“Before sight, sound—“

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


Before sight, sound—
Before dawn, nothing but wind and trains.

Though I am no diadem, take me into the day
like an offering to the third eye—

In the crown of a birch, the evening star
still burns: so fiercely,

even the fast-moving clouds
can’t extinguish it.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Four Morning Porch poems

This entry is part 12 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Luisa is writing responses to my Morning Porch tweets faster than I can post them, so to clear the backlog and bring us up to the present, I thought I’d better publish four together. With each of these, her date of compostion is the same as mine, so to simplify things I’ve kept only the former and hotlinked it to the Morning Porchism that prompted it. Click through to see how she has built upon my original words and images. The latter two are 80 or 90 percent Igloria (we haven’t gotten any appreciable snowfall so far today, for example). —Dave


White with rime,
the cattails’ broken blades—

Under the springhouse eaves,
an empty phoebe nest—

Two juncos come, wings
fluttering like prayer flags—

As if to let us know the world
has not forsaken us completely—



There’s one cold note in the air
and its blues have found me again—

Too late to pull up the remaining stalks
of summer’s last tomato plants, tamped

hard into the ground. Now thistles
shrivel in a brittle wreath,

and the rose is ravished by the wind;
it spreads a shroud over the porch

and litters it with cryptic asterisks,
with carets, with upended tarots.

What shall I do with you,
yellowed gingko leaf;

with these tickets of faded red,
torn from the geranium?



Season of red and gold,
season of evergreen and silver.

Season of honey and clove,
season of lit tapers.

Throw more wood on the fire
that it might burn more fiercely.

The wheel is still turning, my love;
but know that it returns.

A few flakes float through the air.
A gray squirrel wanders through the lilac branches.



How easy to lose oneself to silence in this
sifting of white upon white that’s fallen
all night long. The wind soughs,

and all the branches nod their white-
capped heads. The neighbor swings open
his gate to take the dog for a walk—

Away now, at the end the street, the yellow
of his parka and the flash of golden fur
make an orb of jaunty noise against the snow.

High overhead, the half moon bends its big right ear.


Luisa A. Igloria

“Up and down the street, the neighbors…”

This entry is part 13 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Up and down the street, the neighbors
are clearing away the snow and ice.

Late risers, from upstairs windows we
admired the powdered roofs and sidewalks,

the rows of gentle hills atop
parked cars. Now we pick up

the shovel and go outside. The trees
still wear their pelts of white,

but today the world begins
to smudge and color at the corners.

Two ravens veer low over the trees,
pursued by a pair of crows.

Between gusts of wind,
the burble of a Carolina wren.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry. It’s interesting what this collaboration is doing to our shared geographies! The blizzard missed us here in Central Pennsylvania, and I’m not sure how many ravens are found in Luisa’s neck of the woods. But there’s no reason why poems that take the natural world for their subject should be held to a stricter standard of nonfictional reportage than other poetry. In the world of these poems, Luisa and I live on the same street.

Incidentally, Luisa is blogging most actively these days at The Lizard Meanders on blipfoto.


Memento Mori

This entry is part 14 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


It begins as a thread,
a voice lost above the descant of water.

We stop what we are doing in the kitchen
and lean toward the window, look out
where frozen trees rasp in the wind.

A wingbeat carrying
the gathered sound of a hundred things.

I think of a song I once heard about
a dictator, and the man he made to scrape
the strings of a fiddle with his fingernails.

Last night’s icicles
glint like daggers from the eaves.

One for each tiny hair that prickles on your nape:
count them if you can, then sing along— bodies in the river,
bodies sighing under a blanket of grass.

Luisa A. Igloria

(for the victims of the Ampatuan massacre; and for all who have gone missing, or have suffered and perished, from any form of state or political repression)

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

“The streets are lined with garbage bins…”

This entry is part 15 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


The streets are lined with garbage bins,
their mouths overflowing with the spoils

of winter feasting and discarded
hulls of wants and needs— orange rinds

and discolored tea bags among crumpled
strips of tinfoil, pale gold-tinted bottles

that housed juices gathered from the vine.
The trucks are late, they have not come

for a day and a half and we are anxious
because we know the hungers always

start up again almost as soon
as they are filled. Oh teach me

to temper my restlessness awhile, to sit
and drink my coffee without moving

from this little pool of sunlight growing
in the window, even when the clouds

have shifted. Feathery contrails outline
a wedge of blue. On a high branch,

three mourning doves sit facing the sunrise.
See how the middle one preens its wings.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


In the comments over at The Morning Porch (where Luisa first posted her response, as usual), I commented:

Wow, that was quick! (Or did you already have it half-written when my post appeared?) A really fine meditation. This time of year always prompts me to reflect on consumption and waste.

And Luisa responded:

No, Dave— I always try to respond to each post new and without premeditation, trying to keep my mind limber and not dwell too much or too long or agonize over things. I’m trying to develop a better receptivity to the things that present themselves as occasions for poetry. Thanks therefore, once again. Visits to The Morning Porch are helping me immensely.

“Soon the old year must join…”

This entry is part 16 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Soon the old year must join
its dwindling thread to a new
coil of days.

The daylight hours cast
their sheen on sheets of crackling ice,
while oblivious to the dueting wrens,

the chickadee darts through
the lilac. The sun, too, is blurred
by a kind of viscous film so that I think,

Give me fire, or give me water.
Tell me you love me, or tell me more.
And on those days when neither will suffice,

give me coffee and soup— two
of the things my grandmother used to say
should always be served scalding hot.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Speaking of __

This entry is part 17 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Let us lower our voices, said the woman next to me at the bus station; but I know what you are speaking of. Hammock strings have a way of recoiling. Is that when we can no longer lie in it? Then we might go indoors to make the meal, call the children in, unfold the blankets against the night’s chill. Even so there will always be that one place you’ll want to keep setting at the table, the room that will become a shrine. You’ll never catalogue the growing things on that stretch of roadway, how many pieces of glass were rendered from the kuatro kantos bottle; what restraints might multiply in the hands of another. I am sorry too. Resemblance does not often matter. Money? Sex? It could have been a simple thing, the chrome of a radio dial sticking out of a jacket pocket. I listened this morning to stories of refugees trying to cross the Sahara; a woman’s sobs woke me from sleep. From over the ridge, a patrolman’s amplified voice, his words unintelligible. There are places in the world where a blue jay does his best impression of a red-tailed hawk, and then departs. Something like wings scissors in the sunlight. Oh my poor poor sweetheart, moans the woman in the desert, over and over again; I could not even bury him.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 19 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Some days the sun shines high from its balcony but not unkindly, like the hostess at a party scattering good luck coins and candy to the children gathered below. You used to cut my hair in the garden: I sat on a stool under the guava tree, with an embroidered towel fastened around my neck. Fringed across the forehead, my hair never grew past my shoulders. When the ends began to curl like upturned fingers against my shoulders, it was time to trim. The shadow of my head reflected in the kitchen window behind, or appeared on the railing. When you were done you shook the shorn locks from my nape, the flocked towel like a matador’s cape. One night you woke me from sleep and carried me on your back, walking through thigh-high grass. Where did we go? I do not remember, only that a south wind slammed the corncrib door. I open and close my hands. Sometimes I find a wispy hair, or a sweet; sometimes a coin whose currency has dulled, but not its glimmer.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.


This entry is part 20 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


What remains, what rises early to the surface of the world— Handkerchiefs of snow on the cobblestones; overhead, the thin plume written by a jet lost to sight. The eyelash curl of a tilde over the “n” in a name I used to have. Hedges unhooked from the foliage. Brown runnels in the soil. Flamenco music raining little hands of silver from a high window. Flecks of ash on the staircase, disappearing on the sixth floor landing. Palm print on a cafe window. Ink traveling from a page of newsprint to the doorknob, whose muted note of brass gilds your image in reverse.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.

Despedida de Soltera

This entry is part 21 of 95 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Winter 2010-11


Three of my four music teachers were nuns. And the neighborhood referred to my very first piano teacher as the spinster— she wore dark clothing, sensible shoes, agua de colonia flor de naranja. She lived alone, with only part-time help; she never told anyone where she went in summer: “Soltera”. But I’ve always preferred this nod to solitude, to single-tude; the way impudent “l” pushes away from gossipy “o” and fakely coy “e” to bump up against “t” as if to say— So what? Years later, I’m still amazed at how much they knew: the libraries of trills and crescendos hidden underneath wimples and lace shawls; the ways they coaxed feeling from generations of wooden pupils surreptitiously kicking their legs into the piano’s soundboard. Listen to the advance of notes in this passage, they’d say: surf shirring the sand, or horses’ hooves soon coming around the bend. And then the clearing drenched in the scent of violets, which moves you inexplicably to tears. From my bedroom window, the chair backs in the garden are scrolled like treble clefs. It’s still mostly dark when the first faint pink spot appears in the clouds. I lie within that brief interval of solitude just before the day advances, slow and red. A raven croaks.

Luisa A. Igloria

In response to today’s Morning Porch entry.