Saturday, April 09, 2016

Stumbling Into My Old Age

Shadow Self-Portrait
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA 


I say to myself

These are the faces

Of people from dreams.

They are constantly surprised

Like drunks suddenly

Seeing themselves in a mirror.

Not a single event here

Has any kind of order.

The sky is a scrim

Overprinted with unreadable

Characters, important

As lucid dreams and

Worth about as much.

When I lifted the bedcovers,
All was embalmed and preserved,

Waiting.  I walk up to your

Door.  “This what happens

Tomorrow.”  You are reading

It now so as not

To be alarmed when

All dissolves before

You while you are having

A morning coffee.

I soon will be dead

Or, perhaps, it is you who

Will be mistaken for 

Someone else, and tomorrow

Evening I may still be here,

Telling this same story

As if it were an entirely

New and wondrous thing.

 Face With Damaged Eye


Your ink child made of springs

That build alleys in our bloodstream.

“This will take you there,” and tears

A great hole in a subway car.

Telling you, “This is a door.  See

That pretty yellow dog is looking back

At you to see if you want to follow

Him to the top of the hill.”

Jason and his Argonauts have

Rushed in on the high tides.

They have set up another room

Where we may feel comfortable

Without a context, without identification

Of any kind. 

Keep your hands

Off my crotch.  I am a different

Kind of motel.  You do not have to leave

The room to find ice or a string of pearls.

A mouth full of glittering, still black and white.

A tongue made of photographic film.

I’ll trade you these meat stars

For the blood on your lips.

 Front Porch to Community Garden, Locke


There is a sameness to all the afternoons.

This shouldn’t be.  Afternoons are not instruments.

I am able to pull 
Constellations of stars

From what must be my mouth.

I am become

A lens.  It is because

Of this that you can help me.

Have the faith to lift me

From the knives, the steady

Plinking of the guitar images,

To rise above the sidewalks

And become the city 

I have always imagined I am.

Tell me now, before this line

Ends.  Have I died?

Have we both died?



Here, where I am gray into white,

Eros spreads my fingers and wraps

Them around the root as a flaming

Joke, lights a candle

To see if one can still see

That light from the back row

Of the garden and perhaps

Find it interesting enough

To find a way through the

Darkness, through the gates, to the

Door, up the stairs

To where there is a bright

Old man lying naked in

A lovely bed, singing to

Himself, transfixed by

The song, the lovely beauty

Of the visitor and the howling

Of the wind through the open doorway.

 Martin's Front Porch, Locke


It was you, dreaming on the balcony

That night, above the street.

A tenderness bound by song

That just as easily could

Have been a candelabra

Burning in a vacant dining room

Just now forgotten.

The moment silvers itself.

You become pastel as the

Sky becomes pastel.

I find you much later

In the evening 

As part of a verse.



I regret that I cannot be with you here.

I so enjoy the lights coming from

The house here as the streets 

Are ending and the light that

Strikes the walkways has been

Bounced across the evening by

Candlelight and kerosene lamp,

With a few flickering of fluorescent

Tubes slipping through an unrevealed

Kitchen window to show itself

Against a creek bending through

What might be a neighborhood.

(It is too dark to see if this is true.)

You will notice as you move close

To where the houses begin to cease

That somewhere a radio is playing

A beautiful tango that will remain

With you into your old age.

(Should you acquire this moment).

Try to recall the beauty of its melody

It will bring comfort to you someday

As you find yourself here,

At the edge of town, once again.

 Feral Cat in Locke


                 —Robert Duncan

And is the poem

Successful?  Now,

What do you know?

Can you tell me where

I misunderstood?

The sand slips beneath my feet.

I will never turn my back

On the sea.

The sea has no ideas.

Better, build a fire on the

More distant shore and

Still know we are prey

To the waves.  The flicker

In your eyes across the

Flame. Assure me you still 

Know exactly where the sea is.


Can you tell what

What happened when

The wave struck?

Personally, I was cut

Apart by the wind.

Did you hear the wind?

Once again, the harp.

Each string pulled into

A scale that would keep

Us wondering for years.

And I grow impatient

As I do in dreaming.

I will have the wind alone.


In this visionary moment,

Stumbling into my old age.

I remain a harp, 

That which is played upon.

A collection of names

Of stars that no one

Recalls as having anything to do

With the origin

Of those monsters who

Gave names to the constellations.

I will still reach through

Each moment and

Want to hold you to my body

As these moments explode.

 Feral Cat II, Locke


                      —J. L. Borges,
                      Recoleta Cemetery

I see the souls pass

From one to another.

Nothing stops being, except for

A name or a forgetfulness we have

Regarding miracles.

See, here is the sun once again.

I will place it in my mouth

And ask you to walk with me.

We will laugh at the

Winds full of birds.

We will realize even more

Than a few times.

This remarkable miracle,

Larger than the most exquisite


Here in space and time,

Flaming like candles,

We ourselves become

These instruments of the soul.


Today’s LittleNip:


I have waited all these years

To love you.

The shadows across the 

Water in the cistern.

Is this the poem?


A big thank-you to D.R. Wagner for today's fine brunch of poems and pix in the Kitchen! Note that tonight (5-8pm), there will be a Sac. Poetry Center Art Reception: 30 Years Inside: Paintings, Drawings, and Prints by Jim Carlson. Exhibition also includes work from incarcerated artists at Cal. State Prison-Sacramento (New Folsom). Comments by Jim Carlson at 6:30pm, and presentations by JoAnn Anglin, Poet; Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Poet: Gabriel Becker, classical guitarist; Carol Hinds, Prison Program Advocate. 25th & R Sts., Sac. Free.


 April is National Poetry Month!