Saturday, November 05, 2016

Shadows in the Water

—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Courtesy of D.R. Wagner


Brought to the room
As a crucifix by a conversation
About what the body feels
As it climbs from muddy
Swamp water, bitten by insects,
But with a deep ability
To say what it is drives
The soul to dress itself
In tailored clothing and present
Itself in a dining room
Usually reserved for the abused.

A series of steel doors
Open to tier upon tier
Of prison cells, each filled
With the monuments
Ordinary lives secrete
As they splatter through
Every day.  Pinned together
By love and disgust,
Actions and random thoughts,
Dreams and contrived visions
Begging to be recognized
As real life and relatives.

We pull the blood
From our bodies,
Distribute it to our families
As if it were a holy communion
Reserved for what we have come
To call the spiritual.

We slump in our chairs,
Throw ourselves across beds,
Listen to our heartbeats,
Check our vitals,
Wonder at what happened
To our energy and our youth.

Our eyes begin to fail
Until we can no longer
Discern direction.
We continue through
The sticky lights, hoping
There really is something more.

That a half-heard song
Leaking through the walls
Of a nearby room
Is what we have truly been
Waiting for.



Moon, moon, moon,
Hold it in your hands.
Open up your eyes.
See where it lands.

The dreams are thin,
As if they haven’t been fed
In weeks.  They hover in the room.
Even my skin feels damp.

I open the dwellings
Where I have been afraid
To visit, duck my head,
Smell the damp air.

My clothing has been prepared.
I offer the incense to some
Unknown deity,  I can hear
Its voice welcome me
To another night.  I ask
For sleep.  It closes
Upon me.  I can feel
Its hands, so like your own.

Lightning 2


Floating around the room,
Waiting to be attached
To something substantial,
Something never said aloud.

Tears erupting from my eyes
Even as I speak to you.
I see myself, see many of you.
You do not know you are dreaming.

I sit on the seawall and sing
A special song to you.
The words wander from line
To line, forever searching for a way
To meaning, but distracted
By mirrors and reflections
In the water.  Fish swim through
Here.  Shadows in the water.



The curtain is rising
Like a pilot to my heart.
And I’m not seeing a thing
On the street.
It’s moving farther away;
There’s no place left to start.

Dreaming like a machine.
The doors are open wounds.
I’m preparing to feed the demons
If I could remember what they eat.

Stumbling into your doorway once again.
Ghosts full of howling.
Highways full of cold light.
Every one of them noontime.

Everyone in heaven is dead.



This is the time God must see you.
The vigils are more than completed.
Your ideas of tomorrow have
All but been defeated.

We have come from very far away
So you will not expect us at any
Given time.  We will disguise
Ourselves as prayer.

We have steel and can see within
It to observe its hunger for weapons.

We will walk slowly so you may
Come to think of us as worthy travelers.

You will begin to notice water
Filling the nights.  It will pour
Into the crevices within your dreams

And form a path for canoes and
We will board them and paddle,
Never looking away from the stars.

Just after happiness and suffering
Are found conjoined on the edge
Of these waters, we will see shadows
Caressing everything we notice
About our bodies; how they might seem
Memorable, then immediately realize
They are no more than wire fences
Where birds come at evening to
Speak to one another.  We
Become grateful that the blue
Distances surrounding us are nothing
To those birds, only a light God
Chooses to look at this evening.

He sits behind a rusted gate,
Dazed from having thought of you.
He asks you to speak.
You believe you are having a nightmare.



Burnt into the wood
Of our bodies,
Smooth and translucent
As beach glass.

Something to be picked up,
Pushed into a pocket,
Treasured for a brief time,
Forgotten after awhile.

Then, remembered
When found again
In the bottom of a washing
Machine because we forgot
To remove it from our clothing.

A sudden tenderness,
A nostalgia perhaps,
Causes us to show
A charity toward it
Once again.

We invent a story
For it.  Never really important
But now regarded
As a treasure.

 Niagara Falls


A rag tied tight above a frozen sea,
A flag to some but not to me.
A wind that’s hollowed to the core,
A heart that knows what dark is for.

A well that splashes in the air
Then slips itself beneath the bare
Rock of a cavern, below the hill
And keeps its language within it still.

A wood that hides both wolf and deer,
That praises darkness, draws it near
And finds inside its green, green soul
An empty room, a glowing coal.

A pair of eyes, a spoken word
That, though uttered, is never heard.
A tread upon the cool dark moss
That takes the very dreams we’ve lost.

It clusters midnight with its sounds.
It frightens children, quiets hounds.
It pretends to nothing be,
But beats like a heart in a raging sea.

And so I’ve come down from the hill
To this small house, lean on its sill,
Pray to the moon to keep me safe,
To bless my life, to give me grace.

I may not then, then yes, I might.
I’ll craft a song made out of light.
I’ll sing it through the quilted night.
I’ll pray, I’ll pray I’ve made it right.


Today’s LittleNip:

Or is anyone's identity a matter of fragments held together by convenient or useful narrative, that in ordinary circumstances never reveals itself as a fiction?  Or is it really a fiction?

—Ann Leckie,
Ancillary Justice 


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems, photos and the LittleNip. West Coast people need to remember to set their clocks back an hour tonight!


Celebrate the healing power of words, and celebrate 
the release tonight of the newest Tule Review from 
Sac. Poetry Center. The party starts at 5pm with 
wine/cheese, gallery exhibit of Tule artists and
music by The Extra Innings Band. Beginning at 
7pm, contributors will read. Scroll down to the 
blue column (under the green column at the right) 
for info about this and other upcoming poetry 
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.