Saturday, October 11, 2014

Great Eternal Ships

The Phantom of Locke
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


The silhouettes seemed to unroll
As if dropped from the hands of angels.
The evening, unhemmed and still wrinkled,
Grinds the last of the day flat, leaving
An off-key kind of tango between here
And the stars.  Plenty of room for walking.

It was the sweetness of the whole thing
That baffled me.  For a few moments I felt
I could slip the season on like a garment,
Dance toward the moon, amazed at the music
Of it all.  The entire scene coupled to what
It is that burns hot in our hearts when we
Can no longer game at naming what our bodies
Touch and revel in that dusky embrace.

I will wait here on this hill above the sea.
I will lift my soul like a crown to the wind
That drives me to these blue heights
Where I think I am able to see the heart
Itself, pass through the streets in covered
Carriages, plying the ephemeral into bells
Carried through time as splendid memories.

Morning, Locke


Suddenly the cage fell away.
The morning light sheared
Across the beast.  His fur glowed
As if a weight were lifted from it.

The water kept rising.
We had struggled to escape
The flood but had been given
Poor directions and now the water
Was chest-high and we were becoming

Good memories of our homes, the room
With the sailing ships in it.  The spanker
Boom hanging over the edge of the water.
We begin to hear dreams going through
Their death flurries.  We always thought

The beast with its radiant wings, iridescently
Bright, soaring, would remain contained.
And now it is beginning to rain,
Pocking the surface of the sea.
We begin to think the future will be like this.
We will drown or fall prey to the beast.

Do not fear, my little one.  Do not fear at all.
I will hold you high above the flood.
You shall not hear the dark beast’s call.
He will not smell your heart's deep blood,
You will not fail or fall beneath his thrall.
We are the great eternal ships that have always
Lifted high above the flood, and so shall we now.

And saying this, we saw the beast find a far horizon.
The flood then fell away from us, we could see
Beyond that which was impossible before.
Such a deep dawn then came upon us with thunder
In the craw of the escaping night, glorious
And far, far, away from what we knew as memories,
Leaving us at the edge of forgetting even as we spoke.

Key Street, Locke


Ramon brought the book with the outside
In it to the twilight chamber this evening.
We had not seen the book in many years.
It is kept with the night library in the cliff tower.

When it is opened, it shows the places
Around our far islands as if they were real.
The waves crash, the birds fly, smoke rises
From the villages, animals run in the streets.

The glow produced by the book fills the room
With a light so soft it seems made of the light
Sails dream ships hold to the wind when they speak
To us in our hearts at the gates of the twilight
Beyond the woods of Ichy where we stole rods.

I began one of the old songs as we watched
The enchantment of magical places begin
To occupy our blood once again.  It was a balm
That made the images seem more than alive.

“Our conversations this night must not include
Anything that will advise the others that we are here.
Tonight we are as cats in the changing of the world.”

We are bound to the book by dreaming.  It is brought
That we may find our ways across unknown lands,
The wild and the hostile.  We are warriors of the light.
With the book we can see the deep pools in the river.

Ramon kept us at the book for most of the night.
Then, he took a handful of pebbles and threw
Them with great force at a small bush just outside
The glow.  A beautiful music came from the bush.
Then a woman in white came forth and toward us.

Ramon bowed to her and handed her the book
Which she closed, and she went 'round the bush
Faster and faster until all was a blur.

“We know enough now to continue,” Ramon said.
We felt well-armed and guarded by an unknown
Presence when we left for the islands in the morning.

 Water Dragon


She wore a dress of forsythia yellow.
Her eyes had a green-gold hue.
She looked like a dream on my pillow.
And her mouth it tasted like dew.

Her words were bright forsythia yellow.
She promised to always be true.
She spoke with the honey of Autumn’s mellow.
Her lies sounded perfectly true.

I wrapped my heart in forsythia yellow.
I gave it without a clue.
She told me that I was her fellow.
Each kiss made my world anew.

Do not believe in forsythia yellow.
Like Spring it can never be true.
She took this heart from my pillow,
Tore its wings, stole my breath and she flew.


And though I may say
That I must look away,
I will dance and will bow
And will play.

Yes, I’ve fallen in love with forsythia yellow
That mixes its yellow with blue.
Only a fool forgets forsythia yellow.
For the green it becomes never is true.

All that green that surrounds all forsythia yellow
Is a heart that will never know bliss,
Just a kiss and away runs forsythia yellow
And all that is left is the wish.


I have never been here before.
Can you hear me?
I hope you can hear me.

There is a little room not far from here.
I could meet you there if you tell no one.
I will bring guardians.  I will bring the sounds
Of footsteps.  I think we can forget everything.

Can you hear me?  You live in another time.
There is another fate for you, isn’t there?
I can see you in the murals and on the walls.
You don’t know that I am speaking to you
As if you were a heaven full of exaltations.
I will wait in the center.  Do not think I am
A spider, something dangerous.
I am an instrument needing music.

Let me make a night for you of gold and flowers.
Can you hear me?  I will make it before November
Does its lingering at the mirror to convince us
The Winter will surely come.  We know that,
Don’t we?  Bear with me here.  I will not harm you.

Are you feeling better now?  This ash is our own
Past.  I have nothing to do with time.  I mean,
What do we have?  I have never been here before.



I was living here before the earthquake
And tsunami.  There is only rubble here
Now.  This is no longer a place.
The dreams have been pounded out
Of the things we knew.  Now the sea
Is flat. There are no longer rooms
In which we can be safe.

What is amazing is that the sea is flat.
The tsunami wrenched it awry and covered
It as far as one could see with gyres of debris.

These are all the songs of the dead and are sung
At every chance.  The wind says where
To stand to get the best acoustics.

What is amazing is that the songs never stop.
“Dropping from the veils of the morning.”
I find myself walking in a dream.
I am a white deer.  I am supposed to meet someone.
They have gone to sea and have been gone a long time.

I remember seeing the buildings shaking, tumbling.
I recall hearing the tsunami coming toward the shore.
I remember the dead riding on the lips of the tsunami.

What is amazing is that these words are here at all.
The sea is flat.  The songs fill the air.  I stand
With my feet in the water at the edge of the sea.
Beyond all of this, I imagine you reading these words.


You tell me this is a mirage, something
Constructed of vibrations of light over
Sands too hot to touch with the hand.

No.  It is not.  The heart gets torn like this.
There is little we can do about it.
It is like a chord played on a guitar.
We dream inside each other's dreams.

We are a fire there, a glory, a gift
That does not depend on any mythology.
Our task becomes that of the first who named.
I have wanted you for a long time.
Even the weather entrusts itself
To this task as if it were an ocean
Bidden to carry us past all chance.

I wonder how many things I am,
Beyond a skeleton and blood and muscles?
This becomes an engraving, a scent upon
The wrist, a dream dreamed long ago,
Made to live on plains and mountains
Where time has no dominion or memory.

I sit looking at what rises from the desert heat.
It does have rooms in my memory, unfolds
Without time or poetry.  Perhaps you are right.
Everything shimmers in the heat of the day.


Today's LittleNip:

Poetry is an echo, asking a shadow to dance.

—Carl Sandburg



Morning Glory