Do you have gunner emissions over fifteen?
Then dismantle the entrances that will allow
Dwarves into the concrete factories. We do not
Want them there. They always make those birds
That frighten everyone, especially when it is snowing
And the snow sticks to their outstretched wings and those flocks
Of adolescent boys begin to make their haunting sounds,
Thinking they are attracting females of the species.
Along the edges of the meadows there are rows
Of clear glass bottles with tight lids, full of flies.
We are told they put them there for the pulsing music
They make in the night. By dawn they are all dead.
The jars must be refilled every evening so that the old
May not lose sight of the roads through towns and villages.
Some of these villages have been gone since World War 1.
The soldiers attach bayonets to their rifles and wade into them.
The veterans are stiff-faced and never show a trace of fear.
They drop like ventriloquist dummies, straw spouting
From their bodies, piles of silver coins pouring from their chests.
They were followed around for weeks, trying out the war
To see who would give them money or something valuable.
Some of them shot themselves in the foot; flocks of bright
Parrots gather in the trees above the camps.
Work shall set you free, dear children. They are sprayed
With rainbow-colored bullets and fall to the ground,
Just as full of holes as any vision that surrounds them.
We must run into our buildings and hide. They
Can come back at any time. We play cards
With electric hot-stick linemen and talk to them
About transmission of the spirit. They seem to know
This intimately and prepare sermons. We decide
To go deeper into the jungle. “It will be fun.
Even the devils smell of gun emissions.”
But not for long. Not at all, for long.
LOOKING FAR TO THE NORTH
Long lines of colored lights
Have come down to guide us.
This has not happened in years.
Ramon says he can recall
The names of the lights
But is reluctant to say them.
When spoken aloud, there are wars
On the edges of the sound,
Yet we must find our way back
To the center where we can
Once again pull our bodies
From the dreaming and move
Through the rooms that now
Can only be seen as flashes of lightning
Before our eyes. We must speak.
I try to be as specific as possible.
I try not to say your name.
I can see the rockets course
Across the sky as if the lights
Knew this was a promised gift,
An agreement made with us
Long before we began to understand
What might be the names of these lights,
Despite the reluctance of Ramon
To speak them aloud.
Artillery blazing just above the ridges.
There was a house made of fire
That had its own geometry made
For the use of armies.
Smoke rises and acquires a mouth.
But we are not allowed to wake up.
All things change from one thing
To another. We try to run away
But our legs are water that rises
So quickly it will surely drown us.
I am feverishly trying to sew the parts
This house consumes, as flames
Pretend to be a language, or someone we knew
Sleeping on the sand, his mind a ghost that is unable
To wake up. We can hear sounds through the walls.
The edges of the dream are made of the finest silk.
I begin the crawl toward the edge of the bed.
It is miles away. I can feel you waiting for me
To arrive at any place that is not a nightmare.
Dante comes close to me, placing a sword
In my hand. “I have seen your life many times
Before; do what you can to change this story.
Use magic if you remember how to do so.”
I gather emptiness to me as a vehicle.
You will only remember the terror of this place.
They have found the room but will not
Tell us where it is located. “You should be
Dead to move the keys here,” they report.
But we play piano and press upon vibrating
Strings to pull this stuff up into the light.
This is not of the dead at all.
These keys cause music to move in the head.
The morning light hugs the telephone wires
And the tree leaves. It knows us. We do not
Have to stay in this room. Tell us again of the mountains.
I have broken the drawer of dreaming. It is now possible
To see them fluttering across the eyes as we walk along
The trails near the river. We can feel the breeze
Against our faces and know we are of the divine ones.
Put your hands together and blow gently upon them.
You may hear our voices rising from that enclosed space.
We will be able to meet here as often as we wish.
We will create more rooms than they ever thought possible.
SOMEWHAT ABOUT BASEBALL
The stones speak a dry language.
I can hear it when I pull myself away
From sleep and wander into a world
Taunted by the minds of animals,
Some of whom greet me as if
I knew a way into a poem where
Meat could be found or at least a quick
Sip of water, a refreshment of an animal
I drift past the mirrors, unable to recognize
Myself. I find the shadows of what I used
To call my life and shake them to no avail.
There is sand beneath my feet that was
Once stones. I was told this would happen
When one is living in this world.
I prefer watching a baseball game.
The dust billowing with each slide
Into a base, safe for a moment
That wall of windows to the world
Where Walt Whitman’s face peers
From every one of them.
Believing that each wave upon
The ocean is different than each
One before it, I climb into my tiny boat,
Ride across the tops of these same waves.
On the horizon I am able to read
Smoke signals. I can walk the edge
Of the moment and feel it breathing
Within me. This lasts a few seconds
At a time but seems to be getting better.
I used to dream like this but now
There are doors in my sleep
That lead to balconies. On some
There are marble seats which
Allow me to recognize the indifference
With which the world regards us.
I consider this a miracle.
We used to be able to walk
Across the top of the dam.
It was like walking on the edge
Of an eclipse at the end of a kalpa,
Able to recall every moment of its
Now, that path has dissolved
Into a karmic web. It is no longer
Possible to construct our own legends
About ourselves. Should we mention
This narrative, someone will interject
A tale from the life of Buddha,
Beautiful but requiring us to wake
Up as the Buddha.
Some repairs are in order here.
Things have become incomparable.
There is no longer any need for bodhisattvas.
There is no longer any need to speak.
It seems there is too much to repair.
We all purchase cars, save money
To purchase them, decide to drive
To the Bo tree. They have installed
A slot for enlightenment, meant to make
It easier. One need never leave their car.
However, the slot is currently in need of repairs.
Meanwhile can we interest you in codependency?
There is no week nor day nor hour when tyranny may not enter upon this country, if the people lose their roughness and spirit of defiance.
Many thanks to D.R. Wagner for this morning’s fine poetry and visuals! NorCal poets have many choices in poetry today, including the first-ever Sierra Poetry Festival in Grass Valley; a prose workshop in Davis with Nick Jaina; a reading with the Thursday Workshop folks at Valley Hi-North Laguna Library in Sac. from 2-4pm; and a book signing with Ana Castillo at Sol Collective in Sac., 6-7pm. And this just in—Sac. poet Phillip Larrea will share his latest book, Part Time Job, and talk about his career as a poet and bookseller, today at 2pm, Arden-Dimick Library, 891 Watt Ave., Sacramento. Scroll down to the blue column (under the green column at the right) for info about these and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note that more may be added at the last minute.
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