We first knew about this place
From a trail that led to
An open space where one
Could look up and see
The many structures
Attached to the rock
Face above us. Traces,
Marked trails, long used,
Now unused, could be
Seen among the sage
Brush and manzanita.
These were a way up to
Dwellings and sacred places,
Long abandoned, not forgotten.
They created a presence established
By time and confirmed by tradition
That gathered great power to itself.
Upon reaching these high places
We spent weeks studying everything
We encountered. Each object, every vista
Was a language in itself, a tale demanding
To be heard, a singular statement commanding
Both time and a particular space. It became
Too much. We could stay no longer.
A cell phone would ring. The aircraft passing
Above our heads created noise demanding
Attention, if even for the briefest moment.
We were driven by hunger and thirst, the
Caring for the animals, the demands of our bodies.
Some of us made love within the ancient rooms,
Calling aloud into a darkness long without
Speech. We argued over what things must be
Considered important, what were merely
Artifacts of daily life. Time exposed esoteric
Facets of insidiously selective concerns.
We returned curiously refreshed yet unfulfilled.
Light turned blue.
Door opened. Half of the
Afternoon spilled across
Every time this happened
We could see the seasons
Change, the quiet silver
Attached to dreaming, always
Polished, glinting. Each occurrence
Different. The woods in Maine,
River storms across the Great Lakes.
We could hardly keep track,
Afternoon after afternoon,
Always before that light.
We knew it would be this way.
Always the surprise: birthdays,
funerals, flights of birds,
The occurrence of incredible things.
The blue light must be
Where singing or dancing occur,
Some manner of movement, deep
Rooms, direct communications.
The night easing itself toward
Another time. Someone
Cleaning the whole place
Up, changing it. We will
Wait until tomorrow, hoping
We will be alive, blinking
Into that blue light,
Waiting for that door to open.
These birds, though made of fabric,
Still reflect the sky, albeit with huge defect
And flow across this body as it shivers; they
Will be gone before I’m close enough to count them.
And yet not gone as garments, but more like rivers,
Out into a delta and then gone.
These birds have it in their sewn-up wings
To reach beyond mere decoration.
Let them move a slower pace, gather their fine power
To dictate with songs that will sweep one away,
These fancy weavings and this weaving fancy
From flocks that were real birds but yesterday.
A ROOM FILLED WITH NOTHING
He put his hand around
The throat of the night
And began to squeeze.
A room filled with nothing
Looking out at nothing.
A room without a door.
The only way to be inside
The room is to read the words,
To speak the words aloud.
The lights of the night begin
To go out one by one,
The thumbs pressing into it
Like clouds before stars.
A quiet lifted to the room.
Standing in the room alone.
There is nothing in the room.
That noise is the wind slipping
Away from the night.
Dreams like milk fill the throat
Of the night. The eyes cloud over.
The room was here only a moment ago.
Now it is gone.
The stars resume their attention.
I think I liked that he was magical
And did seem to know he was.
“I’ll get you a chair,” he would say,
Reaching into the clear air, and there
He would be holding a chair.
He would offer it to me and I would sit.
“We should have some tea.
Tea would be very good.”
And it would appear on a small table
With two blue cups sitting on saucers.
And the tea would be very good.
Sometimes we would talk for hours
About things like how hard it was
When we were kids to dream about anything
Unless we asked someone,
“What should I dream about?”
And your father or your mother
Would say, “Dream about a horse.”
That simple. Off we would go running
After sleep, to find the horse.
I think that is how magic works.
Shadow legs across the top of lights.
We do not think for a moment
That they are our own,
But in this place it is possible
That they are. For here we stand
Apart from what we see
And what we are and toy
With concepts that are not ours
By any right but by dreaming
That such things can be, and
Because we will not decline the chance
To dance across these lights,
The origin of which we never
Guess or question while we quest
These lands that face away from
For here the shadows can reform
Themselves into perfect myths—
That land abandoned by childhood
Long ago—and come to this place
To welcome us with open arms and sing.
A TIRED RABBIT
And somewhere I will just stop wanting you.
And the stars will come out again.
And the moon will find its way
Back into a sky it had nearly forgotten.
And I will be able to see deep
Into the grove of trees on the other
Side of the meadow field.
And there I will be walking
With my hands in my pockets,
Listening to cricket music and hardly thinking
I am hearing someone’s meditations
While playing a harp.
And it will all sound so easy,
So that now I can hardly say
Things like this and have them
Feel like I was holding a rabbit
In my arms and the rabbit
Was very sleepy and that it closed its eyes.
And that I know exactly what to do.
Poetry is the one place where people can speak their original human mind. It is the outlet for people to say in public what is known in private.
—Medusa, noting that we have another new photo album on Facebook: SHINE FOR WEED by Annie Menebroker. And reminding you that D.R. Wagner and many other poets will be reading at Sac. Poetry Center today from 11am-4pm for the release of Sacramento Voices Anthology II.