Landscape, with Mockingbird and Ripe Figs

This entry is part 60 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Like a wren, like an oriole, like the quail—
there’s the mockingbird improvising in the grass.
Chittering call of a Cooper’s hawk, jay that calls
and calls until his double answers. Who
hears my voice crying out in the middle of the day,
who knows to tell the echo from its answer?
The Japanese beetles have gored open
the sides of figs velveting the tree.
You picked my hair clean of shadows.
You dropped little stones in the beaker
so the water rose and I could drink.
Sweet smell of clover, sweet-fingered fruit
ripening to rot upon the sill.
Above the sheets, a spider couples
with its prey. In their eyes’ prismed glass,
our limbs bond into brittle sugar.
That isn’t steam beneath the ceiling.
Outside, small birds continue feeding.
A strangled cry. Finally, the jay calls like a jay.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 12 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

What She Wants

This entry is part 59 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Nearly noon, but only a few
hours since I washed my face
upon rising. The day needs
to bloom harder, needs more
roundness— The swell of plucked
bandurria strings, the glisten
of corn chaff flying, soft
stripes of light dipped in saffron
wash; this thin milk passing for air
bursting instead with pollen,
as if some goddess had carelessly
flicked the dust off her sandals,
as if it were August, and all
she wants is the green-gold
mango hanging from the tree.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 11 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

After Luisa: two poem sequences

Yesterday and today, Dale Favier left poems in response to Luisa Igloria’s poems in the comments at the Morning Porch, and both times it prompted a further exchange between Luisa and me as time permitted. Here are the results.

Jessie’s wearing a knit belt,
a band of vivid pink.

She whistles the beginning of something
again and again.

I glance down at my coffee.
When I look back up

she’s pulled on a gray sweater
and gone to look at the sky.

—Dale Favier


(This made me smile in two ways at once. Well done!
—Dave Bonta)


Things That Make Me Smile
In Two Ways At Once

Flounced ruffles
Swagger-me boots
Lost and found capers
A long drink
of something mint
Dimpled time
A lie-in
Bright circlet
inside a small hour
Homing like
the hummingbird
That little dish
of nectar partly
hidden in
the leaves—

—Luisa A. Igloria


Jessie’s wearing boots of mint. She whistles the hummingbird out of the leaves in another story, one without curved bakery cases and metal tubes that hiss into small cups. In this dimpled time, nectar drips from gold cages, & a sad lawyer feeds himself to a lie-in. She hums & taps her toe. She homes in.



Bedtime Story

But what if she hasn’t learned how to whistle? Will the hummingbird come out of hiding, will it part the leaves for a pucker, for a yodel, or if she crooned? Will it flutter its wings more rapidly than eyelashes? Summer is a long way away. Summer is stripes of vermilion, the plumage of birds of paradise. She looks out where the wind has started sifting fine snow again. The birdbath is an upturned bundt pan ringed by tiny marzipan leaves. Knock on its sides and the echo circles the garden. When it’s cold, we want to suck everything down to the marrow, forgetting the fire in the feathers, the smolder in the song. The sad lawyer in the canopy bed stops alternately tossing in the sheets and sitting up to smooth them. She regales him with stories, pretending she is Sheherazade: short of the endings, before daylight, she braids their ends and coils them flat as coins. Laughing, she tells him he must find them himself. She hides them underneath the mattress, then wishes she were a florin, a ducat, a coronet dollar piece.



(three tanka)

That ache in the lungs
on a very cold dawn—
I almost enjoy it.
The blue near the horizon
is the earth’s own shadow.

Half-in, half-out,
a leaf flaps
from the frozen birdbath.
I pluck an unsightly hair
from the bridge of my nose.

In the post office window,
the clerk & I compared
ten dollar bills.
1001 spam emails
vanish with one click.



That ache in the lungs
on a very cold dawn,
that blue near the horizon—

Across the counterpane
I’ve chased my shadow
half-in, half-out of sleep—

I fill the chamber with ink
and the nib presses
against creamy paper—

Ink color named after a battle,
cornfields bordering
Antietam creek—

That ache in the wake
of language, words like pennants
marking what can’t ever be held—

As in a roomful of people
where I find I’m still always
speaking to you—


* * *

In the massage room is
a trickle-water fountain
which pricks the Reiki music
with little pings of drips.

That high harsh sound
of something tearing
is only my tinnitus.

I believe for a desolate moment
she is going to lay her head
down on my oiled chest.



A man built a city
in his basement out
of balsa wood, all so
the model people
riding round & round
on his train wouldn’t
get bored. Look!
There’s a fountain,
as artificial as in
real life! And trees
with an ageless foliage
that won’t show dust.
I crouch down & peer
under the table.
A rat trap has been
baited with what looks
like catfood. We have
just been introduced
to his wife’s collection
of orchids, & I am
still agog: all those
ornate enticements
for special lovers who
will never find them,
so far into the country
of winter in their hot
glass house.



So far into the country
of winter in their hot
glass house they find
the abandoned piano,
a yellowed score and jazz
notes drifting overhead.
She follows the scent
of ginger and he follows
her down the winding
corridor. The air is cool
in rooms carved from old
wood. He looks for twigs
to whittle, happiest finding
stray pieces that the wind’s
blown in, or that the surf
washes up on shore.
No matter, they can both
admire the heavy tapestry
embroidered with a garden–
all the vines and brambles,
clusters of fruit shot through
with gold thread; the lovers
outlined in white and sienna,
each with their haltered
animals: they bend toward a chink
in the wall that separates them,
press ear and mouth against
the place they might align with
the other; they hear the short
relay of filtered breath.


Landscape, with Water Fountain, Small Clouds and Endless Lyric

This entry is part 58 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


In the foyer, I’ve installed
a tabletop fountain: four
gradated stone-like bowls
balanced lip to bottom, one
atop the other; water pouring
from a fluted edge down to
the basin, where a tiny engine
drives the stream up and up
again. Miniature homage to
perpetual motion, its murmur
audible until we pull the plug
before we go upstairs to bed
at night. And it will never
ice over, never fill with pond
scum, floating koi or iridescent
insect bodies, its purpose simply
to distill some part of what teems
without cease outdoors, without
relief but only momentary stay—
Today, bitter cold; high wind
at sunrise sends small clouds
in search of sun— perpetual errand,
as leaves keep trying to transmute
the thin, harsh sounds of tearing
before they flutter to the ground.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 10 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry, via Blackberry. And now Dale Favier has posted a response to Luisa’s poem…


This entry is part 57 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dawn: a thin band of vivid pink. I glance down at my coffee,
and when I look back it’s gone, the sky is gray.

In the crowded station, volatile citrus spray.
I look around but cannot find the orange rind.

New girl at the coffee shop— Between taking orders, her brown
barrette glints like a clipped accent from somewhere else.

Where did the four green slices of starfruit go?
The pineapples on the serving plate are silent.

Last night, in my living room, the poet who wrote of temples
and butterflies slid off his sandals and padded barefoot to the dinner table.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

UPDATE: Some more poems happening in the comment thread over there.

“Last night’s wet snow…”

This entry is part 56 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Last night’s wet snow sticks here
or there, creating alpine trails
beneath the shadow of low walls,
leaving blank spaces where the wind
has drawn its hasty maps and then
like some cartographer unsure
of where the continents might lie,
erased them… In one of these
pockets drawn as wintry latitudes,
bergamot heads confer, a little
brotherhood of toques blanches.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Monday Landscape, with Clocks Borrowed from Dali

This entry is part 55 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


“Caeditur et tilia ante jugo levis…”
(“A light linden-tree also is felled betimes for the yoke…”)
–Virgil, Georgics I

Inside, all the clocks are blinking,
as though even time could not fully
wake to Monday morning. Should I walk
down the hall and flip each limp clock face,
counting and stretching in succession?
They droop along the mantel’s edge, unstuffed
quesadillas before the hot comal and the salsa picante.
Did you know that if you put ham and cheese
between two flour tortillas, you have instead
what they call a syncronizada? Cut into pie-
shaped wedges they might resemble six
two-hour bites of the clock, which might explain
the reference to time-keeping. Or perhaps
it’s simply from our habits of always
keeping time, watching the clock: no more
than three minutes in the shower, five
to grab a coffee and banana, an hour to get
the kids to school and ourselves to work
if we should be so lucky; an hour for lunch,
a morning for sifting through the flour
and meal of correspondence… Who
has the time anymore to notice the squirrel
tunneling back into the icy snow, the neighbor
walking to his truck a quarter mile away?
Above our heads, the rough-hewn hours
shift into shapes of ploughs. Soon,
along the avenues, leaves will mottle
the linden trees: whole libraries of green
lifting their faces in a chorus to work and time.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Ghazal of the Open Water

This entry is part 54 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Bird silhouettes go up and down the laddered
dogwood branches; in the ditch, a strip of open water.

How do they thrive upon so little?
Their shadows ripple like blooms upon the open water.

Riding back from the city on a train, swaths
of farmland, then the flash of open water.

The days, so cold and riddled with damp rain.
And still I’d rather have the clarity of open water.

These months and years have strung their tears
and prayers together: o grant us passage now to open water.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry (via Blackberry).

Vanishing Point

This entry is part 53 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


“Look at the birds in the sky. They do not sow or reap
or gather into barns…”
Matthew 6:26

The sky and ground are the same
flat white, as if for once the sights
trained by the worm low in the earth
and that of the bird dangling from a branch
have merged with one another, and now
there is no difference between earth
and heaven, duty and desire. Your mother cheers
the squirrel bounding over the icy crust; and mine,
by text from thousands of miles away, reminds me
of small creatures that do not glean or gather,
and yet increase. In a book fallen open
on my lap, a poet I’ve just met* has penned
a song of sorry lovers, who’ve whispered
“Take me. You know you want to.” In this world,
how are we supposed to know how all these bridges
connect to one another, why it is that some exact
a toll while at others, the way seems clear as bright
ribbons of space and light, merging with the horizon.

Luisa A. Igloria

*Kelli Russell Agodon, “Song of the Sorry Lovers”, from Letters from the Emily Dickinson Room (White Pine, 2010)

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Dim Sun, Dim Sum

This entry is part 52 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dim sun, your soft
floury edges today
make me think of steam
clouds under a wicker basket,
pillowy mounds of dough
pulled into a pucker
atop sweet or savory buns…
Let the glittery icicles
on twigs and branches trade
their hard-edged, fishnet-
stockinged gossip above us all,
here at an oilcloth-covered table
in a little hole in the wall
where the air is fragrant
with ginger and scallions
and dark plum sauce.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s entry at Moving Poems.