This entry is part 71 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


There is so much I did not know.
For every sapling of silver birch, flowering cherry,
elder, chaste tree and mountain ash—

trees of a darker timber: red stinkwood,
yellow wood, Mukui and Meru oak; mahogany,
Flame kurrajong and cigar cassia.

At the kitchen table over tea and cookies,
my friend visiting from Kenya tells me
of local witchcraft and sorcery.

In the coastal towns of Mombasa, Kilifi, Kwale
and Malindi, a number of fishermen will weave
the hair from albinos into their fishing nets,

believing their golden glimmer will bring
a bigger catch. All the children with bodies
the sun has dusted with its chalk

have gone into hiding, all the men
and women. Their legs and arms are
amulets, their fingers and ears, genitals.

Backlit by the sun, a hoarfrosted forest
glitters with captured ice. I read
news stories of miners

who quarter the limbs of the kidnapped
and bury them like magic stones
to make gold grow.

The crow flies over trails, following
a running stitch of red.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 23 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Letter to Spam

This entry is part 70 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Can you keep a secret? They will never know. In my e-mailbox at work this morning, this message: When wearing one of Practically Genuine’s clones, you won’t have to worry about being caught. How? We manufacture all our products (from the inside/out). Using the same metals, markings, materials as the originals ensures the perfect clone. In 1936 the pantywaist was a type of child’s garment with short pants that buttoned to the waist of the shirt. In Old English, a stole is a long robe, a scarf-like garment. Clergymen wore it. Frankly, I much prefer the sixteenth century use of doublet (root, Fr. duble) as “one of two things that are alike.” Keep this quiet and your friends, family, co-workers, and loved ones will never know the difference. Six inches of fresh powder. A pair of squirrels will wrestle in it, then go up the big maple, couple on the trunk, retreat to separate limbs. All those little gropings in the shadows. Do you need a translator? Think of it. History is full of copies, some of them cutting themselves out of the landscape right now.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 22 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Letter to Rubbermaid and Tupperware

This entry is part 69 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dear aggregate of semi-synthetic solids, dear
clear acrylic, polyester, silicone, polyurethane
or halogenated plastics; menagerie of molded
food boxes separated from their lids and falling
to the floor as I root around in the kitchen
cabinets— I’m certain my ancestors could not
have had the same early morning dilemmas
as I do: where to stash that bit of leftover
scrambled egg or steel-cut oatmeal, which
cute snack holder will keep the grade-
schooler’s cut-up kiwi and blueberries
from spilling and turning the bottom of her
book bag into a mulch of paper and fruit.
Outside, chipmunks traverse a fresh cement of
wintry mix, their tails italic with urgency.
A bento box holds carrot flower cups and
shiso leaves against neat rows of jeweled rice.
Here, shelves of ice-coated branches rattle
in the wind; unrolled, how far east would their
cellophane sheets reach? On highland trails
in my childhood home, woodsmen make
their way to town with provisions in leaf-
lined baskets: boiled shoots and purple yams,
salads of curly fern; dried venison and quail
fermented with smoke, salted with dew.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 21 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Letter to Levity

This entry is part 66 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dear buoyancy, dear levity, dear
little digression; dear necessary respite
from gravity and circumspection, your voice is
just audible over the wind like a junco’s chitter—
Leaves like tongues lift off from the newly melted
forest floor, busily trading all kinds of news
from the world— for instance, why did I not know
before today of Qaddafi’s all-girl coterie of virgin
bodyguards, smart as models in their khaki outfits;
or of how he sometimes likes to camp out in five-
star hotel gardens in a sumptuous, heated Bedouin
tent guarded by a camel? Or of Unsinkable Molly B,
the cow that jumped a slaughterhouse gate and fled
authorities by swimming across the Missouri river?
(She’s safe now in a Montana sanctuary.) They say
that Elton John’s in town this weekend: I want to know
if he’s traveled with the same grand piano that workers
in Tsarkoye Selo scratched their heads over, wondering
how to hoist it through the narrow windows of Catherine
the Great’s gilded ballroom. And what about those three
men in Malaysia who made off with 725,000 condoms
(still missing), or the Mexican woman now on her ninth
day of a hunger strike, demanding an invitation to Prince
William’s wedding? A 35 year-old naked man was captured
on surveillance video taking sausages from the kitchen
of a retirement home. Who knows why these things happen?
Perhaps an inexplicable longing seized them all in the night,
some order not to be disobeyed flashed on in the cortex
of the brain. Once, my daughter’s piano teacher mistook
a gift of strawberry body butter for yogurt. She called,
half laughing and half in pain, saying she was just
so hungry, that it smelled so beautiful and good; and
suddenly she wanted it, more than anything in the world.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 19 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 67 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


If I were a brook I would unwind
like a spool in the sun, shake my green
maracas with sequined stones.

If I were a beet in the soil I’d pulse
like a heart, pull myself out
of my muddy shroud.

If I were a bowl of new
steamed rice I’d curl fringes of steam
and float a grateful face above it.

All over the newly bare field, melting
voices— whispering, murmuring, sighing
and gurgling a hundred ways at once.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 18 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Letter to Affliction

This entry is part 65 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dear ruefulness, dear regret, I’ve rounded
the bend and here you are again in the clearing,
each tree planted like a taper in a circle
of melted ground. How deep are your roots,
really? The sky’s chipped at the rim like an old
piece of crockery— its white band milky,
its saucer mismatched. Where’s the calico
napkin appliqued with cats? I’ve forgotten
if I’ve set the table for dinner or for tea.
Perhaps it’s not too late to take a long
vacation by the sea. A fleet of sandpipers
and gulls holds the rocks at siege. The water
asks over and over, What is the heart?
You know it makes a sound louder
than any internal combustion engine.
Here I am waiting for the skin of leaves
to split open; waiting for lightning
to marble in the marrow.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 17 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry (and to another response-poem, by Dale Favier)

Landscape, with Fake Butterflies and Sick Child

This entry is part 64 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


“Now if it be true that the living come from the dead,
then our souls must exist in the other world, for if not,
how could they have been born again?”

Here’s sunrise, a stain on the western ridge:
errant strip of color someone has stirred,
some buried memory. In the distance,
a long whistle means a train is gliding
into the station, its zipper pulling away—
tracks from trees, trees from the oily
hemline of hills. Late stars flicker, pin
lights in a dim shop window. Just hours
ago, I wandered the aisles of an all-night
drugstore: in the toy section, old-fashioned
mason jars underneath whose lids thin wires
were bent and rigged to painted tin
butterflies. Pressed, the raised button
on the cover triggered convulsions along the line.
Sound of crinkled foil, sound of wings against
mesh screens. Even the soul could not live
in this simulacrum of air. All night I saw
blue and yellow outlines scissor through
the curtains. All night I tended the jangly pulse
at the base of my sleeping daughter’s throat.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 15 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Love Poem with Skull and Candy Valentines

This entry is part 62 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


“…And everich of hem did his besy cure
Benygnely to chese or for to take,
By hir acord, his formel or his make.”
—Geoffrey Chaucer, “Parlement of Foules” (369-371)

In Cosmedin, Rome— in the Chiesa di Santa Maria,
a flower-wreathed skull sits preserved in a shrine
more ornate than any foil-covered box of candy—
that’s Saint Valentine himself, as the hand-lettered
strip of bandage across his brow proclaims.
“Protector of love,” martyr of Terni, he got
couples hitched at a time when (would you believe)
it was illegal to marry. The stories say he was “beaten
with clubs and stoned; and when that failed to kill him,
he was beheaded” outside the Porta del Popolo.
Poor Val, his aquiline nose may even have been broken.
But he seems to have kept most of his teeth, which rest
(some gaps between, though they say that can be sexy)
just inside the edge of the reliquary frame. His gold box
resembles a 1930’s RCA TV, or the consoles in the Dr. Who
episode where an alien disguised as a woman is trying
to take over the world. Even here, the theme is love
and monsters; or love and sex, lust, appetite, desire–
everything you want but can’t actually have, so naturally
you want it even more. On the eve of the festival
of Lupercalia, young Roman boys and girls wrote
their names on slips of paper and put them into jars;
then they held a grand old raffle to find out who
they’d walk hand in hand with the next day, share
a honeyed sweetmeat with, maybe spoon a little,
golden in the olive grove. Did the trees make noise
under the cloudless sky, touching in ways we
rarely do? Everyone loves a little sugar every
now and then; why not them too? Cushioned
in red and gold, the saint would understand
the meanings of excess: candygrams and chalky
conversation hearts (“Sweet Dreams”, “URDGR8ST”,
“Be Mine”, “Big Hugs”), little mounds of milk
chocolate goopy in their maraschino centers,
cardboard boxes lettered with their swirly
tic-tac-toe of X’s and O’s; lacy thong, slinky
sarong, velvet codpiece. Welt of pepper and spice,
ascetic stripe of sea-salt on the hungry tongue.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 14 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Letter to Arrythmia

This entry is part 61 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Dear arrhythmia, dear perennially
side-stepping, asynchronous and rapid
tachycardia, I’ve learned not so much
to fancy up my footwork than to fake
a passable improv: not even time
to do my nails, check my hair or lines
for an audition call— but here we are
again in the molasses of a telenovela,
gliding from moments of near hysteria
then shimmying to the Copacobana
as doors revolve like windmills
in the background… And it’s true, then,
what they say about you: how you break
knees, break hearts, and then ask
Will you dance? Sometimes I want to stop,
just be the wallflower, enjoy the view— be
the one the waiters come and tend to,
their silver trays bobbing with fancy,
pileated tufts of napkins. Oh but I’ve never
known the ease of a downier partner:
only you dealing and dealing it out;
sometimes, more than I can muster.

Luisa A. Igloria
02 13 2011

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

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.