BEING CALLED FROM AFAR
I have lived there so often.
The shoes I wear, covered
With a vocabulary of light that
I have found impossible to abandon.
I open my mouth to tell of it
But the flower is gone. I can see
It so clearly. The momentary scent.
You would know it. I know you would.
The voice heard in the next room.
No way to understand the words,
But the tone may be held in the heart
For the briefest of moments. A child
Running across the hallway, the evening
Light coming through the window transforms
Everything seen into a perfect phrase, an
Unexpected chord that searches frantically
For a home. There is no home. The heart
Opens, tries to become a place.
Later, walking home from the restaurant
I look up an alley connecting the streets.
The light shifts without revealing much
Of anything. I feel I am almost home
But there is no home. We are required
To live here. Nothing is revealed.
“THERE WAS A LITTLE INN IN THE VALLEY”
Behind closed doors you came
To me and I thought you were
A flame, although I could see
Your face so clearly. I could see
The birds landing on the lake
Of your eyes and the way that angels
Gathered at the corners of your mouth
Just waiting for you to say something,
Anything. I remember telling you
I loved you and could see
A perfect landscape for such
Long moments. I thought we might
Live there. But no, it was just
A moment and you asked me to go
Get some ice. I felt as if I were
On a kind of crusade I might
Never return from.
When I did get back
You were sleeping so soundly.
I could see doors opening and closing
As you moved through the walls
Of your dreams. Such pleasant
Songs you sang, all about rain.
The most devoted is the wind.
Unhurried but persistent
In its moving on the lands.
“What country is this?”
The soft animals of childhood walking
In the last of the twilight.
“Is this where the seasons come from?”
“Look, there is death. Even his horses
Are beautiful. He has such multitudes
Accompanying him. He barely notices.
To death it is all music.”
We can see eternity getting dressed.
It is wearing purple this morning.
It washes its hands in blood
As if it were a secret.
The power of the wind never lessens.
It caresses our faces even as we
Stand here gazing at the battlefields.
Ten fathoms deep
My lord doth lie
As does his ship, ‘Fair Deal’
And but one will bring it back again
Their story to reveal.
Worse weather than seen
By Sir Patrick Spens
Had possession over the sea
When we went a-sailing North
To reach the Zuider Zee.
Not two days out
We met full force
The fury of the Arctic Wind
That whipped a sea so tall
We would not get back again.
Well battened and well-reefed were we,
But the sea would have us drown
And she took the ship with all aboard
And pulled the ice around our throats
And drew it tight, tight as sash cord.
Why I survived
I’ll never know
But here I stand death pale
Like Coleridge’s Ancient Mariner
To speak the words of ‘Fair Deal’s’ tale.
THE PRAYER OF THE LOST DREAMERS
There used to be a channel
That went from the very heart
Of the city directly to those
Houses that faced away from the world.
Huge flights of crows were the music there.
On occasion they would rise up and form
Words that could be read from the ground.
The waterfalls were intermittent
But extremely powerful when they flowed.
This was probably because of the wide
Variety of dreaming that visited this place.
We often would walk on the path
The led to these places,
Confident we could pass safely
Through these channels. Although
We were aware of the kinds
Of monsters that inhabited these lands,
We knew we were powerful enough dreamers
To confront them and recognize them.
But now the channels had been closed.
There was no lighting of the noises.
They were terrible loud and frightening.
This was our prayer:
‘Stars that watch both Gods and men
And leave us here below to breathe,
Do not forget we travel here,
Always pilgrims, never bringing war
To these hills. We are no more than clouds
Or rain upon the land. Give us passage
Here that we may recall the world
From which we came while we were here. Quiet these
Twilight kingdoms. Protect our souls
And keep safe our bodies.
In the names of all the Gods
We burn the sweetest incense to all who
Dwell here. May we wander free
Upon these places that face away
From the world, that we may
Know all manner of dreaming.’
LOOKING AT JEALOUSY
I don’t know.
I was standing a little too near
To where everyone was doing judgement.
Who is better? Who is best?
Who used the stick on the hornet’s nest?
I can’t imagine anyone using a poem
As a map, looking for a way to claim
They have reached a higher crag,
On a higher mountain, when the whole
Thing is made of words. And right here
A banshee flies by, or someone spills
A cup of coffee, or this six-year-old kid
Bends down and picks up part of someone’s
Dream he found on the sidewalk when he was looking
For something that bounced. It could have been
An idea or a tennis ball. One is surely better
Than the other. A fireball hits us right between
The legs. It would seem we would be pretty
Badly hurt but...hey folks, it’s just a poem.
Maybe it is a mediocre poem.
Maybe it will find its way into a special
Car headed for the camps, just like
It was when the Nazis had a solution.
Then, again, maybe it is covered with angels,
Little children playing in a rain puddle,
Someone you love, kissing your lips.
And then, just as we were turning the corner,
Smell of popcorn and the laughter still
In our ears, we were stopped completely.
We were here before, only a moment ago.
These echoes grasping at our ankles, hauling
Us toward some other ground. Just a moment.
No! No more moments. The place has closed down.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's poems and pix! And a notice to check out Medusa's Facebook page for a new photo album, this one by Michelle Kunert: JANUARY 13, featuring the readers at Sac. Poetry Center last Monday night. Thanks, Michelle!