A LATE JOURNEY
We passed the house of the avenging angel
With its parapets and ribboned trumpeters,
Purple and red-violet the color
Of their eyes. It was the hour
When dreams are captured, sorted
And released to the children born
To the damned and to those who
Wander. They are unable to speak,
Dress in cassocks and flowing
Gowns. They do not take bodies
Often as it is this dreaming
That gives voices to the winds.
We can see this in the eyes.
Wild animals turn to us
When we encounter them in the forest,
Unexpected and interrupting their precision
We like to call behavior.
The stars wound ‘round him, this lurid angel,
As the singing rose around us. Lights began
To go out as stars became the evening.
CEREMONIES OF DREAMING
I eat the corner of the room.
There are stars painted on the ceiling.
It’s not dark enough for them
To really glow in the dark.
I shudder or the room shudders.
I can’t tell which.
I swing like a thurible.
A sweet smoke pours
From my mouth and nose.
Angels begin to assemble
In the other corners of the room.
It seems as if they don’t want
To be there.
AN ANCIENT PROCESSION
A silk unlike all others.
Light as a spider’s,
Strong as steel.
A historical remoteness.
She stood there
Like a story.
A small bell that lifts
One from Compline
To a clear call and response
As the psalm unwinds,
Lifting through incense
To gather measured breath.
The day as a rosary
Linked toward the dawn
And the rising of the moon.
I will trouble you no further
With what could be a dream.
I must not; however,
The clouds were very well dressed.
A RAINY EVENING
Slipped out, just inside the rain.
A window down the street was
Keeping quiet with its yellow
Light, surrounded by rain sounds,
Water dripping from the eaves,
Down my collar, shivering my mind.
There is not a soul on Key Street this evening.
Even the cats, who own the street, have found
Shelter away from cars and porches.
They have hidden themselves beneath
The old wooden houses here in Locke.
No one will ask for them. They have become
Rain spirits. The night and the streetlights
Own them. Gravel still crunches beneath
My shoes. I look for the door to my apartment.
Rain drips from the brim of my straw hat.
I find my way to my front door, climb the stairs.
I find a tumbler and fill it with ice and sake.
Looking out the window. Rain talking to the rooftop.
Thomas Merton, e.e. cummings, Kenneth Patchen,
Melissa Studdard, Viola Weinberg, Kent Taylor,
Henry Thoreau, Tom Kryss, John Dorsey, Alice Anderson,
Al Winans, Meg Pokrass, Cassandra Dallett, Jorge Borges,
Alike Barnstone, Italo Calvino, raindrops of poets.
All against the window pane. Their voices on the rooftops,
Dripping into my breathing and my very soul.
“Don’t get any ideas,” he whispers.
The jugglers twirled as they
Took to the air
And songs of parting rained
Down on all that was there.
There was a persistent flooding
Of the frontal lobes.
My skin felt like cellophane.
If the water keeps rising
We will have to chop
A hole in the roof so we
The flashlight shows
A couple of blue kitchen
Chairs floating about halfway
Up the stairwell.
The water is black-brown
And doesn’t make noise at all.
The entire scene seems
Like a bouquet
That has survived
Past its prime.
I try to think
Of a prayer.
All I have left
Is your name.
I don’t even want
To try to say it.
The lights were going on and off.
I could see your mouth moving.
The lights made your teeth look
Like cars sliding into an exit ramp.
There was no sound. So, I can tell you
Whatever seems perfect for that moment.
Don’t drain the batteries just to keep
The lights going. Everyone knows their queue.
There was a backdrop of images, all of Krishna
Except for tondos of tigers wrestling
That were left over from when the music
We made was built entirely of electronics.
I was able to say, ‘I love you.’
The heart falling
Through ice crevices
In the center
Of the glacier.
A FROZEN LIGHT
Far down from the North, a wraith
Draped in ice came floating.
It was without a name. It was
Without a claim to any knowledge
That might feign-describe its glow.
For light itself was locked inside
Its resemblance to a soul and this
Leaked upon the land, to silvered
Fields and frozen meadowlands.
We were later told it was the soul
That Winter drags across the world
With its spare and haunting songs
Or, terrified by great winds,
Drives a blindness of snow before
Itself and slides on the edge of morning
To show up worlds of white
On trees and water, both.
The snap of names inside the frozen
Voice it uses to call across this stark, stark place
And rises up in a swirl of white
As if it were the frozen smile
Legends clamor to be when we
Are gathered here together in
Small stone shelters with our sheep
At night and gaze out upon a million,
Million stars and the soft voices
The sheep offer to this white that echoes
Their own white fleece.
All of this we will never know
For we come here within the ice.
We come as wraith to the seasons
Man denotes as he lifts his
Boot-clad feet, pushing past the drifts,
Believing he too is moving
Through such a perfect soul.
The beginning of love is to let those we love be perfectly themselves, and not to twist them to fit our own image. Otherwise we love only the reflection of ourselves we find in them.
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for his wonderful poems and photos, and two notes: Dec. 31 is the deadline for the Sac. Poetry Center 2016 High School Poetry Contest for written and spoken word poems. Cash prizes! See www.sacramentopoetrycenter.com/contests/spc-poetry-contests/. Also: Manzanita Press has a Jan. 15 deadline for submissions to their next print anthology, Out of the Fire, publishing art, photography, and writing. See manzapress.com (scroll down).
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