAPPENED
We lived in a house where
Three piles of gold
Had been in the basement
For over one hundred years.
One time a fish spoke to us
Before we ate it and a year
Later nine creatures were
All born on the same day.
There was a man who
Could talk to the birds.
I had dreams that had
Feathers on them.
Someone told me they
Brought good luck.
There was a shoebox full of music.
The music played when the box was opened.
Every song was new every time.
All these things were accidental
Except the part where
I talked about love.
That was so real.
A BAGATELLE OF BEREAVEMENTS
Bereft of monsters.
Bereft of small things.
Bereft of mystery.
Bereft of exhalation.
Bereft of lucid dreaming.
Bereft of kind weather.
Bereft of failing desire.
Bereft of an ability to travel.
Bereft of any notion of fantasy.
Bereft of calm reflection.
Bereft of the sound of gunfire.
Bereft of the charms of poetry.
Bereft of any notion of light.
Bereft of any beckoning.
Bereft of all but time’s deepest pain.
Bereft of the quietest sounds of the night.
Bereft of the comforting touch.
Bereft of serene understanding.
Bereft of synonyms for loneliness.
Bereft of all but cellos in adagios.
Bereft of the ability to speak clearly.
I have held pure fire in my hands.
When I raised my eyes, there was only
A path moving through the skies
And I was obliged to follow.
So much was spoken in languages
I did not understand.
They came by night, yet sang
In voices so full of light.
I was tormented by their
Presence. It wrapped itself
Around me, touching my gardens
Where grew my desires. And I cared
For you there, oh don’t you remember.
Glad was the sound that fell from my mouth then
So changed that it no longer contained
Those vessels filled and spilling with my
Greatest desire, to speak as clearly
As possible to you when your breath
Becomes my breath and the fire
Through the bright fire of the poem
Is able to cause your loins to be
Unable to contain themselves as compassion
Spurts from your understanding of the world.
Art is not to throw light but to be light...