After Luisa: two poem sequences

Yesterday and today, Dale Favier left poems in response to Luisa Igloria’s poems in the comments at the Morning Porch, and both times it prompted a further exchange between Luisa and me as time permitted. Here are the results.

Jessie’s wearing a knit belt,
a band of vivid pink.

She whistles the beginning of something
again and again.

I glance down at my coffee.
When I look back up

she’s pulled on a gray sweater
and gone to look at the sky.

—Dale Favier


(This made me smile in two ways at once. Well done!
—Dave Bonta)


Things That Make Me Smile
In Two Ways At Once

Flounced ruffles
Swagger-me boots
Lost and found capers
A long drink
of something mint
Dimpled time
A lie-in
Bright circlet
inside a small hour
Homing like
the hummingbird
That little dish
of nectar partly
hidden in
the leaves—

—Luisa A. Igloria


Jessie’s wearing boots of mint. She whistles the hummingbird out of the leaves in another story, one without curved bakery cases and metal tubes that hiss into small cups. In this dimpled time, nectar drips from gold cages, & a sad lawyer feeds himself to a lie-in. She hums & taps her toe. She homes in.



Bedtime Story

But what if she hasn’t learned how to whistle? Will the hummingbird come out of hiding, will it part the leaves for a pucker, for a yodel, or if she crooned? Will it flutter its wings more rapidly than eyelashes? Summer is a long way away. Summer is stripes of vermilion, the plumage of birds of paradise. She looks out where the wind has started sifting fine snow again. The birdbath is an upturned bundt pan ringed by tiny marzipan leaves. Knock on its sides and the echo circles the garden. When it’s cold, we want to suck everything down to the marrow, forgetting the fire in the feathers, the smolder in the song. The sad lawyer in the canopy bed stops alternately tossing in the sheets and sitting up to smooth them. She regales him with stories, pretending she is Sheherazade: short of the endings, before daylight, she braids their ends and coils them flat as coins. Laughing, she tells him he must find them himself. She hides them underneath the mattress, then wishes she were a florin, a ducat, a coronet dollar piece.



(three tanka)

That ache in the lungs
on a very cold dawn—
I almost enjoy it.
The blue near the horizon
is the earth’s own shadow.

Half-in, half-out,
a leaf flaps
from the frozen birdbath.
I pluck an unsightly hair
from the bridge of my nose.

In the post office window,
the clerk & I compared
ten dollar bills.
1001 spam emails
vanish with one click.



That ache in the lungs
on a very cold dawn,
that blue near the horizon—

Across the counterpane
I’ve chased my shadow
half-in, half-out of sleep—

I fill the chamber with ink
and the nib presses
against creamy paper—

Ink color named after a battle,
cornfields bordering
Antietam creek—

That ache in the wake
of language, words like pennants
marking what can’t ever be held—

As in a roomful of people
where I find I’m still always
speaking to you—


* * *

In the massage room is
a trickle-water fountain
which pricks the Reiki music
with little pings of drips.

That high harsh sound
of something tearing
is only my tinnitus.

I believe for a desolate moment
she is going to lay her head
down on my oiled chest.



A man built a city
in his basement out
of balsa wood, all so
the model people
riding round & round
on his train wouldn’t
get bored. Look!
There’s a fountain,
as artificial as in
real life! And trees
with an ageless foliage
that won’t show dust.
I crouch down & peer
under the table.
A rat trap has been
baited with what looks
like catfood. We have
just been introduced
to his wife’s collection
of orchids, & I am
still agog: all those
ornate enticements
for special lovers who
will never find them,
so far into the country
of winter in their hot
glass house.



So far into the country
of winter in their hot
glass house they find
the abandoned piano,
a yellowed score and jazz
notes drifting overhead.
She follows the scent
of ginger and he follows
her down the winding
corridor. The air is cool
in rooms carved from old
wood. He looks for twigs
to whittle, happiest finding
stray pieces that the wind’s
blown in, or that the surf
washes up on shore.
No matter, they can both
admire the heavy tapestry
embroidered with a garden–
all the vines and brambles,
clusters of fruit shot through
with gold thread; the lovers
outlined in white and sienna,
each with their haltered
animals: they bend toward a chink
in the wall that separates them,
press ear and mouth against
the place they might align with
the other; they hear the short
relay of filtered breath.


5 Replies to “After Luisa: two poem sequences”

  1. What fun! But your sticky post made me think that you haven’t been posting since Monday, so I never scrolled south of it until just now when I began to wonder why you had grown so silent around here. (I’ve only just learned about sticky posts.)

      1. Mucking around in WordPress forums recently, I’m amazed at all I don’t know. (And the teckies’ responses to my inane questions have toughened me up for the likes of you!)

        1. :) I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve left a comment in the forums at — not for the faint of heart!

          I subscribe to several WP-related blogs and keep up with new developments that way. There’s at least one “improvement” coming in 3.1 that I am not looking forward to: a front-of-the-site admin bar that will display for logged-in users, similiar to what users of a multi-site installation see. I prefer to see my site the way regular visitors do. Also, the much-ballyhooed custom post formats on the way are interesting but nothing we couldn’t have already added to a WordPress theme with a modicum of styling. Like many new features, their inclusion is something only professional developers will get excited about, part of a long term strategy to morph WordPress into a full-featured CMS to rival Drupal. So from the perspective of those of us who just want to blog, there’s massive code-bloat, but if you don’t want your installation to become vulnerable to hackers, you have to keep up-to-date to take advantage of regular security fixes. And thus the supposed freedom of an open-source product remains fairly theoretical for everyone but very advanced techies. Anyway…

          1. (I have a priority for them: make multiple-user blogs as easy to put together as regular blogs. They folded WPMU into the same install with 3.0, but it’s still a lot of work under the hood to make it fly, from what I’ve read.)

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