Saturday, June 02, 2012


—D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Tonight everything has been emptied out
Of the night.  It looms close, very close
To our understanding.  We are dreaming
In front of the mirror.  We sleep
Fitfully, challenged by our own breathing
To continue as we must, name the rivers,
Unwrap what we believe to be a mystery.
The package contains a fish.  It is years
Before we realize that the fish was the mystery.

I will speak to you now in an ancient
Language, the territory of which
Has been as an abandoned ship
Drifting far out at sea.  We are exhausted
From the offerings of the night.  Just before
We wake we realize that we are time, nothing other.


—D.R. Wagner

I must have been sleeping.
The way through the forest was
Wandering and I could not see
The distances before me.

I must have been sleeping.

The palace is of a fine pink stone
And rises with many turrets.
Banners of colored silk flame
From the rooftops and golden
Eagles course above them calling
To one another.

I must have been dreaming.

I had been given one hundred crowns
To find a present for my father,
Who was king of some far away
Country, reigning over many
Wonderful islands.  This was to be
Their story or so I had been told.

I must have been dreaming.

The women wore veils and were comely
With ways that moved one from one’s blood
When they struck their small harps,
Did their pleasant dances in the great hall.

I must have been dreaming.

My bed was rich with coverlets,
Embroidery festooned and as I
Laid my body down, these keen
Women curried favor of me with
Bright singing and the telling of tales.

I must have been dreaming

For I never speak this way
Or feel a longing such as this
For things I have not seen.
Yes, I prick my finger and blood flows.

I must have been sleeping.

And each minute seems an hour
Long and those who sleep cannot
Make songs like this, with
Plays made of glances and of
Gestures only.

I find my boots and pull them on.
I must have been dreaming.
I will write down the song.


                        for Mike Heron
—D.R. Wagner

Inviting the bears in.
Living with wolves.
The light slips in under the door
As if it had serious intentions
To inspire something truly wonderful
When it took the room.

I have no idea where the music
Was coming from.  It hit the back
Of my head.  I will not be ruled
By such music.  There must be
Something more.

The starlings come by the thousands,
Flying their incredible patterns,
Cross-patterns, murmurations
Of ecstasy and confounding all
Understanding into pure magic.


Please excuse me. I have just
Been informed that I am the one
Who will carry the weapons.

Do I love you?
Yes, I love you.
All this talking or just words in
The rain?  Oh Christ.  Oh Christ.
I can’t look into your eyes again.

Is this the first time you’ve
Heard about this?
I am a headful of birds
Endless flocks, thinking of you.
Come join us.  Make this come true.

I have been told not to imagine anything else.

“I may take some time on my way.
And I may have to spend some
Time, downstairs."

 —D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner

The light has done all that it can
To the surface of the water
In this cove.  Soon it will abandon
The whole place and but for a flush
Of late gulls and a slow raft of pelicans
There will be no more of this
Until the moon itself rises.

It is here in this last light
That one is still able to see what stories
Might hide there, moving through
The small groves of trees
Closest to the cliff edge,
Tumbling down knife-edged slopes.

From the beachfront houses a few
Lights escape but not enough to open
The place to understanding any of night’s
Dark lore such a place can have.

The slow breathing of the ocean upon
The shore.  The perfect way the breeze
Threads its way down to meet the quiet
Lines upon the sand.

It is here words begin to abandon
Description.  They too are in thrall,
Forget their meanings for long moments,
Argue that this is not so and
Come to create their own understanding
Of what great mystery this place
Might contain.  Then a silence
Once again.  The wavelets
Whispering in the deep cathedral
Such a place has become.


—D.R. Wagner

The stars had that blank look
They get when they want to pretend
That they don’t know a thing about
What the night has planned.

But they know its every move.
The way it talks to the wind and asks
The clouds to scud across the late
Winter wheat which has just turned
A perfect gold and the wind thrills
To hear the shafts of wheat rub
Against one another.  It is a perfect
Sound that means the season, especially
In the night, below the moon
With the stars approving the entire thing.

But tonight the stars wanted more
Of a story.  Something about lovers who
Had become separated and then found
Each other once again on such
A night as this one was going to be.

Now understand that we cannot
Know these things at all, for we
Are merely human beings; understanding
The vicissitudes of truly great
Events, such as the plans the wind
And night might make, we can only
Guess.  We can play the lovers but
May never know that this is such
A special night that even the stars
Have come to watch what might
Happen.  Come outside with me.

We will look at the moon together.
I will tell you an old Chinese tale
About a princess abandoned and
Undone by war and sorrow
But is able to finally come together,
Once again, with her lover.
This story, say the Chinese, was told
By the wheat on a night quite like this one.


Today's LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

The world had already begun before
Anyone noticed that the word was
With God and that, as has been written,
The word was God.  Somehow it had
Remained unspoken until it was too
Late in the day to be found out.

Music was substituted.  I believe it was
The piano where the whole thing
Got served up like a soufflé or a flan
Still glimmering with a slightly brown
Crust and filled with a flavor unobtainable
Anywhere else.

The sound of the sea
Just as the moon rises,
That hiss of water on sand.

At that time an angel, over against me,
Told me that my poem was in the mouths
Of all the angels.  I was dumbfounded.
He quieted me profoundly.  Word.


Our thanks to D.R. Wagner for all these riches today. And be sure to check Medusa's Facebook page for a new photo album by Taylor Graham: Wildwood Sheepwalks with Dogs, Winter into Spring.


 Class Exercise, 2008
—D.R. Wagner