Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

This entry is part 1 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

This craft is about to criss-cross the most recently identified space fraught with tension and unrest. Do you see where blocks of citizens have formed chains and living fences overnight, and where police lines demarcate the outer limits with banks of tear gas? If any passengers wish to access the fast food counter or the rest rooms at this precise moment, they should know there is a 50% chance of perishing without having arrived at what our limited vocabulary can only hope will approximate sunrise on the rim of a great crater. There is no guarantee of fair trial, or that remains will be bottled and returned to home base. When seized by real panic (as opposed to just your everyday variety of ennui and restlessness), please refrain from mechanically succumbing to the tendency to click on a range of available tactile surfaces wired to digital or electronic outlets. They will fold in on themselves or retract, like language not connected to a visceral source. Some may have been programmed to self-destruct. There are certain things that ideally should be kept close at hand, until the end: first words, last words; our very young, the very old. Your open eyes, the rapidly clicking shutter of the mind; the ability to stand up, look them in the eye, brandish your right to be here and witness.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 2 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

Parade of vessels from across the seas, carrying
death and marketing schemes for the soul.

Lumber and hemp; tobacco, salt and spice: the measure
of a man’s or woman’s years of indentured service.

Land to till, forests to slash and burn.
The harvest that always goes to some other.

In the schoolhouse the foreign teacher turns
on her heel, confronts the monkey’s child.

The committee decides: You must not
have written this essay yourself, boy.

Rust that blooms across each hinge face
so the door never lies straight again.

Something that bends the grass
to flush out the hidden creatures.

Slick of oil all the way to the wharf.
Scritch of a match across granite.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 3 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

If the brown dog lies
panting in the sun,

do you think that means
it’s hot? If the skies

are overcast, do you think
we’ll see the once-in-a-lifetime

alignment of the stars? If
there are villages three

days’ hike away but reachable only
through trails that hug the cliffs,

should we go to the trouble
of a costly expedition? Isn’t it all

the same to make up names
and numbers, invent a history

for those poor people huddled there,
one they couldn’t after all read?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 4 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

The Doctor insists
there is no longer
any promised land—

insists it is a myth,
inflated fable chased
across the dust

of centuries
by the dispossessed,
who have forgotten

where they’re from
and what they’re doing
here. And whose fault

is that? asks
the automaton with
the marble eye,

and the soldiers for hire
dropped into the deserts
of middle earth,

and the maids whose hands
have become detachable
at the wrists—

interchangeable as all
the other trafficked
body parts that move

the indifferent machine
farther and farther
from any living source.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 7 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

The fruits remaining on the tree
are numbered now, becoming smaller,
harder, and less plump;

the afternoon is hot,
but already carries undertones
of approaching winter—

And we hear
across pitched roofs
the toothed quarreling

of creatures,
their cries that tear
through the fabric of night.

In the shed, once,
bringing boxes and garden things
to store: six pairs of eyes

twitched in the dusk
of the interior and made us shut
the open door

quickly back upon itself.
And at the river’s edge,
the water sighs

for tufted bodies hovering
above the current, tendering notice
of their departure across the sky.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 8 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

I have not seen stars being born
nor heard the sound the moon makes

to cast its shadow on the trees.
And I have not found the cipher

to the message insects
transmit all through the night;

nor have I understood the shapes
of countries drawn

by flagstones in the yard,
or the aftertaste of clove

that numbs my tongue. Together,
time and rain green

the fluted sides of the bird-
bath, and water smells

like salt or tears. When I
strike a match to light

the lantern, I startle
a papery cloud of wings.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 9 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

Who steals isn’t always looking to fill
a need, I’ve learned. Compulsion, the thrill
of not getting caught, the danger that licks
at the base of the skull, the dare that ticks
its timer until the wick burns out—
Who’d take the trouble to steal the grout
but not the tile, the rubber sheath
but not the copper wire? The myths
of beauty are nothing without power:
despair is their favorite flower.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 10 of 14 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2014

Rain hammers the leaves; the lilac trembles from without and within.
And life’s requirements knock on every surface, asking to be taken in,
wed, fed, fattened. No frailty wants orphaning, no hurt forsaking.
Rain hammers the leaves; the lilac trembles from without and within:
such downpour makes all surfaces open pathways, yoking core to skin.
What larger thing comes to win, to teach its lesson on surrender, yielding?
Rain hammers the leaves; the lilac trembles from without and within:
and life’s requirements knock on every surface, asking to be taken in.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.