Saturday, October 31, 2015

Walpurgisnacht, 2015

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


It is dark, but not the dark that carries

Only night, but dark, the dark that moves

Itself to dreaming and we are too long

On the road as she comes around us

Bringing her own air, her own beasts,

Horses unlike horses that we’ve known

Who stand at the corner of the streets

Where we can see their large eyes.  They

Seem to know us and make horse sounds

To one another, leaning toward the fog,

The coolness of the evening and blow

Steam that seems to glow from their great

Nostrils.  They paw the ground as if in waiting.

Then bats, as if the night had tongues,

Course just above our heads with squeaks

And clicks and sudden flash of reddish eyes.

They too have a sense of purpose to detain

Us on this night and swirl in flocks and bunches

Keeping us to the sidewalks weaving light and shadow.

We have heard that it is Halloween.  The 

Jack-o-lanterns with their grimaced faces

Flicker from the porches of the neighborhood.

The cats of no color but the night move, too,

Around us in this night as if they wait for something.

Perhaps they think that we are creatures like themselves

Acquainted with the night and ready for its fierce

Devices, the howling of the wolves, the mocking

Face the moon makes to our wandering, looking

For a house we are not sure will be there, close 

We hope, but hope is not a part of what we are.

Tonight is Halloween, a witches’ night.  The roads,

The streets are for the ghosts and half-seen children

Of the night whose music has been foretold, who

Gather toward us as the spider weaves his web

And calls us in the only haven left in this damp cold.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen)



She filled her hands
With winter light and October's
Crows, a cacophony of wings
Against the blue of early evening.

Children used to come here.
There were hills and copses and woods
Challenging the imagination with shadows
Caught alive in stories of the Fall.

The road ended at her mouth,
Full of weeds and drifting terrors
Searching for a body to accompany
During the dark evenings of the waning year.

Shaken, she reaches for the twilight
As if it were a vessel of some kind,
Easy on any sea, unmoved and with sails
Painted in the colors of forgetting.

To dream was to vanish into memory,
The twinkle of an eye,
The brush of a hand across a shoulder,
No place for sharing stories, whispering.

This time of year is full of stuff
Like this, fine of hand and bathed
In a crystal construct made of wood,
Made of fire, made of singing.

She was not given to understand
More of this than her hands covered
With the cool and brilliant light.
She wishes us luck as we continue

Toward the shoreline, the same light
Glinting off the water, infecting
Our minds, making everything in life
A challenge and the turning of the days
Borne on the backs of black birds
Exploding time with cackling and shrieking.

(first pub. in Medusa’s Kitchen)


Star poked me in the eye.

The coyotes heard it.

I could barely move.

Tiny lights reminded me

I was alone.

I think I am dead.

I died in a dream

With my mother 

Talking to me.

And I laughed. 

I laughed.

For I was alive.

I could feel myself cry out

And I knew my name

When they called.

And then we were

On the beach

Building sandcastles

And you remembered

My name.

And then they took

It all away from me.

The blank look

The waves have 

As they touch my skin.

The lights in the town

Are charms.

They visit above the voices

Of the coyotes,

The questioning owls.

These are the voices

In my heart.

I trust you will tell no one.



Charlie Bennet, he’s dead now,

Lost both his hands about

Halfway to his elbow
In a farm accident.

Some kind of chopper got him,

At the the exact same spot,

Both arms.

He went to whispering 

After that happened

And Darrell Miller was ‘bout the only one

Who Charlie talked to

At all after that.

Darrell told me Charlie
Said his dead hands

Used to come looking

For him.  They never did 

Find them.  Chopper

Must have spit them out

Pretty far away.

Charlie said his hands 

Could talk, a kind o
Scratching sound 

That Charlie said he

Could understand.

“Charlie,” they’d say,

“Charlie, come here.”

And Charlie hated it

When they’d call out.

He would get far under

His blanket and make

A moaning sound.

Darrell told him

“Hands can’t talk, Charlie.”

“Like hell, they can’t.”

Said Charlie.

“They can sing songs.

Scratching songs.

They don’t like folks

To know they can sing,

But I’ll prove it to you.


So Darrell met Charlie

One the night at

Morgan’s barn, right 

Near where his hands

Got chopped off,

And they waited.

They waited a long time.

But, finally Darrell Miller

Said he heard this

Scratching music start

Up from one of the horse

Stables below that wasn’t

Used any more.

“Listen,” Charlie said

And he began to move

His cut-off arm stumps

Around and the scratching 

Sound seemed to move in

Rhythm with the way

Charlie moved them stumps.

“Stop it. Stop it,” said Darrell

“I can’t,” he said.

“Not when them hands are singing.


Darrell said that from then on

He could hear the scratching music

Every so often and noticed

His own arms began to move 

Whenever he chanced to hear it.

Darrell died in a terrible car wreck

Out on old 95 and lost both of his

Own arms in the accident. 

Cut off at the same place Charlie’s were.

Now, I’ve started to hear the scratching

Music and I can’t seem to turn it off.

“I didn’t want to tell you this story,
Darrell told me at the time.

I wish he had never said anything

About it to me.  I wish he had never

Said anything at all.  Last week Morgan’s

Barn burned to the ground.  In the ashes

They found Charlie’s wedding ring

But there weren’t no hands there at all.

Today’s LittleNip:


A sputtering that used

To be language but

Has been divorced from

The tongue for much

Too long to hold any

Arrangement.  Water.


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for the Halloween fare this morning, and reminding you to set your clocks back an hour tonight!