Saturday, September 26, 2015


The Foot of the American Falls, Niagara
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


I have no idea why they would let us
Remain on the boat.
It is very beautiful and we love it
But that is not a reason.

It could be because we are magic
Or that our hands can touch things
More gently then anyone else’s.

Or that we understand the dead
Pain of losing everything.  Some of us
Cannot see.  Others cannot hear.
We do understand profound silence
And yes, the late water still comes
Lapping.  And we can open up
The dreams like oranges and pass
Them around.  Press them to your
Lips.  They are sweet, sweet, sweet.

And just here, where we are,
The wind curves up and swirls
Upon the deck.  It knows
The journey.  I close my eyes.
I kiss your lips as you have always
Wanted someone to kiss your lips.

We feel the anchor being hauled up.
Those who could not hear, hear.
Those who could not see, see.
Those of us who can speak
Begin to talk of being survivors.

We link hands, wrapping them
With fine scarves.
The wind unwinds and moves
To fill the great sails.
The sails have become pure light.

We become the definition
Of every moment where longing
Changes the heart to find compassion.

No one has seen anything
Like this before.

 In the Oakes Garden, Canadian Side
Niagara Falls


Shhhh!  The gold lamp is lit.
Our memories look like
They were birthed in a snow globe.

Light collapses in a corner
Unable to continue any further.
We observe a language composed
Entirely of wasps and glowing
Rooms in ancient castles.

The acts of the dead are discovered
In these dreams of snow and waves
Freezing in mid-air
As they rise toward
Carts of flowers pushed up against
The walls the soul uses
To tilt its ladders against
In order to ascend snd see the moon. 

 The Horseshoe or Canadian Falls,
Looking Toward the U.S.


The languid daffodils
With their splendid cars
Full of flames and small block
Engines, forced to drink the Spring
Through lines of nitrous oxide,
Gather in concrete block buildings,
Shuttering, to be dragged into the sunlight
As part of a conspiracy of continents
Relied upon by the stars, immune
To these flower-headed postulants
Popping and exploding into the ring
Where a pure singing calls from the
Schoolhouses and exposes them to fumes
Thought to be a gift of Orpheus
And are now spat from the mouth
By every season as it laughs
Its own particular slant of sunlight
Its own particular idea of this
Absurd fray.

 Oakes Garden, Canada

(The following two poems are from the forthcoming book, Finding Our Lives Full of People, by T.L. Kryss and D.R. Wagner)


It was years before we returned
To the site.  A bunch of rotted

Lace, the shaft of the feather,
A small bit of glass that could

Have been part of a smile.  There was
Little left of charm about the place.

A fireplace could be seen through
The window.  It had its own language.

Twigs could have been wishes, branches could
Have been road maps but probably were not.

"Hello,” we said as we came closer.
We could see their eyes glowing, warmer

Than any fire.  "We have been here before,”
She says holding up a medal of the Virgin.

Ah yes, we remember that evening, honey
Poured like dictionaries into our hands.
"We love it like this.  We never thought
We would return here.  Are you our parents?"



As I crested the hill
I found the moon asleep
In a small hollow, nestled
Just below the tops of a grove
Of oak trees.  The moon was
To have been up an hour ago.
The light coming through the branches,
That quiet music the moon always makes.

Tonight your skin tasted like
Lime juice and orange blossoms.
I have moments like this where
Everything seems possible for an instant.

I wasn’t supposed to tell
You about the moon, but I had
To.  I thought maybe you would
go there with me sometime.

I know the exact place it was
Resting.  I could hold you there.
We could pretend we have always
Known things like this.
We could sing a moon song.

 The Moon Over the Horseshoe 
Or Canadian Falls, Niagara

                 for Tom Kryss

There is a moment when the lights
Become dull memories and the territories
We have come to understand in our travels
Begin to unwind and contrive their own kind
Of knowing, one coupled with the notion that

Soon an emptiness will sidle up to us and clasp
Our hand, explaining the while that we will have
Little chance of understanding emptiness and the
Damp that descends with the evening, even here

On these mountains or in this desert or along these
Trails still dusty with the echoes of elephants, ostriches,
Creatures of mystery.  They will crumble, we are told
And in that moment, we believe that we are hearing
The truth rather than the banging of cymbals played
By deaf men who sold their imaginations long ago.

The multi-colored lamps make this place seem dreamed,
Not found on maps we carry, nothing promised here,
Only the trail of words that leads us on.  We will recognize
Nothing but will continue so that we might see these places,
So that we may fall into the mouth of fables breathed
Over fires on some future night when the Nightjar’s wings
Begin their tale and summon us from the dust once again.

I will see you there, crossing the winter night just ahead,
Betting destinies on seasons, correcting the optics
So all may see mythical beasts and believe in them
If only for the telling.  Make in your mouth a story now

While you walk and breathe here, that it may be told
Again at some set date far beyond these landscapes.
Favor mystery and what is lovely.  Avoid the invisible
That I may feel your hand and together we will build
Toward the favoring winds, tell the dates, catch the
Glint of light on our words as they dance away from us.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen, 2010)


Today’s LittleNip:

HO NE GORTHA—Dreamtalk

We are workers
In the star mines,
Tremors of delight
For the eyes and imagination.

These are songs pulled from
Our remembered dreaming
As used as a counterpane
With wild, clear lament.

 Ingrid Swanberg, a former Sacramentan 
who also read in Cleveland

On the Road With D.R.

D.R. is on a trip back East, and last Saturday he read at BeatStreet Cleveland, a reading which was held at the Barking Spider to celebrate The National Beat Poetry Festival. (For more info about the reading, see BeatStreet Cleveland 2015 - The National Beat Poetry Festival on Facebook.) Here’s what D.R. had to say about the experience:

The wealth of good poetry presented at BeatStreet Cleveland was incredible.  Cleveland's poets are excellent.  John Burroughs, writer, editor, musician, and composer is the author of The Eater of the Absurd and numerous poetry chapbooks; his poem “Lens” was nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His poems include “Cannot Believe William S. Burroughs Is Dead” and “Allen Ginsberg Wants You.”  Since 2008 he has been editor/publisher for Crisis Chronicles Press. Burroughs performs his dynamic poetry across the rust and coal belts. His new book, Beat Attitude (from Night Ballet Press), debuted at BeatStreet Cleveland.

John is a performer par excellence of his work.  I was totally knocked out to listen and watch Burroughs perform a poem. Here is a clip of him performing one of his works:, John Burroughs and Étienne Massicotte performing "Way Erred Scenes Inside a Jazz Mine" on September 19.   

Thanks, D.R.! Stay tuned next week for more photos of his trip.


John Burroughs