with all the evening music
great as a prayer
Dave Bonta, “Red-Lined“
I awake early on the Feast
of All Saints and take
my coffee to the porch.
Once I would have stayed
awake until this hour, wringing
all the celebration possible
out of our All Hallows Eve.
I say a prayer for all those departed,
the ones gone much too early from the party.
Once I would have lit the candles
and declared my love
of thin spaces. Now I fear the hunger
of ghosts who are not ready
to leave and the hooligans
who take advantage of the dark.
I touch the pumpkin’s crumpled face
collapsed from the candle’s heat.
I put the gourd on the pile
of tree limbs ripped from the body
of the tree canopy during September’s storm.
I hear one lone bird singing
either a prayer to greet
the morning or a lullaby before sleep.
I look to the sky, still dark,
no message in the stars.
we fall from hell
into a committee meeting
“Fall” by Dave Bonta
Before he goes to the department meeting, he watches
old nuclear war movies on the Internet. He fast
forwards to the moment of destruction:
mushroom clouds bloom in the background
as he prepares his notes.
During the meeting, she
finds comfort in the words
of John the Baptist. “I am not
the Messiah.” She repeats
this mantra as she tries
to think through the ramifications
of bad budget numbers.
I realize too late that I should not have listened
to punk music on my way to work.
I emerge from the meeting yearning
to be sedated. Instead, I make another binder
of documents that will yellow
into insignificance. I think of paperless
offices and other promises of a future
yet to arrive.
Let us not spend
these remaining days being experimental
and eating nothing
Luisa A. Igloria, “If these are the last days”
Is this the end of days
or simply the end of the year?
Either way, we behave
the same: for breakfast, we eat
cookies full of butter and nuts.
We begin home repair projects unlikely
to be finished. We eat salad
for lunch, because we may survive
and need some nutrients.
In the afternoon, we meet friends
for tea and conversations that deepen
in the gathering dusk. During the evening lit
only by the table-top trees, we eat
the last of the cookies and await
the final answers.
We were always
Trying to run toward each other.
Luisa A. Igloria, “Landscape in an afterlife“
Once again, you find yourself
on the old revolutionary road
with the houses that once hid
the asylum seekers.
The long road stretches
before you, overgrown
with brambles and struggling seedlings.
You see the fires
ahead, burning cities
or perhaps the lights
of fellow travelers.
Smoke hides the mountains.
The road is lined
with the suitcases of immigrants
who abandoned all the essentials
they once lugged to a new country.
You have kept your treasures
sewn into your hemlines, heirloom
seeds and the small computer chip
that holds your freedom papers.
Your grandmother’s gold hoops dance
in your earlobes and twinkle
around your fingers.
You hear the voices of the ancestors,
colored with both reason and panic.
Go faster, they urge.
You are needed up ahead.
Not accepting, not rejecting
says the Buddha as the demons
elect to live with him
Hospitality for demons by Luisa A. Igloria
I think of the demons
that have kept us company
through the ages.
Now we have medications
that quiet the howling
of some of these demons.
But still some ask for stories
and a glass of milk.
Some make stronger demands,
and we struggle to deliver.
On the morning after the election
the seething wind finally silenced,
I startle from sleep, mistaking
the cat’s crying
for a larger weeping.
I listen for the call of the ancient
prophet or the modern Romero,
and hear the rustle in the palm trees.
On this holiday, the living
visit the cities of the dead…
Remembering the dead by Luisa A. Igloria
The dead do not want
your candles or your picnics,
all your attempts to stay connected.
The dead scoff
at your sugar skulls
and all the ways you try
to sweeten the truth.
You will join them soon
enough, so leave the dead
to their own devices. Conduct
your business in the land
of the living. Wear your baubles
because they are beautiful,
not because you hope
that they can protect
you from the malevolent spirits,
the ones your grandmother warned
you of, thousands of them,
keeping watch over every hour.
mediums; the ones who never deign to tell us anything
about that future whose smell we already know.
“Always, the women get their hands dirty” by Luisa Igloria
The wind changes direction, and we smell
the future, just a hint of iron
underneath the scent of oyster
beds at low tide.
I think of ancient ancestors
who could forecast the week’s weather
based on the wanderings
of each cloud. But I consult
the oracles through my computer.
My oracles will be silenced
tonight. The wind howls
around my closed hurricane shutters.
I can smell the distant miseries
that this storm has folded
into itself, the despair that threatens
to fill the house with sorrow.
I add extra spices to the pot of stew,
some peppers dried during a distant harvest.
Although I still have electricity, I light
the candles and turn off
every switch. I fill the lamps with oil.
I could live forever in this light
that hides the dust intent on colonizing
I give the stew one last stir and tuck
towels at every entrance. I rock
in the chair carved long ago for a pregnant
bride. I open the antique
prayer book and let the ancient rhythms
cast their spell.
After the Eucharist, the clean
up, every plastic cup consigned
to the trash, pottery chalice
and plate rinsed in the sink.
I take the bread to the butterfly
garden. I tear scraps
of unleavened rounds into crumbs
which I scatter across the ground.
The children delight in pouring
the undrunk but consecrated
wine into the flowers, where it drips
down to the soil below.
I imagine caterpillars drunk
on God’s love made visible
in sacrament, birds pecking
in the dirt, surprised
to find a blessing,
bushes bursting with blooms
in improbable colors.
Inspired by Dave Bonta’s “Inner city” and Luisa A. Igloria’s “What can you do with day old bread?“
But as always the taxicab
of history picks up its passengers, takes them where
they think they want to go; then leaves them there.
“Current Events” by Luisa A. Igloria
Some people take the taxicab of history,
dingy with worn seats
and a strange smell that no one can identify.
Our rulers travel in their own vehicles,
a glamorous car with a crew of soldiers
to protect them from the ones they serve
or an airplane high above the land.
Many will take the Greyhound bus of history,
if they’re lucky. It can be crowded,
with a restroom too dreadful to use,
but at least the progress is usually swift and steady.
Most of us have no vehicle.
We walk our shoes to shreds as we trudge
across deserts that were once ancient seabeds.
We take that last desperate swim
between continents, the savage
sea creatures surrounding us no more harmful
than the predators left behind.
how for years I was taught:
fly low under the radar.
Luisa Igloria, “Only“
Amish quilters made intentional mistakes
because only God can craft
items of perfection.
I make mistakes without precision,
scattering them across my work
with great abandon, as if to ward
off evil spirits.
Those spirits will move
on to haunt those who are too proud
of their precise stitches, their perfect
children, their houses ready to grace
the cover of glossy magazines.
I fly under the radar
of every evil spirit with my chaotic
collection of art supplies spread
out across every surface, children frolicking
in paint or mud.
But my children get their nightly baths
before being tucked into beds with bright
quilts with crooked seams. I will tell
them one last story
about the woman who abandoned
the neatness of numbered columns
for the spatter of paint and the magic
of fairy cakes in the overgrown garden.