—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
WEAVING AROUND THE MASTER
for Kenneth Patchen
A rainbow arcs over a grey lake.
Tired grey boats are drifting
Away from the shore. Bent grey
Figures are hunched over them
But are not directing their motion.
One would think such a place
Was defiled by man but no,
It is not necessary to submit
To any drifting. We are made
For fiery work and the spirit.
We are the cloth of the tempest.
We are the nets of light upon
This grey lake that brings the rainbow
Flying across such a pale landscape.
Bring your bodies dressed in golden
Birds to stand with us on this shore.
We shall batter the doors of these dreams
With the music of our being here on this poor
Earth. We are able to see the dragons,
Hold the answers to all that is unexplained,
Draw the songs from the sullen boatmen.
I awake in a room filled with light and legend.
We lay down near the world and our tears
Bring the flowers of the world to attend us.
PHOTOGRAPHS OF THE DEAD
The countenance of the dream forgets itself.
It will walk the concentric heavens,
Its towers of sand, the half-forgotten faces
That write their sad names to nothingness.
The nightmare that is pure mystery.
The voice of the suicide that drains
The sunset of its rootless colors,
Tears all meaning from the senses,
Speaks only to dust.
From here, in the morning, I still can see
The sun rising over the oaks along the sloughs.
I feel my heart beating to hear the songs
Birds bring to this safe harbor for a moment.
Your name too is shimmering there,
Contrived by teeth and bones and hunger
For the vision that is the universe before you.
I beg for the words to fill all hearts with joy,
Yet voices still complain from outside the doors.
They do not believe in these green hills,
These thrones of love are caves to them,
Their only gold is the skin of the tigers who tear
Them away from sleep with blood and anger.
Let not this house be so defiled.
Let not all be such an exile to love.
We walk through each house alive
With cries that reach the highest plains.
There are photographs of all the dead.
WHERE THEY LEFT THE BROKEN PARTS
We were standing as close to the edge of the waterfall
As we could get and still walk the earth. Our luck held
As long as our memory, until it became so intolerable
We could only see our situation through the eyes of a poet.
We kept using up our years gazing into the maelstrom.
Any part of sameness held contradiction, like a Summer’s
Night, cricket sounds, the voices of frogs, so near
We imagined that words were something that has been
Sent to us as impermanent as something to be desired.
We had no secrets. You must have seen us holding the branches
The trees extended over the edge of the place, a door to another
Universe, one without heroes or the treachery of ancient legends
To carry us over the brink. We became the property of the moment.
It seemed enough, no, more than enough, like a gunman
Demanding all attention or the mouth of a lover busy with its
Ministrations and explorations, impossible to ignore.
The entire construct vanishes even as it stands in the light.
Something buys a part of the morning, a feeble objectiveness
Composed of the beginnings of conversations, the conditions
For an argument begin to torment us as we try to raise a song.
Finally, we become spectacle. A raft of fresh green and perfect
Blue. The mad rush of water capturing every color the light throws
At it. It all begins to disintegrate around us. We find images
Showing its presence in old postcards and an occasional lantern
Slide. When we research what may have happened to all of it,
A single image, an engraving, shows a horse being pulled away
From the edge of the waterfall, one man pulling feverishly
On the reins. The rest, a story in a tourist guidebook already old.
(prev. posted on Medusa’s Kitchen)
These forests are without moment,
Not held in the mind at all.
They will remain unmentioned
In world after world.
They course through the body
As if the body were made of sweet water.
As if there were no distance between
Coming and going through a beautiful center.
Oh, I cannot speak with any voice.
The white bird, the great heart
That moves us through childhood
Unwrapping the landscape
Through harbor after harbor
To our grave and beyond.
I will not summon or attend
A single object or thought of the world.
That it bear the marks of breathing
Is enough and is as exact as any companion
Might be. I inhabit and am inhabited.
for E.R. Baxter III
The altitudes have gone past tension.
We are required to know just how
High we are, what names the dead
Animals by the side of the road
May be identified by, what has happened
To the amphibians that the Spring
Isn’t as full; the vernal pools
With their pale eyes reflecting
The cool morning, the wakening
Rustle of the season, all green and up.
So we stand and watch the buzzards
Ride the thermals, circling round
And round and we learn to listen
To our breathing as we do so.
We can meet here as often as we are able
But let us speak to one another
About these changes, remind one another
Just how temporary it all is.
Or, if I am unable to see you here again,
I’ll be sure to text you, maybe that
Will be our attempt at presence
As Spring replies with confounding necessities.
WHAT WE WANT
To hear the voice tell us stories.
The heart went questing with true
Love and its page, Ardent Desire.
To know this is true, as true
As clouds lifting against the
Horizon, building higher than ideas.
Oh please tell us the truth.
Tell us about Mister Death
And his lovely dances full of leaps,
Full of daring and challenges.
The color of the sky at twilight.
When we wait at night for the
Lights to quit and make soft
Cloaks around our thoughts
So we may sleep. Children,
Families, lovers and deer feeding
Beside streams full of moonlight.
Let us stand here together.
I will hold you to me and kiss
Your lips. I will tell you and you
Will tell me. We will be able to see
The silver of enchanted light through
The trees. We will agree that our lives
Shall always have this sheen about them.
Far to the North, just before the snows
Begin to own everything for months
At a time, we hear the voices again.
Cantatas that overcome death, leave
Us choruses swelling with prayers,
Rejoicing beyond measure, the seasons
So full we wash in them and they flow
Over silken skin as clouds lifting
Against the horizon, building higher than ideas.
The air tumbles through the haze.
Somewhere in the blur of lights
Moons have found a place to gather.
Tonight the snow is golden and children
Are dressed in shining cloth.
They have tongues of ice but sing
As best they are able and it is a sweet
Song that moves the milky air.
Yes, stars move closer to hear
These words. They know life
When they hear it and their horses
Stamp and rear, tossing their manes,
Their tails, and snorting dreams
Seldom seen outside of words
Like these poor mumblings
Trekking their way to heaven.
Oh, that each day would be filled
With such visions and that the red
Blood of terror not be seen in places
Such as this. The horses with their riders
Growing larger and climbing so far
Out of sight that the world bleeds longing.
I read and walked for miles at night along the beach, writing bad blank verse and searching endlessly for someone wonderful who would step out of the darkness and change my life. It never crossed my mind that that person could be me.
—Medusa, thanking D.R. Wagner for such fine fare this morning!