Saturday, December 24, 2011

A Glimpse of the Island

Christmas Lights
—D.R. Wagner

—D.R. Wagner, Elk Grove

The rabbit stopping in the snow, in the blue
Light of the Winter moon, catches that light
In his eye and throws it back into the sky
With an eye so small, a star we see so bright.

Giant trees tower above us as we walk, snow
Crunching beneath our heavy boots. We have
Camps to reach and villages to find, before the dawn
Has any thought of molding the objects of the morning.

From where we stand we can see the grey wolf shadows
On the hillside far across the creek from us. They move
Away and down the slope, “looking for yet another star”,
Your wisdom seems tempered by the hour and the perfect
Stillness this single night has as we move through it.

“One who names the stars has called us here, that we
Too may know the names of stars.” Fish below the ice
Gaze upwards as well, the sleeping bear listens to the naming,
Rolls slightly and nurses the cubs close against her fur.

This is so perfect, here on this whirling planet
With its bright blood and vales of tears. Let it
Retain its stillness just a moment more that we
May notice, in this moonlight, a quick mouse
Upon the forest floor and see an owl—not see it
As its feathered flight in silence recites the litany
Owls might make as they too know names of stars.


—D.R. Wagner

There is a low wail coming
Up through my skin. When
I listen in, head close
To the radio I can feel
The pulse, the full pulse,
The pulse, pulse of the electricity
In its circuits. I can smell
The ozone. I can tell
It needs flame. Even the music,
Even the announcer’s voice,
Lifting and falling, selling stereos
And car tires has the stink
Of flame around it. I wish
For evening, a room far away,
The arc of a great bird
Across the sky, etched air.
The wail will have none of this.
It becomes louder and shrill.
The dial begins flickering,
Its mouth full of flame.
It begins to melt.
I quickly pick it up,
Toss it into the air.

The stairs of the angels catch fire.
The air is filled with burning stairs.
There is no way to get to heaven
Any longer.
The fire storm rages down.
It is like dreaming.
It is like moving clouds
Away with one’s hand.
I stand at the top
Of the stair and look down.
Someone is listening to a radio
So intently
I believe
They are an animal.


—D.R. Wagner

Dynamite in the blood.
The veins are fuses, hot
With mockingbirds in the
Long air of delta summer night.

I listen to the sputter in
My chest, smell the gunpowder
Of tomatoes and snap beans
Racing through the tall
Grass toward my brain.

I become the fields
And burst into flame,
running from my bedroom
Blinded by sheets of flame
Higher than the crust of smog
Above my head, choking on smoke
Of my ancestors, as the dream
Banks break over my mind, flooding
The synapses and thought canals
With wave after wave of soothing
Water. Towers of steam rise up
Throughout me. I am pale and shaken
With the delta. Clouds of me hover
Over the levees, find the languid sloughs
And presently regain the river, winding, unwinding.


—D.R. Wagner

That land could be so close
To the water and not part
Of it.

The palm trees seem to start
As green bursts in the air pushing
Their long stems down to hold
The earth around themselves.

Along the shore all of the fish
Come to see this edge of the land.
It is an event in a world of water.

Without lights at night
They aren’t there until
You hit one. Without a view
Of the bottom in daylight
It is already too shallow
Or much too deep.
Your guess is as good as
A knotted rope.


Thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's photo and poems, and to Michelle Kunert for the photo and for her photos of the final Poetry Unplugged at Luna's Cafe of the season (which was all open mic); see Medusa's Facebook page for those, and join the gang at Luna's for another new year starting Thursday, Jan. 5.

If you'd like to immerse yourself in seasonal poems, here are a couple of sites (of course there are many more...):


Today's LittleNip: 

I will honor Christmas in my heart, and try to keep it all the year.

—Charles Dickens



—Photo by Michelle Kunert, Sacramento