Saturday, August 18, 2012
Caught In Its Fingers
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
ROAD REFUSING TO END
—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove
At a certain point the roads give out,
And the music could be anything but is not.
It is Telemann squealing through transverse flutes
Into a rivulet of strings that carry
Anything given to it with the joy
Fairies from Celtic tales might enjoy,
Hearing their stories told again around
A fire to children while they hide
In the shadows at the edge of the light,
Listening as well, making sure the facts
Are correct and comparing every
Detail to the same tales told them
In their misty youth. Even the
Insects and amphibians are listening.
Yes, like that exactly. The road
Stopping, Quixote dismounting and
Laying down on the tall grass next
To his horse. Somehow he could
Hear the music as well and began
To whistle into the afternoon.
It is hard to tell the next part.
It is full of the workings of clocks,
Old steel engravings and spilled
Boxes of ancient type. These things
Remain like an insomnia composed
Of disassociated day parts, evenings
Going to dark only because
There is no place else to go.
Mornings seen through eyes that have
Not rested for days. Everything
Shuffled together by chance and
A collection of images that have
Become completely exhausted. MacBeth staring
At his hands full of blood, not understanding
Anything but the rhythm of the language.
There is little we can do here.
We are time unimaginable, songs
Filled with pleasure that have burned down
Long ago, all lost now to the final
Power of a road that refuses to stop.
We regain our weapons, unwind ourselves
From any mind that thinks other and continue,
So close to forever we can read its name
Shifting in the clouds.
Almost four hundred days.
It looks like the day is fighting
Against the evening. The air
Filled with the blood of a twilight
Long hidden from memory but
Fixated on the idea of parting
As something final, something
Unfamiliar with the cyclical spin
Time has caught in its fingers.
I was afraid to open any book.
I knew the images I would find
There. That they would not leave
Me alone and come back, while
I slept and become black gardens
Full of agendas I would know little about,
Holding objects that revealed indistinct,
Faded mirrors that would push against
My sleep, cause me to gasp for breath,
Glow in my dreaming as dying in prison
Might possess one at the hands of such beasts.
So I ran, full of anguish, toward other
Lights I thought more certain. Lights
That would allow me retain my name
As a river retains its name through time.
But rivers, finally, are nameless. All
Gray children of the fourth element.
There is no gesture, no touching, just
A blue of distant fire for these many days.
MAKING DEALS WITH THE ELEMENTS
We were reminded that light was on the move.
It was only a flesh wound.
Whatever it was, it brought blood
To the foreground of any gathering.
It had opened its box and taken out all
The best knives. A rosary of scalpels
Daggers, stilettos ready to open
The channels, still all sensation
In a need to separate each ray
Of light into something else,
A tributary manipulated to force
Entire civilizations into greater and greater
Conglomerates of power.
We want to curve the light so that
When it bounces off an object it
Will have a voice, be able to tell
Us something about the nature of the universe,
Where it came from, what it has,
And do this whenever we look
‘Yes, certainly you want this
Thing,’ came a voice from the
Back parlor. ‘I see it my children.
I will change everything you know
Of anything into soft white and
Gray ash you can digest.
My name is fire. Come into my arms.’
Before the Drought
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
THE HOUSE OF MANY ROOMS
He was deep within the house
When he realized he had probably
Come too far. The light seemed
Crippled and he could not discern
How it had entered the place.
There were sounds of a loud gathering
Somewhere in the building but they
Were too far away to account for anything.
There were only doorways. As far
As he could see, doorways.
He began to try them.
They were not locked.
Sand stretched endlessly behind the
Door. No life whatsoever, just a
Constant wind looking for a language,
Four men sat on chairs behind desks
In the next room. They looked up
But they had no faces.
Angel-like beings with heads of flame
And an absence of feet clustered
Near him but they too did not speak.
A soft light that came from the
Farthest distance met him in the next room.
He could hear a soft breathing that could
Even have been his, but was not.
A steep hill and the moon was out and
Nearing full. A pack of wolves
Began to gather on the top of the hill.
Their eyes never left him.
There was a mother, two boys and
Two young girls all praying with their
Backs to him. They were on their
Knees asking God for something. God
Could not hear them but pretended to listen.
Stairwells, joining, diverging, up, over
Across the space. Nothing moved
In the room but it had wonder
As if made of something real, like a life.
There were people cutting beautiful
Bolts of cloth, heavy with
Brocade that had embroidered
Silk decorating them.
A room dark but for a fury
Of insect wings rising and falling
Like a great tide that had a dry
Sound to it. One could pretend
It to be a sea.
The most beautiful of villages
Sitting under a quiet winter moon
Full of silences and lightly falling
Snow. Light twinkling as if he
Were in a high place, looking down.
A lone man in a chair playing
Viola with great emotion, his
These rooms continued forever.
He was barely able to record any
Of them before sleep came to him
And took all things away.
ABOUT THE KNIGHT
The knight has no business being here.
This is the now that exists only in books.
He does not exist outside this destination.
But these words look so real. The
Smell of the wood fire, the deep
Glint of your sword lifted.
You continue past those places where you
Will work to flesh their dreams
With what their soul might demand.
Oblivion holds the reins. You will
Never see me here except by chance.
What is one small light by the side of the road?
“Believe that others are just, or will be,
And if it proves untrue, it is not your
Fault.” I will not try to imagine you.
I will continue through the forest
Tenacious as it is. Perhaps a daring
The mind enjoys, a perception, a remembrance.
When I look at my hands, they are covered
With blood gathered from the pulsing
Of nightmares. The knight has disappeared.
I am in a state of grace now, even
As he was as he became part of yet another
World. I let everything surround me once again.
FINDING THE COSTUMES
(a fragment from a journal)
We have discovered where the costumes
Are kept. The room was hidden behind
A panel on the second floor of the compound.
Now we understand how they could look
Like huge birds. Vicious beaks and dark
Wings lined the walls. The weapons
Were shined and sharp and there were
Many of them.
Fish costumes with breathing apparatus
Attached to them filled a great bin.
We had long wondered how they had
The ability to look like so many different
Animals. Now this was revealed.
We doused the whole room with lamp
Oil and put flame to it.
We had to leave quickly. If we were
Discovered we would be put to death.
I rode the chestnut roan that day.
It was fast. Very fast. We got clean
We would not be terrorized again
By the soldiers at the fens.
We had our own gods to call upon.
They have answered us and now
The long rains have begun again.
D.R. Wagner will be reading with John Dorsey at Luna's Cafe in Sacramento on Thursday, August 23, 8pm.
Auburn Fire Station
—Photo by D.R. Wagner