May 2023


Poster, Shakespeare & Co., Paris


The Art of David Wiley


A Long Last Line to Canterbury

I am waiting

for nationalism's death

and the rebirth

of the planet

I am waiting

for the knight and the Monk

and the Wife of Bath

to tell us

what we should do

I am waiting for a popcorn intermission

On the road to Mecca

more often than not

the discarded armor

was left where it lay

on the trail to the lake

the Miller and the Reve

are picking up cans

and putting them in a bag

Why did we not

erect a string of monuments

along the way

a statue every mile

or plant some flags

to represent

the kingdom of mammals

or the parliament of fowls?

Why were we not preceded

by a jazz band

on a floating carpet?

Always there was nothing

ahead of us but emptiness

waiting there in the distance

to become the mind's forgotten music

Once we were waylaid

by surrealists

dropping down

in porcelain parachutes

from the polka dotted merlons

they took no dollars

but all our sense

and left us standing

naked and severely colored

with our rutabagas in our hands

just after dinner

just before sex

I've known pilgrims

plummeting along the violet cataracts

and rivers owned by crocodiles

and pilgrims on the sea

casting the bones of Patagonian coyotes

on the checkerboarded decks

to see where to go:

the tomb of an artist

too young to die

and too drunk to live

on a sunny sidewalk cage

nemesis of the captain's wife

where unlikely ideas

might be born

and the umbilicus dissolved

in a bath of wine and ink

"Anywhere out of this world"

some of them said

was the place

they wanted to go

even if the matutinal portents

indicated a good cigar

by a warm fire

and the innocent songs of borborygmus

"Everywhere and nowhere"

a few of them said

those who had tasted

the water of the Ganges

and had spent a fair amount of time

sitting in one spot

In those hot lands

with harems and fountains

and sailing ships from everywhere

anchored by the colonnaded porticos

there live the wizards

and practicers of ornithomancy

the subjects of tales

told by walkers on their way to the West

I see those ten billion people

mentioned in that book

not yet written

lining up

to enter that cathedral

not yet built

their feet are bare

and they wear their hats

loosely on their fingertips

they bow to the flowers

behind the wall

and ask, "When is it?"

I am writing to the Pardoner

to inquire about his price

I am rearranging

all my rugs and furniture

to accommodate the future

and all its odd appendages

You must take me

to a holy place

that has never been

the subject of a poem

you must take me

mounted on an ox

while yet on foot

to those dark tunnels

where life begins

you must take me

to meet the Cyclops

my one-eyed brother

who lives on a mountain

in the clouds

who is taking a course

in accounting

having been without employment

for several thousand years

you must take me

legless and blind

with or without wheels

to my treehouse in the park

where I learned to smoke

and fly without falling

you must take me

to the last ditch

where we can plant our toenails

and pray for the manatees

where my old friends the poets

can laugh directly in my face

you must take me

with my fingers in my ears

and every meal I've ever consumed

pouring from my navel

to the wall

where I saw the writing

and from there

to the bowels of the violin

that sent me a letter

from Shangri-La

you must take me

through the last door

of the palace

the one that leads to the garden

where the beautiful troll

used to live

you must take me

into the shade

of the great magnolia

where a honky-tonk band

plays on Sundays

and a lady

stands on a balcony

watching from very far away

you must take me

over the hill

across the stream

and through the woods

to the gingerbread house

where my playmates were born

and ponies cavorted

with talking frogs

you must take me

away from the library

away from the street

way from unconsummated suicide

you must take me to the final resting place

of mathematics

to the home of names

in the book of days

to the back of the horse

who brought me here

snorting and sweating

from the place

where the signal to go

was given

you must take me now

to see the face of Creation.

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Art and Poetry Selection
Lissa Tyler Renaud

David Wiley painter-poet: graduate of U. Kansas; studied at Mexico City College and with artist Ignacio Belen in Barcelona. Widely traveled, he exhibits throughout California and abroad. Wiley has published two volumes of poetry: Designs for a Utopian Zoo (1992) and The Face of Creation (1996). Since 2005, Wiley has received large mural commissions in Arizona, Mexico and California. Wiley is a longtime contributor to Scene4: paintings, poems, meditations on art, creative non-fiction.
To inquire about his paintings, click here.
For more of his paintings, poetry and writings, check the Archives.

©2023 David Wiley
©2023 Publication Scene4 Magazine





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