ANSWERING THE CHIMES
Oh come now gentlemen, these chimes
You hear are a trick of language,
Yet you will not suffer to know them
As more than metaphor and a certain
Lack of music that comes from
Forgetting that wonder also consists of love.
You think it made of wolves howling
And a misunderstanding of fate
With its set of spells and elements.
This is no way to come to an altar
Such as this that consists only of chimes
But no color, and still you don’t
Wonder at its heart or ask if there
Would be colors or some parade
Of men walking with their death
Clipped to their belts,
With no concern for more than shapes
That live far outside the city gates.
Oh come now gentlemen, flaunt
The world around you and contrive
To at least dance a step or two
That you may create a sorcery
Forged from your own symbols.
There is no sacred name that
Stays close upon your heels
And unravels only in a golden moment.
You must rouse yourself in giving praise
To your readers who allow you
To dwell here upon the page,
Pleading with each one of you to know
That this is not dreaming, yet allows
You to not stop dreaming.
This is not vague thought at all but
Becomes your library, that which
Opens to you and allows your understanding.
THESE CREATED THINGS
“And when he opened his mouth
It was full of bees, for his breath
Was as flowers and the scent of honey
The child was hiding beneath
A table when we entered the room.
A drift of what looked like soap
Bubbles floated near the door.
They bumped into the walls
But were not destroyed.
The child was humming a tuneless
Music and his eyes were closed.
“What are you doing here?" Ramon asked.
“I’m making lakes in places
Far, far away,” he answered
Without opening his eyes.
“Why?” asked Ramon.
“For the animals,” he replied,
Turning his head directly toward us,
Opening his eyes for the first time.
His eyes were many pure colors.
“There is a war in this place," said Ramon.
“I know. No one will notice me here.
I am the maker of created things.”
“You are a child.” “You are a child too.
This war has made you behave otherwise.”
He shifted his eyes again and turned
His glance away from us.
“What do you make of this?" asked Ramon.
“He is making lakes for animals,” I said
We looked back to where he had been.
There was a cat lying there, blinking
At us. It meowed twice.
We left the building.
We tried to take one of the
Floating balls but they were
So heavy we could not move them.
Blood boys, waiting at the stations, all the stations,
The cross, the train, the race, peopled with clues.
The crime has been committed. One wants to lay down
One’s head, ignore the chill in the evening air,
Try to recall if there was a question and why it must
Be answered in blood, carried across the Straits,
Full of imagination, but with little of what we would call
Facts. No company would keep us so humble as to
Crush our pride. We would have no business here.
I would call all an open door, a ghost on the road,
Not recognizing what has happened. We tremble
To find ourselves declaring that this was no crime
At all, but rather a journey that should not have been
Taken. It was created for a rhyme and wound up
A declaration, a tower, a beacon that says we can
Call upon the past, give Shelly a kick, stumble over
Yeats, ask that God appoint some other world where
We can dwell, not tainted by the blood boys, the ancestral
Frenzy of a drunken clamor for ‘common sense’, a door,
A single step upon a floor of glass that tears the feet
Apart even as we search for some innocence in the word.
I lie here now, half-dead upon that floor and watch
The night moths circle around this so-called murder scene.
There is no calling out for justice. The skies are the color
Peacocks open their tails to when they spy such things.
I lift my body from the floor, struggle to find a way home,
Come upon a village where no one speaks my language,
Where no one understands a single word of what I am saying.
THE GENERATION OF FORMS
It was a long sound, as if a wolf
Had thought it and needed
To discuss it with the night and the moon.
It was not heard here in these streets
Where nothing is happening.
There were lights in some of the houses
But they almost seemed lost,
As if the dimming day had suddenly,
Just before the dark, made everything
Incomprehensible, released a wind
Full of birds as a kind gesture
To time and space and the closing
Of the doors had need of a magic
Instrument and birds and wind
Were all it had.
We had just come up from country
To watch how souls moved from one
Body to another, to see the dry husks
Drop and gather in their tombs
While entirely new forms, still built
From water and from love and from
Stardust found new existence
And provided such an entrance, with
The long sound, the wind, the rushing of birds.
DEALING WITH WORDS
Words can seem wasted breath, legs of a ghost
Tripping though a miraculous house it prefers
To claim as the journey of the soul, but no,
It is only words behaving as if they owned the place.
They seem changed for awhile, as in seeing
A friend after a long time, noticing something
In their eyes you had not ever seen before,
Questioning if they have become a lunatic
Since last you saw them but dismissing that
Before time seems estranged from the mind.
These thoughts are unbidden, the language blind
Breath the lungs have tried to get rid of by burning
Them like useless salvage on the plains. And here
They become arrogant because they are words.
They know their own power. They want to be imbedded
Deep inside the poem to strum the arteries and veins.
I find them there, slashing and burning to keep
My mind intact as it wanders from blessed thought to dance,
To whirlwinds caught only for a glance that may contain the world
Or not, and I do not recognize them, do not feel their ecstasy
But for a moment, then back they flow as ghosts once more,
Tadpoles on the page, squiggling through the most beautiful of mud.
A CLOTH OF HEAVEN
This was more beautiful than a newborn child
But now there is nothing I can say that will prove this.
I have seen cypress trees that gave me such pleasure.
I was followed by birds both day and night, but this was
Beyond the frail reaches one makes to tear the moon
Back to one’s breast and call the beloved to come see.
I thought the song might last past these lines, for praise
Has its flags and displays them for us to notice, begs
Us to consider them as a kind of perfection we cannot
Call back to ourselves but as a song and surely it was not.
I too have held the cloths of heaven in my hands,
Strove to make them my own garment and they
Have fallen away from me, under my feet, unrecognized
Except as partitions to a broken catalogue of dreams
That I no longer am allowed words to explain, let alone
Recognize as more than a smile or a kind word said
To a lover long ago that was so full of truth as to make
Snow melt, sweet as any sugar on a tongue that could
Not speak praise without reference to morning or the moon
Or evening or any of the parts of day, from noon to song
And still retain its palaces intact, ignorant as knives sharpened
By death, as if it were pride that drove the blade into the breath
Unable to offer the least description of this house we came from
Or if this were the same face of the very one we loved.
I keep these lines by other poets
As talismans that protect these
Fragile words lost to an infinity of things.
They will provide me with an occasional glimpse
Into gardens I could not know otherwise.
Without them I could also not know angels.
Music with its magnificent rooms
Would elude me. They allow metaphor
To cluster near my lips as if they were
A hive of bees, for they bring a sweetness
To me that makes even the moon
Become a magician and lifts my
Soul through its dreams and fashionings
To find a clarity on the page,
That track across the sea for my
Own odyssey, its changes and terrifying
Delights that push me through
The tapestry from my own room
To the hills of the shepherd
At night, gazing down at the lights
The city below offers as white candles.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix!