AN ESCAPE: INNISHERE REVISITED
No one has touched his body in a very long time.
And he watches it as if it were
A golden boat lifting from the surface
Of the water, claiming air
To hold the hull, to drive it
With only wind. Wind and a perfect star.
“Yes, that is something I have done,”
He thinks, and gathers in the streamers
Of light that lit the labyrinth
For a thousand years. He plies
Them into a belt and wears it.
Gazing down from a great height,
Not discovered by the twinkling
Lights so far below his delicate balance.
“I have something for this. It will
Be a song.” He helps it along
Through the harbor, tests it with
A three-pronged tool to ease
The sea back into the dream.
He will even borrow someone
Else’s dream of living by the shore,
Listening to the gulls in the morning
And the crispness of the air.
“They will never notice,” he thinks,
Letting the sails fill with a phantom wind,
Allowing light to escape and bounce
On the throat of the waves.
“No one will see this,” he assures himself,
“No one at all.”
The shore line disappearing
In the wake of such a beautiful ship.
HE IS A DIFFERENT KIND OF KING
He’s a different kind of king.
The waves stand up when
He passes by in his peculiar boat.
“I mean to have
Some fun,” he says and a great
Number of ducks begin
Quacking and follow him around
As if they were a bunch of drunks.
They placed the sorrow in the highest
Rank of strings. Violins inquiring
After the health of the heart
As if it could do anything more
Than touch the edges of a mouth,
Move a tear into a hand
Where it might not be seen
Until much later in the day.
I hold you close as we watch
From the window. The world
Is burning, but they will not
Touch our love. Not here
Where the music pushes blood
Through our beating hearts.
Oh that this were true, if only
For these moments.
STANDING OPEN MOUTHED
Death opens its big mouth,
Loosing the cloth across
Its face and showing its toothy smile.
A break of light
Softer than dreams of angels.
I watch you touch the face
Of the dying world.
It is such a tender gesture.
The song falls from the pocket.
It is lost upon the ground.
It is sung only after all others
Have been forgotten.
A TRAVELER’S TALE
In the blood of evening we wade
Through the moments, listening for thunder,
Something we can rely on before we wash
Our legs to get ready for the night.
I do not understand why we continue
To reach for one another but I do
Participate. Perhaps it is for the feel
A hand might might have, touching near the heart,
Asking a forgiveness that is non-specific
But well meant, wanting something to be
Done before the whole place becomes
Dark and we stumble from one pool
Of light to another, never sure our direction
Is correct or even necessary, before
It gets too dark to see your eyes
Before me. Perhaps we will be in love.
Perhaps we will find a doorway for a
Moment, crouch there and begin to relate
Stories to each other as if it were
Important for us to hear them.
I will tell you how I came here
Across the wine-dark sea of ancient
Time and found myself just outside the city
At this time of day, traveling with
The others past the dim orchards,
Seeing the fires on the horizon, hoping
Rest would be full of peace, quiet
Song and the precious company
And comfort one might find here.
It seems a long way to travel
To find only the bloody failing
The light is intent on illuminating.
We begin to call to one another,
Softly at first, then louder,
Always trying to make the new
Distinctive, luxurious to discuss
And comely in its transformation,
Its shading, its interlocked devices,
Our commerce in its patterns, always new,
Always skillful, filled with a fragrance
Unbound by the finality of daylight,
Praying we may never be so totally alone.
PRISONERS OF THE AIR
The stands of trees engage
The evening birds like tongues
Of fire. They revel in an electricity
Made of feathers and nervous squalling.
How thick is the atmosphere?
Thin as a dream, swirling blue
One could cover with a thumb
When seen from cold space.
All of life can rise to this ceiling
And no further, prisoners of the air.
Dancing in the colors made from light,
Made from the longing of light
To bend around all things and pleading
For a naming. How can we explain this
To our children? Light upon the oceans?
We walk along the edge of the great seas,
Unwilling to drive the required knowledge
Deep into our lungs. Our mouths opening
And closing like fish. We forget how to drown.
The sky breaks open and allows
Us to see the moon and its
Stars through a million clouds,
And once again we do not know
Where we are. All of life depending.
A LAST EVENING
This could easily be the last evening
As easily as just another. We say fate
Would have it a particular way,
But it does not. It only allows
For the strangest forms of gifts
And banters with time for a particular
Time of the day, in this case, evening.
We notice the mirrors that reflect
The top of the pyramid or a hallway
Where, as far as we can see, flowers
Seem to entrance one and we are
Allowed to wander as long as we are
Able until the light fails.
Or, given the sea, or a cloud, we
Watch it move toward some horizon
That transforms itself into the high
Stained glass windows of a great
Church. We marvel at it. It is as beautiful
As the evening, any evening.
Our arms have become gargoyles.
Rain water pours from their mouths.
We somehow find this charming,
In the evening, any evening, and stand there
Quietly until it is over.
THE FALSE DREAM OF EDGAR
He would walk like a spinning dime.
“There’s a treasure in things
Like this, Jerry.”
But I’ll be damned if I can find out
Answers to what they mean.
“Such fabulous wealth,”
Thought the cat, as he spun
Past. “Brighter than the
Sun for a brief moment.”
—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s find poems and pix!
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