Saturday, September 30, 2017

The Gift of Trancing

Garden Restaurant in Locke
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Provided by D.R. Wagner 


I have plans for you and have
The names of ships you may board
That will take you to islands, to lands
Where strange things, there the Bong tree
Grows or fairies might gather
By fires at night and warm the
Long ropes of their noses, they do,
And warm the long ropes of their noses.

I will teach you to spell, to light
Saint Elmo’s fire on the top of the mast
And loose it from your mouth
To frighten the birds of the far lands
Who will cluster in toward you
To hear your stories.  If you
Come to the places I’d lead you,
If you’ll sail on the ships of the night.

Their voices will rise and mix
With the chorus that rides
From the waves to the sky.  There are
Legions that dwell in the depths
Of my body and serve the
Legends of men.  Yes, they do,
They enhance all the legends of men.

And yes, I will go, for my breath
Has the salt as the eye of the dawn
Is blood red and I’ll notch
My footsteps to the heave of the decks
And I’ll sail on forever and then some.

I’ll sail us on through the doors of the night,
You shall see me as a ghost on fogged mornings.
I’ll be sailing us on through the doors of the night.
Let this dream of the sea be your warning. 


They were lighting small lanterns
All the way across the headlands.
Ships were coming.  They
Had been seen from the pilot hill.

Bright flares on the tops
Of their masts.  The lights
They carried were of many colors and
Occasionally shot bursts
Of colored flame into
The high atmosphere,
Illuminating the bottom
Of the clouds.

The coming of these ships
Had been foretold but
They were not expected
To arrive in the dead of winter.

The children had begun
Behaving strangely about
A month ago and the Teal
Gulls were seen on the
Edges of the Father glade.

At night the booming
Of the fisher bells
Could be heard at
Curious hours of the night.

There was a hesitant
Music coming from the
Taverns that was neither
Joyful nor sad.  It held a
A great sense of longing in its notes.
We were unable to determine
If there were words to the songs.
The crowds grew well into the night.

The ships arrived much past midnight.
Were these sailors Gods,
Then, plucked from the night
And to be proclaimed
Throughout the land?

Their garments were magnificent.
Some of us could see
Them, some could not.
Quickly there were stories of them;
Before the morning came
People were waiting upon
Them for answers.
The ships glittered with lights.

In the morning they were but
Hulls abandoned and gray.
Peopled by shades the same gray
As the forged bullets with which
The world infects itself.

There was no conversation.
There were no oracles.
Glimmers ran softly up the sails
Like fairy lightning and
Nothing was forthcoming.

All day they sat in the harbor,
A kind of fungus on the water.
By nighttime, fires were
Started on their decks.
They burned with sickly
Colors and drove flights
Of dark birds around
And around their sails
Even as they burned.

On the following morning,
Ashes on the water.
The children packing
Their lunches and
Heading off for school
Whistling tunes and
Singing songs we
Had never heard before.

By the end of the week
We were once more
Upon the beautiful
Hills gazing out to sea,
Hoping to spot a sail.



There is certain majesty
That lives still in the
Highest places where
There remain the palaces
And magic lands of story
Books.  Birds of light,
Even golden light and
Clouds of many colors
Piled up against each other.
The whole place seems a
Stage for fairy tales
And diadems.  Oh single
Rose, oh song of the day
Is true and of fair
Maidens and spells and
The best of manners
These things grew.
We were sitting on the edge
Of the meadow just
Where it begins to lift
Toward the high lakes and
The stoney outcroppings and
Small woods and copses.

A certain crystalline glaze of colors
Was left wandering across the
Best of evening.  I was
Going to chase it but found myself
Full of a sadness
That may have been of the season
But probably had thicker roots.
Something prompted by the color
Of the day?  What the breeze had said?

(A flush of quail showing pure gold
And amethyst with silver beaks, ruby eyes.)

The sky a million doors
Opening and closing constantly.
All is revealed.  All is concealed.
Even the continents moved
Beneath our feet.

O trees, oh grace of
The dream revealed.

We walk among you as you
Do among us.  The brink
Shines upon us every minute.
The light moving.  Oh, its
Jagged lines across the
Edge of the horizon,
Just above the ground.

These trees move.  They are
Not stone.  I have seen
Them migrate through
The tongues of sailor songs
Touching the edges of the clouds
At night.

And when they thought,
They thought in trance
And could not be harmed,
For the grace of protection
Kept them safe from all danger.
In this state they could
Travel and rule without
Being seen to have moved.
Such was the gift of trancing.

It was rain, or it was fog.
It was lifting from the streets.
It was lifting from the fields.
I could stand here all night
And talk to you about
Which roads came down
From the mountains,
Which ones led to the cities
Or the sea, where we were
Required to be blind and
At what moment we must
Open both our eyes to sea.
And you shall be golden in the morning.

And the light will pour down on you.
And there will be millions
Of drops of water in the air.
And they may or may not
Have come from tears.
Or they may or may not
Just have blown here
By some wind.

Just as we may or may
Not have been where we
Woke this morning and
Saw the fog or the rain
Or the tears of an entire
Nation as we sat without moving. 

 Sawdust in Russell's Workshop in Locke


A primitive land that leaves
Nothing much behind.  It owns
The Winter sky and displays it
In the dance a willow tree
Chooses to describe a wind.

I would try flight but who would
Understand?  Even the birds do not
Know why and it is not everything
To them.  Huddled close to a tree
Trunk, knowing when the wind departs
It will once again be time to find
Seeds just beneath the snow.

They have black heads and blacker eyes
And carry maps made of their bones
That tell them where to go.

So I, coming here late and without guile,
Still detect a primitive ecstasy in
The noises of the crows, the impatience
Of the weather, the scolding I endure
From all imagination for calling this reality. 


There is the window
That sees the whirlwind.
But we will not look
From this window.  You
Will only see the marching
Men in endless procession
Down from the mountain,
Through the villages and towns,
Across the river’s mighty flow
Then tumble from the high cliff edge.

Water, white as snow and green
As rocks beneath the rapids are green.

Do not guard yourself against
This vision.  It will do no good.
I shall hold your hand in mine,
Lead you down the stairs away
From this great window and we
Shall walk through the parkland,
Away from the horror that boils
Above our heads, for here we will
See the weather, feel the rain,
The enchantment of the snow,
The green of plants that grow.


Today's LittleNip(s):
—D.R. Wagner


Tell us there will be
A wonderful bird.

Oh please tell us
This is so.

* * *


‘We have something special
For you today, my dear.’

She recalls him saying that
Just before the blade fell…

* * *


A clean mistake.
Almost perfect.


Many thanks to D.R. Wagner, who is madly editing another of his books for publication, but took time out to send us these poems and pix. Some of them are new, and some were previously posted on Medusa’s Kitchen.

Don’t forget: beginning at noon today at Sac. Poetry Center, the fifth annual
Sacramento Voices book launch will take place, along with the celebration of the annual 100 Thousand Poets for Change. 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.


 (Anonymous Illustration)
Celebrate Poetry!

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
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