A slight reflection noted as sound
Upon water, then an uplifting of wings
That slides into the shadows over some
Reeds the evening had just settled itself in
Gathering its collection of shadows,
Red-violets and wistful birds songs.
“You won’t be going there tonight,” he said,
Pointing toward the tallest stand of trees.
“There’s hungry animals out there. We won’t
Take a chance of losing anyone.”
But the moon will be out later.
The breeze is so gentle it feels made
Of dreaming and silk memories.
I pack my small bag and head for
The tall dark. “I’ll try to find out
What’s just over that ridge and be
Back by morning, if I am able.”
No one says not to go but no one
Follows. At the edge of the light
I discover I am able to fly.
(first pub. in Medusa's Kitchen, 2011)
I don’t see how I could
Ever bring myself to the edge
Of that sea without thinking that
You will never stand here again
With me looking at the little silver
Tongues of the waves as they toss
Clouds of light back and forth
Into the dawn or even the days,
Or the months and years.
I can only see you lying in bed,
The blue, white and barely gray
Of the late summer afternoon
Coming through the curtains lifting
A breeze across your sleeping face.
We have been here many times
Before, but now you are old and
Are unable to take even a lazy walk
Along the beach.
I imagine you are a sea gull at the
Edge of the pier. I listen to the
Soft sounds your wings make in taking
Off, your voice trailing off through the heart.
THE BLUE ELEVATOR
We shall sleep by night.
We will not sing anymore.
Too much is beyond where we are.
Things are changed on the blue elevator.
What kind of weather is this that freezes
The heart? What is the grace that moves
The stone? Such radiance, even within
This black wind that courses up and down
The blue elevator.
I am having trouble discerning the living
From the dead. The corruption seems so similar.
I will bring you a bouquet of tiny yellow roses.
You will forget that it was at the edge of the sea
That I found that heart among the streaming rocks.
Things are changed on the blue elevator.
A great sea awash with thousands of bodies
Made manifest at one time by the hate and terror
Closed into the fist of every waking moment.
Even the bells sob as the shores fill with bodies,
These soft angels who had no idea it was all
An elevator. Oh my love, the candlelight was perfect.
The wind, the rain, the glistening waves, all songs
That made the evening seem to be full of beautiful.
Raft after raft or men and women and children
Washed up and out of a blue elevator. All those
Boys and girls sent out to make sure everyone
Was safe and could find their way home. Why I’ve
Found an arm of a golden soldier twisted inside
The songs they sang. I can’t speak one word
Of them lest I lie about what is really happening here.
Their tongues are still ripped out. Their bellies
Are still kicked in. They are still seared by the slag.
The smoke from the guns occupies our nose and throat.
And that elevator, that perfection of lifting us higher
And higher, blood sluicing from its open doors.
The sun still trying to remind us of how beautiful
The birds are, how sweet the children dancing.
AT THIS END OF THE TRICK
He talked as if he had invented bleeding.
Oh, that we had such a tool here at the edge
Of this world. I prefer to speak to him in lilacs.
It keeps the witch doctors away and does not betray
Our animal into thinking it is other than a way to walk
The planet without fouling it with murder and horror.
I picked a bell from the bell tree and rang it
In the morning and it rang just like that morning
And it opened up a door and I’ll use its sound
Of ringing to open up my core to sound and sound
Like singing with music at the fore. Hold my hand
Above the madness and the crushing of the soul
For we are starry angels, the words upon the scroll.
When we came into the town that late, we never
Expected there would be so much of the place
On fire. People fleeing for the mountains before
The guns, deaf and soft, dull to all of humanity.
Nameless in the war, each one a lantern swinging
In the night, signaling the stars as if they might hear.
I am sorry if I have this all wrong.
My mouth is full of Summer and I
Have found myself splashed with blood
When what I was seeking was a cherry tree.
An improbable landscape.
A parasite of the object.
All is undetermined.
This is not your morning.
It is as memory, swerving
Through the soft light of the forest,
Entering a meadow full of gigantic flowers,
Overseen by the castings of dreams
We are barely able to utter.
Some would have it be prayers.
We cannot long survive here.
We are too much of water
To understand desire.
We reach to the precipice
Without anxiety to seek
Our own level, full of glowing fish,
Able to see all that is beneath
The waves but able
To understand only the smallest
Information: what a wave
Does to a rocky shore.
What a moment may become
If we breathe within it,
Holding our position in the void,
Only that we might identify it within
A conversation or recall it as the words
To a song, so beautiful it becomes
Impossible to sing and remains
Pure music played upon the spine.
The ringing of a bell.
WHAT DRAWS THE GAZE
The grain of the wood.
The sweet dance of a child to no music
But the pulsing of the morning light
Across the tops of the trees,
Through the meadows,
Playing on the kitchen floor.
Night is the agent of the spirit.
Night cradling winds in its darkness,
Driving dreams before it,
Unattended by any dreamer.
Available to all, be it nightmare
Or the most placid of postcard visions.
Tonight we will sit around the fire
Praising the invisible,
Reason having abandoned whatever
Purchase it had on our poetry.
In the distance what could
Be cities are also burning.
We are forced to walk here,
Gathering things we can barely
Discern in such darkness.
Touting these things as significant,
A religion perhaps, or at least
A vision held by both
The hands and the mind,
Always made more beautiful
By what we do not know
Rather than what we do.
We ride the car toward that morning,
Finally able to see the child
Dancing, if for only a second
As we pass a magnificent window.
"STRIKE THROUGH THE MASK."
—Ahab in Moby Dick
Spinning through the white,
Deep as the Milky Way.
A dumb blankness.
A voyage deadly beyond all measure.
And the sun reflected in the lake
Is no longer warm, for it
Has become a god, albeit
Without feet or a need for them
And moves through water
As the chant of our hearts
Through our bloodstream.
A song that gives back
A silence at its passing
To the shore on
Chords of light
Shredded at the gates
—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for today's fine poems and pix, and wishing everyone a peaceful Independence Day. If you're headed over to Community Park in Davis tonight for the celebration, please note that Davis Poet Laureate Dr. Andy Jones will be reading a poem right before the singing of the National Anthem at 9:30pm. Check it out!