A HANDFUL OF LIGHTS
I had a small handful of lights.
They were to used to transport
Me into any space but I was never
Okay with that condition.
I was sitting in a small room with a single lamp.
There were a lot of rabbits on the floor of the room.
Outside I could people coughing. The noise was
Much like one would hear in a theater before the show
Was to begin. The room appeared not to have a door.
A rhythmic pulse begins. I find it more difficult than ever
To begin. I begin to imagine the smell.
I look hard at the palm of my hand.
One wall of the room begins to dissolve.
I am before a host of angels.
The rabbits move to the edges of the room.
There is a red weeping before them.
The Angels appear to be drunk.
Some of them are smoking.
They begin to sing that blue chalk song of theirs.
Animals emerge from the palm of my hand,
Snakes, elephants, dogs, lemurs,
A flock of red birds. My hand becomes
Detached. I realize these lights,
These animals are a kind of language.
I will attempt to use this language.
The Angels form a circle and begin to move
Around and around me. Perhaps something
Here will prompt you to construct a secret life,
One that is full of things like these.
Come closer. These are terrible and majestic
Beliefs I am asking of you. You’ll need a boat.
Remember what I told you. Travel alone.
SORROW JUST BEYOND THE MORNING
They tore off a little piece of the morning.
It was the part where the mouth was located.
Not all of it went missing, just enough to allow
Some of the light to slip out the back and follow
Night to his house of shadows.
We were able to see him reach for and hold
The hand of sorrow as if he were trying to staunch
Blood pouring from a wound. Even the blood
Looked dark. We could hear it splashing
On the floor. You said it was the sea.
I had my eye on the sky so wasn’t sure.
I bent down and picked up a small part
Of light that had fallen from the edge of a wall
That morning, was touching it as a lover might
Touch the most intimate parts of a mirror.
I reached for your hand but it was the same
As that of sorrow, and my belief that this was more
Than a mass of sand that could go no farther
Stopped me dead in my shoes. I looked past
Where the corner had gone missing.
No one would notice it. It would become
A distance, a whispered voice, the broken
Part of moonlight caught in an unforgiving
Carnival. No matter how many of us might
Gather, we would remain forever alone.
A couple of clouds that had nothing much to do
Found their way to the torn corner of the morning.
They managed to fill it with birds and small animals
Running across the lawns looking for food.
THE POEM OF WATER
The story is unrepeatable. It has no
Walls but dominates dreams with its
Huge body, so huge civilizations may be lost there.
Never finding their way, such a labyrinth
Undoing our tongues by refusing speech
As we open our mouths, no longer able
To breathe, lost once more on our journey
As Ulysses was lost.
I remember the last time standing
On the banks of the Niagara River,
The Upper Rapids.
The rocks seemed to be exploding.
The sound clear and loud but still
We were able to talk to one another.
Then it happens, for over a mile
Eternity opens its mouth so wide
We swoon upon the river banks,
Gazing full into your body.
You are the element.
Oh water that is all things to me
From life to death, filling my body
With your flowing. Am I in love with you
Or is it that you are in love with me?
I seem to speak as you do, drop by
Drop; some clear, some clouded.
I do not know what I am trying
To say. My library pours from its shelves.
Filling all available space, pours through
The windows, through the town and city,
Never stopping. We hardly notice
Where all of language pours back
Into your element, washes itself
Within you and returns to our lips
As we sing endlessly to your mystery.
THE ACT AND PROCESS OF WHISPERING
Murmurations of the heart
Clearly caught upon unknown thorns.
The long kiss of phantom wings
In such uncertain light,
Something blindness might reveal
Had it Milton’s tongue
Or the knowledge of something
So essential to dreaming that it
Must seek through a thousand
Stories of kings and queens,
The children of dying parents,
To find the mysteries of slowly
Falling leaves, a vague understanding
Seldom articulated. A garden
Long neglected so that it becomes
Almost impossible to tell if it
Truly was a garden. A confection
Made by butterfly wings that
Wakes from oblivion into
A common dream. Here we will
Build a house with them. Sails
Borne by a great ship, bent with wind
In both tedium and splendor.
A history of speech
Able to reside in our most private
Lives, always intruding,
Never more than uncouth
Fragments attempting to
Explain our lives to us.
A LITTLE CONVERSATION
She stood there looking
Just like a bridge ready
To take its toll.
She dropped her journal
On the sidewalk and three
Black birds and one red one
Flew out of it. “The ink was still
Wet,” she said.
“I was hoping for birds,” I said,
But she didn’t know what I was
Talking about. I sat on the corner
Curb waiting for the light to change.
I knew it would take a very long time.
“Remember when we were talking
About God?" she said. “No,” I answered.
“It was on that beach and there were flies
All over everything and they kept getting
In our mouths when we were talking.”
“No,” I answered. “I’ve only heard about
It from a book I read when I was 12 years old.”
“It’s a good thing sunlight isn’t hard.
Everything would break on a sunny day.”
“Everything breaks when it is raining.”
“Are you trying to be funny? Like dawn
Breaking and all that?” “Not at all.
I just don’t know how it holds together
When it is wet. I can’t see anything at
Night. A lot of the time there is nothing
There.” “Yes, there is. I can hear it talking.”
“I’m going to take a walk out past the gardens
Along the slough.”
“When will you be back?”
“Back?” I said.
But she was already gone.
THE WHITE TROUT
The clouds were molten.
More ideas of clouds
Than floating ships of water.
The sun would soon have at them
And dissolve their nests away.
I crouch near the creek
Searching for a white trout,
A lady the fays said to be
At work, on duty, waiting
For a long-lost love,
Enchanted in the olden times
And left between the pages
Of a yellowing book of tales
No longer told to any but children.
There is a way across morning,
Past the range of first light
Lifting over the oaks,
Past the proclamations of the birds,
Still only dark forms fluttering
From power line to power line.
The lights on the tower change
From red to a strobe of white
Before quitting altogether
As this change comes into the sky.
There is a genius here to which
We are not party except to walk
Through it, marveling at the spinning
Of the earth, its ability
To catch the shimmer
Of a white trout as it rises
From the water, fully clothed
In white robes, again to take
Her place. Her place in
Her shining stars,
Awaiting the sound of her lover’s horse
As it draws nearer and nearer.
A constellation of morning
Gathered into our lives.
YOU’RE A PAGE IN MY BOOK
—n.ciano (Nancy Pulciano)
Words carefully crafted,
Man and Woman,
stark with pain.
A love never spoken,
a love never made.
Love? No chance given.
Art was made.
Our thanks to D.R. Wagner for his poems and photos today, all of which have previously appeared in the Kitchen. D.R. will be taking the rest of August off from his regular Saturday posting, needing time as he does for further recuperation and for his various publishing projects, but we'll save his spot by posting "hits from the hits". He promises to return with new work in September.
And our thanks and welcome back to Nancy Pulciano, a former student of D.R.’s who used to post in the Kitchen and has been out having adventures. Don’t be a stranger, Nancy!
Tonight, SPC Gallery celebrates “A Box Is…”, 36 new art pieces by Susan Kelly-DeWitt, Gwen Amos, Helen Plenert on the concept of “out of the box”, with a reception from 5-8pm. 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.
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