Saturday, September 10, 2016

The Edges of Understanding

—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Anonymous Artwork


I will go to dreamland.
You may carry the rose
If you care to do so.

I will be there with you.
We can walk together.
I remember we came
Here before your were

I would kiss the back
Of your neck and you would
Draw your finger across
My cheek.

We were the destination.



It seems there used to be more light
Along the edge of the garden, but it could
Be the tilt of the earth as it goes to find Autumn.

You are gone.  Someone is collecting
Midnights and stockpiling them in my backyard.
Even the blues of the morning glories look hurt
As they find their way through the timber bamboo.

Peaches, the sweet ones, are coming in fast
Along with the big tomatoes and the darkest eggplants.
I lean against the fence listening to house wrens
And scrub jays complaining about the shorter days.

In the back of town, along the sloughs and marshes
The woods have begun collecting even more darks
To furnish Winter with mysterious shapes to place
In the tule fog as it cools just inches off the ground.

Otherwise, everything looks the same.  I walk
Toward the back of the garden, pick a few black
Figs, hum a September song I barely remember.

 River Waterfall


We cannot move any closer
To the edge of this pool.
We have seen what kinds
Of things are possible.  They lurk
Around the edges of understanding,
Almost blind, but without a plan.

The reality of the situation
Becomes too clear.

“He felt a dull pain in his chest,
not exactly pain, but more
like a difference in air pressure
at the point where the material
and the immaterial meet.”
            ...Haruki Murahami

I dive into the pool.
My heartbeats consume my hearing.
I go deeper and deeper.
I should come out the other side.

“Well, what will you sell me?”
“I have nothing to sell.”
Yellow caught in the twist of the air
Above me.

You think you are different
Than all men.  Look at
Your hands.  That red stuff
Is blood.  Scabs of war
Form on them.

This place was once so beautiful.
Now a sickness infects men.
They stand around and shoot
One another as easily as asking
What they think of the weather.

Let’s look for the king.
We slip closer and closer.
Soon we are going to sleep
And our bodies will call
To the angels.  We will be
Their bells.

 5 Dhyani Buddhas


He was unable to pull his arm
Out of the wall of his dream.
The tigers sat near the end
Of his bed.  Their eyes fixed
On his struggle.
“Like a goat,” he thought.
“They will come for me soon.”

It’s when things get this transparent
That so much else manifests itself.
The tigers were paintings created
By an old Chinese monk who
Lived in the fifth century.
He laughed seeing his tigers
Could still frighten after all this time.

His arm in the wall held a vajra.
The perfect weapon.  It would
Always do the job and always return
To the hand.

The weary traveler begins to see
The lights of the village
Flicker in the distance,
But it is long until morning.
Treading through dream after dream
One can occasionally observe him
Moving through our own dreams,
Lifting his lantern to gaze at us
And offering a moment of clarity.   

  Luttrell Psalter, 1325-1340


The moon, it sells its silvered light
To shadows that they may be bright.
It bargains for their mystery and clouds
In which to hide as it pulls the oceans’ tides.

We were out upon the strand
To watch the ships up close, first-hand,
And we saw her toss her light away
Till only half a moon she did display.

Still, we will have her back again,
Full round about the night,
And the shadows will be darker then
And chase her in her flight.

 Shore Leave


Some things never happened
But this wasn’t like that.
It was like one could still hear
The engine sounds, but it had been
Years since the car had flat-out quit
Right on the edge of the desert

Where the road ran out.
You could see the two or three coyotes
On the top of the next ridge.
One was sitting and the other two
Were walking around, looking
In his direction.

The dream kept coming back
And kept coming back,
As if it got lost and had no idea
Of where to go next,
So it went back and found him again,
While he was still in bed,
While dawn was only an idea.

It wanted him to know
Something....that it was always
Going to be like this out here,
That the wind had a job to do
And here one could watch it.

The wind knew his face.
It knew when he was sleeping.
It was those damn coyotes who told the wind
When to come,
When they were sure he was asleep
And could do nothing about
Such a visitation.


He bolted awake,
Sitting straight up.
The dream was already at the window
Sill.  It didn’t even look
Back at him when it jumped.

It would be years before it
Hit the ground, yet he could
Always hear it falling.
He learned that song it sung.

Someone had told him
It was crickets that made
That sound, but it wasn’t
Crickets.  It always sounded
Like something that never
Happened, like the car not
Starting but he was able
To drive it away anyway,
The starter bendix clicking
Madly like an unanswered telephone.

   Luttrell Psalter, 1325-1340


When I listen to music,
A welter of strings
From some far time, sliding
Into the moment, the conventions,
An understanding of the light
At a precise few instants,
Draped in cellos, skirting an elusive
Figure in the bass viol;
I like to think some secret
Is being told, not just to me,
But spoken in this way, that
One may understand it implicitly.
Not in eras or a period,
Historians do that,
But up by arpeggios to bring
Oration on, a speaking voice.

Instrumental music, totally devoid
Of words, alive again, moving
In my own life as I work,
Listening, recognizing particular
Patterns, essays, discussions, pronouncements,
Lodged in the present again.

Pictures, plain as any painting.
And I too am marking time,
Stitch by stitch, my visual images
Emerging into this conversation,
Fueled by the same desire
That draws the pulse of time,
As music, across the mystery
Consciousness delights us with
In its manifestations—dance after
Dance.  These words collecting themselves
Here.  The room filling with light,
Assured that this too is speech,
Anchored in poetry, so one may find it
Completely engaged, while merely reading.


Today’s LittleNip:


A pretty village.
Let us not go mad again.


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and pix!

 Celebrate poetry today by heading over to the 
Poets Laureate for Change reading at the S. Natomas 
Library in Sac. (2-4pm), featuring Julia Connor, Jeff Knorr, 
Dennis Schmitz and Bob Stanley; plus Women’s Wisdom Art 
will showcase their work at Sac. Poetry Center from 12-5pm 
 (poetry begins at 4pm); or saddle up and head down to 
Yountville to hear some of the Elko, Nevada cowboy poets 
perform at the Napa Valley Cowboy Music and 
Poetry Gathering, 7-9pm. Scroll down to the blue column 
(under the green column at the right) for info about 
these and other upcoming readings 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.