My heart is broken now, so
I’ll take it in my hands,
Carry it outside and throw
It in the light brown garbage
Can, the one that goes to the landfill,
Not the recycle bin with its blue
Serenity and white logo,
ONLY, or the gray of the lawn waste bin,
A brilliant concept in itself
That I am never going to understand.
No, the brown one will do.
Tiende basura, por favor.
Among the coffee grounds, wrappers
From lunch and wadded paper
Towels, a good place for a heart
Like this, then go back into the house
Alone, consider the quality of light
In the kitchen, sweep the floor
So there isn’t anything to indicate
That anything is very different.
A broken heart, oh dear says the clock.
Now just relax. I have another
Minute here for you or an hour
Or a month, or the mystery
Of the noise some flying machine
Makes high above the house.
I open the door again
To better hear it, it and
The music moving wind attempts,
I think of as a song.
DON’T FORGET THIS
We agreed we would tell them
Nothing. This would be the only
Way we could make this work.
The highest communications tower came down first.
The others followed, almost a dance.
We could see the jungle try to hold
Them up. Little purple flowers
Floated down in clouds. They
Looked like swarms of souls.
We will never be comforted.
Love would weep. Next came the thrones,
Crashing to the ground. Small animals
Running from them into the wounds in the trees.
Something truly wonderful built a star
From snow and fire and horses made of water.
“Follow me,” a most beautiful wing
Announced. We were ready to go.
Someone began crying.
The light began to tear apart. We stepped
Between the explosions, our faith flashing.
MANHA DE CARNAVAL
I am unable to do anything about it.
I stare for hours at the ocean.
I have been taken. My thought
Listening to translations from
A language made of magic and swift gestures
Captured from dances performed
By a hooded crowd who insist
We know them but they do not
Know time and we show the tattoos
Of time all too clearly.
I am going to walk away from this
For a moment. I am in danger of
Falling too far and becoming water,
Totally water, once again.
I saw spirits moving as clouds
Toward an infinite tomorrow.
I am unable to recall if we arrived
Here to do something special like dying
Or if there was to be a fiesta
That had another ending, a sky filled
With fireworks. We have seen such
Things as we are not allowed to
Even attempt in explanations.
I sharpen my knives. There will
Come a time when a dagger will
Hold all the language, when we
Will garb ourselves for inclement
Weather and find our horses.
This might be a story but it does
Have horses. So we might want to
Leave before we know too
Much to begin insisting on a dawn,
A special fire that really gives
Nothing away at all.
And so I think I’m telling you a story
But it seems all about a carnival
That happens tomorrow in a poem
Left in a book so very long ago.
This iron-crowned king I see
Down on his knees picking up pieces
From a shattered afternoon does not
See me standing on his shadow.
His gaze is the gaze of a dreamer,
Forcing events back through me
That spike a deep fear into my heart,
Leave me trying to move away but unable to
Unlock my feet from the marble floor.
I have no memory of time here.
Even my breath breaks into hexameters that lie
About the shouts of men,
The snorts and exclamations of the horses.
I beg for a cause, a fear of wolves,
Coins upon a dead man’s eyes,
Migrating flocks of great birds,
The open sea, a Taoist priest making
A line I am unable to follow.
I cannot bear this kind of nightmare any longer.
I am being dreamed by a colony of ants.
My throat opens like the morning.
I open my eyes, stare back into the mirror.
The history of the night
Adjusts my clothing, points me
Toward a different eternity.
I recall the white horses of the Chaldeans,
The whistling of their dark riders.
ON THE BLUFF
Death was camped out on the edge
Of a bluff under some cottonwood trees.
His horse was without saddle
And was munching grass just at
The edge of his campfire.
What are you doing here, death?
I asked, somehow surprised but
Not at all afraid.
Taking in the night, listening to
Bach on my music player, remembering
My work, or part of it.
And you, he said, are dreaming. I have
Nothing for you yet. You could
Stay here awhile and look at the
Stars with me for awhile.
Thank you, but no, dear death.
I am traveling this night to
Escape the heat of the desert.
Dream on, said death. See you
POEM IN THE FORM OF A CIRCLE
(in the Italian style)
Saint Michael drives a ship of gold
And on the foredeck sits a cage
That holds the head of an evil queen.
And Saint Michael wields his sword
And pushes through the waves
To guide the righteous toward the green
The light of morning makes as it clears
The hills. Then songs do come,
Songs do flow, like milk before
A thousand cats, like salt upon
The food that once was bland,
Like beans that can revive an army.
So the golden ship Saint Michael drives
Will sail on and on and not arrive
At any port but become a story,
Become a tale of love and heart
And Saint Michael, his angel self
Drives on back to the very start.
There were birds here.
One can see where certain
Kinds of grasses have been bent
Down to form places for their
Courting. There are hollows, too,
Lined with feathers and nests
Made of twigs and string, of floss,
Bright bits and scraps of paper,
Forgotten by all else except them.
Here too are tracks upon the ground.
Here, a book of soothing gathered
From their shapes and movements
In the sky or by the nature of their calls.
Yet, when we come here now,
There are no birds here at all. Only
Signs of them remain. We must
Learn a kind of quiet, a special
Patience too, and remain long
Enough for us to see them
With our own eyes, hear their songs.
They are like our own dear souls,
In that souls must be regarded
In like kind to reveal and be
Revealed before us, full of colors, voices
Moving through the air, among the trees,
The shrubs, upon the waters too. Looking
Deep into the heart, toward dreams, toward
Day that may find birds there,
And know them, that may be quite enough.
Paper is the worst of tasks.
It sits there blank.
It never asks but always proposes, always
Claims that it has ways
To move the flame
From mind to lip to
May be lost if left alone.
Becomes a song if gained
Or if there is nothing,
Nothing to be gained,
Becomes a poem to
Hold your heart till
Nothing else remains.
Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s poetry and the art he has found for us! (D.R. is still having computer problems, so these poems are from 2012.)
Our apologies to Photographer Mike Aviña, whose work I posted yesterday, but whose name I
unfortunately spelled wrong: it should be Aviña, not Avino as I spelled it. I’ve fixed it on the post, but again, my apologies.
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