This entry is part 70 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011


Eveline Chainus Guirey, Queen of the Benguet Carnival in 1915
Eveline Chainus Guirey, Queen of the Benguet Carnival in 1915

Where is your silver tea set, that gown of fine
embroidered silk, its train of gauze?

Ropes of pearl wound at your neck,
your tiara’s ruby diadem offset by the dark

waterfall of your hair— so self-
possessed, your bearing wrought by mountain

life, cold air, knowledge of the vengeful gods
whose hungers root, white and deep, hard

within the writhing animal’s entrails.
Askance, you look upon the roaring crowd

at carnival, eight thousand strong who’ve come
to gape at such uncommon beauty. You know the fog

will sift and bloom through centuries,
lay cloudy vermeil upon dissolving bones.

And we wonder if, beneath the city streets
breast-plated with garbage, the blood of some

old sacrifice still smolders, slow
flame the rain can’t quench.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Out of Tune

This entry is part 33 of 34 in the series Breakdown: The Banjo Poems


Round peg in a round hole:
too cozy! It only needs to relax
the slightest bit & the whole
song fails, like a machine
with one slipped gear.

We hold our breaths then
for the single-string walk,
up up up up to pitch. Ah!
And the tune clatters back to life
with a whoop. (One hates to see
John Hardy get away.)

Rare as an heirloom,
particular as an orchid,
miraculous as spring water
flowing from a tap
& durable as a razor strop
is the banjo player’s ear.
It’s the only instrument
in the band that can’t
break down.