Saturday, October 03, 2015

Maid of the Mist

D.R. Wagner on his current trip to Niagara Falls
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke CA
—Photos by D.R. Wagner and Suzy Queue


We were not supposed to compare
The miracles when they occurred.
One was certainly not better than another;
The roses of Juan Diego to those of Theresa
Of Lisieux.  We were not to crumple at the
Tiniest comment.  What of tears anyway?

We should be able to rise up to the very
Top of buildings without moving our legs.
Surely there would be the burning that carries
Us higher and higher to where finally
We could finally become less and less.

So we spill over and flush the earth
With our tears and quiet sorrows.
We will open the serape of Juan Diego
To see the face of the Virgin, we will find
Joy in the smallest things as we watch our
Hearts empty and fill with love like the locks
On a canal, lifting us up or lowering us

To the clear way around all obstacles,
The way singing does or looking into the eyes
Of the beloved, the light reflecting, souls dancing.

Drawbridge in Buffalo, Completely Wrapped


The thought never lasted
Long enough to follow.
My leg would start to itch
And by the time I paid
Attention to how uncomfortable
It was, the idea
Would be gone.

Sometimes there was a good poem there.
But most of the time I could only remember
Someone who had died
And ask myself if they
Were ever this uncomfortable
Every time they forgot
Something that felt really important.

The stones below the surface
That transform the garment.
I can hear it all the way to hell.

I pulled you to me
But I could only speak in falsetto.
My mouth filled with those stones.


I will hold your hand
And guide you away.

Away from the shore
To where the little silver
Boats bob against the
Outgoing tide.

There turtles gather.
They are of beautiful colors.
Not remembered colors.
New ones pulled from
The fruited we have
Found along the beaches.

You have a smile
For each one of them.
They will soon be
A concerto

Moving by in a layered
Passacaglia over thick
French horns to where
The piano will help
Tell the story for all of us.

I want to remember you
Like this.

Your hair tossed by the wind.
The purple drift of song
Over your beautiful lips
While you were still sane.

Your hands fluttering
Like birds gathering the
Tortured souls of the world
To your heart until it could
Hold no more and poured
Itself across the entire
Lake, sparkling so, as it
Began sinking every ship
That ever dared ply
Its perfect waters,

Pulling them down
Below the surface,
Completely cut to pieces.

Your eyes filled with tears.
Your mouth cursing an
Unknown god.

 An Old Lake Fishing Boat, Lake Erie


And I thought of the flowers
That held the guns
And opened the yellow moon
To conflagration
As they marched
And marched
And marched
Giving the single
Gift of their death
As they were picked
For bouquets.  The pretties
Given to the short edges
Of the memory of death.

Spirits all.  Clouding
The skies with
Tumbling light
And thunder
And rain.

Day after day of rain,
Fields in flood and mud
All memory now.

And memory itself
Has so little self
Or, from our brief
Waking, none at all.

 Niagara Falls (from Canada Side)


Not the rivers.
Not the stars.
Not the laughter of children.
Not the course the river takes.

They course the night
Lifting our bodies as ships do.
Carrying them above
The vales and the canyons,
The swales and the gullies
And the gentle draws.

For water is blood
And water is root.
Our words demand
To come to meaning
To come to prayer.
Come to tell us of the way
Things are
And yet will be.

 The American Falls from The Maid of the Mist

—Words by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edit by chance and Steven B. Smith

I was bearing a white phallus through the wood of the world,
I was looking for a place to plunge it,
corresponding almost exactly to reality,
Like an extra in a grade B movie,
I was looking for the main character of my life,
strayed onto the stage by mistake,
I had somewhere dropped the key that explained the action,
ran off through the streets of the world,
a small eternity passed,
I returned and returned.
a scene I had already painted
the paint had now grown wet again
a melting mirror
suspended in silence
a waiting hush.
exiled me to spend the rest of my life picking
recurrent delusion
mounted on the beast of myself,
one pollywog willing to lose its tail
in a cracked shaving mirror under a bare bulb
the streets of the earth
an anonymous receptacle into which I could pour myself
classic columns holding up nothing.
made of real American pigeon feathers,
pocket watches hung from trees
crowds of black berets and herds of sandals
combing their hair with Grecian lyres.
mad poets
in and out of reality.
one huge landscape of flesh,
unbaked clay
innermost swinger beyond the self,
stationary, running.
squeezed from a tube,
like the tiny tail of a swallowed goldfish,
like a far note in a blue bottle
white as the bleached skull of a cow.
made of mascara,
the green leprosy of moss
a round egg in a square world,
my pinball machine registers tilt

(This is a “found” poem from Steven B. Smith: the lines of this poem were selected from underlined phrases in a used copy of Lawrence Ferlinghetti’s novel, Her (1960). There were 150-200 phrases underlined by whomever owned that copy of Her previously, and Steven selected 40 of them, changing nothing in word or order.)

 Wooden Elf

Today’s LittleNip:


A phalanx of purple cats
Concentrating on music
Just before it is written.

Much of the house will be
Completed soon.
It will be made of rain.


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for today’s fine fare as he continues his current trip back East!

D.R. writes: Here is a photograph of me
on the walkway at the CAVE OF THE WINDS
below the American Falls at Niagara Falls.
My home town.
[Stay dry, D.R.!]
—Photo by Suzy Queue