A BLACK TICKET
The black ticket of their souls
Flying across the sky.
Packages of dreams.
Stars crumbling under the weight
Of their transformations.
The Avenues of the Dead.
Souls within souls,
Blown here in the form
Of flocks of birds
Coursing through shadowed
Woods. Sometimes they twinkle.
Across the rows upon rows
The mausoleums make
In this place.
They are the sentences of the dead.
Their language dispersed
Into the quiet of books.
The dark sweep of a library
Hallway reaching back further
And further into ashes.
A BLACK TICKET II
We see an occasional
Painting or, perhaps, our own
Reflection as we gaze into
The coolness of the cistern
In the middle of the garden.
We manage to stay within
Strict limits: If you are
Breathing, you can be here with me.
If you are not breathing
You become part of the deception,
This parade jingling through
The cemeteries. All has become
Vague and seems to stand still.
I wish for the sky to slope
Down from the mountains,
Hold me in that calling
Of its dusk and glory,
Make me listen for eternity,
As if such a thing were even possible.
Here one can read the sky like a book
Left open to catch one’s attention;
Words mount to heaven, mass at the horizon,
The afternoon heat spinning them to senselessness.
Stories once told to a child roll and scatter.
The air is filled with them, dust devils, clouds like ships
In full syllable; names of one thousand romances
Skip and careen through this language of landscape.
West winds compose new endings to old legends.
The stars begin to descend, winding the hair with the night;
Pale letters, fragments of the play of words, remain.
They are the names of the land, the places beneath the sky.
Small! Like a diamond, rests in
the palm of your hand, an amulet.
Warms to the touch of skin on skin,
Takes in the light of the sun, radiates
Outward like the heart on fire.
*Written 1/5/1993 in alternate lines from line one by Luan Fauteck Makes Marks and D.R. Wagner. Last verse: first two lines D.R. Wagner, last line by Luan Fauteck Makes Marks.
BREAKING THE TRANCE
Born white, a cloud
And without vestments,
Able to kiss the raven.
All is bowing and the sunrise
Tightening the strings to invent
Perfect tones; the kind
The Pied Piper used
To deliver children
To the mountain's door.
The skin falls away
From the bones.
Burnt by the passions
Day after day. Every line
Bears witness to what?
Fragments of light? Light striking towers?
Nothing came before the word.
More and more the days
Are erected beyond memory,
Beyond silence, beyond
Proportions. They uncouple from hope
As fire does from the word.
We have always been in heaven.
High above the landscape,
Staring through the windows
In wonder before our own breath.
We didn’t realize the rage of the river
Until we climbed to the high bank.
Looking down we saw the rapids
Going on and on as far as the eye could see.
Why this insistence to hurry back to the sea?
A nightmare where one holds on with fingertips
To what is left of one’s mind while still
Being able to see shadows as belonging
To all other things but not to oneself.
A direction in the middle of the air.
An atrocious fabrication compounded
By perception and remembrances,
Not necessarily coming from ourselves.
Evening was very near. Even from this height
One could hear the great waterfall leaning
Over the edge of its precipice, cursing
With its language of horror and splendor.
Crashing into the rocks far below.
The river was the only way to proceed.
All else was endless plains, rainstorms
Boiling in the distance, purple clouds,
Lightning and the calls of frightened birds.
Every step we took elicited more questions.
Our memory became crystal, then dust and years.
Which is life. Which is dream. Which is death…
THE POEM OF WATER
The story is unrepeatable. It has no
Walls, but dominates dreams with its
Huge body so huge civilizations may be lost there.
Never finding their way, such a labyrinth
Undoing our tongues by refusing speech
As we open our mouths, no longer able
To breathe, lost once more on our journey
As Ulysses was lost.
I remember the last time standing
On the banks of the Niagara River,
The Upper Rapids.
The rocks seemed to be exploding.
The sound clear and loud, but still
We were able to talk to one another.
Then it happens: For over a mile
Eternity opens its mouth so wide
We swoon upon the river banks,
Gazing full into your body.
You are the element.
Oh water that is all things to me
From life to death, filling my body
With your flowing. Am I in love with you
Or is it that you are in love with me?
I seem to speak as you do, drop by
Drop, some clear, some clouded.
I do not know what I am trying
To say. My library pours from its shelves,
Filling all available space, pouring through
The windows, through the town and city,
Never stopping. We hardly notice
Where all of language pours back
Into your element, washes itself
Within you and returns to our lips
As we sing endlessly to your mystery.
A poem records emotions and moods that lie beyond normal language, that can only be patched together and hinted at metaphorically.