Sunday, October 18, 2009

CHAMORRO LOVE RECIPE

Ah, Frank, the Chamorro, and best next-door-neighbor we've had in a long time. God help me if you read this.


CHAMORRO LOVE RECIPE


Frank swears there’s Chamorro blood rioting in his veins;
it keep his hair dark and causes some nasty heart palpitations.

His backyard is full of washing machines.
He owns a small plumbing business and he switches the parts

out of each machine so often on slow days
that he no longer knows which belt belongs to which drum.

When it takes more than two hours to gut one washer
and reconstruct another, I send for the police.

They’ve come over twice in the past month
to pry Frank’s tools from his bloodied hands

while he hollers and pants on the floor of his shed,
screaming about how no self-respecting ex-Guamanian warrior

will be bested by some piece-of-shit tin can
designed to scrub the lace off ladies’ underwear.

He destroys a perfectly good washing machine
every time this happens.

Last Friday I brought him a turtle shell I found by the riverbed.
I thought he could use it as a water bowl for his cats

but Frank said he used to wear his father’s tortoise-shell belt buckle
until he lost it in a flood ten years ago.

He cleared his throat and put his hands on his hips,
said he’d like to think of me as a daughter from then on

if I didn’t mind. He wanted to cook me some island food,
tapioca or maybe some hibiscus buds baked into a pie.

He glanced at my broad shoulders, my narrow feet,
and told me a Chamorro’s feast sticks to one’s bones,

keeps the eyes a pretty shade of green and leaves the warriors
swooning in a woman’s yard like a flock of toads.


...

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

VANITY

So, I'm giving meter a go. But I'm notoriously incorrect in the way I stress the unstressed, and soften the stresses, if that makes sense. At least it works as a story.

I once had a poem ("The Hussy") accepted for publication in the Cider Press Review, and I contacted the editor to discuss a revision. She wrote back and said, "No, don't change it! We really like how it's written in trimeter, and that's so rarely done!"

My response said a lot about my level of experience. "Really? Trimeter? [frantically digging out the poetic dictionary to see an example of said meter description. tri...tri...tricycle?...means three...] Oh! Yes, well, that WAS my original intention. Wouldn't want to change THAT. Never mind."


VANITY
written in trimeter (except line 5)

I am watching my cat lose her patience
with a shiny black beetle outside.
She is letting him crawl up the post
on which our mailbox is fixed
then batting him down easily—twice,
chewing him lightly each time
to check his wings. From here,
my shaded kitchen window,
I can see his shell cracking
and imagine my cat searching
the reflection of her eyes.
She is vain but it seems practical,
not ugly as it is on a woman.
I have wished I was her before.
The beetle refuses to die,
rising and falling on
the post like a flag. I want
to snap the window open
and shout her name—Suvi!
but I hesitate, and notice
the moon is still awake
at three in the afternoon.
She, too, is vain,
lingering in the daylight.
I find my brows in the glass,
narrow them like wings.


...