Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

This entry is part 1 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

Meaning the lens through which the light could come.

Some doorway inviting passage, or at least reflection.

Now I want to touch the crackly paper, unroll it so it’s flat upon the table.

Blueprint of rooms that carpenters might translate into stone, light, glass.

The sheen of wood under my heel.

Do I dare to fit the keys into their sockets?

How much for a handful of nails, a trowel, a stanza of bricks?

A nautilus is a poem fished out of water, its halls filled with cantilevered dreams.

Grass blades weighed down by rain calculate the distance their bright missiles will travel.

Poise of a pencil before the cross-hatched stroke.

Here we are on the threshold of summer—

It is only the shortest night of the year.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 2 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

Like a letter someone writes in the early hours,
as rain turns all the windows to skin.

Like the ink that streaks across the vellum
surface, ending in a flourish or a dash.

Like the light that filters upward from the ground
as mid-day heat; or condenses in beads of sweat.

Like a blur, like a wing, like a shard;
like a face passing behind the shutters.

Like the sky that’s often mistaken for weather;
and the world beneath it going where it goes.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 3 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

Sliver of ruby in the emerald grass,
flash of sun— You’ve promised me

the rain’s curtain of beads won’t drown
the flickering wish uttered by the hibiscus;

you’ve sworn the bees in the hive won’t fold
their lemon-colored cards deckle-edged

with sugar. I believe you as I believe
the wind ruffling the orderly hedges,

turning the hapless pair of green
plastic garden pails on their sides.

You teach my heart to set itself
afloat on the skin of the sea,

tiny urn bearing its few remaining
cubes of sweetness. If I am calm,

it’s only because your name thrums
a feathered bruise just under my lips.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 4 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

As if we knew enough to name
with certainty what creeps
dark-eyed under the canopy;
as if the sky were not
already overcast and cooled
by night’s long rains.
As if the arms of trees
did not hold cryptic
messages, letters
that lovers once carved
in bark for one another.
And so the scar:
shadowy fingernail,
sickle shape radiating from
the center of the breastbone,
as though a hummingbird
smote the spot and worked
in frenzy to perfect that one
eyelet: little god, hovering above
an altar of imperfections.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 5 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

We drive through neighborhoods to look
at houses leafed in dusk-light, noting which
have corbeled windows and which

have shutters turning to the river,
where the sky has tinted the waters mauve
and wading birds touch the current

lighter than a skimming lure.
Is there a walk edged with green,
leading to a door of beveled glass?

Is there a span of yard
where old leaves on the evening
primroses graze the fluttery

new leaves on the witch hazel?
No one lists these other views:
the curl of chrome around

the refrigerator handle, the tiny
speckled orbs of orange scattered
across kitchen tile. I look

for your image reflected from
the shiny green side of a toaster,
listen for the future echo of footsteps

dancing up from the wooden floor.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 6 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

Perhaps because I know how salt
is paired with flame and flame’s a welt

that licks the skin with thorn and bone,
I’ve always loved what knows to fold

the piquant tendril in the sweet—
ginger with anise, torn basil with lemon,

the iron bite of bitter gourds lingering
long after summer berries have left

their juice and stain on fingers, lips.
Reptile-skinned melons blush orange

like daylilies at their core, and the moon’s
poor copper in exchange. Once, I spooned

a tincture of jasmine flowers and my mouth
transformed into an old cathedral

against whose rose-veined marble walls
sheets of candle smoke lifted, swirled.

Once, I slipped thin slices of the carambola
on my love’s tongue, so he could understand

how some stars burn greener in their
passing. Shake the purple rind of the grenadilla,

the yellow globe of the maracuyá— the audible pulse,
the ticking seeds: exquisite sweet, waiting to explode.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 7 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

The pressure of a wheel turning on soft gravel,
a window sliding open. What sound is made

when something slips away and the hand closes
and opens on nothing but cool air in its wake?

The man stirs in the dark and sees the fog
caught in the treetops, the water beyond

just beginning to catch the light as it rises.
He’s restless, or he’s preoccupied with worry.

It begins to rain but he takes his bike
out of the garage, thinking he might follow

the distant chirping of quarry trucks to their source.
It’s early, and even the dog won’t go. Too early

for the dog; it won’t go, but watches him
pedal away in the rain to try to trace the sounds

that roused him, back to their source— not birdsong
though a restless wingbeat rises in the air, and the light

begins to catch at the edges of water. It passes
like fog through the treetops, through his hair;

it passes like a hand closing and opening. That’s
the heart missing what it wants to hold fast.

Look out the window— flicker of narrow
tires on the road; rain, soft earth, loose stones.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 8 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

“Before they call, I will answer.” ~ Isaiah 65: 24

Close to midnight, and it’s raining again.
This hushed: no noisy exchange of crows,
no yellow-billed bickering of cuckoos.

All day I merely counted out, did inventory:
cups of strong coffee, clink of silverware; bread
and butter, pink and white circles of radish

on the dinner plates. Now the rain’s
a flickering curtain, blue-green outside
window glass. On my desk, an old prayer card

where a heart crimson as a globe of fruit
is ringed by thorns, gold-leafed in flame.
Imagine if I took it in my hands,

laid it on the sill or hung it from a branch.
Imagine a ripe fig washed clean by rain,
glistening for the hand that chooses it.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 9 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

Some days I want to say all
or nothing, now or never, never
again

But at twilight the river’s a sheet of moving
particles, dark sheen of metal softened
by imperceptible wind—

And the shadows in the dead cherry
are not leaves at all, but fledgling birds
come back to roost.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 10 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

[see earlier “Three Improvisations” from the Spring Morning Porch series]

1

Hail raining down on lake water means I have hurt you.

Translation: The burn that makes no noise,
the scarlet inflorescence of the skin.
The moon’s neon sign reads smolder. Why
do you think you hear fire sirens in the valley?
But you don’t move, you stay.

2

And the leaf was no longer a leaf but a trellis of itself.

Translation: Coming back from a walk
in the woods he spoke of a ribbon of floating green;
of how, going closer, he saw the near-invisible
spider silk, its tether to the canopy. Say lace,
say beautiful flayed skin.

3

Light is always liminal.

Translation: Spittlebug striped cinnabar and clove,
frothy beard caught in the hollows. Nearby
is beebalm, nearby is sage. Such overdrawn
tenderness we cannot help. We finger each
slick bubble, think we hear the tiny pop.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.