Saturday, February 01, 2014

A Bagful of Dreams

—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke


I write a stillness in the whitest of snow
That it be a temple where we may rest.

I write the river, dark against the snow
As the beak of a swan is to its feathers.

I write the moon and keep it high above
Us that we may gaze upon it and know wonder.

These are not our true garments.  They have
Been tossed our way to quiet the poor, the hungry.
The halt and the blind.  Let us have none of their
Clothing made of blood and murder, the stink of war
Upon them and covered with the filth of words
We never wanted to hear.  Their own souls forsake them.

I write the night sky as our true garments that we may
Tread there, wrap the strong arms of the wind
Around ourselves and become useful as song
Is useful and fill this world with those who love
One another despite all odds.  I write a world this way.



Not waiting any longer.
When the music stops
I still can hear it for a long time.

There is a figure walking across
The back of the gardens even this late
At night.  He has a small lantern and swings
It back and forth, not looking for anything
In particular.

I found a small package by my door.
It contained a small sphere that glowed
And three very bright coins.  I had no idea
What to do with them.  I put them on the counter.
When I came back home, they were on my bed.

Tonight the fire in the fireplace looks digital.
I work hard to try to bring a music out of the flames.
My own breath interrupts me and I begin speaking
Words I had no intention of having in my mouth.

Somehow I can watch them as they fulminate
About the cold view across the gardens.
Whoever was walking there has disappeared
Deep into the woods along the slough.

I remind myself that I may have only wished
For the package that arrived.  Who hears these
Things?  I pull my covers up close to my throat.
I make a deal for a bagful of dreams, sight unseen.  

 Compass in a Floor


We found them bent over their guns.
Some of them were still smiling.
The tiny green birds and the tiny yellow
Birds were landing on their bodies and singing
Very beautiful songs that told of another world,
One where the ground wasn’t sticky with blood,
Where one could still walk in the streets and smile
At his neighbor without having his hands blown off.

We kept clawing at the remaining doors
Trying to get them open.  We all knew how
Round and white and gold and ruby red and
Sapphire blue those openings could be.
They could never be destroyed completely.

Ramon made a funny voice and said that we
Could not help any of these creatures here.
The earth was on fire.  Madmen were running
From place to place with madness blossoming
Like a cancer from their swords and their eyes.

Come on, Ramon said, let’s get out of here.
The animals of the air are bursting into flame,
People are copulating in the most vile of places.
We’ll need a thousand years between us and them
In order to see the stars once again.  The black
World bent before us.  People are calling out the name
Of God and strangling rabbits and small children
And winking back at God as if they knew him.

Farther away now, we climb high into the trees
And gaze at the stars.  We have chosen sleep
And an old song we have always loved to sing.
One by one our voices rise and fall until we are
Alone on the balconies of silence.



I’ve gone out to gather
These words and have brought
Them back, so many of them
They have become hard to carry
With their meanings and nuances
Attached like so many ideas in
The head of a genius playing.

Right here they cluster together
To say I love you and could do it
A thousand times if I let
Them all go as they wish to be
Let go.  They look up at you.

Enthralled by being seen,
Explaining themselves in row
Upon row of letters, forms,
Shadows on the mouth of knowledge.

Eventually they will lie down
Properly and go to sleep.
Even dreaming is here,
A warm bed, tenderness,
The night finally quiet
As they wait on the edge.

 Walking the Reef


To hear the voice tell us stories.
The heart went questing with true
Love and its page, Ardent Desire.
To know this is true, as true
As clouds lifting against the
Horizon, building higher than ideas.

Oh please tell us the truth.
Tell us about Mister Death
And his lovely dances full of leaps,
Full of daring and challenges.
The color of the sky at twilight.

When we wait at night for the
Lights to quit and make soft
Cloaks around our thoughts
So we may sleep.  Children,
Families, lovers and deer feeding
Beside streams full of moonlight.

Let us stand here together.
I will hold you to me and kiss
Your lips.  I will tell you and you
Will tell me.  We will be able to see
The silver of enchanted light through
The trees.  We will agree that our lives
Shall always have this sheen about them.

Far to the North, just before the snows
Begin to own everything for months
At a time, we hear the voices again.
Cantatas that overcome death, leave
Us choruses swelling with prayers,
Rejoicing beyond measure, the seasons
So full we wash in them and they flow
Over silken skin as clouds lifting
Against the horizon, building higher than ideas.


            for Michael Madden

The sound of the train owns the night.
It finds itself in all the distances and landscapes.
We need never move and it swirls by, mars light orbiting,
Wiping the night as if it had an intelligence.  It does not.

It is not there.  It is gone before we hear the sound.
We may see it in the distance crossing a trestle or
Running into a central valley full to overflowing with
Red cars and tank cars and flatcars and cattle cars.

We are not invited to see its passing, waiting
In an automobile at the edge of the track at night, the clack-clacking
Trucks counting something, gone now.  A single red eye
At the end of the snake’s body winking out in the huge night.

This beast is the neuron, the impulse moving on its own
Highways through our county, known by all, coated with its
Own history and lore, its legends and heroes and more steam,
Diesel smoke and soundtracks for dreams than that body

Can absorb.  It is our magic glowing room throwing itself
Through the great American night as cities and towns flash
By, always on its way to somewhere, crying the land in steel voices.


Today's LittleNip:


Now while I wouldn’t be saying
This if it weren’t the truth,
The truth sometimes hides little
Gems in its blouse and only shows
Them when there is nothing left to lose.

The sparks reveal a tiny room
Under the desk.  It has a beautiful
Look to it but one could never
Touch it without totally destroying
The illusion that the edge was
So close, so full of the dreams of others.

We forget quickly.
Others use our thoughts,
The capital of dreams,
The song of gifting becomes
Extreme, so full of what we imagine.


—Medusa, reminding you that Norma Kohout of Sacramento and Bill Latimer of Citrus Heights will be among eighteen poets from the Central Valley, Bay Area and Sacramento who will read their own work today at the release of Song of the San Joaquin's Winter Issue in the Downstairs Auditorium of the Stanislaus County Library, 1500 “I” St., Modesto. This event, presented by Poets of the San Joaquin, the Stanislaus County Library, and Friends of the Library, is free and appropriate for all ages. Light refreshments are provided. An open mic will follow the formal presentation. For more info: Cleo Griffith, 209-543-1776,

In Russell's Shop