Saturday, November 16, 2013


Across the Rooftops
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke


I put my mouth on yours.
There must be cities like this
Somewhere, with all the lights on,
People dancing in their rooms,
Music flowing from their pores.

Rain reflects a million rainbows.
Streets glistening like your lips.
I can feel your breath move over
My face.  It is like coming through
The clouds over a gentle country,
A landscape like your cheek brushing
Mine.  I understand this is a way
Of communicating.  What are we
Saying?  How do we know where
All these doors lead?  Here, come
Quickly, is a heart,
Full beyond belief, unable to give
Itself away fast enough, so full it has

I put my mouth on yours.
There should be feasts like this
On every table, homes like this
For all the homeless, stars like this
For the night sky.  I open my eyes.
It is impossible to believe that
It is ourselves only.  When I say
Your name, you answer.  I put my
Mouth on yours again and again.



The language begins to hum.  It is some
Kind of prayer.  It has required our names
For a short time so it can tell us that we
Have become the universe for the purpose
Of explaining what it was our parents
Were saying to each other while we waited
In their loins, expecting at any moment
To be given a riddle about light and a ticket
For consciousness.  We became a critical
Thing.  We extended our hand and the hum
Filled it with a marrow made from dreams,
The deep, inside pages of an apsara spilling
Upon us as the purest of water, as the naming
Clouds gives to the beautiful.  They dance
Before us as forbidden pearls of heaven,
Spreading flower petals, poising us
For the dance even before we are able
To step with any elegance.  There are lines
Of us in sculpture.  We appear on cave walls.

I will move my hand in this particular way.
It will become a perfect architecture.
You will realize it just before you fall asleep.
Your mother will lean over to kiss you.
She will say your name and your heart
Will fill with a most perfect joy.



This is not a room.
I touch the road into Lhasa with my right
Hand.  I grasp a leaf curled to accept
Water, in a pygmy village, in the Congo,
With my left hand.  My right foot slips
The edge of Niagara, inches from the edge.
My left weighs the air between myself
And the bottom of the grand Canyon.
No question, falling is everywhere.

This is not a room.
Kissing you again and again, fully present,
With no regard for altitude, memory
Laced between our mouths.

This is not a room.
I dress myself in colored lights,
Accept a name I have never
Heard before, acquire powers
That allow me to spin water
Into a fabric, texture of skin,
A weft of sound, sliding along the bias.

This is not a room.
History dressing in a back room,
Introducing dances unknown
To this time.  “This happened,”
History says.  We learn the movements,
Dance the dance.  It seems contrived.

This is not a room.
When you make the song yourself
There is a certain rhythm
That evidences itself.  It acquires
Traits and manners.  It will not
Allow certain activities.  It says
“This thought does not belong right here.”
It reaches its hands out to you,
Catches your hair, then your arms,
Gathering you in, kissing your mouth,
In such a way that for an instant
You notice the face before you
Has never looked like this.
Will it do this thing again?  One waits.
A background of bird chatter fills the room.



Heaven dare not look too long
When, soft, my darling says the moon,
The stars, the whirling balls of stone
That are the planets, to their sleep.
For soft is the song that rises, clouding
Those towers that are praising in those
Fell halls full of angel wings and dawn.

Heaven dare not keep the night long
From around her shoulders where she
Wears it like the cloak it is and
Brings it to our bed, still full of stars
And singing, such shining is herself.

I gaze upon that which angels fear
May tear them from the face of God,
Even for a moment, such is my darling
In her sweet good nights before we sleep.



There were chariots.
Not that we would pay
Them mind.  They lined
Up the bank of the Nile
And lined their gaudy selves
Into vast parades of power.

Even in the 18th dynasty
When lovely young Tut got
Hit and flew from his own
Rig and hit the track:
"The Pharaoh is dead.”

I find myself walking in
The Western Lands long before
They have chosen my own ride
And still I pay them no mind.

I rest.  I watch the white
Flocks of egrets and herons,
The beautiful pronouncing
Of names of all the gods
In a sunset litany.

Blood pouring from the mouth
Of the young Tut.  His eyes fixed
On the beauty of the horses
Bearing down to crush
His golden body.



In the time before the moon
There were men who are now
Not men as we know them.

They could walk beneath the sea
And they had fangs in the palms
Of their hands that could retract
Or rise to pierce the flesh of others.

Water too was different then
And came apart so easily
That breathing was possible
Anywhere one walked
On land or in water.

The great ship that carried night
From place to place every night
Did so with men who held poles
Topped with stars of fire at their ends.

They would thrust them upward
Through the water from below
The ship, where they would blaze
With colored fires and spin
High above the greatest
Of the ocean waves.


There was no doubt about anything.
All things tasted of grapes and honey.
This place had rooms for eternity
To occupy as it needed them.
This did not seem exceptional
To anyone until we found the moon
In one of eternity’s rooms.

It was involved with time.
They touched one another.
Suddenly we knew the precise weight
Of the moon and everything changed.

All of water thickened and no longer
Could men walk below the seas.
We found sleep inside yet another room.
The night abandoned its beautiful ship
To surround the moon in the sky.
All we have left are these storms,
The huge memories of stars still exclaiming. 



What if we had chosen night?
What if night wore a thousand
Different rings?
And what if there were no moon
And one had to find the correct
Ring to wear by feeling the patterns
On the outside surface of the ring?

Then things would become simple.
One could easily see the jar in Tennessee
Or the white chickens next to the red wheelbarrow
Or the best minds of a generation.

I choose to watch Grizzell
Drive his car in spirals
Until all the roads lose their names,
Until I could no longer
Remember her name or why
We had come here in the first place.


The door moved slightly.  It was close
Enough to dawn to allow some
Thing that resembled light
To slide across the rings of days
Linked by the great darkness of the night.


He recalled a smile that had found
A home upon her face.
It had been less than half-light.
A door not quite closed that shafted
The light into the bedroom,
Across her thighs and between
Her breasts to cross her lips
That way, just as she was falling
Asleep.  It looked enough like like
A smile that he leaned over
And kissed them.  The door closed.

It was still very much nighttime.
He could hear the linked rings jangle
Against one another as he searched
For the keys that must be somewhere near.


Today's LittleNip:

You can tell a lot about a fellow's character by his way of eating jelly beans.

—Ronald Reagan



The Walk Home