This

This entry is part 11 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

This is all you have, this life, this patch of ground marked by wood and water, a little strand of caterpillar silk caught on low shrubs at the wood’s edge. Everything happens here, or doesn’t happen, or is about to change. Shadows lift at dawn, noon strikes the top of the stone cherub’s head in the middle of the square. Pigeons blend in among the cobblestones. It’s not much, you think: a sleepy town, the cats in the alley, the same old men playing chess in the park; the row of tailor shops, the bakers pitching bread into the fire. The loaves get a little smaller every year, though they remain as sweet. The lovers with only one place to walk. The seawall. The pier. The post office at one end of the main street, the market at the other. Rain drips down every house post and gutter. Flowers and whitewash on grave markers. You can leave if you want, rent a room in some city crisscrossed by wires and steel. On every rooftop, gargoyles opening their mouths to the rain, drinking it all in but never filling, never filled. Crossing the street, you turn, distracted by a scent— flowering wisteria, japonica, spilling their urgent message over a stone boundary. Nothing leaves, merely decants to color, to sediment, to underlying pulse.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Lament

This entry is part 13 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

What would I give to be a vein on the side of the red maple whose leaves tremble in the wind? I want to be plucked like that again, tuned to singing. The bees stumble into the storm door and later, there are clumps of yellow, tracks the color of fenugreek or pine bombs or birch. Little pools by the road film over with pollen, daubed thick as paint. The light can hardly strike where all this matter congeals. I cannot ignore it. I cannot turn away. I want to scour every pot I own until each grainy bottom reflects a face which used to match the corona of blue flame heat for heat, glare for glare. Every now and then I crave the iron taste of swamp spinach, the thin scraps that tether marrow to the inside of bone. Something true, unapologetic; something that doesn’t merely settle into the background, fade into the atmosphere, trick you into thinking this is all there can be, and nothing more.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Kissing the Wound

This entry is part 14 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

For Lent, the rule was no sweets, and fish
on Fridays; less music on the radio, less TV,
less rowdiness and laughing in general (but one
could giggle behind one’s hands if necessary).
And on Holy Thursday we went to church to see
a row of unshod men seated before the altar,
waiting for the priest to wash and dry and oil
their feet: the plumber, the carpenter, the banker,
the fire chief, the kanto boy, the grandfather.
On Good Friday flagellants paraded down
the streets, vermillion stripes growing across
their backs, rude thorns circling their brows.
And in the evening we visited six or seven
churches, tiers of votive candles keeping vigil.
In the middle of the aisle, statue of the body
crucified, laid prone on a cloth of blood-red
velvet. After all these years, this is what I
remember most: the cold, pale arch of the foot,
the painted-on wound on painted flesh which,
bending, we were meant so reverently to kiss.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Mythos

This entry is part 15 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

How will you go about finding that thing
the nature of which is totally unknown
to you?
asks Meno. I don’t know, dear,
I want to say; or, you ask far too many
difficult questions. Does the wren’s
endless chirping sound like a query
about immortal life, about what the soul
might have brought in its carry-on luggage
when it traveled here from its previous life?
You talk about anamnesis, or what the soul
knows innately so that it should be no
big shakes to meditate upon and recollect
these in the here and now. So then why
do I wring my hands, most days, from not
knowing the littlest thing? Weather,
for starters, but not only; more crucial,
those big important questions that rattle
at the windows all night long: like how
much time do I have to get my act together
before curtains? When is the intermission?
Or, can I go out, just by myself for a long
walk, and not have to come back so soon?
It’s April but some flakes blow about
in the wind, each lacy cutout different
from the others. You catch a few of them
on the edge of your dark sleeve before
their brief outlines melt. Their souls—
where do they return, and do they bear
back with them all that radiant and
intricate design, spoked like a wheel?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Fire Report

This entry is part 16 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

The drone of planes against a bright blue
morning, winds that fan the charred smell
of houses going up in flames. One of the men
that has lost his home tells the TV reporter
how he picked up his daughter from her crib
and walked out with her into the day. And now
they have nothing. Nothing, that is, except
what they haven’t lost: thumb in her mouth,
sleepy head against his shoulder; curls
brushing his cheek, breath sweet with milk
kind neighbors put into a cup. He shakes
his head and repeats: What could hold
against such a conflagration? And yet,
night will not touch this cargo.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Intermission

This entry is part 17 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

It’s late. It isn’t yesterday anymore. The hour has moved beyond that part of the sundial. Up in the woods, soon the witch hazel will leaf a low green flame. Yesterday we picked our way through hellebore, through foxglove, through belladonna. Above, the heads of snowball viburnum drooped low like lanterns. I turned a question I cannot voice, over and over in my head. No one will hear its soft bumping in the corners, no one but me see the flare of orange tracks in the velvet dark. If I said it aloud, all this softness would fade in an instant. The lambs’ ears would shrink and recoil, the creeping flox and the tiny fingers of salt cedar form crystals like ice. See the roses massed on the trellis, the rows of spiked thorns on guard at their feet.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Dear animal of my deepest need, you want to linger

This entry is part 18 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

in the shoals, harness dangling, haunches wet.
You want to stand just like that, mouth hanging open,
blinking, stupefied by all the light, deepest gold
and apricot just before it shades to velvet, thick sludge
of indigo poured into the inkwell. You want to trail
your tongue along the braided silt of the estuary,
send your moans running with the tide between the banks,
not caring whether the tourists in their little paddle boats
might hear. Days without end of the same gray dawns,
the same dun noons;
petal flutter of small white moths
against half-closed eyelids. I don’t want to be the animal
caught in amber, relic before its time, beautiful in ruin.
The smallest tokens of life undo me: filmy lattices
of pink-white blossom; sweetshrub, pale froth of sea
holly. Tell me please before the light goes in:
where do I go, where can I run, from here?

Luisa A. Igloria
04 15 2012

In response to cold mountain 34, 35 and an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Ghazal, a la Cucaracha

This entry is part 19 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

Cooler and more overcast today; but in the parking lot at work,
a Blue Bunny ice cream truck circles, playing “La Cucaracha“—

Which makes me think of my friend Pinky, whose favorite way of saying
someone’s acting nutty is: Ay! she has a case of the cucarachas.

We know of course about cockroaches: in other places they go by
palmetto bug, croton bug, waterbug— all the same, a cucaracha.

An ant might walk with exquisite slowness; but have you ever
had to duck in fear of an armor-plated, dive-bomber cucaracha?

Fun facts: a cockroach can go without water for two weeks, without food
for a month. Squished, their slime might resemble green tea matcha.

And how about this: some female cockroaches only mate once and stay
pregnant for life
! That would definitely make me crazy, you betcha.

When I read this: Immature American cockroaches look like wingless adults
for a while it seemed we were no longer just referring to las cucarachas.

In my childhood home we kept potatoes and other dark-loving tubers beside
the rice bin under the sink, until a dark brown army swarmed over the kabocha.

It may have been the year I learned the Mexican Hat Dance for Field Day at school,
felt silly twirling a skirt with cellophane ruffles to the refrain of “La Cucaracha.”

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Heartache Ghazal

This entry is part 20 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

There’s the sky’s bright wound again, open, gaping.
What time is it? Too long, too heavy, too much.

One can’t properly cook with a toaster oven. Tea with crackers isn’t much
for sustenance. But there are those with the gall to say that’s too much.

Would you really begrudge an elder a share of bread and board?
Would you yell at her: Turn off the lights, the bill’s too much?

There’s the sky’s bright wound again, open, gaping. And its eyes
are bottomless wells, staring. Too naked, too raw, too much.

How much evidence is needed? Here’s fortitude, and making do,
and doing without. At the end of the day, the ache of too much.

I’ve been flame for you, tinder, clay pot. I’ve been the fuse and the hunger,
the ticket and the ticket box. At the end of the day, all too much.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.

Rituals

This entry is part 21 of 55 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2012

 

My hair has thinned, but it’s grown longer. I run a sheen of oil across the ends after a bath. That warm haze outside is pollen: floating archipelagos of amber, speckled marcasite, frosted orange. From the closet, I pick a blouse of cotton voile so it might breathe, another skin against my skin. A crow flaps up from the blackcurrant bushes: my first letter of the day! Later, the wind lifts the light higher. A green blush deepens on the hillside. Names of the dead sough through the branches, like needles of pine raining through the air.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

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.