Debris

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 44 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

“What patience a landscape has, like an old horse,
head down in its field.” ~ Denise Levertov

Through the grass, through the tall weeds, brush fires; then winds that blow their alarms, lapping at everything in their path. There go the trees. There go the boxy houses. There go the railroad tracks, yanked like bones from the back of a fish. What else could they eat in a trice? Only the weeds smudged close on the earth escape notice; or the insubstantial calculus of stones. Months later you’ll find a charred copper penny, a mangled boot; the bones of small animals and their grainy reproach.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Hunger

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 43 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Breakfast of weak morning light, trickle of coffee. Steam from heat vents along the street. Tendrils of hunger. Gently I push them down, move them to the back. I say Later, later. And it’s later, and I’m still saying Later, though the sun is high and the clouds now move across the sky, puffs of mousse on a Magritte platter. One of them looks like a young hare: white on white, hunched around its hunger. Another’s corded like the shell on which the goddess floated, like foam on the skin of water. Meanwhile my insides are gnawing on the leaf of impatience. Its veins are green and have no dressing; and butter does not always make everything better. What do I want, what do I need? Later, I tell myself, later. There’s plenty of work, the hours full of obligation. But I know I am not virtuous: I am always my hunger.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Postcard from the Labyrinth

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 42 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Ang mga sinulid ng ulan, tinatahi ang
pira-pirasong damit ng agam-agam.

(Threads of rain are stitching
uncertainty’s tattered garments.)

And at dusk, the filigreed trees, the light that turns everything briefly to gold; and in the bright-dark shimmer, the houses and trees; lamp posts, the cobbled walk edging the park, oil-glazed puddles of water like wax melted down in votives. Oh such honey trapped in a clear glass bell: and like a clapper, the bee’s bright wing to beat and beat against it. You know I would follow the thread from its tangled beginnings, wind it around and around my wrist. When darkness falls, I know I’m not the only one here. Rain fine as mist, faint as silver. Fleeter bodies than mine, hidden amid the trees. My tongue-tied ones, your heartbeats flush the air.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

On the sense of danger or foreboding, the prickling

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 41 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

underneath the skin: who was it that first taught
you to always prepare for the inevitable? So much

for cautious optimism— elegy being the reason
all poems and songs, the different ways we try
to harbor what glimmers before it flutters away,

are beautiful in their brave but measured embrace of
this world. The bird with green-blue feathers bobbed
his tiny head from side to side, perched on the rim

of a tin cup half-filled with water. The small
brass bells with bits of orange ribbon still
tinkle, brushed gently by a finger. And why

do I still gasp, going under the first shock
and spray from a cold shower, or breaking
the film on the pool to try the dead-man’s-float?

Through the skeletal trees, a car engine backfires
several times; but that is not the sound of distant
shots across the water. On the first floor of

the local mall is an old watch-maker. His wall
is full of cuckoo clocks whose doors open and close
on the hour: in one of them, a child comes out with her

bag of crumbs. A girl meets her beau under a linden
tree. Then they sit, facing the sunset. Only the bird
comes back as a bird, who knows the song of time.

– for Picasso, my daughter
Julia’s conure, who will be
sorely missed

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Hot Lyric

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 40 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Reading a poem by Di Piero, …the best
of love is enthusiasm’s/ intense abandon,
a voice/ in song that preys on no one/ and is
unconscious of its joy
, I have to stop and think
hard to remember: when was the last time I
felt such rust-colored joy, ruddy as the copper-
clad teakettle brought quick to the boil,
singing its head off atop the stove?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Ghazal of the Transcendental

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 39 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Why can’t the Buddha vacuum underneath the sofa?
Because he has no attachments. ~ Kaspalita Thompson

 

One of the neighbors has a new statue of the Buddha, plunked down in her garden.
Perhaps she got it at a Black Friday sale, camped out all night, came home singing.

The Buddha teaches that we want to work free of delusion and suffering
in order to ascend, like the wren in the lilac, full-throated, singing.

I don’t know too many intimate details about his life but I do know
the Buddha was not a woman doing chores all day, much less singing.

Suffering is a pain in the ass, in the neck, in the heart mostly; since I
suffer knowing my children’s hurts, will I never know that lithe, joyous singing?

So the sacred verses speak of attachment and illusion. I know, but with all due
respect, it’s hard to feel detached when you nick yourself shaving (not singing).

Perhaps in the wilderness, in solitude, there might not be the struggle that comes of engagement: but even then, there is the noise the mind makes in its own singing.

The Buddha can’t vacuum underneath my sofa. Or under the beds. Or do the dishes.
I know, I know. If I were to detach from these tasks, they’d be easy as singing.

And one must sing rather than drone, don’t you think? Even in the bramble, that’s
what the birds are saying: the richer the song, the more complex the singing.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Paper Ghazal

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 38 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Where waves roll onto the beach, sand the color of sable— that wet
surface on which fleeting messages are written: a kind of paper.

Restaurant napkins, gas station receipts, the merest strip of found
Chinese fortune cookie fortune: I’ve scribbled on these instead of paper.

In a calligraphy book, the character for poetry combines the ideographs
for “mind” and “dancing”. Tiny birds leave prints on the shore: their paper.

Old newspapers, bits of grass, leaves and petals, bark:
sieved through a screen frame, they find new lives as paper.

Sun not yet high, but frost melts quickly. Grass glistens. The world is full
of screens. But I prefer a window full of steam on which to draw— like paper.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Maguindanao Ghazal

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 36 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

Fiat justitia ruat caelum.
(Let justice be done though the heavens fall.)

 

The bodies are no longer there. They’ve dug them up
and carried them off, exhumed from shallow graves.

They’ve laid them out and counted, set torsos and limbs
aright, sewed shut the seams. The sea cannot be their grave.

Who made the pile of fresh dirt at the woods’ edge?
They gored and slit the very air. Oh most depraved.

Not even the womb was sacred. Not kin, not friend, not
bystander. Not hair, not skin struck by gun barrel or stave.

What are they worth, who are no longer here? Warped leaves
in the canopy condemn the unresolved: they won’t forgive.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Ghazal: Chimerae

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 35 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011

 

First poem, last poem, I told my class tonight. Confession:
I’m always writing that dream book, wandering with its chimeras.

Wind and fog, and then just wind. Silhouettes of goldfinches
indistinguishable from leaves. Then silence like a caesura.

In the Iliad: a thing of immortal make, not human, lion-fronted,
snake behind; goat in the middle, breath from a hot caldera.

Always I’m of more than two minds: heart ravenous as a craw,
mud-burdened as an ox. My real self, vertiginous in the sierras.

It’s late November and the birds come back in droves to Mt. Ampacao.
In darkness, hunters wait: 20 meters of nylon nets strung along the frontera.

From high up, the flush of bonfires must look like dawn; the terraces,
low stone walls against the mountainside, like streaks of dark mascara.

High-pitched cries, vague feathered bodies in the mesh. I’m not there but I
too pan the air: I want what flies, what lifts my pulleys, bones, my aura.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.