Saturday, January 30, 2016

In the Mouth of Love

In St. Francis of Assisi, Sacramento
—Poems and Photos by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA


This morning my beliefs

Infest the day like mud gods

Painted to resemble things

I thought of when I was six

Years old and still believed stories

Of talking trees that could grant wishes.

Still, this cold January morning

I notice those same trees grouped

Once again near the edge of the oaks

At the far end of the garden.

They know my name.

When I woke up both my arms 

Were tornados.  Not huge tornados,

They were the same size as my regular

Arms but they behaved like tornados.

Birds were migrating through my arms.

A huge barn exploded at the end of my

Index finger and a flying board cut my cheek.

I had an entire string of traffic signal lights

Wind up into my shoulder and enter my body,

Still flashing and sparking.  Rain came from 

My elbows and the floor was littered with small boats.

My mother noticed what was happening.

“Don’t touch the mud gods.  They could mess

Everything up.  You’ll wind up with islands 

On your back and they are hard to get rid of.”

Multi-colored strings began to pour from my mouth.

It was bewildering.  “Stop dancing,” my mother said.

Chortling, screeching, squeaking, wheezing, wailing,

Whooping, rattling, hooting, gnashing, bleating, calling,

Squealing, whimpering, yelling, crashing, clucking.

“But I am six years old, my mother and I have 

Just become a tornado for the first time.”

My mother yelled at the trees and scattered 

The mud gods all over the kitchen floor.

“Now eat your cereal and get ready for school.”



Just because there is a door

Does not mean one must use it.

Gray or mouse white.  We are all one.

A weariness has come for me.

It saw me sitting at my desk

Trying to be sly, to remember 

Any number of waterfalls,

Even waterfalls from story books.

All I could visualize were abandoned

Factories, boarded-up school buildings,

Pools with beautiful oil slicks being

Pummeled by rain just as the sun

Was rising.  

I began looking for lines of trees

In the middle of alfalfa fields.

That created a longing in me that

Had no center but for the season.

It made me want to bake bread.

I couldn’t believe I was still alive.

I began to think songs were parasites.

Dreams have their own cars.  They 

Were available from rental agencies

If you were an exile or a promoter.

I climbed the tower just to get to the top.

By the time I got there, it was already night.

What had I promised my body?  That I would

Always love you or that I would remember

Everything I could lose?  I don’t think

I missed a single step.  Except for a few

Moths, only an empty mind.

 Quince Tree, Winter, Locke


The bamboo begins to tell of the coming rain.

The song of the rain still hangs above the valley.

It has been near to the moon all day now, and there

Has been no sun, whispers on the wavelets in the river.

Now, at five o’clock in the evening, the day has decided

To gather a large collection of grays and brings them

Close over the fallow winter gardens. 

Near the end of January, color seems almost too much

Trouble for the evening.  There are only two yellow quinces

Left on the tree near the long table.  Orange, barely worth

The effort for a sunset.  This poem might as well be silence

For such a day.  I will listen for the late rain while I await

Sleep.  Tonight, I will know the voices of her daughters, rain,

While they embrace the roof and the gravel road past my house.



Between this world and the next one

I ask you to accept these words.

Blood runs from my mouth and I hold

An apple in my hand as an offering.

It too is red and sweeter than my mouth.

I too am a figment.  I dress myself in clouds.

I have no voice but the earth herself.

She teaches me to speak in this manner.

Carry me with you as you would your shadow.

I will come and go with the changing of the light.

I have come to understand fire and desire.

People on this earth tell me many things.

What should I believe about you then?

Often I am a fog or a frost upon leaves.

I will drift into your thoughts on occasion.

You may think you have heard my voice.

I will implore you to dress yourself in love

That I may know you and intuit your footsteps

In all the centuries.  I will never pretend to you.

 In St. Francis of Assisi, Sacramento


I met three men carrying stones.

“We have come to stop the tides.

Each day it disappears and then

Comes back, or sends its sons,

Small and great or its daughters,

Who make love to the moon and make

It too disappear.  We will wait for no one.”

I showed them the drowned cities,

Let them speak to the lost souls

Owned by nothing, not even time.

“Time is blind,” they said.

Their voices were like bells
Sparkling below the stars.

“It has no substance.  It can

Only pursue.  It shows us only

Massive particles and tries 

To explain creation as if it owned it."

I will tell you nothing more 

My sweet friends of the horizon, 

Until you sleep beside me 

That we may know the awe 

Of each other’s breathing.

There will be other ways to say

These things.  Perhaps birds 

Know something we may never 

Know and yet they speak of it 

Constantly, acrobats of fireworks.

I have been standing in the cave

At the edge of the sea for days 

Now.  The stones are tossed

Into the ocean.  They are of

Many sizes.  Every question

I have asked these men has

Been answered by the most glorious

Gestures of their hands and their smiles.

 In St. Francis of Assisi, Sacramento


All I have known has been the making.
And while I was not making, I was loving
You forever and ever and none of that
Has changed.  Does one thing preclude
The other?

I used to think not, but now
I can feel your skin and your muscles
Through your body and the smell of your hair.
The way you touched my body when you loved me.
But none of that has changed, has it?
Except that you are no longer there
When I reach into the words.

They have other jobs now.
I never would have thought they would
Weary of the travel and the cool nights
That held them together and brought
Joy to the morning and peace to the evening.

There are so many steps.  There are so many
Makings.  All of them remember much more than
I am able to drive to the dance, the heart open
And then open and then open again and again.
Always full of the making and your warmth
Next to my body and all the half-hidden laughter
Delighted moment by moment to be such a being.

 Succulent Garden, Winter, Locke


The body spins through space.
The rain has gathered above
The house.  I can hear it whispering.

Tonight my little town will be its chair.
I will listen to the glory it brings from the throne
To this wandering room my body has become.

I stutter.  I try to make my words of the most
Precious of things, tree sap to amber, clear
Water to opals, pushing stars into rubies
That one can gather to themselves while they sleep.

All that is radiant awakens within me again every
Moment.  I will wait here for you, on my knees,
Just to see you take my heart from moment
To moment.  I will sing in the choir, all the secrets,
All thoughts brought down to your breathing
Through me and with me and in me.  The light
Will direct me away from all of nightmare and darkness.

Let these words be once again in the mouth of love.


Today’s LittleNip:

Most people read poetry listening for echoes because the echoes are familiar to them. They wade through it the way a boy wades through water, feeling with his toes for the bottom: The echoes are the bottom.

—Wallace Stevens


—Medusa, with thanks to D.R. Wagner for today's fine fare!