a tale of anecdotes
i don't think i've blogged about this poet yet. i hope she doesn't check blogs by pinoys, ahaha.

sofia starnes lives in virginia. "the truce" was forwarded to a group listserv that i subscribe to. i became curious and troubled by that i totally couldn't decipher what "the truce" wanted to reconcile.

and so all i could do right now is collect her work. ahaha. i posted a couple poems of her already online to another group blog of writers i subscribe to, so now i think that's why no one talks to me in that blog anymore. hay.

today in new york city we had breakfast at noon and two of our party wanted to stay quiet and look for furniture. the people we lived with had just recently moved into that apartment - a brownstone, she called it - so there was no furniture. but our host had lent us blankets and towels, and cooked us breakfast. we used spam can no. 1 today.

brooklyn's park slope neighborhood is the hotspot to check out. dinner at convivium osteria will set you back $50 or so a plate, but with the ambience, service and of course unparalleled flavor of the mediterranean, it's well worth the trip.

we had dinner there to send off a friend of our host named rachel. she's moving back to chicago. our host had just moved back to new york city in the middle of last year. another one of our friends had thought of following her there. he's still in chicago. but i suppose many plans change.

we closed off the night with two sets of jazz at the new puppet's jazz bar on 5th street. my friend and i took so many pictures that it grabbed the attention of the drummer, so that after the first 12 minutes, he had to get up and tell me to stop videotaping. it would have been all right had he not had to yell from the stage. the bar was tiny and cozy and everyone could get to know each other if they wanted. i set my camera down. after another half hour the drummer - also the bar's owner - approached me and apologized for asking me to stop taping. i totally understood, truly i did, except that everyone else had to learn about it as well. he took my empty saketini glass and explained that his bandmates asked him to prohibit taping because they were going to post their music online. i wished they hadn't run out of plum wine. half our party left at midnight, whereas i asked my friend to stay for the second half. retiring at midnight in nyc seemed a little too early for me. when we left at 2 a.m., there was snow on the ground, on brown leaves still clinging on short trees, on car windshields and uphill black pavement.


The Truce
by Sofia M. Starnes

The sky—a scraped knee tincturing a gauze,
the gauze wringing out water, over thirst and pond;

swiftly we walk our hump-and-halo mile,
to pause before the porch.

Torches will tell the city what we saw; that no one's
scheming scorched-earths after all—not here,

No matter how despondent they might be, there's

fire in scattered windows; linen glows.
Our lola smoked the gossips of her room,

her star-tip floating—nothing else;
I knew she sat, still, at the far-edge of her mat,

planning the birth of stories.
Tell me—was it that cold and dreary?

Middle East: the warlords running high, bone-sand
equipped to parch a river's hope, and prophets

multiplying. Drink and rise.
Ah, lola again: in the remarking dusk,

accent of thread, and stoop, and winter—
spittle, ankle, and ice—umbilical;

this child from that, a mother's cradling mama, and
someone else's son.

Jesús, María y José—
and lola's murmurs often finished thus: they came,

they bore into our lodging with a rush,
whose urgency was marvel.

The sky has healed completely, not a scratch.
We end our walk, up steps, into our porch for stories.

Surely we're safe in every home tonight,
surely the house won't burn, the war won't come.

She'll scoop him up, Who never plays with matches.


Shadows of Innocence
by Sofia M. Starnes

Purewhite, paperwhites,
odor of petals on the wicker-stand on which

we lean.
Deathwhite, dogwood white, hybrid

shadows behind the screened porch...
We have been cautioned not

to invade the white square off the house,
where the dead live.

Why did you bring the bulbs
indoors this year? Fresh spring-

whites are for old slabs with their prone angels.
Remember the dotted hearts in our earliest

missals, their venial lesson, scent
of onion skin. We learned

from them never to flirt with a fragrance,
for the sake of our faithfulness.

Blameless lily-white,
how it escapes us, as white always does,

with the merest gesture: a finger
smudge on the slick envelope, thin trickle

on the swab where a nail
ripped, velvet eye-shade against the tissue,

powdery death.
Remember the white cassock our priest wore

in summer heat, like a returning santo?
It dropped its length on stubby

feet, into our muddy garden.


The Soul’s Landscape
by Sofia M. Starnes

Ah, what the soul gives for shape –
to be handled head-first

at the temple, to be cumbered
with cotton, white puffs

from plantations in heat; what it gives,
for the flick, flick elastic

on wrists, loose-leaf palms it befriends,
at its youngest – for the sake

of all this, and this place.
Love me now with your

hands (says the soul, half-exploring its
landscape), better me

with embodiment; come, angle the ribs
where they beach into

longing; come, finger the oval description
of death, smallest hope

for cessation. When the room is redundant
of space, and its walls

wish for closure, thumb my corners
up, inward, wade your lips

through the ridge where they meet,
to allow recollection.

I must love with the tissue and the gloss
that embody: cellule, elegy,

ghost, danger, languish... all those words
out of context for souls,

god-forsaken, whiplash of the neck –

is the word I would use the most cautiously;
how precarious its hum,

ear to earth, plumbing earth, earthwise.
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