Saturday, October 25, 2014

The Gold of Illusion

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

        for d.a. levy

Thousands of lights begin to discover us.
We had been hidden for nearly a week.
These lights were of the forest, not of man.

I begged for the original silence, no space
No time.  I asked that oblivion protect us,
That all of history invent other than ourselves.

There are fireflies who remind me of particular
Persons I know.  I do not speak their names.
They are as singular as silences.  No longer
Confused by oblivion, they are as real as dreams
Carrying a dagger into the rooms of sleeping.

Shadows of tigers appear on the walls.
They have come for the hurricane,
To trap the horizon where we cannot see it,
That they may approach us in blue and vermillion.
They own our consciousness like nightmares.

On the other side of this, there is morning.
Even as we are discovered, it is dressing
Itself before the mirror in a shower of birdsong.
We will wait to be kissed by morning.

We will stare uselessly from within this dream.
We will hear the breathing of the tigers.
A great wind labors to push us onward.
We strive to be near nothingness,
Hoping to be senseless in the gold of illusion.

 Corner of My Living Room


These were soldiers.  We have found
The bones.  What do we know of such things?
Ramon has found a handful of buttons,
Some rotted cloth, a dagger, rusted and silent.

In the tales of battle, there were two black swans.
They once had names.  Let me call your name.
There were portents: three cats, tales of Maine
Morgor from the old books, when armies fell
Upon one another and what were tears then?

Nothing my sweet children.  Do not trouble with war.
What comes into your house will be brave.
Let no bad work come to stain your walls.

I got up this dawn and made some coffee.
The sounds of the killing went through my body.
And now, here on the lip of the morning, bones.
Bones so old they should teach us lessons.
Broken shields, skulls smashed beyond dreaming.

We cannot stay here.  The fires rise up around us.
We tell these children, “Know the faces of your companions.
Know the way they form words in their mouths.
Take joy in the language that they speak.  Learn
The breathing they bring to your spirit.
We may die for love of all these things
That you may know them without blood."

The sweet smell of pine trees just as dawn
Comes before us.  We arm ourselves and go
Toward what we think is beautiful and proud.
We are the fools of legends, dead
Within all of the stories.  Lost to you.
Bones like these, white and without
Any song at all.  A handful of buttons.



Thin glass horses.  Moon eats its
way into barn, destroying cats and mice alike.
Demands attention and points finger
around room, calling names.

Amos drops his pen and looks
back to window.  Formaldehyde
night leaks through yard
up over tires, over hubcaps.  Higher.

Someone is out there now, he thinks,
drawing pink-bladed knife from
braided sheath.  Sneaks
to yard and barn where the mist
in front of the bullet passes
through moonlight and sprays
horses with bits of Amos, Red
and flesh and his green shirt.



The heavy eye of the moon
lies in a tangled heap
just above a small clump
of trees.  There is no move-
ment anywhere in the land.

A mist begins rising.
A mist that just fits inside
the shirt of a man, near the
narrow space of heart and lungs.

Now some bullets are walking
in the air.  They are about
the size and shape of bees.
One of them has entered
the mist.  The others follow.

Quickly they eat the narrow
space inside the shirt.

It is morning.



the conversation
snowed him.

white and pale
he turned from the table
went and got a glass
of water

thinking it was a shovel.

 Morning Glories Climbing on Bamboo


When the birds reach the place between
The house and the garage, where the prayer
Flags hang, they turn sideways, so their bodies
Are vertical.  There is not quite enough room to
Pass any other way.  Why they don’t choose
The fly above the passageway confounds me.

Perhaps there is a kind of horizon there
We cannot see, that pushes them, flashing.
The boards of the thing are gone completely.
I ask you why the snows continue?
A malignancy of phantoms devours
The space that has been eased.

In the Catoptric shroud within which
We dwell, time is stuffing memories
Into its pockets.  Always looking over
Its shoulder to see if we’ve noticed.

I ask you, before I can begin thinking,
What has happened to all horizons?
You begin ripping up even more boards.
The passages become narrower and narrower.
I can see the prayer flags in the distance.
We seem to be traveling extremely quickly.

It was reported that in one village
The enemy gathered all the men into one place
Then shot them in head in the presence of their wives.

One of the women had shouted
“Have you no respect for life at all?" to them.
They shot her in the head rather than answer
Her question.  The passage became even narrower.

I am looking up at the stars tonight.
I can see that there are many fresh stars.
They seem to crowd against one another
Until there is little room between them.

Somewhere in here we will have to turn
Our bodies vertically and lift ourselves
Above the fluttering prayer flags.
We have only seconds to decide when that is.

 Light in the Stairwell

Today's LittleNip:


mostly annuals.
four to five feet.
make nice back border.
thin to about a foot tall.

experience will commence upon bloom.

cut experiences last for weeks
with little care.

prune for larger booms.


Thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's delights in the Kitchen. "The Mist in Front of the Bullet", "It is Morning", "Thinking of the Drift" and "The Varietals of Religious Experience" were first published in Cruisn'.)

This weekend, Walk 4 Literacy and Cal. Capital Book Festival will take place at the Sac. Convention Center; see for links to information. Sac. Poetry Center will have a table, and there will be a Live Poetry Stage from 11am-4pm both Sat. and Sunday (bring a poem to read!). A great way to spend Sacramento Poetry Day!

Speaking of which, tonight at midnight is the deadline for MEDUSA'S MARATHON MEGA-POST tomorrow to celebrate Sac. Poetry Day (Oct. 26). Send poems and artwork and photos about Sacramento to by midnight tonight, and we'll post 'em all, no matter how many—and you don't need to live in Sac. to contribute. A poetry-palooza!



Detail from a Painting by Nancy Gotthart