Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trekking Our Way to Heaven

—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA

                         for Kenneth Patchen

A rainbow arcs over a grey lake.

Tired grey boats are drifting

Away from the shore.  Bent grey

Figures are hunched over them

But are not directing their motion.

One would think such a place 
Was defiled by man but no,

It is not necessary to submit

To any drifting.  We are made 

For fiery work and the spirit.

We are the cloth of the tempest.

We are the nets of light upon

This grey lake that brings the rainbow

Flying across such a pale landscape.

Bring your bodies dressed in golden

Birds to stand with us on this shore.

We shall batter the doors of these dreams

With the music of our being here on this poor

Earth.  We are able to see the dragons,

Hold the answers to all that is unexplained,

Draw the songs from the sullen boatmen.

I awake in a room filled with light and legend.

We lay down near the world and our tears

Bring the flowers of the world to attend us.


The countenance of the dream forgets itself.

It will walk the concentric heavens,

Its towers of sand, the half-forgotten faces

That write their sad names to nothingness.

The nightmare that is pure mystery.

The voice of the suicide that drains 

The sunset of its rootless colors,

Tears all meaning from the senses,

Speaks only to dust.

From here, in the morning, I still can see

The sun rising over the oaks along the sloughs.

I feel my heart beating to hear the songs

Birds bring to this safe harbor for a moment.

Your name too is shimmering there,

Contrived by teeth and bones and hunger

For the vision that is the universe before you.

I beg for the words to fill all hearts with joy,

Yet voices still complain from outside the doors.

They do not believe in these green hills,

These thrones of love are caves to them,

Their only gold is the skin of the tigers who tear

Them away from sleep with blood and anger.

Let not this house be so defiled.

Let not all be such an exile to love.

We walk through each house alive

With cries that reach the highest plains.

There are photographs of all the dead.


We were standing as close to the edge of the waterfall

As we could get and still walk the earth.  Our luck held

As long as our memory, until it became so intolerable 

We could only see our situation through the eyes of a poet.

We kept using up our years gazing into the maelstrom. 

Any part of sameness held contradiction, like a Summer’s

Night, cricket sounds, the voices of frogs, so near

We imagined that words were something that has been

Sent to us as impermanent as something to be desired.

We had no secrets.  You must have seen us holding the branches

The trees extended over the edge of the place, a door to another

Universe, one without heroes or the treachery of ancient legends

To carry us over the brink.  We became the property of the moment.

It seemed enough, no, more than enough, like a gunman

Demanding all attention or the mouth of a lover busy with its

Ministrations and explorations, impossible to ignore.

The entire construct vanishes even as it stands in the light.

Something buys a part of the morning, a feeble objectiveness 

Composed of the beginnings of conversations, the conditions

For an argument begin to torment us as we try to raise a song.

Finally, we become spectacle.  A raft of fresh green and perfect

Blue.  The mad rush of water capturing every color the light throws

At it.  It all begins to disintegrate around us.  We find images

Showing its presence in old postcards and an occasional lantern

Slide.  When we research what may have happened to all of it,

A single image, an engraving, shows a horse being pulled away

From the edge of the waterfall, one man pulling feverishly 

On the reins. The rest, a story in a tourist guidebook already old.

(prev. posted on Medusa’s Kitchen)



These forests are without moment,

Not held in the mind at all.

They will remain unmentioned

In world after world.

They course through the body

As if the body were made of sweet water.

As if there were no distance between

Coming and going through a beautiful center.

Oh, I cannot speak with any voice.

The white bird, the great heart

That moves us through childhood 

Unwrapping the landscape

Through harbor after harbor

To our grave and beyond.

I will not summon or attend

A single object or thought of the world.

That it bear the marks of breathing

Is enough and is as exact as any companion

Might be.  I inhabit and am inhabited.

        for E.R. Baxter III

The altitudes have gone past tension.

We are required to know just how

High we are, what names the dead

Animals by the side of the road

May be identified by, what has happened 

To the amphibians that the Spring

Isn’t as full; the vernal pools

With their pale eyes reflecting

The cool morning, the wakening

Rustle of the season, all green and up.

So we stand and watch the buzzards

Ride the thermals, circling round

And round and we learn to listen

To our breathing as we do so.

We can meet here as often as we are able

But let us speak to one another

About these changes, remind one another

Just how temporary it all is.

Or, if I am unable to see you here again,

I’ll be sure to text you, maybe that

Will be our attempt at presence

As Spring replies with confounding necessities.



To hear the voice tell us stories.

The heart went questing with true

Love and its page, Ardent Desire.

To know this is true, as true

As clouds lifting against the 

Horizon, building higher than ideas.

Oh please tell us the truth.

Tell us about Mister Death

And his lovely dances full of leaps,

Full of daring and challenges.

The color of the sky at twilight.

When we wait at night for the

Lights to quit and make soft

Cloaks around our thoughts

So we may sleep.  Children,

Families, lovers and deer feeding

Beside streams full of moonlight.

Let us stand here together.

I will hold you to me and kiss

Your lips.  I will tell you and you

Will tell me.  We will be able to see

The silver of enchanted light through

The trees.  We will agree that our lives

Shall always have this sheen about them.

Far to the North, just before the snows

Begin to own everything for months

At a time, we hear the voices again.

Cantatas that overcome death, leave

Us choruses swelling with prayers,

Rejoicing beyond measure, the seasons

So full we wash in them and they flow

Over silken skin as clouds lifting

Against the horizon, building higher than ideas.



The air tumbles through the haze.

Somewhere in the blur of lights

Moons have found a place to gather.

Tonight the snow is golden and children

Are dressed in shining cloth.

They have tongues of ice but sing

As best they are able and it is a sweet

Song that moves the milky air.

Yes, stars move closer to hear

These words.  They know life

When they hear it and their horses

Stamp and rear, tossing their manes,

Their tails, and snorting dreams

Seldom seen outside of words

Like these poor mumblings

Trekking their way to heaven.

Oh, that each day would be filled

With such visions and that the red

Blood of terror not be seen in places

Such as this.  The horses with their riders

Growing larger and climbing so far

Out of sight that the world bleeds longing.


Today’s LittleNip:

I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.

—Anne Quindlen


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for such fine fare this morning!