Saturday, December 27, 2014

A Carafe of Possibilities

—Drawing by Alexis Alberine
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


A poem like this can only get you into trouble.

I’ve found gold in the language that cannot be extracted.
The demons are on its streets warning people to disperse.
The flocks of dark birds have begun to gather under the house eaves.
Somewhere in there, someone is playing a saxophone unmelodiously.
What look like verses are merely windows.  Someone will be watching.

The streets seem to wind on forever with shop after shop full
Of wonderful things.  The smells could drive you to madness.
They are of the things of dreams and are carried by fair children.
But they stop suddenly at a line's end and one can go no farther.

How about you just stop involving yourself here soon
While you can still go tell your friends and family what
It is you were doing when this happened to you.
They will understand after awhile and offer prayers and novenas.
There will be ceremonies with candle bearers in white surplices.

A great steam locomotive may be heard a couple of streets over.
Behind it, one can still hear the river pounding over a great hidden waterfall.
We will keep going upriver.  Like before.  We wouldn’t want to lose
Contact at this point, would we?  That would be quite a predicament.

The clarity of the air is absolute.  It seems it has been night now
For such a long time.  It is like those shadows the sea keeps to itself.
I know this poem is not going to be very reliable much longer.
It seems to serve as a kind of warehouse, but majestic and constantly moving.
You may ride in the purser's cabin until we reach the next port.
We seem to have come very, very far without understanding a single word.

 Tule Fog Through a Screen
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


As I remember it, there wasn’t much
Mystery to the entire thing.  I was more
Than surprised when you began to remove
Your clothing, telling me this was so I would
Not forget you.  As I remember it, the light
Was coming into the room from the streetlight,
Cutting across the end of the bed and across
Your breasts and thighs.  I couldn’t see your face
For the shadow.  I wasn’t unwilling.  I did want you.

I recall hoping I could wake up the moon
Just so it could have a look at you with that blue
Skin and the way your hair moved when you shook
Your head.  It glimmered and caught tiny ghosts
That half-lit your mouth when you kissed me.

As I remember it, there wasn’t any time at all.
You would be gone before I knew you were there.
I guess I wanted a baroque density of experience
That had nothing to do with any pretext for
Staying in the room with you as long as possible.

Later, I would go down to the bar feeling I had
Been miraculously saved from some terrible danger.
The night giving up its secrets in cricket sounds
And frog voices.  And incarnation of circumstances.

We never talked about it.  We never talked about it.
Your skin felt like dark earth.  I thought I had come home.

—Drawing by Zendra Hines


Once, when we were traveling,
When we realized there wasn’t anyplace
We wanted to spend the rest of our lives,
When what we had was the pleasure
Of our bodies and a carafe of possibilities
We could not explain or react to without
Feeling we had been occupied with some tropical disease
That was like a Delphic vision whenever we fucked,
I tried to explain how it was we had discovered the world.

And you told me to shut my mouth.
“You may not have consequences from this,
No matter how hard you work that whispering
Brain of yours.  I will not allow it.  This is fortune’s
Net.  It will be gone before we reach the next port."

I opened you up like an electric current,
Like I would never see you again.
I don’t even want to talk about it like this.
To make matters worse, we did not know
Where we were, and it was the rainy season.

Weeks later, I was watching the rains wash
The roots of the trees right away from the earth.
"Don’t take any chances," I remember saying
As we became caught across the current
Of the river.  I thought I kept hearing your voice,
That we were moaning together as the flood
Swept us downriver.  How could I have been
So wrong.  On a steamy Sunday morning
I found myself awakening from a thick dream.
You were nowhere to be seen.  The captain
Said I had been in fever for three days and that you
Had left the ship with a Danish man yesterday, to explore
Some caves that could only be entered at very high water.  

 Surfers at Bolinas
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


When I boarded the barge
The climate was already changing.
Something was drifting in my eyes
That made me feel like I was trying to outrun
A storm, left me thinking that notes,
Torn signs on buildings and on discarded newspapers
Had some kind of message for me.  It was like
Neglect had something powerful to say to me.
Deny all shores, it said, stay aboard as long
As possible.  Disregard all gestures to explain.

 Beach Debris, Bolinas
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


Punching up the night.
The wait seemed interminable.
The first stars began to appear.
I was pulling on the rope,
Hauling myself up from
The glow of the headlights
Into a place where you could see me
Once again, like it was when I first loved you.

The blur was phosphorescent.
Everyone seemed to be saying
Things in passing, as if difficulty
Was a special kind of clothing
Used only when one was in despair.

I changed my own clothing quickly and left
Anything that might look like a room.
Documents blew across the lawns.

I have someone who watches everything.
I no longer have to worry about who is good
Or bad.  She keeps a list.  She says it changes
Minute by minute, despite overwhelming odds
And superior weapons.  “I’ll take care of everything,”
Said my savior.  I never thought to ask for a name.


Today's LittleNip:


The whole world
is a cemetery.
Some people dig
The holes.
Other people
Fill them back


 —Drawing by Alexis Alberine