Tuesday, August 25, 2020

Check & Balance + haori

Today I read two lovely chapbooks by Luisa A. Igloria, the new Poet Laureate ofVirginia and also someone who has been writing a poem a day for years, years! You can find them at Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa and learn here about how she used his short musings at his Morning Porch as prompts for poems! 

Check & Balance (Locofo Chaps, an imprint of Moria Books, 2017) gave me the news of the day, which is all too pertinent still—hatred and expulsion of immigrants in “Color Theme” and in “Restriction,” about how the US denied visas to the “first / all-female soccer team from Tibet,” alas! “The sign once said ‘guest,’ / but I read ghost,” begins one such poem. 

There was a poem about the “Thrilla in Manila” fight of Muhammad Ali and Joe Frazier, with an internal refrain of “anything can happen.” Indeed! 

And there is the beautiful anchor of the title poem, where people come forward to help a man in the station who has fallen on the escalator. Everyone, with whatever is at hand, comes to help! 

                                              All this
     happened swiftly, with very few words
     exchanged—only the movement of hands
     and bodies wanting to save: strangers
     lifting the stricken one….

I sighed in astonishment and relief! 

The Check & Balance cover image above is ©2017, Nash Tysmans, a photograph taken in Kalinga, Philippines. The cover art for haori (Tea & Tattered Pages #2, 2017) is by Jennifer Patricia A. CariƱo, for this hand-stitched chapbook. A haori is a kimono-like Japanese jacket. I so love learning things in poems. 

Let me give you some beautiful lines from the poems in haori!  They come from a sectioned poem called "Arguments with Destiny":  "The commercial said Love does not comfort. Perhaps not by itself / is what they mean; perhaps the top of the piano must come up.I have not seen this commercial. Maybe there is a piano in it! But I took it metaphorically, and also Emily Dickinson-ly, feeling the lines take the top of my head off, as in all real poetry! Like this:

     The day we looked for my mother
     was the day she refused to be found.

Oh, how grief begins! But let me end with this excerpt from “Arguments with Destiny,” since it is another terribly hot day in terribly hard times: 

     The fig and the plum burst

     out of their skins because heat
     has unstitched them, not

     because their hearts constrict
     from a sadness they cannot bear.

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