Saturday, December 21, 2013

What Does Not Come Back

Angels Fall. They Are Towers...
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke


A small flock of crows lifted close
As breathing is to speaking, from the edge
Of the oak grove, startling three deer.

A thin line of light traced the winter
Cumulus and made what was left
Of the garden seem even more forlorn.

We were leaning on the rail fence,
Coats pulled up against our throats
Looking out toward the slough.

We had been talking of the Winter light,
The quality it had of indicating every minute
With sharp outlines and unexpected brilliance.

You lifted your right arm and pointed
Toward a point where the sunlit clouds
Nearly touched the top of the oaks.

“That’s where the angels come on days
Like this,” you said.  “They know very few
People are out in such gray weather looking
At the sky.  Just watch, you’ll see them.”

I don’t know if it was light, or the chill, or the clouds
Themselves, but the air seemed troubled for a moment
And I could have sworn I saw these angels rise

And roil, a transubstantiation of all the airy matter.
There were angels moving on that edge, flurries
Of wings and tall forms.  Their music was the daylight.



In the late 1990’s Fan Lin Gyo, a 17-year-old Mongolian
female was identified as possessing a natural bio-
luminescence, a phenomenon found in nature in both
invertebrates and vertebrates.  It may also be found in
particular plants.

Most familiar to a general audience in micro-organisms
inhabiting tropical seas, the phenomenon is noted when
the surface of the water is broken or disturbed.  The
location where the disturbance occurs seems to flash or
glow brightly for a second or so with a florescent quality. 
Rowing across a lagoon containing these organisms
will reveal this quality each time an oar breaks the surface
of the water.  It is a striking occurrence to observe and
seems almost magical when encountered.  In the insect
world it is probably most familiar as the ‘lightning’ of
lightning bugs or fireflies.

Fan Lin Gyo exhibited the peculiar property quite early in
life.  Her mother noted that as a baby, when roused from
sleep, her skin seemed to illuminate momentarily.  Her
mother thought she was imagining things until the child
was about two years old and incidents of the ability
became more frequent and would evidence themselves
when the child was upset or emotionally stimulated.

 Toward the Slough


This silence, broken only by an occasional
Voice from somewhere in the neighborhood,
Is disconcerting.  Usually there are at least
Birds or the noises of cars moving through
The veins of streets and alleyways.

Today there is none of this.  The sun blows
Through the day contained by its usual
Concerns and too far away to have to do
With sound and its eccentricities.

I find myself trying to speak. The words
Begin to come out then stop, confused
That they might be mispronounced or tired

From the effort.  I know they want to tell
You so much, how much I really care.

But they are absorbed like alcohol in an alcoholic.



I have been thinking all day
About words that I enjoy seeing in a poem.
For some reason they help me move
Whatever it is I am talking about
From one level to another.

Fire is one of those words.
It has so many connotations,
Associations and has enough
Flexibility for changing things
That whenever I see the word
I know that inevitable change
Is there.  The poem can’t help
Itself to transmute because
Fire has all the correct permissions
To affect any change.

There may be only ash left
After it appears, or it may
Illuminate for only an instant
And something is able to be seen.

It may be landscape or
Have a life inside a deeper
Narrative and move where
It will from eyes to a camp
Near the top of a pass, high
In the Sierra.  It can live
In eyes and spill from the mouth
With words attached to it.

I’m always happy to see it anywhere
In a poem, even if its mission
Is to devour the entire thing.



What does not come back
Is the night.  Not the same night,
Not the blood pulsing through us
In the same way we pass
Through the rooms of a palace
Singlemindedly searching for
The corridors we have slept in.

All these are gone, every night.
That tree is never ours.
These victories are never ours.
That blue wall where the child
With that hat is sitting, not ours.

I dream of being another man
And finding this exact night once
Again that I had travelled previously.

The darkness cuts into the dream
Bringing horsemen and
Provinces I have never known.

I run toward the missing mirrors
The night wishes to form around me.
I am staring at myself as I ride
By, quickly, like a knife
Plunging deep into the heart.

Drawing by Tatiana Toronto, Davis

        for E. R. Baxter III

Critical mass seems to have rented
A room in my neighborhood.  There
Are moments when I find myself
(always a good thing to do early on)
Standing at the doorway feeling like
The end of a Bergman film, pacing
Back and forth and wondering what
The decision is supposed to be, if any.

I would visit Coulson’s Pharmacy on a
Sunday evening and buy Science Fiction
Magazines.  If, Worlds of Science Fiction,
Amazing Stories
, because there was a world
Spinning just beyond my chronological age
That needed doors and I could almost
See through them and had no idea
What was coming.

When the door closes at night
I find myself sitting on the edge of the bed
Wondering where the song is hiding and knowing
Full well it lives just before the whole thing goes

Up in a flash of light and recollection
Of a cold Winter walk up over the
Hyde Park bridge, magazine in my shirt,
Next to my body and my neighborhood
Sitting just over the railroad tracks
Surrounded by mercury vapor lamps and covered
With the smell of factories making steel
And Glo-bars and car batteries forever.



Stones and stones and more stones.
We dissolve in bones, the days
Looking on as we climb up
From dreaming.  We gather
The trappings of each morning
To our bodies and realize we are
Still full of memory, that waking
Will pursue us until time excuses
Us and we walk in the garden
Once again, totally free of our
Names and what we have been.

Still we remain composed,
Not knowing what is imaginary,
What is eternal, how to measure
Our time or what these shades
Might be that we encounter
Each and every day.

One morning, Durer.
One morning, Cervantes.
The next, Dante
Or Rembrandt grinding
Pigments in a cold room
In Amsterdam just as the sun
Is rising, asking us in old
Dutch if we are ready
For today’s sitting?
His back still turned toward us
As the morning light leaks into
The studio.
We are always about to answer.


Today's LittleNip:

(9th century Irish)

I have news for you:

The stag bells, winter snows, summer has gone

Wind high and cold, the sun low, short its course

The sea running high.

Deep red the bracken; its shape is lost;

The wild goose has raised its accustomed cry,

cold has seized the birds' wings;

season of ice, this is my news.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner and Tatiana Toronto for helping us celebrate the Winter Solstice!

Druids celebrating the Solstice at Stonehenge