Featured Poet

Eileen Tabios

( St. Helena, California )


Alchemy at the Maykadeh: Dinner with Philip Lamantia

June 26, 2001

                       Of course I was early…

Nursing a glass of house red at the bar,
I recall a young self 
who once proclaimed in dank parts of the world:
“I never sup with enemies!”

I see you enter the blue frame of glass
bordering the blue door into Maykadeh
where you suggested we meet 
for “they do wonders with tongue.”

              Earlier that day, I was inarticulate (“as is often my wont”)—
              thus lapsed into e-mailing a fragment to Max: sometimes the ocean is a cobalt sari

I watch you walk by once—
you, too, were early—
neatly clad in a white-gray Burberry.
Of course it wasn’t Burberry
but I like the thought of British quality
sheathing your shoulders, whose posture begets civility—

a notion that recalls another old man
who has never stopped writing poems:
Luis who smiled as he typed the lines defining “Bliss”:

                           “Hands for the pillow
                           Gazing at the August moon
                           I’ve no enemies.”*

Gravel and cherries emanate from the wine
darkening my glass into the same scarlet
the sun tips over the sage and mint
unfurling over Mexico’s Sangre de Christo mountains.
Nowadays, I will dine with anyone—

which does not lessen the sprezzatura
flowing through my veins
as I anticipate your hand
pushing open the door 
into another conversation with me

into a night of nerves melting fearlessly
from knowing:

                   the air shall not forget its position and give birth
                         to representatives from the annals of monks who disavowed vows,
                         Machiavellian sons from the history of the Vatican, 
                         politicians (even the good ones),
                         child-obsessed vampires,
                         my younger selves who thought the Poem to be figments of imagination.  

Sweetly, you recommended eggplant.

Editor’s note: a haiku by Luis Cabalquinto, with the author’s permission

Microchip Legacy
(after Christian Hawkey’s “The Art of Navigating in the Air”)

Red walls? Blue walls?
Like “loneliness”
sounding like “holiness”…

Each glint from
a blade of grass
offers a thrill with dew.

Thank you, Dear
Window masquerading
as laptop screen.

“How can a reflection
encompass such perfection?”

Author’s note: This poem was written in “collaboration” with the effect of Christian Hawkey’s poem “The Art of Navigating in the Air”. The last stanza also paraphrases from David Archuleta’s song choice from a song-writing competition during the finals for “American Idol” 2008.

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Current Issue - Spring 2009