Saturday, June 09, 2012
As Blue As Time (He Always Loved Pasadena)
[Another "wiggly" art piece from D.R. Wagner]
THE ARCHITECT OF LABYRINTHS
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
He used to make bonfires of the stars,
Heap them up in great piles, stuff newspaper
Under them and light the entire business up.
They would burn for hours, blazing away and popping
Comets and fiery cinders high in the air.
Father would let us stay up late on those evenings.
He felt the architect of labyrinths was a magician
Capable of stunning tricks and illusions.
We visited him only twice that I can recall.
His home was small and packed tight with books,
Maps, pictures everywhere and piles of drawings.
He wore a ring on his left hand with a large stone
That looked blue and then looked red depending
On something I could not determine. I recall he called
Me over and asked me to look at the stone, which I did.
There was a tiny hole in the middle of the ring. He asked
Me to look closely at it. Inside the ring I saw an entire
Village, at night, with twinkling lights and people strolling
Up and down the streets, greeting one another. There
Was a kind of music in my head as I looked at it.
“What is this?” I asked.
“It is your imagination,” he said.
I was too young to say anything other than
“Oh.” It seemed like magic to me.
The last time we saw him he was standing in his yard,
Tracing one of his labyrinths out in the dirt beyond his lawns.
Every time he would make a mark, the ground would glow
For several minutes and then settle down.
“Why does it do that?” I asked.
“Because it traces a way home,” he answered.
I have thought about this ever since that evening.
I remember he said that if I would like to see
Something like that again, I must look to the stars.
I have never failed to do so since that time.
THE SMALL FIRES
The small fires began to appear
Almost as soon as the sun had set.
Most of them were on the other side
Of the valley. They weren’t any larger
Than heartbeats, but there were plenty of them.
They had little smoke about them
But they were bright. We began
To make our way toward them.
The longer we walked toward them
The farther away they seemed to be.
They never diminished in brightness.
We continued to walk. The moon began
To entertain us. It twisted in the sky,
Tossing moonbeams all over the landscape,
Lighting the lairs of the bear,
The wolf, the lion, the sleeping elephants
Standing full in the night air with their
Long dreams of endless grasslands,
Caught for a moment by the playful
Slip of moonlight across their gray heads.
I saw the rabbits dancing on their hind legs,
The gathering of night spirits
In circles of ancient trees.
“What are these lights that do not
Come closer to us?” we begged of the moon.
“They are your own poor souls which
You can see and feel but never
Reach. For you do not recognize
Them as the same as you are.
They are as far away as daylight
Is now and you can touch the night
In pursuit of them and will never
Reach them until you see
They are not other than your own
Selves. See them glow.”
It has been millions of years
Since that night when we saw
The small fires, and we are
Still part of the night, but now
We are the lovely fires and
Tonight you find us before you
And think, once again, you have
Seen small fires flaming in some distance.
Wait until that same moon rises
And listen to her sweet words
So that this tale need not be told again
By yet another poet left here
At the edge of night gazing into
The darkness, thinking they are mystery
When they remain only yourselves
Talking to yourselves. For this is how
The soul speaks. How you choose
To hear, will be your own journey.
VIGIL NEAR THE ISLANDS
We had never been this close
To the islands before.
There had always been something
That kept us away, that tore
At our consciousness, made us sore
To even consider moving near their
Cluster of beacons.
The moon is crippled. It can’t
Tell us what to do anymore.
We will be able to walk again.
We will be able to pick the moonlight
Up in our silvered buckets
And bring them back to our
Pillows in the morning.
There are no forgotten rooms any longer.
There are no silhouettes of people
Coupling inside of blank hotel rooms.
These have become cartoons
For the spirit as it contemplates
The process of being abandoned by youth.
There are no explanations left.
Someone picks up an icepick or a gun.
“Remember this?” they inquire.
And we can only recall the
Sprinklers coming on at 1:06 in the morning.
“Are you having trouble sleeping, dear?”
The lyrics of the song intrude
On these blood dreams.
“No,” we reply. “Look, from where
We are we can see the smoke
Coming from the front lines. I saw a dead
Man yesterday. They carried him from
The sands back to Pasadena.
He always loved Pasadena.
Gunfire continues in the neighborhood
For awhile until the blue police arrive.”
“They know what is going on.
They have the weapons to combat
Motorized robots are deployed; .
They explode nondescript boxes
As if they were bombs. One of them
Contains parts of a doll and
A ceramic coffee cup beautifully
Decorated with scenes from
A Midsummer Night's Dream.
I pour myself a cup of coffee.
Puck appears at the bottom of the cup.
He seems to be severely wounded,
Crawling toward an entirely different
Morning than the one we had imagined.
When the moon comes over the mountain,
Every beam brings a dream, dear, of you.”
Ramon puts the motor in reverse.
“It’s too close to morning now,” he says.
“We don’t want to get any nearer. Look
At all the beacons. I wonder what can
Be going on?”
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
FIGURES ON THE EDGE OF THE POEM
“And we put confusion on their borders
Until the night was in their eyes.”
As blue as time.
Lavenders, electric blues,
All float toward the center
Of the room. They vibrate,
Tremble then move toward one.
There is no self-awareness
Even as we sit down at the table
So close to dreaming one can see
Sleep in the reflections,
In the wine bottles and small
Plates that seem to swarm
The surfaces of the table.
“Would you like some more
Cheese or perhaps the churros?”
A cat occupies part of a shadow,
Declining to be recognized as any
Part of any scene described.
The entire room is built of reflections.
There is no up or down. The light
Passes through everything as easily
As we walk from room to room.
Birds perch in the words.
Rivers course through the stanzas
Making patterns between words
As blue as time, as quiet
As boats tethered to the edge
Of the sea. Red and green boats.
Yellow and orange boats, one as
Blue as time.
When we peel the words away
From the page, shadows run
To the margins expecting the change,
Person, plural, definite article,
Contractions, states of being,
A complete suspension of order,
Everything crowded to the very edges.
A VISON BEGINNING WITH TAR
The tar was burning.
And I had this vision
About the Christ child
And he was so beautiful
And he could talk to anyone
And explain things that were
Impossible to understand,
Why people played their radios
Real loud on one arm or
Suddenly were compelled to
Use firearms on their families,
Or how lieder evolved to contain
The soul enough to make
One weep, or why there was
Misunderstanding at poker games,
Even when people were not drunk.
And all the while he talked to
Those sweet angels, you know,
The ones you see in paintings
Would continue singing real
Loud so it was hard to hear
Anything he said and he would
Get on his motorcycle and take
To the back roads, turning north
Out of Auburn and suddenly
Appearing in Nevada City with
A little globe made of gold,
A cross on top and say, easy
As you please, “Peace be with you.”
Another truckload of poems and art delivered to the Kitchen today by D.R. Wagner; many thanks to him for that. And hey—it's Second Saturday again, time to head down to Midtown Sacramento for the Second Sat. Artwalk. Stop in at Insight Coffee Roasters (8th & S Sts.) around 6:30 to hear William S. Gainer read at Art Bazaar. Lots going on, and it's all free!
Medusa's Kitchen has another new photo album on her Facebook page, this one of Lake Tahoe by Katy Brown. Check it out!
Writing is nothing more than a guided dream.
—Jorge Luis Borges