In the hotel with thin walls and the name of a poet,

This entry is part 3 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


you hear the busboys hail each other
on the sidewalk after midnight. You hear
the man expectorating in the bathroom of Room 101—
the sound he makes, like someone drowning on dry land.
If it is true there are ghosts, you want to wait
for the one of your grandfather to materialize
and lead you by the hand down the grand staircase,
past tables laid with silver and candelabra
to the kitchen where he cleanly severed
the joints of fowl before he cooked them
in broth with ginger and squash. If it is true
that the rain will never cease, then the trail
of ants will lead from the hibiscus in the yard
to the bowl of honey in the larder; and you’ll eat
spoonful after spoonful so as to never fear
the mold so freely papering the ceilings,
and thus keep it from ever taking root in your lungs.
If it is true, that dream you used to have of hovering
over a billowing sheet in the shape of a sea: then
the green and white days in its aftermath
are only a pause, a door in the garden
through which women in evening dresses
have gone in search of the transcendental;
and into which, consequently, the long afternoon
siestas of childhood have momentarily disappeared.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Soul Spa

This entry is part 5 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


Always or afterward, one face tipped open, unguarded—
Beautiful flower pinched from the stem before the bloom,
corolla of calm churning at weather’s
dead center. Have you learned how to be that way,
equanimity unperturbed by whatever descends
from the sky, slate gray, azure, in between?
Go lightly, in joy as in sorrow: these mortal
hours not weighted by custom, unheeding of care.
I used to chafe so much at my lot. Always wanting,
jaded when at last my will and I conspired.
Keepsakes jangled sometimes into my arms, things
like wealth to endlessly catalogue. But they couldn’t
mother the hankering, put to bed the restless-
ness that comes of not having learned the lesson.
Once, I entered a dream that was a kind of humming:
purled sheets of white linen undulating like a sea;
quietly electric, fine-tuned somehow like a pulse.
Read me its meaning, I begged of the soothsayer.
She smiled her dusky smile and had me lie down,
then scrubbed the crooked length of my back
until it unwound and tingled. Fingers traced
vertebrae with rounds of salt and shells of grain,
warming and chilling my core. A sign read
Exit, but I didn’t want to leave so soon.
Your time isn’t up, she said, and I knew—
Zones only feel spectral when light wears a veil.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

The difficulty

This entry is part 6 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


I am trying to figure out the future,
but you understand the difficulty.

I stand at the window and stare at the rigs
on skinny stilts in the middle of the bay,
at the marks made by thin wading birds
lifting into the cloudy distance.

Some of my questions
about what will happen relate
to the past and the present—
For instance, as my mother used to say,

how the kind of bed I made
determines what I get to sleep in.
I’ve figured out there’s a certain amount
of choice possible— pillows and sheets

can be changed, the whole bed itself
might be sold or donated. But there’s no way
to know how or when the floor might dissolve
and the waters overtake us, what to do

when we wake in the middle of the night,
all edges drenched by lapping water.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This entry is part 7 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


Were we ever like these wooden gods, scattered like rock-climbers along the atrium, unafraid of heights, unperturbed by stillness?

All the walls are matte, off-white in their perfect composure. Our steps echo on each staircase, fingers winding a blushing thread.

In the gallery of erotic sculptures, each form is simultaneously transparent and ambiguous. There are furred bouquets to fondle, benches on which a litany of captions could linger.

The wood on a birthing chair is polished: hue of dark silk. What is it that we commemorate, framed in paint and glossed leather?

Perhaps the rain has an answer. The ducks in the pond don’t know some hours are designated for pleasure, and the rest for a quiet like that of the tomb when all the candles have burned down.

Shadows darken in the reeds when everyone has gone away. Beribboned metal horses on the hoods of jeepneys seem to plunge ahead on the road back into town.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.


This entry is part 8 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


And just like that, another season’s over: clipped
smell of grass now overlaid with something else

that lengthens, spindles. The late crop on the tree
now harder, smaller— as if beginning the inward turn,

rehearsing for more callous weather. My nerve’s
more restless too: I startle easy from hard-sown sleep,

stumble from the screen of dreams, wanting either warmth
or a long drink of water. The numbers ticking at my wrist

show me my pulse, how many flights of stairs, how many
steps I’ve taken. But nothing I know will tell me

what in the marrow darkens, what it multiplies
then churns through cells of blood. I hoist myself

back into bed as daybreak rounds the corner, not always
seeing when dappled light begins to shade the blinds.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

When we speak through a medium

This entry is part 9 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


She writes about the constant
tintinnabulation in her ear,

the screen of blue-grey static
background to every other noise.

Silence, therefore, becomes
a field of buzzing premonitions:

electric fence, jumpy periphery
coiling around surfaces that poorly

reflect the moon or its shadows,
unsorted vegetation— what mouths

said and what the mind picked out
or mistook for something else. Now

when we talk on the phone, I wonder
what vapors away, divides; conveys.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Whatever it is

This entry is part 10 of 19 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2015


Green pail overturned in the garden,
the creaking hinge of a gate.


Above pebbled blankets of cloud, the sound
that groups of birds make, flying south.


The sticky wad of silk a spider wrapped
around a pouch still faintly pulsing.


Pale slick like melted butter
around a rising moon.


Branches that gave fruit after fruit
now mired in difficult remembering.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.