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Now and Then the Sea Releases Its Birds | David Wiley | Scene4 Magazine-October 2018 |

Now and Then the Sea Releases Its Birds


The Art of David Wiley


In the Land of Frumentius

In a country filled
with rumored portents
I grew a number
of odd appendages
and studied a kind of zoology
that never could be found
in the most outlandish

I learned
that sun devours water
water devours earth
and sometimes the hyena
will eat himself

I tried to become a species
that did not live
in the mountains or the deserts
the jungles or the plains
but knew them all well
and the spaces in-between

with a general store of proverbs in tow
I reached out to pluck
the whiskers of baboons
I covered myself
with transubstantiated honey
and a horde of newborn flies

here I discovered
that every soul
contains its own menagerie
and every hand
has touched the face of Creation

that history is an imprint on papyrus
which grows from spores
in the dark
and dies in the heat
in order to become the vessels
for an everlasting set of symbols
waiting in a hothouse
for the right moment
to become a forest
rediscovered and described
in the future annals
of a charming otherworldly botany

I sat on the shores of Lake Langanno
gazing not the mouth of a hippo
surrounded by the cries of mammals
and while I thought
about hunger and nakedness
my hair and fingernails
and the sun glistening
on the surface of the water
Africa played her tricks with time

In Harrar I found
the footprints
of the Poet
saw the mountains
and the very trees
that must have been
his final lyrics
hanging still in the palpable air
sanctified by his long-evaporated stare

one day on the path
between a mountain and a lake
I encountered Rasselas
and Prestor John
mounted on mules
and flanked by a colorful bouquet
of robes and umbrellas

"Ia-h luminous defecation
of a star
good to eat" I asked
"Why are the mountains marching
towards a rendezvous with the sea?"
"Why does the black leopard
hunt the holy ghost
in the middle of a moonless night?"

they acknowledged my enthusiasm
with Byzantine chuckles
and paused upon the road
to Habashat
long enough to flay my heart
with fly whisks and other
priestly wonders
meant to be considered
works of art

before the sun rose
on the Awash River
the rock I sat upon
floated in the wind
and with a troupe of actors
I went dancing slowly to the desert

the wings of flamingoes
caress my forehead
I practice the scales and chords
of African lakes
a million voyages
have left the builders
of cities empty-handed
a million dead-eyed people
have invented the wrong devices

I have seen frogs clinging
to the pink peeling walls
of tombs in the noonday sun
I have heard the chants of monkeys
kneeling in the moonlight
on the uncertain graves
of aristocratic wildebeests
I have know albino rock farmers
whose skins were anointed
with fermented ghee
stirring the gnarled air with stoics
frm the shores of lost rivers
lepers and skeletons wrapped in shroughds
floating across the quivering terrain
calling the spirits of birds
wit Olympian flutes

trees alone on the velvet savannah
grasses exploring
with dancelike gestures
the undulating rhythms of space
hidden caves in eroded cliffs
occupied by nandi bears
with harems of apes
armies of neolithic warriors
eating at a place of embarkation
guarded by a skyful of harpies
trailing an odor of decay
that may have existed
before life itself
electric waves of ichor
pulsing through oceans of eyes

I live in your innards
and you in mine
with every whistle moan and howl
every taste of blog and milk
every birth of something seeking light
every moment of communal breath
I am the object of your digestion
and you are the subject of mine.

Art and Text Selection:
Lissa Tyler Renaud

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Scene4 Magazine - David Wiley |

David Wiley, painter and poet, exhibits throughout
California and abroad. To inquire about his paintings, click here.
For more of his paintings, poetry and writings, check the

©2018 David Wiley
©2018 Publication Scene4 Magazine




October 2018

Volume 19 Issue 5

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