Saturday, February 25, 2017

Achilles Weeping

Fantasy Universe
—Poems by D.R. Wagner, Locke, CA
—Visuals Courtesy of D.R. Wagner


As easy as going to sleep allows
The dragons to slip into the room,
Out of the drains, out of those spaces
In your room that only the dark defines,

As easy, a tears find their roads
To the center of the heart where
Our relatives, long gone now, still
Are able to be seen in their earthy
Dress and fine turns of phrase,

As easily as a landscape can turn
From blasted sand and scrub to pines,
Oak and earnest streams hurrying
Down the mountain side intent on descending
As far down them as they are able.

Yes, as easily as all this I find myself
Caught in the scarves, the history of war,
The descent to the shore, where that moon,
Moon, moon, too soon so red, so ruined,
Illuminates the wave tops, opens sleep,

Tears its gardens apart, the dragons
Furious with it all, flying all over the place,
Searching for the realms where they are
Still real, still honored, still part of any world.

 Garden, Bolinas, CA


Moon, moon, moon
Hold it in your hands.
Open up your eyes.
See where it lands.

The dreams are thin,
As if they haven’t been fed
In weeks.  They hover in the room.
Even my skin feels damp.

I open the dwellings
Where I have been afraid
To visit, duck my head,
Smell the damp air.

My clothing has been prepared.
I offer the incense to some
Unknown deity.  I can hear
Its voice welcome me
To another night.  I ask
For sleep.  It closes
Upon me.  I can feel
Its hands, so like your own.

 Pirate Ship


A soft, smokey blue filters through the trees.
It belongs to the silences, composed of the drift
Of conversations since the chariots pulled
Hector’s body round the city.  The same
Whispers Patroclus spoke to brave Achilles
Of the shades’ refusal to let him enter
Hades.  Achilles wept and cut his hair.

Ramon and I went down to the shoreline.
Great ships moved along the horizon ablaze
With lights.  We could hear music coming
From them, so far away.  These sounds wore
The same blue that always visits such things.

Radio static in my headphones, parts of words
In languages I can barely understand.
My mouth filled with a metallic taste.
Ramon said he could see time leaking from my eyes.
Shafts of sunlight began to fall like towers,
Crashing into each other.  static.  static.  static.

Tonight, in the full moon, the great sea
Turtles are hauling themselves up onto the shore.
They move like silvered ghosts across the sand,
Leaving trails of their flipper prints on the beach.
They have all the stories.  They dig holes
And deposit their eggs, then return to
That same sea.  Whispers fracturing moonlight
On the waves.

Hector circles ‘round the planets
Again and again and we reach to hold
The memory just a minute longer.
It takes all of our strength.  The
Voice of Patroclus whispers within
Our souls.  Sometimes we feel they are
Cosmic winds, but they are only
Old stories.  We still see Achilles weeping.

 Mouse Headache


A crow made of light
Came to our house today.
It sat upon the swing set
And would not let the children play.

It was so very bright.
We could not look away
And when it cawed, sparks flew
From its mouth all day.

We have never seen a thing like this
Before or ever since.
It must have come from heaven
To give us a little glimpse.

But Ramon said, "No.  It came from hell."
Of that he was quite sure,
For it burned a sulfur yellow
And it smelled like nothing pure.



There wasn’t anything left
That I could touch.
Christine came in with three birds.
“Here, she said, try these.”
But when she opened her hands
They flew away.  One of them hit
The window, but that didn’t
Stop it from fleeing.
I was getting anxious to put
My feet back on the ground.

“You must be dreaming,” Ramon said.
He was sitting in the crotch of a tree
Very far above me and was shouting.
“How did you get up there?”
I called to him.

“I was thinking deeply about things
And I fell into a well.
When I woke up I was up here.”
“That doesn’t make any sense,”
I called.
“Oh yes it does,” he said, but
The tree was growing very quickly
And I lost sight of him before
I could reach a conclusion.

“I can’t possibly live like this,”
I said aloud to no one in particular.
“But you are doing alright now,”
They answered.
“Many swim and some are
Able to cover great distances.
A few even reach the horizon.”
I felt comfortable for a moment,
Then the wind started again.
What happened?  I was so
Involved with the moment
I didn’t see what happened.

A man with translucent hands
Began to speak to me in
American Sign Language.
I think it was Borges.
He wanted me to get him
A glass of water.
That is how I got here.

 Fairy Dance


 1.  A fountain almost entirely filled with coins.  The water
Is only inches deep and the fountain continues to be filled each day
By those seeking favors of the water.

It is decided not to remove the coins but instead
To build a new fountain much larger than the first
To catch the overflow of water.  The fountain
Had been filling for centuries yet no one will remove
The coins, lest the magic rescind itself.
The water makes the most beautiful of sounds
As it tumbles into its many basins.

 2.  A remote island where sound is grown.
It reaches a noisy variety and is given
To the waves where it will travel the globe.
Its currents are the paths of migrations
Of birds above.  The storks, the swallows, the great
Terns, the eider ducks, the snow goose.

 3.  Three men have the same dream on the same night.
They are not able to recall its contents.

 4.  A tablature that allows one to play the Stations
Of The Cross on any instrument.

 5.  A comb for the hair, designed by bees to be used
Only by the dying.

 6.  There were images before her eyes that could not be
Described without a truly original language.

 7.  When they shook hands their hands burst into flame.

 8.  When the car crashed into the tree, all four doors
Sprung open and over thirty dogs leapt from the vehicle
And vanished into the night forest.

 9.  We were looking at the ocean.  A great hand descended
From the clouds and pressed the waves flat
For several minutes.

 10.  By the time we reached Bournemouth the entire town
Had been abandoned except for the birds who seemed
To be everywhere.

 11.  When he shot himself in the head,
He missed and hit the moon.

 12.  Charles told us of a place not far
From his ranch where the flies
Could shape their bodies collectively
To spell words.  He said they cursed a lot.

 13.  I was looking deep into her eyes.  There
Were cities in there.  People walked
By in there.  I recognized one of them.
She raised her finger to her lips, asking
For quiet.  “Listen to the birds,” she said.

 14.  Twilight built a church on the far
Edge of the field.  It looked as fragile
As the cape that covers the dreams of children
When they wake, surprised in the night,
Seeing the spirits glowing in the air
Of their bedrooms.

 15.  When the spear went into the tiger
It turned immediately into water,
Filling the jungle around the beast,
Causing him to glow with a bright
White-and-gold light.

 16.  There were shepherds on the hills,
Keeping their flocks.  An angel appeared
In their midst.  Each shepherd recognized
It as someone who had loved therm deeply
And had disappeared long ago.

 17.  A sudden pouring of salt.
The moon rises.

 18.  Some men had gathered around the fire
Pit.  The dogs at the edge of the light
Recognized them and set up a bawling
That stayed mostly in their mouths.
They did not come closer.

 19.  The women were made of a magnificent
Glass that vibrated when touched.  They
Talked among themselves.  It was as a
Cantata filled with lightning
And a carillon discussing friendships.

 20.  No one has believed anything that was said.
They claimed it was poetry.  It was
The same sound as waves lapping
Into a shingle beach, almost like talking.



It bothers me
that the night
is outside minding its own
business while I am
in my room half
expecting you to appear
in the bed next to me.

You, with your brow arched,
surprised to have been
shipped across the night
like so much luggage;
the white roses of sleep
still in your skin.

I would be as surprised.
Hello?  It would be like
saying hello to
myself on this late August
night, where the voices
of dogs are so small
in the distance that my breath
seems huge.  No, hellos
would never do.

The dark just outside the
window waits for me to put
the lights out.  It has ways
of getting to me, of opening
the dreams like oranges
and spilling these thoughts
of you all around me
before I can catch a glimpse
of you shuttling across the
night air, not alarmed
at all by this thinking that
it is just the changing
of the season that causes
these things.  Not alarmed
by the love of it.  Not at all.

Knowing you will wake up
far away from this room,
the night being busy
with so much else.  With
traffic and dogs and things
of its fabric so as to
make such journeys a
matter of reaching to the end
of the bed and pulling
another blanket up above
your shoulder.


            …for Alvaro Mutis
She came into the room
With the moon tucked
Under her arm.

Her fingertips were dusted
With that blue, yellow, gold
Rubbed from the moon.

“You can’t keep that,” I said.
“Ah, but I can,” she said.
“I will and I shall dance upon it.”

Stars shot from her mouth.
I clamped my hands over my ears
So as not to hear.
I could feel the tides
Calling as they moved through me.

I made a grab for the moon
Just as she was about to dance on it.

It wobbled across the room
And we are both chasing it
As it heads for an open window
With a serene, imposing dignity
That one sees occasionally
In the unvanquished; a certain
Uncommon re-ordering of reality.

For a moment it looked to be
Made of marble.  It quickly
Mounted the sky, cheered on
By the voices of night.

I could see it illuminate
The spider web
She used to trap our precious moon.
“Now look what you’ve done!”
She says reaching into the night.

The seas rise in approval.
We are once again only travelers
In the service of great mystery,
Its amorphous light, its myth,
Its epic wonder.

 Illuminated Manuscript


Now I’m standing at the corner and I see
The lights are changing and still I want
To cross here for it seems so damn important
And it doesn’t look like heaven
And it doesn’t look like mercy
And it doesn’t have a room where I can
Hide away forever, but I know I really need to,
Yet still remain outside the fortress.

I will break bread with the sailors.
I will expect the unexpected.
I will stand beneath the royals
On their yards as we are sailing.
I will sing the crazy chanteys.
I will disarm the madding pirates.  I will open
Up their lips for them and speak the words
Into their ears.  And they will hear me like a savior,
Still they know I’ll never answer.
And I’ll tell them of the dark seas
And the weather caught within them.
And they will want to go there,
Though they know it means forever.
And I’ll sign their names on parchment.
I will hold them to their promise.
Yet they hasten to forgive me when
I swear they will survive this, but they still
May wind up crazy, for they’ve heard
The songs I make up and they have come
To believe them as I abandon them like
Sinking ships and refuse to look back
Toward them.  And still they will forgive me
And I’ll be allowed to kiss them.

They will not be men or women, they will
Cease to dream of crosses.  They will engage
In battle, recognize their brother’s face
As they hack across the meadows
Thinking they have found him,
The one who’d be their keeper.
But they will be mistaken and the tides
Will rush before them and they cannot
Launch their landing boats and they will see
Their packets leaving.  They know they’ll
Never reach them and I will hold their names
Within me and repeat them at the moment
When they sink beneath the wave tops
All alone.


Today’s LittleNip:

—D.R. Wagner

This string is so taut it
Barely holds anything the
Wind can say, yet it
Holds and I will beg
It, say, “Look up, look
Up, see me there.  I am
Your love.  I am I am.
I hope to find you there.”

And watch the knotted
Tail dance against
The breeze and watch
The twists and turns it
Makes and watch the
Way I love you, for that
May be all there ever was to know.


—Medusa, with hearty thanks to D.R. Wagner for starting our weekend off right, as always, with his poems and these fine pix he has found for us!

Gabrielle and Kelly
Celebrate poetry! And don’t forget Poetic License
the poetry read-around in Placerville today from 2-4pm, 
Placerville Sr. Ctr, 937 Spring St., Placerville. 
The suggested topic for this month is “phone calls,” but 
other subjects are also welcome. Bring your own poems 
to share; read from your favorite poets; or just come to listen. 
Free; all ages welcome. Scroll down to the blue column 
(under the green column at the right) for info about this 
and other upcoming poetry events in our area—and note 
that more may be added at the last minute.

Photos in this column can be enlarged by clicking on them once,
then click on the X in the top right corner to come back
to Medusa.