Happiness

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 16 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Sometimes what changes is what makes
the landscape finally familiar, why it never
is becalmed for long: the way the air’s clarity—

stabbed with golden light and glistening
like new skin on the birches— can’t stay
that way. A blur’s already unlatching the frame.

I know this even as my friend turns to me
and says, But surely you deserve some
happiness too
? I’m rueful, I know. In that

still life by the window, for instance: my eye
is drawn not to the table with the creamy damask
and the plain but heavy silver. It’s the ochre veins

streaked through the magnolias, it’s their ivory
skirts beginning to droop from the lip of the urn.
It’s the crayon line of fuzz that outlines the too-

soft peaches in the bowl; and beside them, it’s the fly
that’s drowned and gone to heaven in their honey.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

What Cannot Eat

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 15 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

[ With thanks, too, to Nic S. and Dave Bonta for this… ]

How long does hunger hold? Or joy
forestalled? I know that hunger climbs

the trunk of the tree, persistent at its task.
If only each open cup, each well

of blossom had drink enough to douse
that flame— If only the moth that scrolled

its richly tattered cape across
the bark had a mouth; if only its four

half-moons were radiant feast,
enough to settle my restless songs.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Talon

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 14 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

At the harbor front, thick roll of banked clouds; beyond, deeper than velvet, the theatre curtains of night. Across the park, a row of street lamps comes on. Their light is butter-yellow, their light is flicker-dim. A half hour of pelting rain, then finally the boom of fireworks above the river. Silver and gold, blue and lilac and gold. They burst into tendrils like spider plants in the air. Their force is tender, and my chest is a cage of hollow echoes, small winged creatures riding blind and bumping against the walls. Gone the sheer white morning, sky thin enough for the sun’s milk to shine through. Everyone turns away after the last flares flicker and wane. We all want something stronger to tear through the murk and silence, we want to be the hawk that sails clear across the canvas, talon widening the rip from one edge of this world to the other.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Goldfinch in the Garden

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 13 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

All is gold and green in the garden now,
all humid earth beneath a profusion
of honeysuckle. The brass bell in the tree

is quieter than the foragers that come
tracing deliberate arcs through the foliage,
intent on water or sugar or seed. And I,

I want to sort through the inchoate
tumble of words I’ve written and erased,
erased and written again. My mouth

is heavy with salt, numb from wanting even
a drop of honey. And I want so much to tell you
but don’t know how: perhaps this is the only

way to go on: this never-ceasing work
of cobbling from what was given as loss, regret,
or sorrow: pushing it back into the soil, laying it

out in the sun. The coneflower stem breaks under
the goldfinch’s weight, but he moves to another,
probing the darkest center for a hint of seed.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The Gift

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 12 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

Here’s a cigar box, varnished square
decoupaged with magazine cutouts:

here’s the smell of the long untouched,
the spider trail of pale white asterisks

our hands disturbed, now scuttling
across the floorboards. Sepia sheets,

cursive handwriting. Oh how we want
to know there is some kind of secret,

frond sharpened once by a green
and desperate scent— some face

to fasten to our own, however late.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Reconnaissance

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 11 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

There’s that dark-suited convocation
gathered above our heads again, conveniently
screened by leaves: who hasn’t heard
rumors of their self-important agenda,
the steady nattering among themselves
as they deal, petal by pink petal, errant
and seemingly fatal destinies? Every
so often, humid missiles plummet
and find easy targets. Who knows
how many of them sit in session, sniping
from every rung on the tree of heaven?
Listen then: stay clear. Walk the long
way home. Or make a dash for it, head
bent low, gunning for the kill.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Three (More) Improvisations

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 10 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

[see earlier “Three Improvisations” from the Spring Morning Porch series]

1

Hail raining down on lake water means I have hurt you.

Translation: The burn that makes no noise,
the scarlet inflorescence of the skin.
The moon’s neon sign reads smolder. Why
do you think you hear fire sirens in the valley?
But you don’t move, you stay.

2

And the leaf was no longer a leaf but a trellis of itself.

Translation: Coming back from a walk
in the woods he spoke of a ribbon of floating green;
of how, going closer, he saw the near-invisible
spider silk, its tether to the canopy. Say lace,
say beautiful flayed skin.

3

Light is always liminal.

Translation: Spittlebug striped cinnabar and clove,
frothy beard caught in the hollows. Nearby
is beebalm, nearby is sage. Such overdrawn
tenderness we cannot help. We finger each
slick bubble, think we hear the tiny pop.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

El Sagrado Corazon

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 8 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

“Before they call, I will answer.” ~ Isaiah 65: 24

Close to midnight, and it’s raining again.
This hushed: no noisy exchange of crows,
no yellow-billed bickering of cuckoos.

All day I merely counted out, did inventory:
cups of strong coffee, clink of silverware; bread
and butter, pink and white circles of radish

on the dinner plates. Now the rain’s
a flickering curtain, blue-green outside
window glass. On my desk, an old prayer card

where a heart crimson as a globe of fruit
is ringed by thorns, gold-leafed in flame.
Imagine if I took it in my hands,

laid it on the sill or hung it from a branch.
Imagine a ripe fig washed clean by rain,
glistening for the hand that chooses it.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Aubade

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 7 of 93 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2011

 

The pressure of a wheel turning on soft gravel,
a window sliding open. What sound is made

when something slips away and the hand closes
and opens on nothing but cool air in its wake?

The man stirs in the dark and sees the fog
caught in the treetops, the water beyond

just beginning to catch the light as it rises.
He’s restless, or he’s preoccupied with worry.

It begins to rain but he takes his bike
out of the garage, thinking he might follow

the distant chirping of quarry trucks to their source.
It’s early, and even the dog won’t go. Too early

for the dog; it won’t go, but watches him
pedal away in the rain to try to trace the sounds

that roused him, back to their source— not birdsong
though a restless wingbeat rises in the air, and the light

begins to catch at the edges of water. It passes
like fog through the treetops, through his hair;

it passes like a hand closing and opening. That’s
the heart missing what it wants to hold fast.

Look out the window— flicker of narrow
tires on the road; rain, soft earth, loose stones.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.