Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

This entry is part 1 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

The woodpecker’s red head still shines, and wind or rain or snow will fill the hollows in the coming days. When houses sway on their haunches, the toe and finger joints will creak at first light. In the cold, the muscles along one side of the neck have stiffened. You can turn your head, but with some difficulty. Pain is how you know the world has not in fact ended. The hours lengthen gradually as the earth tilts forward. Day after day you are learning how to trim the wick. The flame of desire is no longer a conflagration, out of control in the woods. Now it burns steady, a little pilot light.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 2 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

It was winter then as it is now,
when ghosts emerge with the quick dark.

I wanted to swallow the stars,
dark-pointed and smelling of anise.

I wanted to put away for good those old
angers I thought I’d dispatched.

They flickered, elusive as ever
—though not as powerful.

When next I looked, only small
brown birds picking through gravel.

I’d seen that dirty mirror before, rubbed
its edges with the corner of a sleeve.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 3 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

what is wonder but knowledge of that
which we could not ever anticipate?

Light slants toward the west—
its passing brilliance sears
the eyes and leaves us often

breathless— as if for the first time,
every time. And do we know more now
than we did yesterday, or less?

The birds come back to search
for seed cached in the wintry soil:
under the eaves, in groves

of roughened trees— They’ve never
learned; or they are wiser, trusting
they will find their portion.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 4 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

1620s, from Fr. feston, from It. festone; a festive ornament, apparently from festa, celebration, feast

Every day, the neighborhood and its routines with only slight variations: the man who works for the newspaper brings his only daughter to the corner to wait for the school bus, then gets into his white Jeep and drives away. There are not many young children her age around here, but that might change in a few years. The music professor who lives in the last brownstone on the row walks a dog, a golden retriever, around the triangle and back. This dog is a loaner; it is not the same dog who was his longtime friend and companion but had been given or sold— I forget— to a different family on this street. This dog, the one he loved the best, returned to him when the daughter married and moved away; it wanted to die in its old home. He is stooped and walks more slowly now, but he still gives private lessons to college students. He inclines his head thoughtfully in a way that suggests he is always listening for music. Each New Year day, the couple in the middle of the row open their home and hold a potluck. Everyone was surprised to learn they had just gotten married last Saturday, after 29 years together. Week before Christmas, the woman who lives with her husband on a boat docked in the river was trying to put up Christmas lights. She was on a tall ladder, up near the mast; wild current coursed through wire and her tiny frame. She says, she could not unclench her lips even to scream. It was early twilight, no one was about. By some miracle or weakened pulse in the circuit, she broke free, threw herself off and into the water. We are near the coast, not too far inland. Otherwise there might have been fresh snow, branches laid over with crystalline webs obviating any need for lights.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 5 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

Where are you now? Here
is the obvious answer.

But where? A brown body
with ragged wings rests

in the fork of a branch.
It won’t stay. Immigrant,

diaspore, forever
arriving or departing

on the shore of mixed
expectations. When

does its permit expire?
Intently, from within

the window which holds
my own countable hours,

I watch for cues,
for turns toward more

hospitable weather:
hedging time until

renewal of the lease,
until some wind-

fall rearranges
calculations on the slate.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 7 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

I believe you, poet, when you write
of how the night is now more night
in the grove
, how lightning

has nestled among the leaves*—
And you know that something heavier
than lightning glints in the branches,

has come to roost there too, ancient evil
waiting as if with forked ghost hands,
ghost wings to descend upon a passing bus

and tear the girl’s clothes from
her body, ram the metal heft
of that old, ineradicable hate

into her sex, into her gut—
In the cold of New Year’s day, hundreds
sit in a Darjeeling square to sing

a song: imagine the blood of evidence
made visible, not washed away; imagine
how the body wants only to arch

toward the infinite, how the smallest
fingernail or severed tendon wants to be
restored to the un-butchered whole—

~ *Octavio Paz

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 8 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

We have such small bones,
such slight hearts, such

ordinary hopes we scribble
upon strips of paper then feed

to the fire that flickers
in the hollow of a bowl—

Quickly the flame consumes
what we lay on its tongue:

small now and sleek but soon
wild bud grown bold—

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 10 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13

“…In their solitude and beauty,
flowers say, ‘I have sacrificed myself for you.'”

~ Eugene Gloria

Many hearts are buried
in every field: flower
hearts, thorn hearts,

bone hearts, knuckle
and finger hearts;
veins of spittle

and scum and bottle
shards, bits of barbed
wire looped

at intervals
like ribbons— hearts
of the dead or

disappeared who gave
their lives to hope
and work, who even now

write letters legible
through hardened
ground—

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.