Saturday, August 13, 2016

The Breath of the Grackle

Dawn: View of Sacramento Trees
from UC Med Center Window
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


A burning along the edges of the clouds
Exactly where the night was headed.
From the decks it looked like the whole
Cloud would be consumed by whatever
Was left of the sun this evening.

Grays, with a million names sluicing
Into the night.  One could see them
Compounding dreams from flimsy
Parts of the day left over at evening
Because they hadn’t been noticed.

A small flight of gulls, mostly shadow
But the tips of their wings blood-red.
An older man sitting on a break of rocks
Dumped into a harbor to keep the anger
The sea is prone to away from a group
Of tiny fishing boats.  He appears to be
Crying but there is no sound at all but waves.

A scud of pelicans just beyond the pier
Filing across the horizon.  One after another
They burst into dull balls of flame.  By the time
The night folds around them, they are gone.

I’ll stand here with you for a few more moments.
I feel I have seen enough of this kind of madness.
Perhaps there are others who will enjoy searching
For these things.  I hear the voices in the sails,
The sound of the ship’s bell.  I must leave
To visit the relics and remains of the day.

Please, you stay and watch the appetites
The night might generate, learn the names
Of the waves, their particular gatherings.



Scraped along the bottom of the sea,
Little tents of sand, recurring again
And again until there was a village
Of them, then a town, then a city,
And we were walking among them,

Trailing the great paths of the sea turtles,
Beacons to the vast schools of fish
Seeking a way to that perfect sound
That directs them in their dances.

To be herded by sharks and whales,
Pushing them closer and closer that they
May disappear into larger fish as black
Holes absorb all energy.

We see only the tops of waves
Sparkle and quiver as thousands of fish
Go down as a symphony
The sea plays with its creatures.


She was eighty years old
And her story was a comet
That her words could kill
Like snakes.  She was on the edge
Of the canal telling everyone
The world could work if only,
If only, they would listen.

There was a great silence.
It was terror getting itself

“I can’t stand moving,” she said,
So we dug a pit around her.
It was like a halo, a glory.

She rose to it like a trout.
Before we could net her
There was a rush of men
Armed with poles and braces.
We ran, but could only see her close
To the surface, struggling,
Trying to keep the nets away.  Crying.  Crying.



Ramon said she has been arguing
With the sunflowers for two days now.
Sometimes the sunflowers turn
Into skulls and scream back at her.

She tells them the end of summer
Is coming.  She was singing, “War is
Over, if you want it.”  It makes the pinwheel
At her feet spin orange; she throws
Her arms high above her head.

She goes to stand in the cornstalks
From Mexico that Martin has planted
In his garden.  They are very much
Taller than the corn grown here.

The Mexican corn can talk loudly.
At night it tosses blue balls into
The sky above the stalks.  They are made
Of fire and no one can touch them.

I’m going to watch her until
It gets too dark to see across the
Garden.  She wasn’t here last year.
I think she loves the eggplants.
They glimmer when she is near
Them.  Ramon says we don’t see
Spirits like this much anymore.

He thinks she came with the corn.
I love watching her dance about
Seven-thirty in the evening.
The trees watch her then, and make
The golden apples glow in the

 Med Trash


The trees near the edge of the horizon
Are ghost-like and hum within the wind.

Making random movements
With my hands, huge flocks of black
And white birds rise up in
Patterns, Geometrics, Columns,
Almost all with jagged edges tearing
At a gray sky.  Gentian violet.



The passage of the hawk
Tells us it owns the wind,
Displays the way across
The gardens.  Cocking its head,
Seeing directly into our eyes,
The overtones of a high horn.

Breathing the breath of the grackle.
The bass walks like a horse footing
Gravel.  Can hear it coming.
It has a specific meaning.

I look directly into your eyes,
Something in my heart begins
To tell me we were to talk like this
And that one time would never be

We would wear veils
When we spoke.
A void would form around
Our words.  They will never know
We have gone away, completely.

 D.R. See Fee


This is a poem,
So you’ll always look pretty
Good in it whenever
You read it.

I’ll be here too, of course,
Because this is how
I love you when I am
Not here, when there are
Only these words.

I will always think
You beautiful.  I will
Always love your eyes
Running over these words.
Imagine I can feel this.

Let me hear you breathe
When you reach the end
Of the poem.  I hope we
Can hear this sound forever.
You can stop reading now.


Today’s LittleNip:

Well, write poetry, for God’s sake, it’s the only thing that matters.

—e.e. cummings


—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and these photos of where he is right now, and reminding us all to keep him in our thoughts as he goes through this debilitating illness. (Watch his Facebook page for continual updates.) 

Temple Bell
—Anonymous Photo

Celebrate the poetry that is in all things, and remember 
to head down to Sac. Poetry Center for their Second Sat. 
Art Reception tonight, starting at 5pm and featuring 
the photography of Michael Kelly-DeWitt. Scroll down to 
the blue box (under the green box at the right) for info 
 about this and other upcoming events in our area—
and note that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.