Saturday, July 14, 2012

Pushed Around By The Muse

Gem of the Ocean
—Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

Stepping down from the train I was waiting
For the light to change, arrange itself, explain
Why around the tracks such a simple act could
Remain the most significant.  Could it open
Another plane, a door, a hallway, a plaza?

There had been gunfire and explosions all night.
The air was a concerto of volleys and the stuttering
Voices that carried death upon their breath.

We knew we had to move as quickly as possible
Or nothing would matter for much longer.  We
Could hear children crying inside of the buildings.
Some of them were burning.  The whole place
Was being eaten by shadows and tracer bullets.

‘Through here then,’ a voice spoke and a passage
Revealed itself.  We gathered what we could and ran.

What was the smoke of powder and of fires turned
To sky and went from red to pink, tinged itself with blue
That seemed to form afterimages around old buildings.
We could hear what the birds were saying.  There was
No sound of battle or of pain anywhere near us.  Far
Away we could hear the train once again. 
It was leaving the station.  We had brightly colored
Packages in our arms.  People were leaning from
Balconies.  They carried candles and were humming
Songs we knew from childhood.  All of this took an
Entire lifetime to happen.  This brief telling of it must
Be a container placed in time to hold a lantern.


—D.R. Wagner

I am unable to do anything about it.
I stare for hours at the ocean.
I have been taken.  My thought
Listening to translations from
A language made of magic and swift gestures

Captured from dances performed
By a hooded crowd who insist
We know them but they do not
Know time and we show the tattoos
Of time all too clearly.

I am going to walk away from this
For a moment.  I am in danger of
Falling too far and becoming water,
Totally water, once again.

I saw spirits moving as clouds
Toward an infinite tomorrow.
I am unable to recall if we arrived
Here to do something special like dying
Or if there was to be a fiesta
That had another ending, a sky filled
With fireworks.  We have seen such
Things as we are not allowed to
Even attempt in explanations.

I sharpen my knives.  There will
Come a time when a dagger will
Hold all the language, when we
Will garb ourselves for inclement
Weather and find our horses.

This might be a story but it does
Have horses.  So we might want to
Leave before we know too
Much to begin insisting on a dawn,
A special fire that really gives
Nothing away at all.

And so I think I’m telling you a story
But it seems all about a carnival
That happens tomorrow in a poem
Left in a book so very long ago.


—D.R. Wagner

The walls peeled away perfectly.
We were standing in a contrived
Arpeggio of detail birthed
Of knowing too much of what
Was going to be said as soon
As time came to repay its debt
To death.  A sudden sucking
In of breath that resides
In familiar things, that is heard
Infrequently, as when loved ones
Disappear or when we notice
Passageways in the countenance
Of a sleeper.  Perhaps one woke
Too soon and the fragments of
Waking hadn’t all escaped the
Gnawing at the edge of sleep.

The face was still incomplete,
Yet we knew who it was.
Hell, we were sleeping with them.

I found I could lift the
Entire thing with the blade of my dagger
And watch it stumble toward
Some idea of what this place
Had looked like previously.

From what could have been
A rooftop as easily as it
Could have been a bed, one
Could see the cloisters, the
Cities, the dungeons, even the
Libraries full of their disconcerting

This was supposed to be a help in
Explaining a slight, unusual
Occurrence involving
Touch and an unexpected waking from
What could have been a dream.
It has failed miserably. 

Little Dresser with Lamp
—Photo by D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner

The smallest of delirium broke off and floated
Away like music.
In the dark of the moon I took leave
Of my senses and left for a primitive oblivion.

No one had ridden this far into the
Barrancas for many years.  It was said
That the stars themselves often became
Lost out here.  Mysterious fires
Would flare up very intensely, but briefly
Then unravel, at various times of the year.
No one knew their cause and no burned earth
Was found.  There was no singular, no plural.

It was impossible to have a destination
Out here.  This was a place
Where the ends of stories went to
Escape.  Where, it was said, tears could generate
Flash floods.  They rushed through
Arroyos like ghosts from the mind of God,
Wandering waters with no beginning
And no end.

I have seen the people who lived here.
They are furtive and very spiritual.
It has been said that when they open their mouth
To speak at night, fires come from
Deep within them and spark the night.

They have never been seen in the villages.
They are an imagined history.
They are hidden springs like those found
Deep within the soul.

If one can read the birds,
One can understand that time has
No dominion here.
A blanket on the ground
Like pictures of saints on old prayer cards.
The conversations of coyotes about
The pronouncements of the moon.

A crackling moves through this place
As if lightning were walking through.

Still we ride here.  It is
A place of wild horses who can be heard,
But are seldom seen.  Perhaps they are the same
As the people, perhaps they are a shared soul.

An overhearing of the special conversations
Of the dead, a quick cord
Tied to a weighing of souls, a collision
Sharpened by forgetting what we thought
We knew, driven by this reverberation
At a masque devised by nightmare.


—D.R. Wagner

‘You’ve fallen pretty far,’ she said.
'Don’t try to move yet.  You may
Have broken something.’  Her smile
Had beautiful hallways filled with
A cathedral of lights in it.

'Have I been here long?' I ventured.
‘We saw you coming for a long time.
It was like watching a song or
Like being awakened from a wide
Sleep, a river carrying so much it
Becomes difficult to believe it
Was a river any longer.'

'What are you talking about?' I
Asked, trying to rise but unable
To do so.  I began to see red
Streamers drape her body.
Her eyes rolled back in her head.
She slumped forward.  All I
Could think of came out like a
Fairy Tale, kings, mean sisters,
Mysterious treasures and castles
That manifested themselves in
The twinkling of an eye.  I could
No longer see her eyes.

I pulled myself up to a standing
Position.  A mouse army ran toward me
Me informing me they were at my service.

And I began to wonder what my service
Might be.  And then, you came
So close to me, lifting my words
As if they were melodies, touching me
With your lips, realizing all this was true
And I could feel myself falling again.


—D.R. Wagner

Here are a couple of things
I’d like to put in this poem.

The crocodiles were swimming in a loose
Formation.  They were golden and with
The sun glinting off their backs they
Looked as if they had been gods
For a very long time.  Once they
All opened their mouths together, then
Snapped them shut.  A shower of
Sparks rose up just above the surface
Of the river.  It was one of the most
Beautiful things I had ever seen.

That night there were three moons.
At first I thought they might just
Be reflections but no, one was
Bright orange, one a perfect green
And one made so much noise we
Were forced to board a train and
Race down the Eastern seaboard.

Look, Mac, nobody saw you come in here
And nobody knows you are even here.
If you are having trouble not telling
People about this we’re going to have
To give you some dancing lessons, no
Feet on the ground.  Get my meaning?

I watched the women turn into an alley
And walk quickly almost to the end,
Where they disappeared through
A battered yellow door marked
‘Haymarket, no enter.’  By the
Time I caught up with them,
They had changed their clothes
And were busy making a big automobile.
The music was blaring from its radio.
‘Gloomy Sunday’.

See, that wasn’t so bad.  I have to leave
Now.  Thank you for the space.
Hope it makes the poem better.


Today's LittleNip:

My stories run up and bite me on the leg—I respond by writing down everything that goes on during the bite. When I finish, the idea lets go and runs off.

—Ray Bradbury



—Photo Enhancement by D.R. Wagner