…the body, that book
of mysteries and secrets, wins again.
Luisa A. Igloria, “Apocrypha“
In my girlhood, I wanted a book of spells,
the kind I might find in a cobwebbed
corner of an attic.
But my newly constructed suburban
house had no attic, no cellar, no secrets
from past generations.
I wanted psychic powers,
ways to bend forces beyond my control.
What spell would I cast?
A snow day perhaps or the ability
to fly, an extra friend or two,
the ability to be alluring.
Now, as I wait for test
results, I divine from a different source
of secrets, books that discuss
the statistics of who lives and who dies,
the treatment options,
how many years of survival, the odds.
But I will never find the secret
worth having: why do some bodies spin
cancerous cells while others destroy
The phone call comes with news
from the underworld:
benign but unusual.
I think of the Magic 8 ball
that we used to shake
for answers: Reply hazy
try again later. I remember
the tarot cards that seemed to predict
the answer we wanted to find.
I schedule a follow up appointment,
answers given in six month increments.
and our mission to beat a carcass
into a word
Dave Bonta, “Bemused”
The neighbor hears
the dishes breaking
and finally understands how to end
the poem she’s been composing
all month, in this time
of tired language and tepid responses.
The neighbor ignores
the news of plagues
and uneasy heads that wear the crowns.
She turns away from the cheap
visions that the vultures try to sell.
She has a freezer full of bones.
The neighbor sets out food
for the kitten who won’t be tamed
and stirs the soup that simmers on the stove.
She hangs the laundry on the line,
prayer flags fluttering in the breeze.
Temperatures swing from one extreme to another:
Triolet: Climate change by Luisa A. Igloria
What bubbles beneath may destroy us:
the ancients warned about the dangers
of suppression. I think of the underside
of Antartica and the weeping of the glaciers.
What bubbles beneath may destroy us:
my floorboards sit two feet
above the sea level that is rising.
What bubbles beneath may destroy us:
what we bring forth may save us.
“I don’t know / if love is slower than time, or if happiness…”
In the country of no sleep, I’ll walk by Luisa A. Igloria
In the country of no sleep, we knit
our shrouds for the funerals
we know will come.
We return the buttons
to their countries of origin
or add them to the tin of castaways.
We darn the socks
slipping our great aunt’s marble egg
into the heel to perform this surgery.
We treat the stains
that will lift from the fabric
and the stains that will leave a ghostly presence.
In our flannel sleepwear, we’ll salvage
what we can, patch the knees
and seats worn through but beloved.
We’ll piece together a quilt
from what can’t be saved.
We will remember the salvation in a sewn seam.
is actually elegy…
Luisa A. Igloria, “The Subject”
This summer I finally threw
away the pens with dried
out inks, the art projects half
done, never to be completed.
I weigh every book, examine
every piece of china for the hairline
crack that presages doom.
We choose a different stain
for the floors in our quest
to bring light to a dark house
The roots of the gumbo limbo trees continue
their quiet domination, buckling
the concrete and brick.
We rebuild everything the hurricane
destroyed while keeping our eyes
on the weather systems which may sow
the first seeds of what could be salvation
or devastation. I water
the petunias even though the heat
has turned them into spindles
of their former glory.
Is it my body
I inhabit, or do I only haunt
a country whose maps have grown
Luisa A. Igloria, “On Suffering”
This body, a box of paints with a broken brush,
a violin with a bow
of exploded horsehair.
But the maker of mosaics knows the value
of shattered glass. The collage artist
pieces the picture together out of fragments.
My body, a swamp to shelter
runaway slaves, a garden run wild.
Some months, the land
produces enough to keep us fed.
Other months, the crops wither
The soil resurrects
itself by consuming every dead
creature back to basic elements
and recycling all our dreams.
We are cameras with vast
digital files and no efficient way of archiving
them. Some days, we can find what we need
in this filing cabinet of doom; some years, we search
with increasing desperation for the lost
material. The best afternoons develop
when we take unplanned rambles
through the weedy, winding paths
so far from home.
Once, I was an athlete, running
long distances in the pre-dawn haze
of summer. Now I set the kettle
on to boil as I plot
the day ahead. Once I breakfasted
on the freshest fruit. Now I bake
muffins, close cousins to cupcakes.
I adorn each one with a quilt
of my homemade lemon curd
and the preserved and sugared rinds
of citrus from the trees that stoop
with gifts for those with eyes to see.
Reincarnation happens here, Mister
Cottonwood. Do not discard any
candidates. All may be re-purposed.
Laura M. Kaminski, “Give Me Your Ravaged, Your Ruined”
My grandmother saved every scrap.
She pieced coverlets from the remainders
of the clothes she sewed,
although she hated quilting.
For all I know,
she might have hated sewing.
But the Depression schooled her in the ways
of thrift, lessons that couldn’t be unlearned.
I still have the sock monkey that my mother
sewed for me, although he bleeds
my mother’s old pantyhose that she used
for stuffing. The fabric of his body is too frayed
to be repaired or repurposed.
I keep a box of clothes too worn
to wear and too stained to use
for fabric art. I have no need for dust rags,
since I use the high tech pads that trap
particles with static. I use
the rags to clean up spills or to oil the furniture.
I slide my hand into the sock
and think of a not-too-distant past,
cotton grown in vast fields, seeds separated
out, fibers spun, and then loomed
into cloth. I think of slaves
and industries that rely on them,
human histories woven in our every fiber.
A different year, a different state,
a different bar…this one called
Suds, and open early, from 8 AM
Laura M. Kaminski, Laundry Poem #4: Suds
A colleague at work owns a washing machine,
but he still goes to the laundromat for the social
interactions. His local washateria must be different
from the ones I remember.
In grad school, decades ago, we did our laundry in groups
so we could keep an eye on our clothes and the unsavory
types that wandered in and out of the harsh
lighting. Later we loaded our cars
to go to Suds, the place near campus
that charged the same hoping
we’d buy beers and play pool while we waited.
I still wash my clothes until they’re threadbare,
a grad school habit left from days when I could scrounge
together laundry money but not enough for a shirt,
not even from the Salvation Army thrift store.
Now I still wash laundry in the earliest
hours of the morning, but it’s a much quieter
event, no pool balls cracking,
no homeless man muttering about the light
of Heaven shimmering just above our heads.
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.