You seem to be carrying a lot of guilt,

This entry is part 1 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


the therapist says to the Buddha ten minutes
into her first session. She sighs, tentatively
massaging the sides of the stress ball she has been given.
Is it that obvious? she asks, even if she knows
the answer. She thought she was doing a pretty good job
sitting still, holding her fears and anxieties in her mind
without judging, without undue attachment, without blame
(well, ok, trying). It is so difficult for the heart
to be in more than one place at any given time, more
if you are a mother: every hurt hurts, every flutter
ravages the surface on which the days must progress
with their sometimes terrible banality, with their small
and therefore acute reprieves of joy. Meanwhile, the hours
spread like a cowl, like the shadow of a cobra sitting
just a handspan away, its breath the breath of the eternal
that all these years passed mistakenly as merely a nagging
voice: parent hovering in the doorway of the impatient
child, gardener bent over a tray of new seeds; bird
nudging the fledgling closer to the end of the branch.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

From tree to tree

This entry is part 4 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


whatever we looked at flashed its small beacon of light;
whatever we touched pressed back with its own question.
What the leaves shaped in the air
with their motion spoke with the subtexts of wind.
When we sighed we set screen doors
swinging at dusk.
What kisses we left in the grass
were bright as mirrors stitched on cloth.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Dia de los Muertos

This entry is part 5 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


A goldfinch dips its beak into the fountain’s rain-filled basin. Ivy and overgrowth circle what used to be servants’ quarters; a carpet of weeds has taken over the curved driveway. Legends still abound: how in the abandoned mansion, the dictator’s ghost rakes paths along the upper hallways, banging each door open in search of dark-haired concubines. They’ve all fled, taking his bastard children who all share the same middle name. His cronies that used to drink with him till dawn are dead; or they are senile, jaws slack and open in the yellow air of a nursing home. Only the crows and rodents have political ambitions here, foraging for remnants in the courtyard where his only sister once rode a horse at sunset, wearing nothing but her insolence and ambition. Those were the days, say the peasants. They recall the fireworks that brillianced the skies on festival days, the morse code that spelled out the dictator’s name in rifle bursts. Once a year a black limousine with tinted windows rolls into town and the driver in sunglasses steps out to push back the rusted gates; and a younger woman leads an older one, half blind and hobbling, over the stone steps to lay a wreath of roses on a gravestone beneath the gnarled cypress trees.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

A dove calls and calls,

This entry is part 7 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


but its mate remains hidden.

Clouds cast their shade,
dimming the pond’s surface.

Each leaf turns a calendar page,
fast-forwards from spring to summer.

Gardenias flood cisterns with scent,
hang their skirts along the tops of fences.

I can’t decide which is most
jewel-like: fields with their florid

kabala of scents, flotilla of
lightning bugs cutting paths at dusk.

My palms itch from an old memory of sunlight;
no one sees when I lay lay them

open on the sill as if in an attitude of
prayer. What stories are not sown with

quicksilver rain? A kind of language
passed patiently through

sleeves of cheesecloth: its message being
Take time, take time.

Unpin the cotton and linens from the line.
Vinyl records let you listen to the needle

work the music from their grooves—
Xiphoid notes drawn by hand on music sheets,

yellowed like old ivory. Watch how in a
zoetrope, shadows tell a whole story.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This entry is part 11 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


It’s that time of year: the Buddha feels overwhelmed
by the explosion of flower bouquet sales at each

grocery store, by the succession of radio and TV ads
for jewelry and fashion, singing Hallmark cards,

cleaning services, foot spas… This time, all the hoopla
is for Mother’s Day, which means that this weekend,

it will be difficult if not next to impossible
to get any kind of reservation at restaurants,

not to mention tickets for the symphony or opera.
All the hype’s fed partially by guilt, remorse,

regret— Remember your mom: give her a whole
day off from cleaning, chauffeuring, cooking,

diapering, laundry duties on top of her regular job.
Bring her or whoever has fulfilled that nurturing role

in your life, a favorite breakfast in bed, a rose
clenched between your teeth, a card you’ve penned

with thanks you’ll never sing adequately or enough of…
Remember the greatest loves are always those which want

to be, to give, so much; which stumble and fail, knowing
they are— like us— imperfect, unfinished, yearning.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The Buddha’s friend asks for her opinion

This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Spring 2014


on whether she should follow her bliss,
wrench herself away from all that has made her
so unhappy through the years; leave behind empty,

meaningless days revolving from one predictable
ritual of domestic life to another— elementary
school drop-off each morning, followed by a trip
to the coffee shop for a half-caf or cortado;

then the spa, lunch, and shopping with her gym
buddies at the mall, after which each of them
will go their separate ways, backing out
of the parking garage and waving perfectly

manicured hands from the windows of their Volvos
or Land Rovers because Ohmygod I didn’t realize
how late it is and the nanny will be furious!

Back home, she usually pours a glass of wine

before taking the kids and the dog for a walk around
the block, her way of watching the clock, counting
down, wondering if her husband will be home
for dinner or if he’ll text to say Sorry, another

late night at the office to finish XYZ account,
which she knows is bullshit shorthand for Don’t
stay up I’ll be fucking my mistress in some undisclosed
downtown location.
The Buddha’s friend sobs;

she has had it, she is leaving her 20-year marriage
to explore what it means to have an affair herself,
to take up jazz and learn scat singing; to smoke weed,
volunteer with a rock band, be their groupie and travel

around the country in a bus with no fixed
destination. Her friend’s eyes are red-rimmed
from crying. The Buddha offers her a Kleenex
and a hug, knowing that perhaps this is one

of those times just listening may be the best
approach: to be there for her without judgment,
biting her tongue so she doesn’t blurt out questions
yet like What about the kids, the dog, the house?


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.