—D.R. Wagner, Locke
They knew angels by their names.
They were heralds for them, carrying
Banners and strings of lights that became the stars.
They were the lovers of the trees.
Their feathers are soft for this reason.
Their songs were known by all of the land.
In the Fall, the angel began turning
All ways before the gates of Eden.
Dreams no longer had birds.
Their music became notes spun in the throat,
The screaming of hawks, the iterations of starlings,
The lexicons of cuckoos, all troubling the seasons.
These birds fly above our heads, are afraid
When we move toward them, squawk and gesticulate
When we try to call them to ourselves.
We are not salvation for them. The clouds
Are princes of the atmosphere, the rain
Heralds of earth’s breathing.
Birds watch now with cool eyes.
They speak only to their kind.
They remember always that which has been lost.
What is the brightest star of all tonight?
My hands have turned an electric blue.
They pulse like a room full of children
Learning something interesting about
How light gets inside of things.
We show them the photographs we
Have made of the soul.
They tell us they look like the Grand Canyon,
Niagara Falls, Mount Everest, Elmo,
A great dragon and a lovely walk along
A river that is made of something
Good to drink.
We do not have eyes like this any longer.
The windows explode before a shower
Of automated gun fire. Two of the shots
Shatter a painting of a man fishing
Bosch-like in an asshole. We have no
Idea how we got here. I offer you
A few lines of what was to be a lovely
Poem and we get the shit shot out of us
Before we can misuse a preposition.
Someone has sent for dogs, real dogs.
They will arrive just after we reach the gate
At the end of this thing and get back outside
To see what it is the stars are doing now.
Close your eyes. Make another painting,
Something good to drink. Gate.
AN AUTUMN IN THE HEART
How easily the season can turn backward.
The landscape looked as if it had
Been written rather than anything real.
It seemed like it had not wanted
To be there but had no place
Else to go. It looked back into
The windows of the train
In which I was riding.
There is an Autumn in the heart.
The leaves become more beautiful.
There is a light rime seen on the North
Sides of the trees.
The colors and songs of the birds change.
Incidents begin to stand out in stark relief.
I am not sure if it means much
Or that its events are even important.
Still, a coolness finds it way into our lives
Even as the mid-day sun pulls one
Back to summer. One fails to notice
The days getting shorter. The train stopping
At smaller stations for longer times.
I find my way through the screens
Using only cellos and an idea of the sea
I have carried with me since childhood.
There are entire days within it. Autumn
Seems particularly clear with its emphasis
On change and waiting for the leaves to drop.
Winter in the tips of our fingers. We have no
Idea of what calm might mean. It carries so much
Weight within it. Perhaps we can find a place to inhabit when
We get over our staring into room after room.
We see our own husks being devoured
By a stillness none can afford yet all try
To attain. These places must be islands.
You indicate to me that you no longer have a mouth.
How are we supposed to know what a revolution
Will consist of, anyway? Some kids singing
Together on a street corner suddenly surrounded
By police and people who have never been outside
Their homes for more than a trip to the store.
It is too crazy. The moon is handing out blankets.
There are extra rooms in the stars. We may stay
There. This must be the Bal Masque as remembered
By wirewalkers, daredevils who enchanted us one day
Before they fell hundreds of feet to the water and were seen
No more. Someone whispers to me that we were all birds
At one time. The ground keeps moving farther and farther away.
I will offer you warm baths and a chance to jump to safety
Should you wake up before this is over. I touch the lips
Of those you love, make them say things to you that you
Find impossible to resist. Come here, child. Run this train
Right into the heart of the mountains. There will be thousands
More waiting for you to arrive. They will think you are the season.
AN ENDING AND A BEGINNING
The little fact about forever:
A serious chamber that used to reside
Inside a heart that was never
Moved by fear.
Somehow it became lost to oblivion
As if it were a revenge for something
We could not give completely.
At the bottom of the pipe section
That protects the water meter
A toad has stayed in place.
While I was speaking to you
A mirror was working to convince me
It was only the most tenuous of weapons.
I tried to fall asleep believing this.
The clouds began to spell something
In the air that the wind destroys.
This happens to look like a kaleidoscope.
We have been too long in this room.
We will walk outside into the garden.
The banks of flowers will look
Like bookshelves. We are eager to read
FRAGMENTS FROM A LOST JOURNAL
Way out on the edge of the village
We can see the lame ones creeping toward
The center. It has been so long since we have
Spoken to them that there is little chance
Our language will mean anything to them.
They dress like lords and seem to flail
Their mouths to find the full harvest
Of pain allotted to them
By the huge birds who rule this land.
I don’t remember that we ever had
A name for the charming ways the
Women of this province have of throwing
Themselves from the cliffs three times a year.
“Just like clockwork,” said a man who
Ran the slaughterhouse. Their eyes glaze
Over and the singing starts. It has no rhyme
Or reason. It is like a calling from one
Continent to another through the tectonic
Plates. They do not seem to get harmed
By this, but so little of the event is known.
There is a place we can stand, near
The spring head, and still see how
Breathless these poor souls look
As they come to the doors of the center looking
For a handout. Some food. A kind word.
Even a picture from a magazine will make
Them happy in some special way.
We have no right to judge. Our own legs
Are withered and we are unable
To think beyond the next meal,
The next round of newspapers with their
Ration of blood and madness. God seems
Near and voices more full of trust and love
For one another. We hand out the blankets,
Sit and watch the rising of the evening star.
IN THE CHOIR
The Powers and Principalities
Are not mere things of mirrors
That show illusion and confound it
With mystery. They are the very angels
An unsteady moon addresses in an
Eternity scattered through with blue,
The instants of centuries,
The never-ending water creating a quick
Monument to a nightingale.
Various dreams we will be unable
To recall. We too become the dust.
The dust that blows into the throats
These same angels use to sing the praises.
All our days belong to others.
We dwell within them.
We do not know if we are thinking
Of the highest throne or some
Imagined coincidence one believes
We have rescued from a
Beast made entirely of dreams.