Dream Metonymy

This entry is part 20 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13


I have been here before, it is no accident:
even if here is in the last dream my friend has
before waking this morning in New Bedford, MA—
I can see exactly how we walked through the main street
in our hometown across the sea, looking in the shops,
digging our hands into our jean pockets for warmth.
Here is the Chinese restaurant famous for its noodles
and egg pie, here is the barbershop with its candy-
striped light. Here in a storefront window is an old-
fashioned printing press, and maps of the Philippines
drawn in blue-green ink. Here in a snow globe,
a red-tailed hawk flies clockwise then counter-
clockwise over ruins of the ancestral home.
When I hold it in my hand and twirl it,
wind stirs up sieved tears, a storm of ice.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


“Tell me, stranger,
what love should be called.” ~ D. Bonta

Not apple or rose, not cerise;
not the nub of cartilage bobbing in the larynx.

Not hail or a plague of boils from sole to crown,
not the hot winds blowing through desert towns.

Not even the salve or the prayer,
not the miniature hidden in the mural.

Not the pleasures of mouth on skin.
Not the void in the harvest bin.


In response to Via Negativa: Stranger.


erasure of a page from Samuel Pepys' diary

[“Tell me, stranger,
what love should be called.”
The stranger preached the whole book
then went into court.
A drum came by, beating
a strange manner of beat—
now and then a single stroke.
I wondered at what I saw
but did not speak.]

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Sunday 5 February 1659/60.


This entry is part 19 of 29 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2012-13


Do you remember the stories about the girl given one impossible task after another? I do not mean the one where she goes to the middle of the field to confess the sorrows of her heart to an old stove, nor the one where she passes the city gates to greet the bloodied head of a horse whose sole rider she once was— though perhaps that is the same story? I do like the one that begins with the great despair of the uncountable: a heap of grain— or is it salt or sugar or pearls?— that she must reckon by nightfall. It ends as such stories do, with a certain hope held out to those like us: how the marginal creatures emerge from the interstices to take the mountain apart, crumb by patient crumb.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Hanging jack

erasure of a page from Samuel Pepys' diary

[My lute an office
where I expect to walk.

I found a stone in mourning
for the temple.

Bread and butter were discoursing
of the great eater.

I remember a hanging jack
to roast birds—that heat.

I played a while on my lute
and could not kill anything.]

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 4 February 1659/60.

New Year

At the dim sum restaurant, the woman who recently arrived from China with her nine year old son to join the man she married, explains that in her province the women adore crackling pork and chicken skin. She says the fat underneath— unctuous, soft like jelly— is wonderful for the skin. Collagen, says the doctor at our table. Or at least that is what I think he says, though he shakes his head when the server offers a steamer basket of spicy chicken feet. Her skin is smooth and clear, rosy like alabaster. She’s wearing hardly any makeup, but her cheeks are flushed pink as though she has just come in from the cold. Now they are are talking about wedding rings, about how, at Christmas, her husband took her and the boy to visit his parents in Pennsylvania. How the snow, so high and light, was such a wonder to them both they played in it all day. And the ring! They only realized later that her wedding ring had slipped off her finger in the snow. I listen to the story and imagine the spangled grains closing around the gold band with its tiny diamond, every surface perfect and faceted with light. They bought a metal detector to help them search, until they gave it up for good. But weeks later, when the snow melted, her father-in-law found it and sent it back to them in the mail! With his palms face down, her son mimes the way they moved the metal detector over the snow-covered yard. Then he opens the new year envelope he has been given, unfolds a crisp five dollar bill and asks his stepdad if he is right, if that is the Lincoln Memorial on the back. The servers put two teapots on the table; the one with the chopstick sticking out of the spout is the flower tea.


In response to small stone (216) and Via Negativa: Flock.


“Memory and forgetting,
two versions of the same story.”
~ Eugene Gloria

If you think you have surely come to the bottom of the bowl and nothing else
could ever fill it again, why does the silverware gleam so kindly?

If night is a mattress filled with buckwheat and sheeted in linen,
why does the body perch on the narrow ledge of the warm radiator?

If you had two of the same thing,
would you give the other away?

If two of the same thing really make only one thing,
would giving it away mean you get to keep its shadow?

If one thing shone in your mind like a beautiful bird flying into a clearing,
would you desire to approach it with a leash?

If the intellect is a muscle, is the heart the arrow
that whistles quietly until it finds its mark?


In response to Via Negativa: Downer and thus: Savor.

Water men

erasure of a page from Samuel Pepys' diary

[All in town go by water
and talk with the water, desire
to be water: a dress of ten thousand hands.
The water received the water
and they made a great deal of joy to see one another.
I left off my great skirt
and went to sell a horse
for a dish of herrings.]

Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 2 February 1659/60.