Dancer

~ after Paula Rego, “The Dance” (1988)

So late in the season, so blue
on this beach pearled by the moon—

and still it seems I haven’t learned
how not to be so stiff, or what it takes

to be taken into these circles that move
with apparent easy regard— how everyone’s

hand slips so easily into another’s, how
each seems to know perfectly the role

they should play. The woman’s gold-sheathed
hip pleats into the man’s, and then a child

flowers in that space between them. Soon the child
herself grows into mother, into crone. Above them all,

only the ramparts of the old fortress seem un-
changed. But the one that holds herself apart lifts

one edge of her dress as if testing its weight:
she can still choose, can’t she? She can twirl

in silence, observe how the silks of her dress
open and float like a parachute in the wind.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

Two

Up, and discoursing with my wife, who is resolved to go to London for good and all this day, we did agree upon giving Mr. Sheldon 10l., and Mrs. Barbary two pieces, and so I left her to go down thither to fetch away the rest of the things and pay him the money, and so I to the office, where very busy setting Mr. Poynter to write out my last night’s worke, which pleases me this day, but yet it is pretty to reflect how much I am out of confidence with what I had done upon Gibson’s discourse with me, for fear I should have done it sillily, but Poynter likes them, and Mr. Hater also, but yet I am afeard lest they should do it out of flattery, so conscious I am of my ignorance.
Dined with my wife at noon and took leave of her, she being to go to London, as I said, for altogether, and I to the office, busy till past one in the morning.

we held on
two pieces of thin ice
where night leases day
like a flat in London
together till past one


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Saturday 2 December 1665.

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

Toward Winter

Decades later, and still
I arrow toward you, even if only
in the mind— my flint pieces,
chipped from this lifetime

of toil: some sides dull, some
burnished to the sharpest they
will ever be. All these birds
resting at the hem of the river,

picking through bittercress
and spurge, wild garlic, white
clover: how often must they leave
and return, leave and return,

that karmic cycling
the price of whatever stillness
any one of them craved while rowing
through the long, blind stretches.

Like them I raise my voice
mournfully, asking why it should be
taken for a kind of mistake or failure
to desire rest; to want the shimmer

of silence that means only welcome or
absolution or release. But what kind
of love keeps asking for more than what
a body can carve out of itself to give?

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

Closeted

This morning to the office, full of resolution to spend the whole day at business, and there, among other things, I did agree with Poynter to be my clerke for my Victualling business, and so all alone all the day long shut up in my little closett at my office, drawing up instructions, which I should long since have done for my Surveyours of the Ports, Sir W. Coventry desiring much to have them, and he might well have expected them long since. After dinner to it again, and at night had long discourse with Gibson, who is for Yarmouth, who makes me understand so much of the victualling business and the pursers’ trade, that I am ashamed I should go about the concerning myself in a business which I understand so very very little of, and made me distrust all I had been doing to-day. So I did lay it by till to-morrow morning to think of it afresh, and so home by promise to my wife, to have mirth there. So we had our neighbours, little Miss Tooker and Mrs. Daniels, to dance, and after supper I to bed, and left them merry below, which they did not part from till two or three in the morning.

shut up in my little closet
a wing
your desiring mouth

who makes me stand so much
that I am ashamed to dance


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Friday 1 December 1665.

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

Social

It’s the season of the holiday
office party, where the buffet

tables are decorated with foil-
wrapped plastic pots of poinsettia

that will be raffled off as door
prizes at the end of the afternoon;

where the crab dip is still good,
and the cold shrimp platters with

cocktail sauce, though the egg rolls
look overly soaked in their own facial

oils. Everyone’s talking about
the grading they still need to do,

or about the Thursday we all lost
because someone called in a bomb

threat and the entire campus
shut down so the police and Feds

could go to work to try and sniff out
whether it was real or a prank. But

everything is real: much too real.
A colleague says she has two rubber

door stops she carries all the time
in her purse, to slide under the class-

room door at any hint of danger from
outside. Another says she’s read

that more than half the college
population in North America today

is on some kind of psychotropic
medication— all of which makes

for less than cheerful conversation
by the cheese tray. Meanwhile, no one

seems interested in the drink tickets;
instead, they’re trying to get rid

of them, all while also navigating
the tricky protocols of social banter.

It’s hard enough that most feel socially
awkward, despite their sense of worldly

or academic accomplishment. What to do
when you can’t talk about the weather

anymore, or ask again about someone’s
holiday plans? But then you’re mortified

when you ask what your colleague’s daughter
is doing now, having forgotten that she’s

taken some time off from college to step back
from the pressure. But all is saved when

the university photographer comes along; orders
everyone to come closer, hold the pose, smile.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

Home body

Up, and at the office all the morning. At noon comes Sir Thomas Allen, and I made him dine with me, and very friendly he is, and a good man, I think, but one that professes he loves to get and to save. He dined with my wife and me and Mrs. Barbary, whom my wife brings along with her from Woolwich for as long as she stays here. In the afternoon to the office, and there very late writing letters and then home, my wife and people sitting up for me, and after supper to bed. Great joy we have this week in the weekly Bill, it being come to 544 in all, and but 333 of the plague; so that we are encouraged to get to London soon as we can. And my father writes as great news of joy to them, that he saw Yorke’s waggon go again this week to London, and was full of passengers; and tells me that my aunt Bell hath been dead of the plague these seven weeks.

the office made me love
to stay at home
sitting up after supper
as fat and full as a bell of plague


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Thursday 30 November 1665.

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

Forecast

Maybe snow by Sunday, wind strong
enough to spiral away a balloon held
loosely in a child’s hand… Not that one
sees many balloons in children’s hands

nowadays, unless they’re popping them
in games on their phones. The local
grocery store used to have a little area
beside the fake cacti and potpourri bundles

with a shell or sand dollar— where thin,
stretched membranes of helium-filled petroleum
byproduct in pastel shades bobbed against
the ceiling. In a true nor’easter or hurricane,

all the ships in this navy town pull up anchor
and head far out to sea. Half the population
rushes to the stores to panic buy milk, eggs;
beer, whisky, water. The other half boards up

their houses before racing against the clock
to leave town. Last time, we actually got
an evacuation order. I stood for about five
minutes in the middle of the room, unable to form

any coherent thought about what one could possibly
fit in a box or stow in the trunk of the car to take—
where? Not any amount of money in the world can stop
the inevitable plunge into endgame. Still, I stashed

my house keys in the bottom of my backpack, passport
and important papers ready in ziplock bags. All the bells
and chains, all these things we call possessions, piled
in closets and just waiting to get soaked or decimated.

Don’t get me wrong— I love any whiff of a good sale,
the price tag showing up under scrutiny to have lost
one or two digits. Between that and lounging in a bath
with a book to keep the encroachments away, I long

of course to take a trip somewhere preferably
without noisy train terminals, without headache-
inducing muzak, or bills and memos and bills. I want
to just throw these in the fire to forget. I don’t

want to know the future, really. Or who’s
going to call soon. I want to bite into a bright
red apple and then another, and not have to bear
the blame for a whole world going to ruin.

 

In response to Via Negativa: Snack.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

Dispossession

Up, my wife and I talking how to dispose of our goods, and resolved upon sending our two mayds Alce (who has been a day or two at Woolwich with my wife, thinking to have had a feast there) and Susan home. So my wife after dinner did take them to London with some goods, and I in the afternoon after doing other business did go also by agreement to meet Captain Cocke and from him to Sir Roger Cuttance, about the money due from Cocke to him for the late prize goods, wherein Sir Roger is troubled that he hath not payment as agreed, and the other, that he must pay without being secured in the quiett possession of them, but some accommodation to both, I think, will be found. But Cocke do tell me that several have begged so much of the King to be discovered out of stolen prize goods and so I am afeard we shall hereafter have trouble, therefore I will get myself free of them as soon as I can and my money paid. Thence home to my house, calling my wife, where the poor wretch is putting things in a way to be ready for our coming home, and so by water together to Greenwich, and so spent the night together.

if talking is thinking
an afternoon doing business
must cure the quiet possession
of some undiscovered prize

and we shall get free money
calling the poor to be ready
for our coming night


Erasure poem derived from The Diary of Samuel Pepys, Wednesday 29 November 1665.

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

Blood tree

a man coughed up an intact blood clot shaped like a lung passage

sprung fully formed
like a god from the lung
will you rot back
into a travesty of spring

what birds would roost
in the untuning forks of your limbs
and what would they sing

like a real tree do you yearn
to be free of oxygen
bronchial to a fault

would you burn

Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).

On the nature of epiphany

banal, Tagalog: adj. 1. holy; 2. virtuous; 3. blessed; 4. spiritual

Thin line between mundane
and divine, between the holy and

the nondescript. In other words,
slip on a halo made of bronze

or a gold-leafed garment and
the barefoot peasant cradling

an animal, the boy in the fields
talking to the doves, become

saints. Some days, the light
shining through the curtains is

aloof and foreign. Other times,
it pours into the cup and

spills over into the saucer;
and you pick it up and drink

from it knowing it both is and
isn’t more than what it is.

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of What is Left of Wings, I Ask (2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.