—D.R. Wagner, Locke
And plain the lips of flame
Lifted himself into the air
And he could smell the burning
The forest took into its woody
Body and flung the beasts of the wood
Onto the plain but told them
They would become tribes
And live as men for ten thousand
Years and then resume their
Ways as beasts and in this
They would be safe.
We think events like these to be
Tales from beyond the fence
But here the air is clear,
The night is muscled swift
That proclaims such tales
As if they were the word of law
And damned again to fire
Those who cannot find a truth
There at all.
Know you are coming strong
On some thing you cannot know
Unless you make the trek
Yourself. The world’s variety
Becomes a fickle vanity
And spits us out again and again
Sometimes as trees,
Sometimes the form of the lion,
Sometimes a voice of prophecy
Slippery from being handled
So carelessly we miss the changing
Of the form and tell ourselves
That this indeed is real,
When it is only banks of dreaming
Plundered by cheap tellers of tales.
LATE AT NIGHT IN THE BIG JUNGLE
The child he go speaking to the angel.
Only the dog understand him.
He makes three different sounds
With his voice. He says IT IS LATE AT NIGHT.
The grasses beneath the moon chortle.
They make rustling and call the fox in.
The fox can only come for a little while.
Somebody waking the bear up. He was
Sleeping from all the berries and now
This damn fox is yapping and making
The voles and the little mice go chasing
Moths and night crickets all around the place.
Somebody better tell him about the tall
People who look like sticks. How they come
Down spilling on the ground, all the tings
Dey are. We hear them. We can make
Dem sounds. Listen up child.
When the angel come to this and the dog
Go running around making his big barking
Sound, don’t go being afraid. Pull up the
Grasses around you. Make a loincloth
With them bright moon grasses.
We all will come to make the dance
With you. Not a worry. We all will come.
Does the mirror multiply the light,
Proclaiming it to be real light
Or does it know its own horror
And tell the tale as if from
Horseback, riding hard through
Each moment, begging for blindness.
Knowing it will not bring relief
From the vibrating reflections.
Witness to nothing, but remembering
All that it sees, evidence
Tumbling toward the bottom of the hill
Not knowing how any adventure
Will end, expecting each moment
To be the last, promising its
Own children so that it may watch.
TURNING ONE’S HEAD
A branch reaches down and touches me.
It knows my name. I call it
By its secret name found only in dreams.
I was on the walks of the labyrinth
Stuttering to find its sounds. I became
A harp to its fingers and I speak
To you of how curious the truth has become.
Sliding off the back of a wind
You thought familiar but were
So wrong about, you were found
Weeping in your bed, too tired
To rise. Do not worry.
So many have been found here
Before you. We ask you to turn
Your head and the world
Will become new.
We ask that you become
An artist by doing this
Even if no one understands.
The large umbrella cloth
Of the sure-footed will cloak you.
We will rejoice in every tree.
You have free will but your soul has none.
There is something nameless and
Barely able to take form
That peers up, upon us from
The floors of sleep, always a night move.
A recognized face in a darkening garden,
A luminous glow seen moving
Through a labyrinth, a flower
Made of ice shattering before your eyes.
The bark of a great tree that
Has our face attached to it
But which is incapable of speech.
These things dance upon our eyes,
Bow to one another, change partners,
Find a broken chalice, cracked
And hiding in a corner, unaware
It has value as a stair step leading
Downward in some other's dream.
I cannot wait any longer.
Too soon the morning will come
And the curl of your back
Will move away from our sleeping.
And the light will crack open
All the work we have made
Of ourselves this night.
I will watch my body dissolve
As a salt into the clearest liquid
And we will be as we never were before,
Plodding and stumbling down
The roadways toward some village,
Town or city, aware only of our
Traveling and the terrible
Ourselves, a cargo neither wanted
Or precious but necessary
For any kind of life at all.
DAYS WITHOUT YOU
Before you even feel it.
Before you see the burns.
Before the serious night enters
And hides in the corner of the room
Before the questions start.
Before the walls turn red.
Before the dreams come
Carrying their cloth bags, damp
With slender breathing.
Before these things,
Language will stop.
I will hold you
With my eyes, as if
All other instruments
Were broken and we
Had no right to come here.
The thickness of our bodies
Shall be of great comfort
Then. The heavy verbs
Of our movements shall
Appear as dance.
Then, I will kiss you
With my lips full upon
All that is your reason.
And we will be transported
Together. And they who chance to see
These things will be unable to remember
Our names or if we stood
Before them. For them,
And their time, we shall
Have only this recognition: love.