Saturday, September 12, 2015

What Do You Know of Magic?

Buddha Head, Locke, CA
—Photo by D.R. Wagner
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


Just beyond here, there isn’t much
Water at all.  It is a desert but we don’t
Think of it as such.  It is
A place we don’t visit often; no
One we know very well lives there.

South of that, there are mountains.
They have a lovely blue-green hue to
Them in the mornings sometimes, and when
It rains they seem to float just off the ground,
Catch clouds in their shadows and glow evenings.

You can travel toward the lake for hours
Without seeing a thing, but the greens
Will give it away.  The greens and the way
The air replaces everything we were worried about.
It is like magic, I guess.  What do you know of magic?

I am going to point to the place we will try
To attain before this evening comes upon us.
You will know the place.  You’ve been there
Before.  Just before you get there, children
Will line the sides of the roads with flowers
In their arms and toss them to you.  You will
Know this and still be surprised that it happens.

I’m going to try to get there myself before
Any more news reaches us, so we can see
What is happening rather than just hear about it.
Let’s plan to meet where the highway bends
Back toward the village.  I’ll wait for you if
You discover you are having a hard time
with all the directions or are having car trouble.

 Burn Pile, Locke
—Photo by D.R. Wagner


A blank arena.
A cool skull flies across
Some exotic animals.

Ramon could often see the death
Of animals far away in the night.
He seldom spoke of it.
It was like a badge he wore.

The road led down
Like descending chords.
There were occasional birds
Lifting from the half notes.
Sometimes many.  Sometimes not.

There was something beautiful
About the road that had nothing
To do with any of this.

I thought it might be your breathing.
We had forgotten how to do
So many things.  We liked the way
We moved through the dense forest.

At six pm Alejandro began to
Ask for a drink.  “I have a dangerous
Past,” he said, grabbing Ramon’s belt.

“Good,” said Ramon.  “Leave it there.
We have a long way to go…  You don’t
Need to start drinking.”
“But I do,” said Alejandro.

Ramon doubled his pace.
“It’s the best past you have,” he said.
“Get used to it.”

A jaguar coughed somewhere.
Too close to our location.
“That cat has heard about you,” said Ramon.
“It wants part of that past.
Be careful.”  The moon started to rise.

 Mrs. Chan on Her Porch in Locke, CA
—Photo by D.R. Wagner, CA


We heard rumors of falling
At the front.  Those who
Returned had differences
About them.

We were given no reminders.
The doors seemed to open by themselves.

Here, this shawl may help.
No help.  Here, this may help.

We, ah, ah, don’t, have any idea
Of why this information, ah, should
Ah, have this particular impact.
Impact.  We have no, ah, idea.

The conversation continued.

“You’re telling me, bub.
We’ve run out of time.”

There were long lines of young
Men waiting to get into a club.



The tombs are in the air.
There are many of them.
If one looks directly at them
They disappear.  They furl and unfurl
In that air like the breathing
Of birds, the touch of morning
Against the skin, a lover’s
Fumbling with the cloth
That, soft as snow, conceals
The liquid jewel found
In all of ancient song.

Here, in these high mountains
Lie the bones of kings and queens,
Ladies and their lords.
They have vanished from all
But the mind’s eye.

They have paid all their minutes,
Their fine and terrible days,
Their years of perfume and of battle.

We are still alive.  I can still
Touch you with a wild delight,
Knowing we are only moments away
From this ghostly majesty,
Not quite able to see them,
But gifted to be in their presence.
Breathing into each other’s mouth,
Understanding how fleeting all this is,
How terribly important because this is so.

 —Student Artwork, UC Davis


A sapphire sky.
Obviously a trick of the light.
A mouth moving in the space
Above the bed.  He could read
The lips.  It grew silence
And formed words the night
Could not pronounce.

It must be mirrors.
Listen deep into the moments.
What is being heard?

The sounds of the night
Are still without control.
The lips will move above
The bed.  They must be speaking
About love.  A hand cradles
His own hand.  It is small
And fine.  Now he can see tears
Forming in the eyes of a dream.

“I love you,” he says aloud.
A sudden cooling of the air
From beyond the open window.

Fog has found its horses.
It sweeps across the garden,
Waits for a few seconds before
It moves into the room.
The voiceless lips disappearing.

“Where are the children?”
He asks the dumb mist.
It touches his face.
“Sleep for awhile,” it murmurs.

If he reaches into the dark
He can feel tiny hands
Seeking his own. 
He begins to cry.



The angels don’t really understand
What it is we are doing.  I tell
You something has moved my heart,
You tell me what has made motion in yours.

We would like to call this communication.
I will tell you my lover has abused
Me terribly because she was in
An alcoholic stupor and anything I ever
Did rose to be questioned and damned.

This stopped my ability to speak
To anyone for some time.  That
Wasn’t bad enough.  I could not
Talk to you. I could see huge
Flocks of bats, dominions of seas
Burning through my ability to speak
Out loud.  They were stilled.  I
Raised my hands against it all.
Hello out there.  Such glory is
More than even the sun could ever understand.

 —Student Artwork, UC Davis


Not here.  Like fish in a plastic bag
On the floor of a subway car with no
One in the car and something pink, always
Something pink, dangling over it, reminding
Anxiety that it has a job and a heart.

There is no room for those photos of blue
Birds or cameras.  It is pointless.  We fall.
That’s the entire story.  The Gestalt tells
The story better than I can.  A hand
Gripping a cube, an architecture made
Along the road while walking, so things
Won’t move too fast, be too brilliant.

Like Sitwell, silence is my hobby.  We can’t
Stand around here thinking this is some
Great city.  I’m going to find you tied to
A bed, breasts bound, a smile on your face,
A jellyfish covering the entire scene as if
Floating were an answer to all our questions.

Come with me now.  I will speak in Italian,
Pretend you realize that all that has been
Said so far is only a prelude to what we
Would like the future to be.  Footwear
People dream about, plays of light
Along the edge of the stage.

We are not going to be able to see
The next part of this whole thing
Very well.  A couple of silhouettes
Working full time on your walls so you
Won’t have to dream.  Tropical dreams
Will begin to infect just about everything.
I will tell you your name and you will
Believe me, even if you have never heard
It before.  The doors of drugstores will
Be left unlocked so you can find what
You need without cost.  There won’t be
Any parts you will not understand.
If you do not understand, it will not
Be the next part.  Kindness will have
The name of someone you love very much.

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

  —Student Artwork, UC Davis


A morning still thick with
Tiny lights before the dawn
Chases them from our eyes.

We have come down from the cliffside
Walking carefully.  The stone beneath
Our feet slides away.  We hear it play
All the way to the bottom of the void
Below.  Not a great drop, but enough
To raise some sleeping grouse
Who lift above the house
Below and chortle their
Irritation as they fly.

The song of morning is still unsung
But we have turned our breath
To clouds as it escapes our lungs.
White puffs that show we are four
And what’s more, travel with a dog.

As silent as the pre-dawn,
Steady through the dark,
Lifting it slowly to show us
Near a lake, a meadow full
Of the dark shapes of cattle,
Barely moving, substantial
But barely more than vapor
Without the insistence of light.

We take positions in the field,
At the corners of the street.
We are the guard.  We will
Carry the morning to the horizon
Where it will find the sun
Just now arriving from its swing
Around the globe, wreaths of
Birdsong announcing it.

The trees themselves are eager
For the food that is their light.
We are the guard.  Rise from
Your slumber.  Wipe away the
Sleep.  Greet this dawn,
Unlike no other, announced
By doves that coo and dogs
That bark its arrival.
Chickens taking up the talk.
We are the guard.

Rise from your night of dreams
And walk to your windows.
See it pour across what you know,
Restoring shapes and forms
To what we call the world.
We will be gone back up the cliffside
Before you ever hear our steps
Or see our shadows' flight.

We have delivered you
A new and perfect day.
Come praise.  We are the guard.


Today's LittleNip:

—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for today's sumptuous breakfast in the Kitchen, and noting that D.R. will be starting a journey back East this week; while he's gone, he'll be sending us poems, stories, photos, artwork and other news of his grand adventures! Watch for Medusa's Road Tripping With D.R.!