The walls were old wood.
Very old, like ships dragged
From the oceans centuries
After they sank.
The way your voice cracks
Through the post-midnight
Air, thick with insect noises.
The gnawing at images
As soon as they are born.
“We’re making a terrible
Mistake, using dreams
Like this. There is a reason
Sleep has them as kingdoms…”
Great birds hover over
Long dining tables. All is disarray.
Reckless as Winter.
Their language and voices
Belong to ogres, creatures with too many
Teeth in their mouths.
Battalions of faces without bodies,
Straight from the bonfires.
We come back with maps
Showing no place we could
Ever get to.
We can meet in dreams.
There will be tournaments
Of dreams. Come find us.
We have swans. It is soon
After midnight. They are restless,
Rustling their huge white wings
In the moonlight. The stars are doing
Things we do not expect, like pebbles
Blowing against a bell.
Fireflies trail in the sky. They spill
Across the night like noise but
Do not carry sound for their dances.
We can barely see the mountains.
We decide to build our own fire.
The swans begin making patterns
In their swimming. I begin to hope
For rain. You said you would return
During the rains. It has been much too
Long. A sadness sits on the edge
Of the pool where the swans keep
Their secrets. The city lights bounce
In the water’s reflection. There are
Rock shadows across my hands.
I can pick tears from my cheeks.
I will tell myself this is some kind
Of photograph, a mouth that can
No longer speak like the farewells
The tempest allows us as it passes
Through our bloodstream attracting
Flock after flock of these white swans.
A WAY OF NAMING
Breaking through the magic until
While I was holding you, kissing your
Stories quickly, as if we were late
THE FAULT OF THE WORDS
Strings dance in the air. There is a blur
In the heart. It is as if the night had a skull
And eyes to see approaching ships.
A book of engravings, lost in a room,
In a great house. It carries on conversations
With the dead. We become witnesses
Without knowing why anything other
Than dreams would have such a language
Attached to it. We resolve to make dust of it.
Still, I will stop to listen to a few more birds
Caught here in this universe where strings
Twist and interlace, seemingly without purpose.
I will consider all enigmas, all wandering spirits,
Without purpose except to put us on the very edge
Of some mythology that prompts us to speak
In hells such as this, looking for an intricate
Fire, left to be used by nightingales.
This will be an exultation of memory,
The fault of words not used previously
By the dark, never heard by Keats, a liquid
Song, straining to be heard, then a breeze,
Then, strain as we may, nothing.
THE END OF THIS UNIVERSE
A murmur of birds.
They are taking down the stars one by one.
Like coins they tumble into the lake, forgotten,
Unforgotten. Unburdening themselves
From an incalculable mythology.
Erasing symbols, nurturing and needless
As sirens are to nightingales,
As drunk is to the moon.
I wait by the water. Little by little
I begin to no longer recognize myself,
Except as tigers and tigers and tigers
Searching the streets where forever has been lost
Irreparably. Things become transparent.
People slip away or escape
Deep into the waters of the bay.
They have forgotten their form.
They have forgotten what sparse language they owned.
They have forgotten the weight of consciousness,
The unrelenting memory, the petite charm of the garden,
The mirrored pool below the fountain,
So secret and necessary.
The flowers, silent now. The stars beneath the water,
Wavering, now vermilion, now yellow.
I recall the vague dreams of children,
Sights along the road.
I decide this must be a journey.
I dive into the water to be with the stars.
I will wash this dust from me
And begin another universe.
SO IT IS
Magic and music and poetry.
I shouldn’t have to tell you how I got
The entire house collecting stillness
So, tonight I will miss the warmth
Visualize the far hills, knowing you are
“Don’t get any ideas,” he whispers.
The jugglers twirled as they
Took to the air
And songs of parting rained
Down on all that was there.
There was a persistent flooding
Of the frontal lobes.
My skin felt like cellophane.
Our thanks to D.R. Wagner for today’s fine poems and pix, all of which have previously appeared on Medusa’s Kitchen, since D.R. is on hiatus from the Kitchen throughout August. Previously published work is always welcome here, by the way.
There’s poetry at Sac. Poetry Center this morning, 10am-1pm, as Writers on the Air host Todd Boyd makes a podcast of poet Jackie Howard's work, plus open mic. Then head up to Placerville this afternoon for Poetic License in the Placerville Sr. Center lobby, 2-4pm. 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.
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