Saturday, May 31, 2014

What Power Is This?

—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke


The ocean drowsing,
Waves, as flowers upon the land.
The voices have returned
And here the bamboo rushes
To the brimming morning,
Sweetness in its mouth
Such as the birds claim
In their songs as they cling
To the swift bamboo,
Eager to find a majestic height
To touch the intimate parts
The bee has fumbled and exhausts.

This must be a music, this May,
This haze of wild greens,
Quick into the leaves and blooms of squash,
Cucumbers, the decoration
Corn puts upon the world.
The fire of the radish.

The woods exclaiming once again,
Opening each May day, open to show
A cheerfulness the earth may
Busy itself with, teasing water
As it busies itself with making
A perfection nestled between
April’s contrary ways and the long
And languid limbs of June.
Serene unto itself, a perfect May.

 Century Plant

‪   ‬
‪The Nightwatch arms itself.‬
‪It will gild my dreams tonight.‬
‪   ‬
‪It will distill wonder‬
‪As I fall to the other side‬
‪Of the mirror, captured‬
‪Within the wall of sleep.‬
‪Gazing at another waking life,‬
‪Peopled by talking waterfalls,‬
‪Demons whose words bubble‬
‪Up from blood-filled mouths.‬
‪   ‬
‪Here angels are of substance‬,
‪And the moon, a bonfire‬
‪Above what may be a sea‬
‪Full of stars, treasured‬
‪By the depths and only knowable‬
‪From here.  A featureless‬
‪Loneliness my daylight body‬
‪Has become, dealing shadows‬
‪To bend another morning‬
‪In this colored oblivion.‬
‪   ‬
‪In the early hours, when‬
‪I have lost my way again,‬
‪I will seek the lanterns‬
‪Swaying before the Nightwatch‬
‪And following them back,‬
‪Happy to find myself waking‬
‪In my own bed, in a body‬
‪I recognize and recall instantly.

Lilies, Walnut Grove

‪   ‬
‪I tried not to imagine color.‬
‪There was a sound of children playing.‬
‪I could hear horses somewhere.‬
‪   ‬
‪I remember when they broke the neck‬
‪Of the thief who stole the moon.‬
‪People seemed happy for a time‬
‪As if they had really accomplished something.‬
‪   ‬
‪I, too, shook the trees and pretended‬
‪That I was the wind, for they were blind‬
‪And I was bitter that there was ‬
‪So little music and that the world grew dark‬
‪Every night and that there were wolves‬
‪Who roamed in this dark and that sometimes‬
‪They looked like men and I could see the hunters‬
‪With their torches looking to cut the tongues‬
‪Out of their heads so no one would say anything‬
‪Like "What now?" or "It's raining" when crying‬
‪Began.  They may have been blind but they ‬
‪Could hear the guns and the howling all around.‬
‪   ‬
‪I tried not to imagine flowers any longer‬
‪But flowers had no regard for my thoughts.‬
‪I went down to the river and watched the water.‬
‪It was so pure.  It reflected the night fires.‬
‪I had hoped I wouldn't have to see this,‬
‪But it was so beautiful in the river, fire ‬
‪In the water, the stars dancing, the moon‬
‪Fully recovered.  The wind on the river‬
‪Surface.  For a moment I forgot that men kill.‬
‪   ‬
‪Color returned to everything.  God in his ‬
‪Huge bed, the deer coming down to drink‬
‪At the river.  The eyes of the wolves upon them.‬

Heavenly Bamboo

‪   ‬
‪The plains seem to come out of nothing.‬
‪We had been in rolling hills all day,‬
‪Then, just before evening was getting serious‬
‪About everything, passing through a block of weather‬
‪We were at the plains.‬
‪   ‬
‪The evening went on forever.‬
‪It had no need of us.‬
‪We were as dandelion seeds‬
‪To the air, horses and all.‬
‪"One, one, one," I sang, mostly‬
‪To myself, for I was in love with‬
‪This work of breathing‬
‪There, outside, able to say "God"‬
‪And have it mean something‬
‪That sent shivers through me‬
‪Like the lanterns of Winter‬
‪And the lighted stars easy‬
‪In their home.‬
‪   ‬
‪Oh to never be blind to these things.‬
‪Room after room of them.‬
‪   ‬
‪We made a simple camp and told‬
‪Stories to one another as if he were‬
‪Really human.‬

 Roof of Mike's House, Locke

‪   ‬
‪   ‬
‪It was a black we were‬
‪Supposed to know the name of.‬
‪   ‬
‪The keen eye of the hawk‬
‪Could trace the footprints of a mouse‬
‪Across the heart and dive to make‬
‪It part of his own body.‬
‪   ‬
‪That night we slept on shell casings.‬
‪There were so many that we were warm‬
‪Most of the night.  I watched‬
‪The sky.  I could read messages‬
‪There.  They told me to bring‬
‪You tidings that the night ‬
‪Would return as a gift to us.‬
‪   ‬
‪In the morning, sporadic machine‬ gun
‪Fire.  A pure white‬
‪Door near the west camp‬
‪Shot full of holes.  They knew‬
‪Our names and could say them if asked.‬
‪They never knew that we were there.‬



We were silvery with sleep.

I found myself about to pause
But my bones continued to shake.
People are crying.  I can hear them.
Below the great wing
A tiny hummingbird voice
Full of rain and sadness.

I do not know what to do
But try to talk about how beautiful
We are as we watch the distance
Of our lives headed for the next

What power is this?

What calls us to remain,
Our veins full of blood,
Our eyes still telling of this?
Oh wonder.

I too wonder how often
You turn to these words
And do not see a funny man
In a brown hat
Bowing to you, turning
To the sun.

 Great Root
‪   ‬
‪      ‬
‪   ‬
‪We cannot name the power‬
‪But we can ask its name.‬
‪We can open every doorway‬
‪And not one of them is the same,‬
‪We may climb the icy mountains,‬
‪Hear the dead winds howl‬,
‪But if we let the water answer‬
‪We will receive the power's call.‬
‪   ‬
‪The trees, they speak with silences.‬
‪All fire has a name.‬
‪The lightning opens all of space,‬
‪Nothing remains the same.‬
‪The roads are filled with loneliness‬
‪No matter where we go.‬
‪But if we let the water answer‬
‪We will feel the power flow.‬
‪   ‬
‪Feel the power flow.‬
‪Feel the power flow.‬
‪When we let the water answer‬
‪We will feel the power flow.‬

 Enhanced Photo: Rapids


I number the world, within which
I dwell and number again
Those who would know your name.
And I cloak myself in pure silver
And play the sweet harp again
Till the seas themselves fold over me.

And I was below the hill,
Close enough to your dear heart
To reach across the sill
Between the other world and mine
And have, then, the purest water
And drink the finest wine.

And here is how we play the game,
For pleasure has its rules
And the waves go slumping
Toward the sun
And make all of us pure fools.

For why should songs come this way?
Or make such songs as these?
Or play that they
Have reins on all the harmonies,
On health, on peace and poison
In colors, too, we’re told.

So, I’ll pull us all by bootstraps
Up from this honeyed sea
And even if you dream my words
You’ll find your spirit free.

And I’ll doff my hat and bow to you.
I make chords that sound like clouds
And fill the spaces between the words
With magic, laughter, riches,
So that you may sing these songs out loud
And carry your hand across the threshold
And touch that sweet world there.

Outside the Herb Shop, Locke


There were Why and What of Meaning
Joined by the tongue that worked
Inside the other's mouth and conjured
Words that one might well imagine
But would be incapable of speech.
And the sword of the other tongue
Would give them sound and dance
Them from his mouth.

Needless to say, confusion reigned
For Why What of Meaning
Had the finest of clothing,
Beautiful chariots and legion
Upon legion of both wise and foolish
Keepers of the gates of speech.
But to themselves all was as
A curse that closed all doors.

We must then find a way to make
A language behave, as it needs
To do its job of lifting our hearts,
Dispelling curses and opening
The prisms of misunderstanding
To the perfection only light allows.

And it was water, water, water,
That undid their swords, their tongues
And paraded itself to and fro
Before the likes of hope and fear,
Of betrayal and of salvation.

They came to call it poetry and here
We still find it on the page, its own
Court, and beautiful, its certainty.
And beautiful, its sweet deceptions.


Today's LittleNip:


What do we know of stillness
Spread like butter on the bodies
Of the dead?  The black
clouds of flies discuss it
With unnerving limpidity.


—Medusa, with a note that D.R. Wagner will be reading at the John Natsoulas Gallery this coming Thursday, June 5. That's 521 First St., Davis, 8pm.