Poetry » Cliff Saunders »


The Wizard of Clouds

A man lost in all his terrible glory shivers in the cold as he sweeps the hurt and
confusion from under his bed into a box and wraps it tightly. Against his will, he
listens to citrus trees knitting a breeze on their lips because they must. A shadow
plops on his lap and gathers dust as he sits uncomfortably on top of a winter rut.
Who is to blame for all this mud? He grits his teeth, picks up where Mozart left
off, and honks like a goose. Should he forget that doggy bed in the window? If so,
why? And already he’s packing autumn into the pocket of a secret admirer. And
already he’s tired of the moon appearing tonight over the center square like a new
star. “I’m shocked,” he says. The mists of love open as he steps around the green
triangle of death so often forgotten by the status quo. As he nears an ancient
plateau shrouded by moonlight in the winter months, he holds his little black bag
of dissatisfaction and pours it over a hot keyboard. Some chilly sigh in the wind
makes him insecure with its self-imposed vow of silence. Like a good host he
stands in this garden in a neck brace, opening a dream with one hand and his
teeth, like eating a Twinkie. Whenever it rains, he scuttles with blue crabs on
coastal jetties. He leaps from wave to wave like a fish in its autumn plumage!
He’s a wizard whose god is dead, and he’s become any cloudy winter day.

Doctor My Heart

To this day, I am a deceiver
and a liar when it comes to the heart.
Call me old-fashioned, but I don’t like
folks driving me crazy with the truth.
I wish they all could be California geeks
and hold a lot of umbrellas
over their shiny cars.
I do think that the songs of September
and their path through golden leaf
are collapsing, and so are
the new divas that bind them.
My heart darkens by the hour
like a mountain at twilight.
I wipe the slate clean by asking questions,
by using a golf course to exercise the sun.
Let’s face it, I live to trick spiders
into switching identities with altar boys.
They are all my children, and I will defend
their pit of mass distraction
and outrun their mistakes.
Yeah, I can ride on their heads,
saluting the floor mats as I enter
the bowling alley of the damned.
But all I ask is that a rare stamp
be the heart of the universe, be full of love.
I have seen the future, and it’s cranky
as a crow on the wire of life.
When it all starts to totter,
I want to be an otter awash in wildflowers.
I want to bury a table right by the barn
and darken homes with my coffee.
I want a soul scrub. I want to leave
an indelible mark on that apple
swept out to sea by candlelight,
no ambulances wandering the coast.
Because I finally know too well that some
beetles spill their souls into tiny orchids.
Believe or not, I think a lot about totem poles
and red dodge balls and Saturn’s children
and blue hair and defective sea lions
and bronze rain and cash to eat.
Funny, I don’t feel like trying to change
the way I receive golden forks from the stars.
But is this the next high fit to milk,
fit for a king? In my clear opinion,
the answer to everything is its own story.

A Severe Tongue-Lashing

Hello out there. This is God talking. Listen up, those of you who come seeking
the lucky afternoon star. I’m tired of you. I’m sick and tired of your ass! You are
keepers of Earth, yet you can’t fully grasp how to let it go. You pollute, yet you
don’t see the irony of your death. I wash my hands of this mess! You’re disloyal!
Listen to you, blubbering as loudly as hookers crying in the rain after a great
awakening. Like spoiled children you wake up asking why there ain’t no freakin’
wizard to sustain you. You want me to be your screened gazebo of grace? Fuck
you! You’re the enemy of love, of the imagination. Y’all, stop with the bothersome
sounds of agony. Same shit, using holy texts as if they follow the philosopher’s
lantern. I truly believe that you are lost. My advice? Turn off the lights, get cosmic,
and bow your head at the altar of the universe. That silence you hear is the talk of worlds.

Silent Life, Wholly Life

The melting snowflake on a streetwalker’s gown
The glowworm that hides in destiny’s locket
The head from which tumbles a wax-paper crown
The bottle of ash in a pickpocket’s pocket

The motionless crow pretending to be dead
The falling skydiver with no parachute
The clenched fist between two slices of bread
The megaphone poised at the lips of a mute