Saturday, August 10, 2013

No Fear of Falling

—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

                               —Kenneth Rexroth

The whole place has a watery air about it.
One is surprised the bottoms of the trousers
Are not damp when returning
From the late evening walk along
The rusted and stiff leaves that bind
The riding path to the greater garden.

She unfold her hands and places
Them flat against the chess table
Because she likes the color they make
Mixed with the dull light of the room
And the ruby smoke that almost
Clutters over to the fireplace.

It is as eternal as any flower.
We watched the purple and gold
That poured from their mouths
As they questioned first the season
Then the mind’s fancy of wanting
To make more of the room
Than what it was, mostly dark
But for a cluster of tapered candles
Gathered to the center of the side table.

The room constantly reinvented itself
At that time of year.  Large windows
That looked down the hill to the gray
Slate of the river under the gray
Slate of the clouds.  This was not
A joyous kind of music, but music
Nevertheless, like sleeping after sex,

Not dreaming but seeing with the body sated,
The curtains open to the rising of the moon.
The stars seeming deliberately spaced
In between the night clouds.

The current carries us forward
Past this season, the next,
We are still clinging to each other
As the Spring interrupts the music
Begging us to dance, to listen
To the traffic of the long hills.



We knew he was headed in that direction.
He had told us was that the season was inside him.
All he needed was the colors.  They were sure
To be on the practice road.  He liked it there.

People seldom spoke.  When they did it was
With their hearts and there were no lies.
The surface of that road was like one had just come
Down from a heaven and this would be the place
To really touch something again, to even have friends,
Lovers, people to take walks with, and talk about
Things like those colors.

The day had been mostly sunny.  Not too warm.
We could see smoke, a dirty gray, near black
Smoke, rising from the practice road.  We rushed
To see what had happened.

It wasn’t smoke at all.  It was a dense column
Of birds, all sizes, all colors, turning like a whirlwind
Headed for the closest season.  People seldom spoke
Here.  Someone said, "Now look
What he’s gone and done."


            (for Mikey, Eva and John)

The only sites left were the ones
Up the eastern coast.  We were
Making our way north dislodging
Whatever we could, knowing their defenses
Had no idea we knew their locations.

At Duncan’s cross McCarthy
Pumped the bazooka like an old bassoon,
As if it were the last thing he would ever do.
I, the big pipes did play, taking the artillery
To new heights.  The explosions
Visible for three miles away.

Our machine gunner Henessee
Tennessee tootled the rocket launcher
And the music was something grand.
We were a credit to old Ireland.

There weren’t many of us left.
We had suffered great losses
At a wedding that had quickly
Turned itself into a funeral
When the incoming mortars
Created something that felt like
Handel’s March from Saul.

They banged into the village
Like drums and cymbals.
The big guns blazed away,
Something almost beautifully grand.

No one ever saw its likes before.
We answered volley after volley
Until General Grant moved in to cover
Our positions and we moved
Like the night across the harbor.


Everything looked like burnt wood
Or sounded like it anyway.
There were breaks between the buildings
That let the moonlight leak in
But it didn’t do any good.

And that smell, like something
That had been beneath the sea
For twelve hundred years.

They had showed us the masks
That were of hammered gold
With decorations in amethyst
And carnelian.  The faces looked
Like people we knew in the villages.

That night the dreamers came down
In war chariots drawn by blue
Horses you could see right through.
They were mostly skeletons but
They were alive and pulsed
Colored light like great candles.

We didn’t want to go back to
The diggings when morning came.
We were told the fishing boats
Had been smashed to pieces,
The camp torn apart,
Great claw marks on the trees.
The docks looked like they
Had been burned
But there was no fire
And that smell would not
Come out of our clothing.



She touches rocks like they were faces.
She bends and picks them up to her body
And presses them in their hollows, small
Places, where sow bugs and spiders
Go.  They are a kind of home to her.

Slow drift of talk coming over the top
Of hills, smoke of another language
Brought to bear scent and things for eyes
To rub against.


We got out of the car and approached
The waterfall.  There were already
Some of the boys there cleaning fish
And laying out strong lines of the
Next day.

We greeted them half-running to tell
Them the news.  “We have seen the towns,
They are free.  The foot soldiers have
Gone and people are going back into
The fields.”

Thomas, who was nearest us, nodded and
Pointed to a place down-canyon where
Some fires were beginning to glow.
“Your soldiers are there.  They came
This morning and they have been there
Ever since.”


Streets and alleys, stone and rock,
Silt caught in the hand, blood of
Oxen, breath of man, dreams of kings

And she replaces them.  Gently down,
Down, in the place where they came,
And sees the trail, ourselves upon it.

(first pub. in Tom Kryss' magazine, What There is Left About
a Light Which is Not Able to Be There, 1970)



She stood near the trees
And watched the crows
Come in.  Wings like
Old bridges cutting
In low and making noise
From within themselves.

She was to capture one of them.
She was to put out her hands
And talk one of the birds into them.
Twist its neck, and get the hell out
Of there before anyone found out.

Sweet, sweet your dreams
your song comes down
and drags its wings across
the ground.  Sweet, sweet
the eye within the crown
it loves you all and casts
you down.

Nobody knows why these words sound
Like this.  Not even me.  I watch
Them fall around me.  Something terrible
Is due after them.  I can feel
It as well as you can.  We are not
Blind.  The sound is
For anything to happen.  Give it
A name.

The lady stands there.

The crows circle in.

(first pub. in Tom Kryss' magazine, What There is Left About
a Light Which is Not Able to Be There, 1970)


Today's LittleNip:


She puts the weather in a sack
Made of moonlight and drags it
Away from me.

I have never dreamt of anything
Like this, a blue tongue—the color
Of the heron serves as my guide,
Pushing me with hands made of rain,
With feet made of meadow mist
And insists that I, too, fly,
Or if not fly, allow myself
To move like leaves coming down
The wind with no fear of falling,
With a deep music made of the world
As it fills me, allowing me to finally
Become like fire, opening just as
The miracle of Spring
Covers every field with sprouting
Color.  I become unable to stop.