Saturday, May 05, 2012
Eternity Opens Its Mouth
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
But the days are a web of small troubles,
and is there a greater blessing
than to be the ash of which oblivion is made.
Before the fog, just before it.
When the moisture in the air
Begins to notice it is there.
There were no books. A few drawings
On the rocks near where the buildings
Had been excavated, and only a few.
Tools and vessels...much less than might
Be expected. Except for weapons.
There were many.
I leave this contrivance for you
To see. You, with your quiet moment,
Come here and see the bones of the thing.
How has it been made with words and not
Inconsequential words at that. Yes, you
May see a lion, but it will become lost
In the labyrinth as if blind.
It is made of echoes and moments of time
Unable to connect to anything human.
We carry feeling to it hoping it won’t
Find us too strange or too unwilling
To suspend an idea we had that there was somehow
A poem here, pulled from time to form
For the spirit that might find itself
Drawn to these words in the middle
Of the night, alarmed that it has become
Necessary to consult what is essentially
An architecture, hoping to carry
Meaning from it, that the night
May not be so sharp as to cut up
Dreaming into chunks too small to
Be recalled except as an ill feeling
Come the morning, should the morning
Come. I would suggest you not
Look at it any longer. I stopped
When I saw myself scribbling its
Features onto the page, too full
Of anxiety to reconstruct any
Type of prayer with these tools.
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
THE POEM OF WATER
The story is unrepeatable. It has no
Walls but dominates dreams with its
Huge body, so huge civilizations may be lost there.
Never finding their way, such a labyrinth
Undoing our tongues by refusing speech
As we open our mouths, no longer able
To breathe, lost once more on our journey
As Ulysses was lost.
I remember the last time standing
On the banks of the Niagara River,
The Upper Rapids.
The rocks seemed to be exploding.
The sound clear and loud but still
We were able to talk to one another.
Then it happens, for over a mile
Eternity opens it mouth so wide
We swoon upon the river banks,
Gazing full into your body.
You are the element.
Oh water that is all things to me
From life, to death, filling my body
With your flowing. Am I in love with you
Or is it that you are in love with me?
I seem to speak as you do, drop by
Drop; some clear, some clouded.
I do not know what I am trying
To say. My library pours from its shelves.
Filling all available space, pours through
The windows, through the town and city,
Never stopping. We hardly notice
Where all of language pours back
Into your element, washes itself
Within you and returns to our lips
As we sing endlessly to your mystery.
—Photo by Katy Brown, Davis
END OF NIGHT
The ends of the branch, bent.
The last of the moon refuses to be quiet,
Catching at stars, disturbing the clouds
Of birds trying to settle in for the evening.
Swinging back and forth across the sky
Like a part of memory left wondering
What the story truly is about.
I walk along the sea edge still amazed
By the immensity of its reach,
Its conversations with every shore,
The myriad of creatures it holds
In its body and yet, here, such
A terrible calmness beneath a crazy moon.
Somewhere still far away, morning is
Drying herself from its shower, fixes
Her hair and looks at the trail night
Has left for her to follow, full of broken
Things and tears, the stares of both
The hunted and the hunter littering
The landscape. She barely notices
A yellow moon, lovely blue, so pale
Dragging itself away from its madness.
Now the moon looks to the morning, blank-eyed,
Without anticipation at all. It makes
A feeble gesture toward the mountain.
It had some message for them but
That seems mostly lost as well.
Morning begins her walk and I notice its
Golden patterns in the sand
Suddenly full of perfect light.
My eyes receive it like communion.
“The evening crashed behind the trees.
Celestial beings. A scabbard.”
A yellow dampness stolen from
Midday, curling around the hilltops,
Devoid of direction, placed there
To remind us that somewhere the day
Was beautiful and not forced into
A cloak worn by another, darker season.
It is a curious fate that draws one
To these high places of the wind.
It is as if we came to guard such places.
But from what, wandering vultures,
Rodents burrowing into the rocky ground?
Perhaps a rare species of light violet butterfly
That visits here for an equally obscure bloom?
We have been left here looking out
From the highest of shelves like books
Filled with a lore we can never read.
In all the years, no one has come here.
Still we remain. The dampness. The
Wistful landscapes, deserted by birdsong.
We climb to the outcropping of rocks
Keen for a taste of something knives
Might know or battle recall.
Nothing remains. “Secret and usable
Like the stars,” we swear our fidelity
To distant vistas, high places and
The glowing afternoons with their cadences
And their sad half-remembered dreams about
Time, as if even up this high it might matter.
I heard that my heart was broken
And decided to go down to have a look
At it and see what that was like.
Apparently a number of other people
Heard the same thing and as I walked
I had a small group around me,
Some of whom I knew, some of whom
I did not. I stopped when I got to the bridge.
I could hear a popping that sounded
Like popcorn hitting a steel lid. It grew
In volume then drifted away.
I could hear some crows squabbling
In the deeper woods, then squirrels
Began something, moving through the trees.
From the bridge I could see
The ocean. There were gray shapeless
Objects, vessels, on it, near the horizon.
As the light failed, the gray vessels began
To glow like fireflies, flashing and blinking
Frantically. After awhile these too fizzled.
Those who were with me gradually
Drifted below the bridge where
They built campfires and sat
Talking in small groups. The wind
Began to pick up and chill the entire area.
I turned to walk back to my home.
An owl passed close by to me. I could
Feel the air from his silent flapping
Brush my face. The crickets started.
I began to feel the wind and pulled
My jacket closer about me.
Everything began to look hollow like
Looking through a tunnel. I wondered
If I found out anything. The air and then
The sky began to look greasy.
The stars began to slip, then to collide.
We came down from the North.
The rain was driving. For three days
We were unable to see the trails
We were using, hoping we had chosen
Correctly and that the water
Would stop or slow.
On Tuesday there was a break in the clouds
That lasted over an hour and we found
Ourselves much higher above the valley
Than we had thought we were.
We could see further valleys and even some
Distances where the clouds had let go
Of a few hundred feet of the mountains.
They had a glowing mist about them
Before they disappeared into the clouds again.
We were told this geography was typical
Of these deep emotions we were
Experiencing. We had to
Connect with our families.
“Your heart looks much like
This place,” we had been told
Before we left. “And traveling is most
Difficult once you reach the
Last range of mountains.”
We were barely to the mountains
And traveling was already most difficult.
It was already late in the afternoon
When the rain began again, harder
This time, the clouds insisting on
Staying close to the ground.
In some far distance we could hear
What sounded like bursts of gunfire,
Followed by dull explosions that were
Definitely not thunderclaps.
We took the route across the valley
And began our ascent as darkness
Was rearranging the landscape
For night. Somewhere higher up we
Noticed lights that appeared, disappeared,
Appeared again through the blowing rain.
We decided to make for the lights.
Perhaps we could reach them in
A few hours if we did not stop to rest.
We would find our families again.
We had vowed to do so.
We would be guided by our own breathing,
Our breathing and a perfect understanding
That our geography would remain true
For us, whatever the task might be.
Poetry must resist the intelligence almost successfully.
Be sure to check out tonight's Supermoon! See www.nasa.gov/topics/solarsystem/features/supermoon_2012.html
—Photo by D.R. Wagner