—William T. Wiley
If these words begin to say
Something, it will be untrue
And this blanket that I wrap them in
Will be a brilliant blue.
Things will go without a name
To keep away from time,
A broken glass, a wild lament,
The lighthouse searching the sea,
One never speaking a word
While preparing food.
It makes a coarse and ugly
Garment despite the diamonds
Laid across the skin.
It will offer you a million doors
Yet not one of them leads in.
The outside disappears
When the lights are on.
The surface becomes hard
And cluttered looking.
We glide across the line
Hoping we will reach the end
Before we become totally confounded.
We were invited to the trial
But somehow the children got confused
Or were unable to handle any information
That came from the world outside
Their heads. We were sorry for them.
The entire field became transparent.
There were guardians dressed in Chinese
Suits and carrying huge swords.
They probably wouldn’t have hurt
Anyone, but there was no way to be sure.
Headlights flooded the sides of the road
Near the bridge. Even this far back
We could hear the tires squealing and
See the blue smoke. The sound of metal
Crunching sounded like someone eating.
Reflections began popping back and forth
From the shields carried by the servants.
They had their own concerns and we were
Just as dreamers to them. Whatever
We did, whatever we decided, would
Seem as nothing to them. They gave
Us jobs to keep us busy. The children
Sat and watched us as if they could learn something.
There wasn’t anything left
That I could touch.
Christine came in with three birds.
“Here," she said, "try these.”
But when she opened her hands
They flew away. One of them hit
The window, but that didn’t
Stop it from fleeing.
I was getting anxious to put
My feet back on the ground.
“You must be dreaming,” Ramon said.
He was sitting in the crotch of a tree
Very far above me and was shouting.
“How did you get up there?”
I called to him.
“I was thinking deeply about things
And I fell into a well.
When I woke up, I was up here.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,”
“Oh yes it does,” he said, but
The tree was growing very quickly
And I lost sight of him before
I could reach a conclusion.
“I can’t possibly live like this,”
I said aloud to no one in particular.
“But you are doing alright now,”
“Many swim and some are
Able to cover great distances.
A few even reach the horizon.”
I felt comfortable for a moment,
Then the wind started again.
What happened? I was so
Involved with the moment
I didn’t see what happened.
A man with translucent hands
Began to speak to me in
American Sign Language.
I think it was Borges.
He wanted me to get him
A glass of water.
That is how I got here.
Not to break the rules, we take the train. The rails sound like
glass sounds when it opens to its sand, to the fact that it is glass.
“Why must it be this way?" she asks as the train strains toward
the sounds of the sea.
I know now I was wrong when I went to stand in the street
only a breath away from death. Cars flashed past me. I started
to sing a song.
“Shut up! Shut up!” she screamed. “This is not what we came
I dragged my feet back to the curb. “Why do you want to go
where there are dogs?" she asks, as if it was even close to the
Each day is like this. I hear the rails click-clack. My ears will
not hear her anymore. She fills a glass with ice and puts her
feet up. My skin begins to itch. It is like this now, a sore on
the soul that makes a vile sound. The train does not help. The
train did not work at all.
I stare out of a hole in the side of the train. Time leaves me.
This is the rule now, I think. I say to her, “This is the rule.”
She laughs and tells me to try to sleep, that we will be there
I start to dream in words and say them over and over so they
can no longer carry more than breath. I want to spit, but have
a beer just to be a smartass.
“Why do you do this?" she says.
“I am very strong,” I say, “like stone.”
She looks past me and laughs as the scenes rush past the train.
Sometimes the fault line, sometimes the fault.
There will be consequences for all the actions
Taken here, the wind, the rain, the mornings without
Incident when we neglected to differentiate between
One day and another, believing each day was just
Like another because our surroundings remained
The same. One cannot trust to consciousness
To explain change. People die totally unnoticed.
The kind of music they loved may appear in a dream,
Shifting between call and response, Ol’ Hannah,
Then that sound of hammer against huge steel nails.
We struggle and swim ashore. “Are you having
A good time?" The ground beneath our feet
Opens and the tectonic plates move slightly,
Not much, just enough to bring down Los Angeles.
Our feelings are electric. They belong to the realm
Bounded by animals, guarded by animals, surrounded
By others who bear a resemblance to ourselves but who
Will always remain other. We still choose to call them
Brother, afraid that if we do not, we will no longer be able
To read the book, stand in lines with them waiting to get in.
This is a form of praying, or so I am told by the swirl
Time puts on our presence here. There will be
Consequences for all the actions taken here.
Sometimes the fault line, sometimes the fault.
(first pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2010)
A LITTLE FROG
A little frog
Has been swimming
In my bloodstream.
He told me all my
Blood vessels had names
He was swimming near
Alpine Way and Minotaur
Court. Things were
Lovely there, he said,
But there were no flies,
So he had to leave.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's delectable magic in the Kitchen!