“Findings”: the missing Morning Porch poems

Last week on Facebook, Luisa mentioned that November 20 would mark the completion of her first year of writing daily poems in response to The Morning Porch. I questioned the “daily” part: after that first poem on November 20, 2010, I saw (and posted) two more at the end of the month, and then one on December 15 before we started posting them every day on December 18, a full month later. Luisa replied that she had been writing poems; she just hadn’t been sharing them with me. After considerable digging around, she found them all, and we present them here as a special treat and thank-you to all of Luisa’s readers on Via Negativa. —Dave

November 21, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 21 2009

Findings

What we rake out of the undersides
of things, all gray and bedraggled
like drier lint scraped from the mesh—
Who knew there was a piece of gum
stuck to the zipper plate, six or seven
odd dollars now laundered clean,
caught in the back pocket of
your favorite jeans? This is how
I found a letter explaining my
origins— cleaning out the back
of my father’s closets, sorting
through stacks of yellowed journals,
faded correspondence from his
years of lawyering. The niece
who wrote it (handwritten date
six or seven months after my birth)
inquired about our new home up
north, asked how the baby (me)
and mother (not my mother, but
her younger sister) were doing,
and ended with the wish my parents
would be blessed with their own
child someday. I remember I sat
down in the middle of cleaning
to digest that bit of news, to read
over the careful handwriting once
again, bits of dust and rolls of
newsprint, old issues of Time
and Life from years and years
ago, there gathered at my feet.

*

November 22, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 22 2009

Alarm

Before the clock goes off,
the premature roar
of an engine in the dark.

*

November 23, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 23 2009

Onomatopeia

Soft sprinkly rain;
raven’s guttural cry
then the momentary
clatter its dark body
makes, stumbling
above the eaves.

*

November 24, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 24 2009

Relay

From tree to tree
one dark shadow
trails another—
crow following
crow, jawing,
jeering.

*

November 25, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 25 2010

Herbed Lyric

Walking in the Cambridge
Botanical Garden years ago,
I came across a bench planted
to a profusion of herbs— how
lovely it must be just to sit
on such fragrance: verbena,
close-sprigged thyme, pockets
full of mint, as the sun’s wheel
makes its way above.

*

November 26, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 26 2008

Tabula Rasa

Here’s a sheet that’s come
to cover all in the night—

white as handmade paper where
the faintest traces of weeds

and leaves have sifted through
the paper screen, backdrop

to ideographs brushed faintly on
with ink: wings, tracks on the trails;

furtive prints made by those
moving close to the earth.

*

November 27, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 27 2008

Unnamed

That note so low it sounds like it’s in
your head, that rapid percussion;

the jagged breaths you try to slow.
What is the sound of one hand

clapping, the shape of your face
before you were born? The bird

whose sudden appearance
was startling, cannot tell you:

but something there just now
beat the air with its wings.

*

November 28, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 28 2008

Via Negativa

What shadow plucks
you out of sleep, drifts
out of the woods, white
upon white, script
against the snow?

*

November 29, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 29 2010

Gathering Firewood

Blue overhead, frost as heavy
as my bundle of brittle cares.

Chop wood, carry water,
the sages say: what advice

do they have on what to do
with so much kindling?

*

November 30, 2010
Based on TMP Nov 30 2010

Mettle

Live in the hills where the rain
obscures the sun for months,
certain times of year—

This kind of weather will wear
you down and test your mettle,

prepare you for those dark
nights of the soul St. John

of the Cross wrote about: tiny
unpadded cell in the middle

of the wilderness, not even a bare
light bulb to swing from the cold

ceiling; not even a window’s eye
to open and shut against the world.

*

December 1, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 1 2010

Compass Ghazal

I woke to the sound of wind,
a feverish glow in the east.

Was it a dream, night-tossing in crumpled
sheets, the weather vane broken at east?

The rose is still at the center of the compass.
Tremors at points north, south, west, east.

*

December 2, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 2 2010

Old World Catalogue

Moss, cypress, mountain laurel, pine; and in the last quarter of the year, rosettes of thistles sometimes underlined by frost. I loved the pencil strokes of green carried on the wind, sharpest at dawn or dusk. How small the world seemed, how compact: between the hills, our home one of a cluster of tin-roofed shapes glimpsed from afar. Light glancing off broken bits from Coke or beer bottles: who set these into the tops of cinderblock fences running along the road? The sellers of bread and sweet bean curd, the menders of shoes and bent umbrellas shuffling through the alleys. Children pounded hibiscus flowers and leaves with stones to release the sticky sap, then mixed this with a bit of laundry soap. Thin loops of wire and breath coaxed bubbles out: glass beads that hung in the air, before they too vanished.

*

December 3, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 3 2010

Scars

Papercut dealt
by a blade of grass,

atlas of shapes from hives
across your arms, your shin.

The sear from a lick of oil
that jumped out of a pan.

The aunts that visited
in summer clucked

over your almond eyes,
your shiny hair. But oh,

they said, With your
bad teeth and your

bad skin, how
could you ever be

Ms. Philippines?

*

December 4, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 4 2010

Chant

Cherry, cherry, bright red
berry, rain from the leaden

sky— fill my earthen
bowl. I’ll spit bright

mouthfuls of words,
sling them at all

that would want me
felled to the ground.

*

December 5, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 5 2010

Kabuki Theatre

Love and war,
hope and death;
appetite at every

intermission—
and in between,
the masked interiors.

So when I turn
my sleeve inside out,
it means it is night-

time on the journey;
and when my cheek
grazes the hem

of my sleeve ever
so slightly, it means
I pine for your pillow.

*

December 6, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 6 2010

Ode to Hardwood Floors

I love the feel of level cold
against my feet, the naked
touch of wood against sole.
Floorboards creak and sing
to bear our weight. In the day,
their honeyed sheen is straw
before the gold. Or dark,
the hulls of ships sealed
water-tight. At night,
washed by moonlight,
they are as grave and
silent as the tomb.

*

December 7, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 7 2010

Virelai on Snow First Experienced in a Tropical Country

(Estribillo)

What I used to know of snow
fell indoors in a mall from a machine;
tropical heat outside, cool air within
as shoppers posed for pictures in the “snow”.

(Mudanzas)

From then, I don’t have any pictures posing in the snow;
I stood and marveled at sweater-clad figures on the ice
or stumbling on their blades along the rail. Twice
the Zamboni came to resurface the rink. No snow

fell from the sky in drifts: only strands of glitter snow
hung from the atrium ceilings. The idea of frost, a novelty
to most: in a land with only two seasons, dry and rainy,
what worlds the carols evoked. Evergreens in snow,

(Vuelta)

boughs heavy with their drapes of white. Finally I knew snow
when I left my home and crossed the sea. I traded thin
cotton blankets for woolen things. I learned of cold leached in-
to the heart’s very bones: its white austere, its aspect, snow.

*

December 8, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 8 2010

As If For the First Time

Memory, anxiety, regret, history
will change what you look at—
so you see it as if for the first
time: rounding the bend, the two
magnolias in the neighbor’s yard.
Then the gate, the level stones
leading from there to the porch
which used to be buffed marble;
the eaves sag now, the ceilings
leak. Only faint streaks on
the outer wall remind you
of the glorious pinks a trellis
supported there each summer.

*

December 9, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 9 2010

Echo Haiku

Blown leaf,       leaf blown; hollow
washed with sound.       Sound proof
of lantern fire,       fire-blown.

*

December 10, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 10 2010

A Teleology

Rain and fog, the rumble of a distant
train. Sounds of tuning, rehearsals
for some event as yet unknown.

*

December 11, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 11 2010

Totem

Above the desk where I had lowered
my head upon my arms to nap for just
a while, I floated balloon-like toward
the ceiling. I saw myself and knew it was
a dream, saw too the polished hardwood
box under whose lid a shape slept,
lightly too: liquid, iridescent, scaled
like lizard and sleek as salamander.
When I lifted the lid it startled
and streaked a sinuous flash,
electric across my forearm.
That sealed our bond. I wear
its form in melded silver, dangling
from each ear. It speaks to me
of climbing up the walls and dropping
without fear, of tunneling into the soil
of what it needs; and giving up,
if there is need, part of itself—
knowing it will grow back almost
like miracle, like creed.

*

December 12, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 12 2010

Postcard

White, buff, ivory, sand— washed
walls that ring the low stone houses
stenciled against the blue.

*

December 13, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 13 2010

Purchase

How tired I am, how used up;
how the heart gives and gives
as the body makes its pact
with later— And yet, and yet:
the moon tricks it back, lure
of copper coin stuck in
the icy branches.

*

December 14, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 14 2010

Mid-morning Thaw

Let go, says the breeze:
and the icicles drop slender
threads from the roof.

*

December 16, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 16 2010

Worship

Here is the nave of the air,

the edge of the turning

wheel: see the flash of wings,

a flutter like prayer flags some

distance from your hands.

*

December 17, 2010
Based on TMP Dec 17 2010

Ice Layers

This cold’s
metallic: slashed
herringbones
of freezing
rain.

Series Navigation← StayTwo more Morning Porch poems from Luisa Igloria and a comment on free culture →

3 Comments


  1. And let me be the first to congratulate you, Luisa, on the achievement of this milestone! Just posting an 140-character update to the Porch every day is enough for me — and even there, I allow myself to take a break when I’m travelling or spending the night at a friend’s house, nor do I have anything like your daily workload. I’m amazed that you’ve managed not only to maintain the pace but to produce an astonishing number of strong poems in the process. And your fearlessness in sharing all these first drafts online here will I hope encourage other serious poets to stop being so fearful and protective of their work. Via Negativa is a better, stronger blog for your contributions, and I remain enormously honored, not to mention inspired, by your continued participation in this game of call-and-response.

    Reply

    1. Thank you so much, Dave, and thank you to the host of wonderful writers, readers, and new friends I’ve made from my year of writing daily poems on VIA NEGATIVA / THE MORNING PORCH. Dave, you are more than hospitable to share space on your blogs for my writing— I always find inspiring material and content; and most of all love that these spaces support all kinds of creative explorations.

      Reply

      1. And by the way, :) this year of writing (at least) a poem a day has me so energized I don’t think I can shake off the habit/discipline/addiction now. I intend to keep it up, though I might forage a little more widely for prompts (beyond The Morning Porch).

        Reply

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