Three Poems

David Wiley

writings: poetry

November 2012

Reading Gabriel Marcel On My Seventy-Fourth Birthday

If I reflect upon the facets

            of the cosmos we call life

upon the microcosm and the macrocosm

            and the spaces in between

            where we explore

            those unknown shadowed porticos

            hiding falsehoods made of truth

and the grasp of being

            is almost in the grasp of being

            but never quite

as if to say

            that once we have portrayed ourselves

            as something more than the sun

            glittering on the surface of the water

then we have made a choice

            to be what we may not be

within this hall of mirrors

            that speaks to us in colors

and makes a kind of music

            we are not yet able to hear.

For a Few French Poets

Don't settle the score

            with your physical gremlins

            by exalting their demise in a song.

In those days

            when we plucked our sustenance

            from every passing hand

            that walked our way,

            swallowed everything in view

            and sometimes jammed it down

            if it wouldn't go quietly,

we inhaled secretions that had not yet

            been discovered,

hoping for an accidental alchemy

            no matter the odds;

we played Devouring Angel

            with our fingers and our glands

            working together

            in a powerful alliance,

holy or not we didn't care.


Our cathedrals and our sacred books

            were constructed and bound

            as we went along,

just pieces of the longforgotten planet

we came to lie down in.


Our eyes marched over

            a thousand battlefields

and rested among the rocks and trees

            beside the rivers and waterfalls

            until our flags and emblems

            our universe of hieroglyphs

            and dances in the shadows of campfires

became a world made up of stories

            long legends and the hoots of owls

a world so big we hadn't the time

            to see it or to rest.


We carried it in a pouch

            around the waist

and spoke of it

            as if it were a thing

            that we could hold and fondle

            before taking another bite.

Heavy as a lead weight with wings

            we covered our ground

            scattering seeds

            keeping our brushes in tune

listening for that dear bright

            impossible song in the sky,

watching for that rainbow

            that would melt our hearts

            like the violins

            and the reds of autumn.

Rimbaud's House

Covered with a thousand circus nights of words,

borne upon vapors of sound and vision,

arisen from endless rings of rhapsody and wonder,

I came to Harrar alone, thirsty and seeking.


In the Raj Hotel  I waited for something,

perhaps a signal to start my quest.

An old Frenchman, grizzled by Africa,

offered to show me the sights of the city.

I said yes, and we went into the streets.


It was a maze of scarred and crumbled walls,

deep and narrow trenches across the hills,

like tortuous relics of a medieval World War I.


Rimbaud, are these the remnants of your heart?

Are these the last configurations of your mind?


He led me through the markets, past the mosques,

over the sites of a little-known history,

before the eyes of ancient colorful inhabitants

living by the nexus gates of caravans

from desert seas and far off mystic cities.


He took me to the tombs of unknown saints,

across the nameless graves of exotic voyagers,

into the tessellated shadows and light.


Rimbaud, is this your celestial miasma?

Is this your sacred confusion?


We walked outside the walls

on footpaths worn by countless naked feet,

known well to hyenas in the moonlit night.

We gazed across the rolling savannah

and beyond to the Danakil plains.


We gazed at the green phantasmagoric peaks

and the sun setting ferociously across the land.


He raised his arms to the earth and sky,

gestured vaguely to the town, and said,

"This is where the poet Rimbaud lived."


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©2012 David Wiley
©2012 Publication Scene4 Magazine

David Wiley, painter-poet: graduate of U. Kansas; studied in Mexico and with artist Ignacio Belen in Barcelona. 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).


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