—Visual Provided by D.R. Wagner
I’m not going to watch this.
I’m not going to stand alone.
I’m reaching the edge of town soon
And I can’t recall why I ever came here
And what it looks like
When you’re falling in love.
Everything that I know
Has changed all its clothes.
The places I visit become new
Once again and I can walk
Through them at twilight when
They turn on the lights.
I can see the big wheels
Roll up to the sky where people
Are kissing, where laughter is right,
When it mixes with meaning
When it brings on new life.
I’m seeing you everywhere. I wear
Out your name. Every flower
has meaning, every tree can explain.
There we are sleeping. Now here
We are gone. I’m living on essence.
I’m drinking up songs.
Here the sounds can expire.
The road still goes on. It’s not
Blacktop or concrete. It’s dirt
Just like me. I’m going to make
Me a fire, rub my horse down
And read. The stars become
Blue lights that twinkle back on.
I think I’ll sit here till morning.
I think I’ll wait till its gone.
POETRY HIDING WITHIN ILLNESS
I cannot believe the poetry any longer.
This course of words after words having their
Breathy dance has fallen away from me and I
Can no longer find the secret rooms that once
Held me to their stars and kept me dreaming.
They have become deserts and the ruins of cities.
I pass them here in my tiny apartment and no
Longer see them or, if I do hear them, they do not reach
Me though the years. I have forgotten how to read.
Or I have gone blind and find only husks of what
I imagined. They slam against my chest as I try to call
Out. But they do not come close.
I pull myself into bed without drawing the covers
Over my body. The lights are out. I pretend I am alive.
THE RESISTANCE OF RELIGION
I am not the first one to see
A lion fall from the moon.
I am sure it happens more
Often than one would suppose.
Tonight the moon looks like the body
Of Christ transubstantiated
In the high broken stillness
That punctuates itself with
Darkness and the sound of automobiles
Trying to sound like the water,
Flowing water, but they do not.
And it is not. It is the moon
Only. The street paved with tongues.
It seemed we are always trying
To escape in whatever way possible.
Great animals spring directly from
The frontal lobes and are left
To chase 'round and 'round the park
Like old songs being played on radio
Receivers decades after they have
Been popular. Little churches
Springing up around them the way
Wayside shrines might in the Swiss Alps.
It is a waltz of melancholy and
Thwarted desire manifesting itself
In coded drawings and mythical books,
Science Fiction stories, Horror,
Fantasy and the mysterious, until
One could gather enough knowledge
To turn all those ideas into
Sexual contexts and begin to act
Upon them in new ways that
Have nothing to do with reading or
Literature. Hiding in the dark
Reading theology, trying to find
The top of the heap. Then,
Waking up in the middle of the night
With pajamas sticky from wet dreams
And a rosary clutched in a tight fist.
PART OF THE GUARDIANS' HISTORY
Ramon could speak the language of dragons.
He had learned it many hundreds of years ago.
In the yellow well he had drifted though tunnels
And forests never seen on the face of the earth.
He could speak of the swarming and of the pointed
Tongues and leather wings. He knew their foibles.
Things seldom went well for dragons.
They came off as too fierce
Or the wrong color
Or with alarmingly bad breath.
Most had boring jobs
Protecting treasures hidden by stories
To await the arrival of a hero of some ilk,
Whereupon they were often dispatched
And promptly forgotten.
They could fly. That was always
The best part, and Ramon told
Me of this when I was quite young,
Before I traveled to any of the wells
They were, for centuries, the memory
The land kept closest to itself, for the trees
Had stopped speaking long before this so that
They might use the language of the winds.
The dragons could recall the wanderers
Of the lowlands and the high and dark places
That once belonged to kingdoms long without
A name to identify them. They would hold council
And by the fire of their breath talk to those who could
Change the pupils of their eyes from horizontal to vertical
At will. These creatures somehow shared our blood
And it was they who assigned us to the many tasks
We were committed to in protecting the people
Who lived in the lowlands below the cliffs of Marlee.
The colored wells on the cliff tops were a great
System linked by much magic that was never anxious
To help our troop know the full measure of our jobs.
Still, we were expected to learn the ways of the people,
The customs and traditions of the forest, and to come to know
The deepest of secrets held by the early ones. The dragons
Were our guides. It would be many years before I could
Learn a few words of this lore. We would live for many centuries
In exchange for our service and would eventually only be found
In myths and legends. We do not expect you to know us
As anything but lights in the deepest of forests. Hear
The shrieks of the dragons. Watch them as they gather us
Four times a year to teach what must never be forgotten.
Tonight I stand on the clifftops overlooking the ancient cities,
Watching the night fires flicker in the distances and bring us
The tools of dreaming. Tonight I am able to speak to you
For a short time. You will think these stories nothing more
Than fictions birthed in mists and far things. They are not.
These are true things. Come here to find our voices, lest
Everything become a madness barely understood by any.
Even these words are silvered
As the evening is silvered.
A quiet accumulation of dove-like
Thoughts flitting through shadows.
Branches of trees too dark
To identify as roads to dreaming.
We get no choir of direction.
Only an indiction toward a center
The night collects to decorate
As avenues of magic and overheard
Discussions of subjects we had
Never wanted to hear on any journey.
There are only handfuls of trees,
The fluttering of these wings.
A language made of night.
We feel our way from trunk
To trunk. A night circus
Almost devoid of form
Yet an unmistakable pathway.
THESE WORDS WILL CHANGE EVERYTHING
The last poem that was this
Beautiful wasn’t allowed to stay
In the world very long.
It was put in a drawer, and later
The house burned to the ground
With the poem in the middle
Of it all.
This one stands a better chance.
It doesn’t have any tricks
Or difficult words in it at all.
It will just sit here before you,
Staring back into your eyes,
And will be far more beautiful
Than anything you’ve ever seen so far.
The morning comes
Struggling to have us believe
Everything is new once again.
All is a new and unblemished kingdom.
We have never walked here before.
We have been told that long ago
All of this was a dream.
Today I will dream you
And I will dream myself
So that we may
Along the edge of the sea.
We will be able to sing songs
To one another and listen
To the waves hiss toward our feet.
By evening all will seem
To have been pure magic.
We will pass the gates of sleep
Again. The morning comes again.
Everything is new once again.
THE SMALLEST ROOM
One wall was of eyes.
One wall was of thunder.
One wall was of lies.
One wall was of wonder.
One window looked upon the sea.
One window saw the sun rise.
One window looked beyond the trees.
One window looked back inside.
One wall held a painting.
One wall held a clock.
One wall had a doorway,
But the door was always locked.
Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s poems and pix on this, the Year of the Fire Rooster!
For more about Chinese New Year 2017, see www.chinahighlights.com/travelguide/festivals/spring-festival/chinese-zodiac-years-of-2011-to-2020.htm/, or for a fun slide show, go to www.express.co.uk/travel/articles/754893/chinese-new-year-2017/.
Poet-residents of West Sacramento, Yolo County and the Sacramento Area 15 years and older are encouraged to send poetry on the theme of the river for a sidewalk art project in the Washington neighborhood of West Sacramento. The winning poem will be incorporated with artwork into the sidewalk of E Street between 5th and 3rd in W. Sacramento, in an attempt to draw more visitors to the River Walk. Deadline is 5pm, Monday, January 30—that’s this Monday! The winner will receive $5000! Info: www.cityilights.org/2017/01/03/poetry-requested-for-public-art-project/. My apologies for posting this so late—I just found out about it.
Celebrate poetry in Placerville today, 2-4pm, at
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