Chance: A Poetic Tarot

Short, divinatory poems inspired by Tarot, from Luisa Igloria.

This entry is part 1 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

1

The yeast did not bloom
and the dough did not rise,
or the fire did not fix
the current in the air—

2

The hills were blue
and then they were fire
for when we lay upon them
their ice caps melted—

3

The hummingbirds must live
on the nectar of stones—
Have you seen ruby or green
tendrils marking their throats?

4

And the child stirred coals
to life in the grate,
then left food in the bowl
which the cat then ate—

5

Years later, the letter
arrived at the wrong address,
so the woman in the window waited
till she could sigh no more—

6

A man emerged from exile
of many years to marvel at the stars:
for each one hung above, he tucked
its twin into a sleeve of water—

 

In response to Via Negativa: Gambler.

This entry is part 2 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

7

Thicknesses of vines
here stand for the years—
trees have rings but time
is complicated.

8

The well collects rain.
The rain collects tears.
In a cloisonné vase no bigger
than my nail, I gather my own.

9

He lined his closet
with pictures I drew:
an animal with a limp,
a feather, a rotary phone.

10

Last night I twined
a length of yarn
around my wrist.
Remember?

11

In the kettle, water boiled
to a pitch. I poured some
into a cup with a small
tumble of leaves.

12

I tell the wind, Let me rest.
Let me take some ease.
Hammock me in your arms
for a change.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Peace Process.

This entry is part 3 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

13

Pick a combination
for the locked door:
two colors, a cloud,
the skeleton of a fish.

14

I do not believe
the yellow signs that point,
shut, or flap in the wind.
Everything is a detour.

15

My love cut me a star
from the green
side of a fruit then
laid it on my tongue.

16

When he says memento,
I think of the hull
of a seahorse sleeping
in a pill box.

17

The man by the ATM argues
with the red-haired woman.
She smokes and smokes,
refusing his embrace.

18

In the yard, I parse
the grass free
of other adjectives
except green.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Partisan.

This entry is part 4 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

19

The sound of eight blades
sharpened on a stone:
metal and ice, a river’s
corrugated sheet.

20

Bones of a small animal
beneath the rafters—
follow a thread of light
to find the door.

21

Fine dust sieved
makes another carpet:
months, minutes,
sifted through a grid.

22

Last night I fixed
a crown of vivid roses
and death’s heads
in my hair.

23

Pattern of leaves—
on their surface, holes
made by invisible
industry of moths.

24

Drip of a faucet
on milky porcelain:
bead by bead
by bead.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 5 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

25


Ivory sheen, coiled snake
bone in her hair: not whimsy,
not curio nor afterthought. En-
jambed, but not embellishment.

26

Blight on matter
as soon as kissed
by air: so therefore,
love, unpetal me.

27

Folded in my teacup,
swung over the brink.
But here you are, here
you are, here you are.

28

Calaveras: sockets
full of marigolds,
tongues and frosted
window teeth of sugar.

29

Me and me and me,
I and I— Go lie
amid a populace
of bees.

30

What spirits hide, unseen
within the fern? And so
we bend our heads: Your pardon
please as we pass through.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Homunculus.

This entry is part 6 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

31

“The memory of the wicked
shall rot”
— I come to collect
chaff and ash, splinters doubled
from being waterlogged.

32

A little bell made
of moneybags tied around
your neck: Abogado
de campanilla.

33

When you grow up, do not seek
to be a lawyer, soldier, governor,
doctor, king. Grow something
real with your hands.

34

How many cubits to the east?
What depth the wall-posts and what
height the beams? Do not forget
hallways of branching dreams.

35

I kissed the ground
and touched my forehead
to the dust then rose
and gathered up belongings.

36

Happy the cricket
on the window-ledge:
everything dark but for
one bar of fallen light.

 

In response to Via Negativa: L'esprit d'escalier.

This entry is part 7 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

37

Dear mannequin,
you wear your red-
sashed burlap tunic
with aplomb.

38

What time is it
when the soul
calls out in its
loudest voice?

39

Dear honeyed
skein of years,
dear seasons
of salt and fog.

40

We pass from one
encumbrance to another
while the radio
plays a waltz.

41

And all night,
bonfires burn
like sacrifices laid
along the road.

42

The wheel that turns
is not on anyone’s
side: beer and goat meat
today, burnt toast tomorrow.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Book of Martyrs.

This entry is part 8 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

43

Madam, I’ll serve
your interests,
contingent on
your currency.

44

A pearl will do
as well as a bond—
The first one heralds
a string: loss leader.

45

Implacable
promise: your word
on this piece
of paper.

46

Twilight
of perforations
that we call
stars—

47

Have a seat
at my table
and tell me what
you would not eat.

48

On the Day
of the Dead, we collect
the softest bones
of tallow.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 9 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

49

Pebble by pebble
it becomes
possible to widen
the river’s eddy.

50

On its banks
tall grasses hide
such monuments
of sound.

51

Listen in
the deep of night:
what softens
the cheek of silence?

52

Do not say
farewell— this
bridge is not
for burning.

53

I miss most
the flavor
of mornings
at ease.

54

First the dough
must rise; you punch
it down so doubled,
it can rise again.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

This entry is part 10 of 13 in the series Chance: A Poetic Tarot

55

Curved timber
cruck, arms of wood
meeting at the center:
a holding in or out.

56

Flowering
storm, larger
than the compass
of an archipelago.

57

Briefest brush
of mouth to ear or chin:
one leaf to tell of how
I’ve missed you.

58

Rooster crowing
in the yard: a caravan,
our caravan of ragged
belongings!

59

Hands and mouths
to help us empty
storehouses filled
with grain and sound.

60

In the barn
I found a book
held open: a planet
with one rose.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Tithe Barn.