20160929

Eileen R. Tabios


Kapwa’s Song
for Leny


Evening musk quivering into post-elegance—Blossoming
of desk lamps—I wanted to make memories, not press
petals between pages of ancient books—Someone pleaded

to be buried under a canopy of red roses—No need to
apologize for dancing from one’s hips roundly, eyes closed
taking up as much space as one wants on the dance floor

of someone else’s wedding—When Pygmalion sculpted
himself into an embrace he used stone in hopes the hold
would never break—Sand shimmering with black diamonds

the world pausing to form a black diamond, fear becoming
as real as a black diamond—Ancient warriors captured
the brutality of cracked skies through “lightning marks”

as long grooves along the wooden shafts of their arrows—
Feel votive candle flickering within navel—Montana, where
I breathed deeply the scent of black earth, dampening

and becoming a forever metaphor—O practicality of water--
Wasp nesting behind screen door—Whispering to a daughter
borne from rape, “Regret is not your legacy”—Violets vomiting

rue—Alexander Pope proclaimed in The Second Book of
Horace
, “The vulgar boil while the learned roast an egg”—
Never privilege (or marginalize) the chaff—Never betray butlers

with mother-of-pearl cufflinks—O storm shaming me for watering
the nasturtiums all summer with dishwater—Agony of knowing
no aftermath to recognizing what makes you rear up on your

death bed—Unforgettable mental snapshot of three coyotes
peeing upon the buttercups—Wrestling a long poem until all
thorns have been gathered into cupped palms for birthing psalms

(O smile at a stranger’s blood mixed with rose petals to birth
generous perfume)—Turquoise on the Kachina doll hanging on
your wall, color of sunlit ocean embracing Greece while you

explored Mexico: I remember Philip Lamantia—Puzzle of agriculture:
I remember Philip Lamantia—You entering the blue frame of glass
bordering the blue wooden door into Maykadeh where we met for

“they do wonders with tongue.” Sprezzatura woke my veins: I
remember Philip Lamantia—How, sweetly, you offered eggplant, its
skin made palatable through much prior bruising: I remember you,

Philip Lamantia—I forgot my birth language Ilokano: maysa, duwa,
tallo, upat, lima, inem, pito, walo, siam, sangapulo
… Allowing the
edges of diamond facets to fray—Maturity defined as recognizing

the second-greatest among losses is disillusion—Looking at the
decaying world through slitted eyes—When the hunched sommelier
corrected, “You mean ‘saddle leather’,” I learned one can forget

what one never knew—Defining the figure eight as an hourglass
frittering time away—Icarus actually lived and the sky went livid—
Red pistils rising from waxy white petals always look profane and

magnificently divine—Blades tangoed on my palms to carve life
-lines—Wings curled beneath black leather—A “someday” as
elusive as a cab at 4 a.m., and the musky scent of fortitude—

O crushing tune that worked Baudelaire to the bone—Waiting
by grimy hotel glass, peeking through hair, fingering lace
sleeves, envying the lobby’s silk flowers for their inability to feel—

White birch flashing through forest greenery evoked your eyes—
Duende that overcomes without satiating the longing for more—
Derrida hunched as I was over an antique desk scribbling past

egregious back pain, “There is speech. / There is phenomena.”
How the “wet jade” eyes of cats can make you forget felines are
always dusty—Athena also rises from the gape of wounds—

Charisma defined as a wall at dusk where shelves of books
turned their backs for their spines to stare at you as a neighbor’s
saxophone elongated—The generic ________________—Your

finger tracing the ear I offered as proxy—How the ellipsis hides,
elides, gives up … Forgotten boy, skinny as he offered his toys:
twigs, cracked stone, two matchboxes cradling spiders, earthworm

in a tin can… Pounding through fields of tall grass to release
the beauty of white butterflies rising in a panic—Abu Ghraib—
Tondo, a shanty town that sprung up by a massive garbage dump

called “Smokey Mountain”—Mountains losing trees for books
about mountains losing trees—Kali warriors memorizing halad
to quicken the surfacing of deadly positions during hours of battle—

A yellowed photograph slipping from brittle pages—Milk leaking
from the corner of the sleeping child’s mouth—Believing the world
was populated by the hearts of mothers who would always welcome

back prodigal sons and daughters with warm rice and cool slices
of pineapple—Sarong undoing itself to the trill of birdsong—Sarong’s
fall bringing down the eagle with curious eyes—Sarong caressed

my breasts and thighs before it was borne away by a river’s current—
Sarong fell and a river blushed—Ikaw, aking pag-ibig, ay naruon
“You, my Love, were there…” O stone garden in Kyoto where the 15th
stone is invisible from all angles—That the sun practices justice by

privileging vines which work harder on steep terrain amid gravel
than on level land fertile with natural nutrients and easily accessed
by water—Kathmandu where I recognized you in me and I in you

upon turning a street corner onto a plaza where every inch was
topped by mud pots, the inky glazes like benefactions from goats
peering through second- and third-story windows—Coltrane in Napa

Valley, his “Pursuance” the rhythm of your heartbeat against my
roaming palm, and the sound of grapevines growing—A flock of
starlings shattering the sky’s clean plate like grains of black pepper—

A calf affixed to an iron rotisserie: the animal cooked slowly for hours.
And hours until its meat was a page-turn away from falling off the
bone—A valley witnessing my return to you with a primitive ardor

shared by hunting hawks—the crack of cartilage audible as they
obviated distance, as they swooped, wings flared as if posing
for Rembrandt—Wines behaving like jealous lovers, clamoring for

the drinker to focus on the individual—Those paintings that made
you think of what lives outside the frame, like a woman who so
loved a man she ate his testicles between quaffs of sweet jerez—

A tremor rippling a vein in anticipation of a possibility. Another
possibility was the tremor rippling a vein in anticipation—You living
somewhere along my spine (integral yoga to squeeze you out of

bone marrow)—Jackson Pollock wore fingerless gloves in the winter
chill: paint will dance when flung from fingers exposed to everything,
even what bludgeons the autistic child—We never knew the opposite

of Easy Beauty—Darkness was the key, not the lock—A wooden
door in Ulan Ude, cracked in places, a wash of faded blue paint
tattooed by pale green diamonds, evokes an island in the Sulu Sea,

an emerald floating on lapis lazuli staining, too, the sky—A night train
lumbering across Siberia in whose hold Ivan, a Russian geologist,
apologized for his poor English by reciting Pushkin in his native

tongue. Ezra Pound was correct: inarticulate sounds transport as
music—A room where the only sign of contentment was a gown
framed on one wall, its dance present but not visible—Ignoring Paris

waiting on the other side of a shuttered window—Passion always
exacts a price, and Love is always eager to pay—A beach where
sand constantly shifted its hollows—The debris from attempting to

unify “the convex with the concave”—Writing a poem, then turning
it physical (I forgot its opposite is equally arduous…and lyrical)—
A girl singing as if Heaven was mere breath away—A girl singing

to repel a black bear—A girl singing along with Dave Brubeck
after he regaled with a tale: he turned to music only after studying
how to heal cattle as a vet. I forgot Dave Brubeck on the piano,

Randy Jones on drums, Jack Six on string bass, Bobby Militello on
sax—all conspiring for “The Time of Our Madness”—A girl singing
to mountains in Nepal quivering like 500-pound Sumo wrestlers—

A girl singing to la luna naranja—A girl singing as she spun a globe,
its whirl evoking the guarantee of returns with all departures—A girl
singing, I will become Babaylan!, with notes only virgin boys can

muster, only dogs can hear—A girl singing to unfurl wings that have
never betrayed her—A girl singing as she smooched the sun… A girl
singing forth her benedictions: May you never grow intimate with cold

ashes and burlap. May you never feel tar and black feathers. May
you know what I saw through flames... A girl singing in Porto Vecchio:
lobster at noon, a tiny tortoise tip-toeing across the bedspread, a bus

endearingly halted by determined partridges marching across the road,
Simone De Beauvoir and Nelson Algren—Heaven could be … a breath
away. I am trying to remember why a girl remained in constant song—



Eileen R. Tabios loves books and has released about 40 collections of poetry, fiction, essays, and experimental biographies from publishers in nine countries and cyberspace. Recent releases include AMNESIA: SOMEBODY’S MEMOIR (Black Radish Books, 2016) and her first bilingual edition, I FORGOT ARS POETICA translated into Romanian (PIM Publishing House’s “Bibliotheca Universalis” Collection, 2016). After releasing a collection of short novels, she is currently writing a long-form novel. More information is available at http://eileenrtabios.com.
 
 
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