Unto every one that hath shall be given;

This entry is part 11 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


and unto every one that hath not, the sky
will never be enough. Unto every branch
fixed with blossom, and unto every one
drooping, armless, or shaded with decay—
And what about the ones that have
no allegiance either way, that take
or render merely as seasons dictate?
Sun, rain, wind, drought, hail— each
hastens a different growth: the way
I tend my affections for you, beloved
that I cannot ever truly own, or hold.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Round Mat #2

This entry is part 12 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


My friend in Villalimpia writes that the manugbanig, the women weavers in a village in Bukidnon, have made even more wondrous mats this time around: fronds dyed the colors of tamarind or camachile, siniguelas, turmeric, champaka.

She tells me she will send them to me and my sister-in-law in July through a friend traveling to a peace conference in northern Virginia: I only know his name is “Al.”

When I ask how to get the payment to the weavers, she tells me there is no hurry now, but we should plan for it to get to them in June, when they will use it to pay tuition for the weavers’ children.

Perhaps they go to school in the center of town, or in the city where there are internet cafes, department stores, malls, arcades, beer gardens, bowling alleys.

They might walk or they might take a tricycle or a jeepney or bus.

Some of them are still being taught how to do this work perfected by their mothers and grandmothers.

Their hands must learn to tell one leaf from another, how to grasp with strength but tenderness so as not to bludgeon the stalk; how to turn the hands into a shuttle flying through the tedious hours in the rainy months until the colors are palpable, acquire a distinct smell…

When you lie in the center of such a mat, sometimes it is hard to tell if you are in the center of an eddy or a wheel, or in the eye of a hurricane churning over the sea— mere speck suspended in history, which always precedes you.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This entry is part 13 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


In the dark, before I rose, the sound of a thin high cry fluttering over the hedge.

What I thought was sand or a handful of gravel aimed at the glass turned out to be rain.

This is not an attempt to make small talk over a finger-length of bread, a thin wheel of fruit— paper napkin clutched between forefinger and balancing thumb.

Most days are hard to forecast: yesterday, they said thunderstorms, but the hours extended like a bright shingle at the height of summer.

You see, I worried about the recently transplanted verbena, but they seem to have recovered in that brief scattering of rain.

The dogwood, confused by the heat last winter, has decided to trust the air again.

What do I miss? I miss the low-creeping mimosa: those shy ones, they shrink from every touch— every leaf folding inward neatly, even in the merest wind.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Hagia Sophia

This entry is part 15 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


My daughter leaves again today
for parts abroad— Serbia, Prague,
Turkey, places whose very names reek
of history, streets inlaid with stones

which peasants have trod, where horses
and armies raised the dust, clattering
from one end of the old world to the other:
destroying walls, burning farmland, laying

siege to villages— History describes
the capture of Constantinople, the dome
of the Hagia Sophia glittering against
velvet night like a jewel: how the Sultan

Mehmed promised his troops three days
of unbridled pillage if the city fell,
after which he would claim its contents
. Where are those holy

relics now— the resurrection stone,
the Virgin’s milk, the teeth and bones
of saints? In photographs, even the tiles
in the great halls where refugees sang

before they were swallowed are edged
in gold. I want to tell my daughter: look
for the perspiring column in a northwest
courtyard; look for the crying column,

the wishing column— and touch it;
then look for the heavy candlesticks
Suleiman the Magnificent brought back
from Hungary in the 16th century,

which guide books say flank each side
of the mihrab— where pilgrims
stand to pray, turning their faces
like arrows toward home.

~ para kay Julia Katrina


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This entry is part 18 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


Remember the first house we owned and moved into?
The truck that brought our belongings from the hot
and dusty city, the bus we rode with one side
open to the elements and a view of the ravines?

We climbed up and up that mountain road—
breathtaking view of pines, thin ropes
of waterfalls cutting across rock faces.
We couldn’t even name the birds that called,

scandalous as hawkers from the trees’
low branches. For a long while there was
no yard, only dirt; and mud in the wet
season until we could seed

and grass came up, luxuriant; then weeds,
then roses and gardenias. I loved the jasmine
most of all, its trailing arms, the way
a heap of fallen blooms almost resembled

a passel of stars— I didn’t mind
how rooms, for many years, did not have doors.
When the wind blew in, it turned sheer curtains
almost liquid: their panels into rain.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

To Love

This entry is part 20 of 31 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2013


“Oh, to love what is lovely, and will not last! / What a task/ to ask// of anything, or anyone,// yet it is ours/ and not by the century or the year, but by the hours.” ~ Mary Oliver

Oh to love the green even before
knowing it will flower green; to love

the sere, knowing that even once before,
its body was supple as its soul— To love

what never really spoke to you except in coils
of brassy silence, itself a kind of speaking. To love,

oh to love the simple conjugations of the verb,
to love its ruses, complications and facades— To love

with hardly a hope of return, yet even so to keep
its image gleaming, garlanded with the name of love—


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.