I awoke being pursued
Down a shadowed flight
Of steel stairs, loud
With footsteps. My heart
Holding terrible knowledge
In fragile glass vials of fear.
Memories had been torn
From my body. Box cars,
Doors open, speeding past,
Each one full of colored flame.
A whistle screaming my name,
Caught in a distance where falling
Insists it is the only reality.
You are a close friend.
Don’t leave me standing here.
The night may dissolve at any minute.
Surely there is something we can do.
THE VICISSITUDES OF NOMENCLATURE
Death has been covered a little.
The tempest has whirled in,
Showing its white hands in greeting.
How many horizons will we be
Required to notice before we begin
To understand these beautiful
Cupped around the faces of murder?
We have been given everything
We might need to allow us to sleep.
This is as pure an island as water
Will allow our spirits. It opens
Its gates to a neverending house.
Here we will be shown a light
Unlike any other we have seen.
Here we are told the name that will
Awaken great seas in our blood.
New ghosts bring their own ghosts.
They have learned to smile.
I have asked them to leave before I
Went to bed.
They dragged emptiness
Behind them and spoke as if they
Didn’t know me.
I tightened my hands around their
Throats. My family wondered
What I was doing at two A.M.
I didn’t want any part of this.
I was brought up to be strong.
I had hair like a cat. I could
Hitchhike through dust storms.
Don’t think I will forget your name.
I’m the freak from your hometown.
I develop like photographic film.
You never know what you will see.
I HAVE RETURNED
I extrude these words from cells
In the middle of my back
As bees do.
But these are words that glow
With dystopian import and I use them
To gather things around me,
Accretions, I suspect, that form
My fingers dissolve into black ink.
I release memories as quiet, pale
Gasses that you will understand
As language. These lift from
My back and we somehow
One life is inadequate; still, it drips
Through my bones and forms
Melodies unlike any music known,
A long, curving sound in the air.
Bend me like a bow. I distill a pure
Kind of sweet you will crave
For the rest of your life.
You have already listened too long.
TERRIBLE SWIFT SWORD
She shot and killed three people
During lucid dreaming. I was there
In the choir, singing next to a soprano
Who fell at my feet.
I could hear the spirit of her bones
Breaking softly inside her skin.
Her soul was blue and could not
Make words, but it could sing.
I awoke as a large flock of birds
Burst from a tree and scattered
In many directions. The singing
Did not stop for hours. I had to drink
Coffee and stare at the smoke-filled
Air. There had been huge fires all night.
I saw someone who used to love me
Forever. “You’ve moved away,” she said.
“Yes, I’ve moved closer to the ocean
So I can hear the waves better.”
“Does it help your dreaming?” she asked.
“No, just as many people are being killed.”
“I thought so,” she said. “I could never
Depend on you.”
“I’m sorry,” I said.
“You were always sorry,” she said,
Just before she died.
Touch wasn’t answer. Even being
Pushed hard away from his body
Doesn’t convey much information.
His breath leaving his lungs
Carried pain but was less than
An idea. There was a reason
People who lived here were armed.
He wouldn’t get a chance to explain
Any of this. There were too many
Witnesses to construct a decent
Story. Things had happened too
Quickly. The gunshot sounded
Like someone snapping their fingers.
Maybe there wasn’t a gunshot.
A voice asked if he was okay.
“I think so,” he said.
Crows began to land around him.
They seemed to recognize him.
When he closed his eyes, he could
Understand what they were saying.
…for Barry Andrews
In the desert, far from all,
The piano recalls hats,
Hundreds of them
Poised like music notation
In the air.
A carnival of sweet malaria
Nights has fallen but nobody
Come cry with me,
Sigh with me,
Die with me.
Lean over the edge
Of the stairs. Still
Can I say what I really want?
Can I say what I really want?
I try to stop breathing but
I only glisten.
I’m not going to move much
Closer to the edge. I’ve mixed
Stars with it, cars with it,
Started fires in the bars with it.
I bow my head. I clasp my hands,
Won’t meet your eyes with common
Glance. Don’t speak my name.
Trees are the earth’s endless effort to speak to the listening heaven.
—Medusa, with a hearty welcome back to surprise guest D.R. Wagner today, and many thanks for his fine Sunday fare!
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