THE OUTSKIRTS OF THE CITY
There is never a direction here.
I can wrap the entire place
In silk that forms a secret body
Of streets and secret meetings
Which live only in our blood
Passing through the heart.
Naming names and mornings,
Victories and defeats,
Empty palaces, torches
Still burning. Corridors
Damp with leaving and heartbreak.
Fear and more corridors of sleep.
Our flesh has messages for us.
We mostly choose to ignore
Their admonitions. There is
No place, no useful memory,
No poem that grants us absolution
Without demanding everything we remember.
Promising to hold it until everything else
We ever knew has been forgotten.
A SEPARATE REALITY
I have repaired most of the damage
To the hallways we are traveling.
I cannot call the stories
Back again. They swim in the
Veiled dreams of others whom
We may never know, despite
Our pleading. No one lives there.
Trivia becomes a ruling force.
It seeks to replace the morning light
Without portfolio, without knowing
What it is the night carries to table
As we abandon dreaming as any kind
Of boat. A dull sword tries to slice
Us away from the thought of a pure
Feeling, a private language.
Now all shall know it and the
Hard and hollow sound it was as it calls.
I have barely the wings to call for a queen
For us. Perhaps this will be
Our only monument. Perhaps this is
The morning light. The truly silent book.
Are you able to follow bloodstains
As a trail? What was your gaze
Upon before the darkness spread
To your breathing and you knew
You were being hunted down
By horsemen you can barely see?
Another alphabet forms before our eyes.
A swamp, secret, but where, at least,
The children may be safe
For awhile, while we load
The guns and try to recognize
What the term “changing” might
They open my mouth and my throat
With their knives,
Tell me what I was
Trying to say.
What tells the climate
Of forgetfulness to find voice
In angel choirs, the tingling
Bells of concentric circles
Winding through Inferno to Paradiso?
I remain beguiled by its music
Hoping it might stay with me
Until the light immemorial
Becomes water once again,
As it was when we knew so much
More of how the world reflects
An infinite care, a touch almost
Overlooked by time and subtle
As the breath of a lover held
Close on a perfect Summer night.
Now, the semidarkness has its
Own kingdom, forces a contemplation
That does not change and clings
So beyond corruption that a sleeping
Face might be one’s own or else
Another description of a misunderstood
A FIRE MIRROR
My reflection is always silent.
Everything unravels in the glass
Of the mirror. Centuries of recognition
Glide past me. What I have learned
Assails me. I am able to see
All that lies behind me, in the silvered
Surface, behind what was once clear glass.
I have stories of great ships
That own the shadows of this room.
I can see my own death move
Beautiful furniture that once was
My flesh into anterooms made of sunsets,
Streets lined with twinkling lights,
Whispered callings from friends
Lost forever in mausoleums,
Gone to odysseys of shade
And into the whiteness of a sea
I am no longer able to name.
I am an exile from my own life.
I touch the glass again and again.
Perhaps I am here. Perhaps I am not.
Drifting in the afternoon
On my bed, I can glimpse
The tides push against
The rivers’ flow and push
Them higher toward the gardens.
I can buy all things
With this gold mined from
A light sleep that holds me
So perfectly in the moment,
Bending time away from morning,
Begging me to stay here.
I listen to the harp
To find a heretofore unknown
Path in a familiar garden.
I know who you are,
As I know my childhood.
You glow as prayers glow,
You tell me of cities we
Simply must visit together.
You are music able to reveal
Your fragrant body to my very pulse.
What is the shining maze
That gathers tiny songs
Into its unearthly mantle?
Spending its inheritance
On lions and the shadows
Tigers make in the bamboo
At midday, monarchs
Of some other story.
Unknown to the makers of words,
Makers of beds, where gold,
Where dreams, are spread out, tossed
Before any name can be given them?
The incantation blisters
As it passes through the lips.
Listen to its trappings burn
As it searches for a power
To contain great love
Without exhibiting oblivion
Upon waking. I dip my
Poor hands into its light.
Glory be the book, the prayer,
This calling into great darkness.
A SIMPLE STORY
Do you recognize anyone
Who came into these granite rooms?
Do mountains speak? Do our whispered
Incantations devise anything
Beyond a dream caught alone
On a plain above the sea?
Calling upon time to help
With at least a golden flag
That allows a fleeting hour
To be adorned before
Oblivion enjoys its wavering meal?
I will not stand among you.
I possess nothing. I may recall
Your face, your body, our bodies,
Enveloped in a fierce dream
I hesitate to call my own.
The afternoon pushes past us both.
We see it through a pale window.
As golden as it may seem to be,
It can do little more than wish us luck.
Over the wintry
forest, winds howl in rage
with no leaves to blow.
—Medusa, thanks D.R. Wagner for a hearty breakfast on a chilly morning, and noting that D.R. will be reading with Barbara West today for Sacramento Voices at Sac. Poetry Center, 25th & R Sts., Sacramento, 4:30-6pm. 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.
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