Eileen Tabios

The Poetry World Trap


Rancor is a failure of the imagination.

You are confusing me with someone else: just because I am a woman / Filipino / short / luddite / et al doesn't mean I consider myself someone in the margins.

What is held in common by these two matters: poets who bring store-bought cookies to potlucks and poets who use cleavage to sell poems?

Someone set up a blog just to diss me. Thank you, Jesus: I'm famous now.

Nicey-nice has become the new radical. Tap…tap…: Waiting for others to get with the program.

Some people disagree with me, specifically citing “aggressive self-deprecation” as the new avant garde.

Over there, still the moon. But this time, it manifests joie de vivre, with zero apologies!

You regurgitate The Man’s words and you think the vomit is art?

Standards loosened through the consistent “Why not?”s.

Oh Pilgrim—you’ve not exhausted the “Why?”!

Struggling, here, for the upbeat.

Upbeat is the new radical (what eee-jit claimed there’s only one radical?).

I want to look at the moon’s grin and not call it “cheese.”

I want to see the moon crack and acknowledge it as a grin.

I want to see the moon behind the clouds.

I want to see the moon as less than full to allow my vision’s contribution

               for archetypes which are archetypes for a reason
                                             and are now marginalized

Where did the sea go

                now that icebergs have melted?


As a poet, I have been ashamed to reveal that I do not know the definition of the word “meta”—

Today, I looked it up, and Merriam-Webster Online answers:
Main Entry: meta-
Variant(s): or met-
Function: prefix
Etymology: New Latin & Medieval Latin, from Latin or Greek; Latin, from Greek, among, with, after, from meta among, with, after; akin to Old English mid, mith with, Old High German mit
1 a : occurring later than or in succession to : after <metestrus> b : situated behind or beyond <metencephalon> <metacarpus> c : later or more highly organized or specialized form of <metaxylem>
2 : change : transformation <metaplasia>
3 [metaphysics] : more comprehensive : transcending <metapsychological> -- usually used with the name of a discipline to designate a new but related discipline designed to deal critically with the original one <metamathematics>
4 a : involving substitution at or characterized by two positions in the benzene ring that are separated by one carbon atom <meta-xylene> b : derived from by loss of water <metaphosphoric acid>
I also learned “meta” is actually “meta-“. The hyphenless Meta is a river flowing for 620 miles north-east from Colombia into the Orinoco on the Venezuela-Colombia border.

Relatedly, if you must know and I had to know, “meta-analysis” is a quantitative statistical analysis of several separate but similar experiments or studies in order to test the pooled data for statistical significance.

All this knowledge because another poet used “meta-“ with the phrase “love letter.”

Turquoise, Toi, French coi, lavender foam in the San Francisco Restaurant Coi, sepia wax congealed over a map fashioned from rice paper—O, all these narratives of space!

Do you like me now? Now that I’m all soft and fragile?


I did not author my citation.

I am Maya and I am tired of being cited as an excuse for behaving irresponsibly.

Responsibility is Real.

There are too many pearl beds beyond our brown horizon, where lie sluggish boys burnt by the sun—and now the pearl beds are empty.

The century is not ending—will never end—so stop citing said century’s demise as an excuse as well.

You—across the Four Seasons mahogany table burnished and glowing from the chandelier of real candles—flirt with my depleted intellect as if you truly regret choosing the “Trophy Wife.”

My knees do not dimple in the same enchanting manner as her pearl- (and tediously predictable diamond-) encrusted tiara.

I wear ancestral pearls.

Mostly, brand-new pearls are mini-Mansions on quarter-acre lots.

And then—OMIGOD!—we have the fake ivory.

In one, in one yellowish inch, butt-fucking occurs atop the yellowed doily I never crocheted.

I am Maya—I will never stop looking for the thieves who absconded with my pearly-toothed smile.

This is a poem accepted for publication before it was written—so there. So. There.

My doilies ever gleam white, gleam bright, gleam light.


Have you heard the latest anti-binary?

“To sing does not mean: not to think.”

Note to Self: Insert here a romanticized description of brass key.

These fields will never lie fallow.

Leaves spread a red blanket over pine needles.

The page ended with this paragraph: “She stood still for a moment, breathing in the quiet, the November scents of rot and damp. Trying not to think, she let her instincts choose her direction.”

In the Shadow of Babel

The jester heralds a long tradition.

From where I stand, eggplant is not his color.

From where I Listen, trickster = ick-ster.

I mourn the doves, so old-fashioned now.

What if the human species was judged for lasting beyond its allotted time?

We forgot too quickly how creation = redemption.

I mourn the doves—they will never inherit the earth.

Nor will white silk dresses bearing roses crocheted from threads of gossamer and a kitten’s purr.

How to manifest the fading but never the fade?

I mourn gold—

               that constancy despite atmospheric

                              that freeze volcanoes to mere

I mourn utterly innocent rain—

               how my face shall never lift up towards
               you, mouth open

                              and vulnerable enough to
                              swallow the most polluted of

     —for Barry Schwabsky

I chose a white truffle dinner in Berkeley over a poetry reading in New York City.

No one was insulted by my choice.

I kept looking for the one who would be insulted.

Years later, I saw her in the mirror.

She was pleasingly plump and lonely.


And the loneliness could not be assuaged by seven-inch heels.


The haul reveals golden petals, still lustrous

The pleasure of hauling out the garbage—

as if.

Still, there is the immediate gratification.

Poems are cheap.

Eileen Tabios often finds "the poetry world" hilarious. She performs poetics at her blog, The Blind Chatelaine's Poker Poetics.

You should check out her Otoliths book, DREDGING FOR ATLANTIS , at http://www.lulu.com/content/470167

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