Saturday, July 07, 2012

Convenience of Chaos

—D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

I am still waiting.  I gaze from the window
Past the mirrored room, over the terraced roofs,
Looking to the columns of thick dust that rise
In long streamers far away near the river bed.

The water is almost gone now.  Most of the people
Have left on their own odyssey taking their cattle
With them.  They are looking for an everlasting name,
An infinite domain.  We used to think them
Magicians but today they have become fools.
All knowledge of them scraped into a few
Lines of poetry populated with unicorns,
Twisted pieces of iron and an almost imperceptible
Clearing of shadows that is neither
Exaggerated or completely powerless, but which
Exhibits all the marks left by time
On the night sky.  They will not be back.

And so we remain here with our over-inventive
Dreams penned up in abandoned corrals
Awaiting a new star, an insistence that details
Have changed, that there will be enough to eat.
We wish for good fortune to accommodate us
Here on the extremes of music,
Prayer and a crumbling spoken language.
I reach out as far as possible.
I am able to touch the soft fabric of the moon.


                                                        ...J.L. Borges
—D.R. Wagner

I had been given my own island.
Mostly dust with a couple of good
Pastures that rose upward to sea
Cliffs looking at the western sky.

As good a place for anyone to sit
Of an evening and listen to the day
Unload its promises into the night air.

None of them really true at all.
There was never enough to call out
What country this might be.

The vessels that came here had flags I could
Not recognize.  They seldom stopped
For more than water and to buy a few
Sheep and some cheese.

I began entertaining as a dream is
Entertaining.  I knew parables
And had the ability to speak
Any language as so as I heard it spoken.

I awoke one night deep inside a dream
I recognized as belonging to a captain
Who had asked me years ago if I
Knew anything about how long men
Had lived in this place.  I recall
Being completely unable to answer him,

I recall saying something about the horses
Who had lived here long before I came.

I questioned my wakefulness, but
Everything contained one of his secrets,
A sleep full of his dreams and me,
Knowing this.  I found myself climbing into a small
Skiff with curious blue sails
And rowing out to a candle-lit
Galleon.  The night was perfectly still.

When I awoke in the morning I was
At the edge of the meadow, a light
Misty rain was beginning to fall.
The sheep were walking slowly toward me.
Somehow I felt they were happy to
Find me there watching them. 

 Sunflowers, Weary of Time
—D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner

These flowers burn my hands
As they are delivered to me.
I must have gone out at some
Point to gather something like them.
But they became too many bouquets,
Too many different ideas of what
Time allowed me to find.  I am
Sure it was for time’s amusement,
Just as it finds so many literatures
To poke at as one might a jellyfish,
With a stick, between tides.

This then, is between tides.
I will be patient with it all
And carefully map out the
Labyrinths, make deliberate choices,
Find a mysterious object, half-buried
In the sand, carefully lift it, turn
It over, only to discover a perfect mirror. 


—D.R. Wagner

The honeycomb keeps the tally
In an even, golden blood, once
Held in the mouth of every
Beautiful worker bee that plies
The structure and its liquid gifts.


I found wolves in my heart.
Their white and shining teeth
Pushing past the bone to explain
To this heart that it was
To be discovered, made part of the wolf.

I was forced against the most
Beautiful pine tree I have
Ever seen and felt the white,
White teeth open my thigh and then
The symphony of the pack was upon me.

Ribs turned to bleached instruments
From which music has fled
Except for the coldness of a great
Howling across ice fields and
Thick-crusted snow.


—D.R. Wagner

It’s the part about the end
That always leaves me so confused.
How something can start out in one
Place and eventually find itself so far
Removed from where it was—distance
Becomes unforgivingly complex,
One word will not follow another.

The chorus seems continuous, with
Voices rising into the text, becoming
Melody and moving away even as
More words pounded the flesh of language
Directly into the mouth with meaning.

The Summer was beginning to grow very bright.
We were able to talk to everyone who came.
Some of the children remembered us from
The last time we were here.
We sent the water for them.
They were the mystery for us.

As we went deeper into the forest
We could see their bodies begin
To glow.  We began to wonder
If we were on the earth any longer.

The ghosts were already moving in the children
And there were entertainments in the heart.
The clearing was strung with cheap
Incandescent, clear carnival lights.
It didn’t feel like a place God
Would choose to be.

Something we understood to be death
Had already fixed roots here.
We weren’t going to go a step further.

It’s over, Charlie.  Can’t you tell it’s
Over?  Nobody lies that still for that long.
No one has such large holes in their body.


—D.R. Wagner 

Death was camped out on the edge
Of a bluff under some cottonwood trees.
His horse was without saddle
And was munching grass just at
The edge of his campfire.

What are you doing here, death?
I asked, somehow surprised but
Not at all afraid.

Taking in the night, listening to
Bach on my music player, remembering
My work, or part of it. 

And you, he said, are dreaming.  I have
Nothing for you yet.  You could
Stay here awhile and look at the
Stars with me for awhile.

Thank you, but no, dear death.
I am traveling this night to
Escape the heat of the desert.

Dream on, said death. See you
Soon enough.


Today's LittleNip:

You fail only if you stop writing.

—Ray Bradbury



Lots going on in our area and the Bay this weekend, in spite of the heat; get all the details by scrolling down to the skinny blue bulletin board at the right.

—D.R. Wagner