The hummingbird isn’t the only bird

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 30 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

with jewel colors. And the dead
cherry still plays host to insect life.
The sign that points the wrong way
isn’t necessarily wrong. You know
what it’s like to pick at the same scab:
play the music in the same way. Don’t get
ahead of yourself— for a change,
let the day worry about its outcomes.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

A hawk circles over the ridge

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 31 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

higher and higher, until the line it draws
is thinner, fainter— Plumed, taloned, sprung,
targeting; on the way to becoming gone, out
of sight, and finally out of feeling’s range.

Something of that wild heartbeat once burned
its bronze tattoo from the inside of my chest.
See the gouge-marks on leathered flesh?
Evidence it wasn’t all fetters and stays.

But oh that velvet hood is soft and hides so well
the liquid glint in the corner of each eye.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Reversed Alphabet of Rain

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 33 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

Zero buyers till now, for our old home in the middle of the city—
You wrote, too, how in the last monsoon, there was hardly a dry spot:
xerox copies of leaks in every room, even inside the closets.
When we first moved there in ’63, you said there was a frame of
varnished mahogany hanging in the foyer; a portrait,
unexpected— the former president of the Commonwealth,
tints brightening on dull canvas after dusting and
scrubbing lightly with a cloth. Where is it now? In those days,
rain also fell for months on end. The neighborhood below Rock
Quarry always flooded every year. Lining up for relief goods,
people shivered in queue at the barangay health center:
oil, rice, sardines, powdered or evaporated milk for babies.
No one knows when the area first came to be known as The Lagoon.
Mostly “squatters” there— meaning, people setting up homes on
land they did not own; they reasoned, who else would build there,
knowing how flood-prone and inhospitable it was each season?
Just think of that kind of transience, living in a danger zone.
I remember how we used to pull our mattresses into the living room,
huddle in the dark of power outages. Sans batteries, candles threw
garish shapes on walls as our hands put on puppet plays—
fanned-out butterfly wings, a bird, a dog’s barking head.
Evening stretched into the long uncertainty of night.
Do you remember how every sound was magnified?
Candle wax pooled on the floor and hardened.
Bright sweeps of sudden light from trucks on the road;
arcs of memory on a more interior windshield.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Cocoon

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 34 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

In the depths of the freezer case at Four Seasons
Asian Grocery, a tray of cooked, frozen grubs:
the cashier tells me they are really

the carcasses of silkworms, harvested
in the hundreds, maybe thousands,
after they die from their labors

spinning threads that women
in Chiang Mai or Dalat will unravel
as strands of silk… So many bodies

burrowed in hive-like baskets—
What would you do for the promise
of wings rising over a bamboo porch?

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Manifest

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 35 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

Today, ambiguous rain. Clouds that screen the view— dark, light, broody, indecisive. Through my fourth floor office window at noon, the screech of tires carrying from the boulevard. Water scales and fish-tails down the panes. Who sees our faces from this height, behind refracting layers? I too am often pulled in several directions, though this is how most of it should go— the daily work taken up and borne, repeated, repeating. Long hours, hot taste in the mouth, the tremble in the tired and fevered wrists. My children’s godmother writes: This is how we made our way: one suitcase in each hand, an envelope with letters of introduction; a nondescript address, a name. A taxi ride at midnight after a 21-hour flight. The driver pointing out the monument— a spire gleaming across the river; bridge, underpass, and finally a chain-linked driveway at the destination: Good luck, lady, this as far as I can take you. At such an hour the long view of years has not yet kindled. Bills and change, counted out. Pockets full of change that can be used at pay phones, even for long distance; that could buy fruit from a corner store, toiletries, water. The little metal wheels clattering as you pulled your luggage in the dark.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Letter, to Order

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 38 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

Sin cere: Where did I read about this mark
potters stamped on the bottoms of earthenware, of drying

crockery? Without peer, meaning not a copy,
original; baked terra cotta, crackled brown, bread-like

surface of imperfections. Around the courtyard, in the day’s
last glaze of heat, curling vines gather. Fronds of fern

spiral back toward themselves at their tips. I tuck the ends
of my worries like that sometimes: like hair behind my ears.

What I would give for such a sign, to tell me
of the genuine, or promise what will not change again—

But for now, only something in the name of the lilac
to suggest its scent; something in the aspect of the moon.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Telenovela

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
This entry is part 39 of 47 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2012

 

An epic cast of characters, girlfriend—
tearful child, black witch, miserly wife;
slavish husband, jealous neighbors. Star-
crossed sweethearts, jilted old maid.
She darns socks; she howls at the moon.
Be careful: even Prince Charming has
a sordid underwing. More twists to the tale:
a virgin betrothed to a snake. He comes
to her bed under cover of night and demands
all lights be doused. At dawn, the sound
of a key turning in the ignition; wheels
screeching up the mountain road. Dust,
desultory chickens pecking at the stones.
How does it end? In tears, of course.
Or at a crossroads, the dark sky raked
with stars for backdrop. And only
the briefest intermission.

 

In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.