Saturday, July 05, 2014

This Slouching World

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


By rights we should never have followed
That trail.  It was the dogs had us there.

You had felt a presence on the ridge
Where the snag had tripped me.
I went down on my face but only you
Were there to listen to my noise,
You and a Stellar’s Jay that couldn't
Have cared less if we were there or not.

We should take the trail to the left, you said
But it was near evening and the dogs had
Other ideas and hurried to the right,
Where the moon was still white and bumped
The edge of the ridge.  They knew.
We found enough wood for a fire.
We were out of the wind.
The presence was only a dream
Collapsing into a cranny, its faint
Glow struggling so hard to have meaning.

Others had been there earlier.  We found
The coins with the head of the deer
On their face and a little engraving of a flame
On the obverse side.  It could have been
A clue.  The night became heavy around us,
The stars spinning in their places.

We would not find anything further.
The dogs circled three times, folded
Their legs and were asleep long before
We had the sense to relax and join them.



These pathways are lined with anxious
Dreamers unable to sleep.
The floors are damp with longing.
Animals drift past, unaware of our
We speak to each other, abandoning
Some live their entire lives like this.


The trees are terribly upset.
They shake their branches, pretending
There is a wind.  An elm of great age
Has split itself apart.  Pale ropes
In a rage from within the white wood.

Rain.  Snow.  Are you alone, my


Can you hear the red voices
Naming your sweet children
Like an adagio or an intemperance
From the stomach?  Unable to swallow,
We offer them to your red seasons,
Our hands unclean.  We send them back
To God as if they were a charm
On a little girl's first bracelet
That has become lost and causes
A crying as only little girls cry
For lost things.  Take away their
Guns before we are all dead.


The dream of the children inviolate.
A spinning out of control, beyond
All kinds of dreaming.  Children
Are reduced to names.  We forget
They shot from our bodies fully
Alive.  We have no idea how love
Impacts the core of our being.
We will do anything to name
How we spin everything against
What we really want to happen.
We call it our lives.  Then it becomes such.


So still, we think
It might be the young
Of some deep forest animal.
It is not.  It is our heart.


I’m breaking the morning.
There are spirits drifting
Through our bloodstreams.
We offer them to the gods.
We think we are smiling
As if there were more information.
Some how there never is enough.

We smile to ourselves.
Whatever we think is poison.



For souls.  Sometimes
They are the broad
Leaves of the deep
Purple iris.  Sometimes
They are the vestments
Of the eyes as they gaze
Into those of a lover.
Sometimes they are shopping
For souls, forcing dreams
To submit to their fantasies
Without regard for the hours
Being chanted aloud before
The sun has even considered rising.


The triumph of forgetting.
The stars can show no mercy.
Blood develops latitudes and longitudes.
The wooden ocean.
We are able to sail in it.

The broken ceremonies
Where the towers fall,
Surrounded by cheap derision,
By parades of flags,
The sexual fantasies of sixteen-year-old boys,
Slashed to pieces by the wings of desire.

God, we never thought it would be this way.
We thought there would be pleasure.
We never even saw the knives.
And there are so many dead.
This isn’t an environment.
It’s a hazardous waste dump.

These books can no longer be read.
We keep trying to understand them.
We keep hoping they are the truth.
We keep believing they are not wooden oceans.
We keep believing the sky is not on fire.

I’ll sing you one-o,
Green grow the rushes-o.
Oh John de wine, he saw the sign.
I remember quite well. 
I remember quite well.
I was walking in Jerusalem just like John.


I saw a horse of twigs and fabric
And upon its back a rider of broken glass,
And fire and wax and the coldest
Ice inside her.

And she bore down upon the night
And split the moon asunder
And from her throat, a deadly song
That stripped away all wonder.

“I am hate and I am pain
And I am sorrow's daughter
And you are but a blot of soul
And your life is born to slaughter.

I can wish you no good wish.
I cannot wish good fortune,
But close your eyes to my bright voice
And wash yourself with lightning.”

And as this horse of twigs did pass
I smelled the world as burning
And tossed a handful of pure love
And sent the vision churning.

And it rose up into the air.
And the night was cleansed with moonlight.
This vision, just a shooting star,
And peace returned back to my heart's light.


There is a beautiful light
Coming from the roses this morning.
It has a voice that resonates
In the blood and across the gardens.

It is often difficult to stay close
To voices like this.  It is easier to walk
Past them or think there is too much dust
Just over there, where the roses sit
Next to the wire fence.  The sun often seems
Too warm and we head for the shade, missing
That radiance.

Ah, but when we do come upon it,
Realizing it is the roses and we are
Walking on the earth on this loveliest
Of days, the light too becomes music
And the music, what we call happiness,
Permeates our being and for that instant
We are truly in our bodies, our soul soaring.


We will leave this one on the mountain.
There is a crystal stillness that permeates
These high places.  The dark hands cannot
Do their blood wonders here.

The delights of the heavens are invented
Here.  We can abandon the pain for a moment.
It will find some creature to orchestrate
Itself into a beautiful goddess and show it
To us. 

“Oh my dear, so this is what goes on here.”

The darkness moving away

From the garden, the wheel, the hunger;
The distress of the spirit finally has a place
Where it can mount the golden back of the deer.
And the deer will sing to it...

“Lull la, lull lay,
Can you hear, Can you hear?”
As it was

In the beginning, is now, and ever shall be.

And I think about the fires leaping from
The fingers, the fires turning the wheels
As they breathe the same air we breathe,
World without end and the rudder
Grows loud in the empty sea and we
Find it unusual that the muscles of God
Carry us so lightly across the slouching world.

Today's LittleNip:

Ring the bells that still can ring.  Forget your perfect offering.  There is a crack in everything.  That's how the light gets in.

—Leonard Cohen



D.R. Wagner and Cynthia Linville, with a reminder
that Cynthia will be reading at Sac. Poetry Center
with Javier Zamora
this coming Monday night, 7:30pm.