Undertones

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 13 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

In the dark, before I rose, the sound of a thin high cry fluttering over the hedge.

What I thought was sand or a handful of gravel aimed at the glass turned out to be rain.

This is not an attempt to make small talk over a finger-length of bread, a thin wheel of fruit— paper napkin clutched between forefinger and balancing thumb.

Most days are hard to forecast: yesterday, they said thunderstorms, but the hours extended like a bright shingle at the height of summer.

You see, I worried about the recently transplanted verbena, but they seem to have recovered in that brief scattering of rain.

The dogwood, confused by the heat last winter, has decided to trust the air again.

What do I miss? I miss the low-creeping mimosa: those shy ones, they shrink from every touch— every leaf folding inward neatly, even in the merest wind.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Round Mat #2

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 12 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

My friend in Villalimpia writes that the manugbanig, the women weavers in a village in Bukidnon, have made even more wondrous mats this time around: fronds dyed the colors of tamarind or camachile, siniguelas, turmeric, champaka.

She tells me she will send them to me and my sister-in-law in July through a friend traveling to a peace conference in northern Virginia: I only know his name is “Al.”

When I ask how to get the payment to the weavers, she tells me there is no hurry now, but we should plan for it to get to them in June, when they will use it to pay tuition for the weavers’ children.

Perhaps they go to school in the center of town, or in the city where there are internet cafes, department stores, malls, arcades, beer gardens, bowling alleys.

They might walk or they might take a tricycle or a jeepney or bus.

Some of them are still being taught how to do this work perfected by their mothers and grandmothers.

Their hands must learn to tell one leaf from another, how to grasp with strength but tenderness so as not to bludgeon the stalk; how to turn the hands into a shuttle flying through the tedious hours in the rainy months until the colors are palpable, acquire a distinct smell…

When you lie in the center of such a mat, sometimes it is hard to tell if you are in the center of an eddy or a wheel, or in the eye of a hurricane churning over the sea— mere speck suspended in history, which always precedes you.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Fun with Han Shan

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

The Myriad Things:

I’ve been entertaining myself over the last few days translating some poems by Han Shan; and just for the hell of it, I thought I’d post one translation here. I don’t write much poetry of my own (although I used to), so I’m enjoying the experience of taking a break from writing prose, and tinkering with translations.

[…]

Between my feet
      the green grass sprouts,

above my head
      the red dust falls,

and seeing me there,
      the common folk

surround my bed
      with funeral wine and flowers.

Limited offer: 20% off on the print version of Twelve Simple Songs

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Twelve Simple SongsI just got the following communication from Peecho.com, the Dutch print-on-demand service I’m using for the print version of my new collection of poems and photos, Twelve Simple Songs:

Thanks for using Peecho! We think it’s awesome that you are starting to generate orders through our service. To celebrate, we’re giving you 20 free coupons so you can offer 20% OFF to your customers and friends!

I’ll distribute the coupon codes on a first-come, first-served basis. Contact me if you’d like one, and then input the code when you place your order. I’m told by someone who just used a coupon that the 20% is taken off the entire price, including shipping and handling — an even better deal than I originally thought.

If you’d like to order more than one copy at 20% off (which I think would save a lot on postage per copy), let me know and I’ll put one coupon code aside for you and wait a week to see what the demand is like on the others. In other words, I’d like everyone who wants a coupon to get one, but if there aren’t 20 takers, then I’ll consider applying the coupons to orders of more than one.

And of course if you’d just like to read, listen to or watch a film version of the book and don’t care about getting it in print form, be my guest.

Solace

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

“…Bago mo muling matingnan ang maningning na pag-ibig,
kailangang matakpan ang paglalakbay ng tanging itim…”
~ “Ang Isa Pang Pangalan ng Pag-Ibig,” Rebecca T. Anonuevo

(“…The road will be cloaked in a singular darkness
before you gaze again upon love’s brilliant face…”
~ trans. L. Igloria, from “The Other Name of Love,” by Rebecca T. Anonuevo)

 

And in that cleft of rock, that
desolate stretch lit by no sign,

no lamp nor welcoming hut, you’ll hear
the stops of all drowned instruments

singing from the bottom of the lake and add
your voice— How long have you walked

and over what distance? By this time,
it will no longer matter: the chains

that bound you to your suffering will have
grown brittle; there won’t be any need

to find the blacksmith in this town.
Lay down, lay down upon the grass

and watch the trails of your breath
release, like tiny sparks, under the moon.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Paradoxen.

Unto every one that hath shall be given;

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 11 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013

 

and unto every one that hath not, the sky
will never be enough. Unto every branch
fixed with blossom, and unto every one
drooping, armless, or shaded with decay—
And what about the ones that have
no allegiance either way, that take
or render merely as seasons dictate?
Sun, rain, wind, drought, hail— each
hastens a different growth: the way
I tend my affections for you, beloved
that I cannot ever truly own, or hold.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The day after Earth Day from the morning porch

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall

Earth Day is bullshit. (My favorite comment on the day was from nature writer and curmudgeon Chris Clarke on Twitter: “I am to Earth Day as @Space_Kitty is to St. Patrick’s Day. Prefer to stay home while everyone else vomits green for a day.”) It’s true that I decided to begin serializing qarrtsiluni‘s long-overdue Animals in the City issue yesterday, but that was sheer coincidence. Looking at the past six years’ worth of updates in the sidebar of The Morning Porch, I notice that it’s the day after Earth Day—April 23—when I seem to have my eyes and ears the most open:

April 23, 2008
A male starling—a rarity here—lands among the cherry blossoms, iridescent black feathers speckled with white. He gargles musically.

April 23, 2009
A moment of sunlight illuminates the yard. Water seeps from the mountain’s every pore. The starling is doing its best to talk like a duck.

April 23, 2010
Mid-morning sun: I’m almost baking until the wind blows, cool as midnight, the chitter of goldfinches interrupted by a raven’s cronk.

April 23, 2011
Four gray squirrels interrupt their chasing to scold the feral cat—a Two Minutes’ Hate. In the corner of my eye, the zip of a winter wren.

April 23, 2012
Snow falling faster than it can melt. Unto every one that hath shall be given, says the sky: hawthorn and bridal wreath now twice as white.

April 23, 2013
Clear—but how clear? I notice a faint haze in the sky near the sun. Off in the woods, the white cloud of another shadbush coming into bloom.