Eileen Tabios (California, USA): Two Poems


There are keys to everything, even handcuffs. Why remember Catullus for his scurrilous invective? I am at my loneliest, the postcard says, when I see a mirror and you are not raising a hand to wipe away my tears. I recall the rain in Burgundy, its warmth washing the slate path towards Anne Gros’ winery. His first love unexpectedly sits at the next table and, after ten years, both smile without rancor. The t-shirt pronounces its wearer to be a VIRGIN! (but that’s become such a 20th century sentiment). He disappears into a gnat at the rim of my vision as I wonder whether sweat can be dishonest. Otherwise, falling would not hurt? Right under your nose, a trip wire leers as it hides in the shimmer of heat. “Billy is deaf,” I oil her hackles. What is an artist without a desecrated battleground? I was cruel to a young lady from the barrio, labeling her “Maid.” She folds into sadness—that he would not think to consider her in another way. The bottle became empty, and another day gave way. The fire erupted like a poem. She is a redhead but dandruff remains white. As he strides down the path, stones clatter from his tread. Under his left eye, he has a scar that people never see but recall in memory. Once, a famous painter whispered, “When you see the glass, you do not see its transparency.”


My gift of chocolate in pink cellophane failed to make the blonde smile. The rain in Spain flattens against my windowpane. I consider the bill in front of me: its unfamiliarity. The passer-by wears a hat crocheted from pink lace and white string. The bus drives by with a side panel advising, be once, be always, just be. He disappears into a gnat at the rim of my vision as I wonder whether sweat can be dishonest. She might as well plant fragile shoots in watery paddies under a glaring sun. Right under your nose a trip wire leers as it hides in the shimmer of heat. Your intellect is a scratchy wool coat, I think as I consider the tunnel’s capped teeth. No matter how often California regurgitates into the sea, they continue to build houses on top of faultlines, even when they contain nurseries with pastel wallpaper. I remember cool breezes coiling their milky skeins around pine tress. He is relieved at her smile. The afternoon sliced his face delicately with the edge of a half-opened curtain that allowed the sun to pass. I tasted lemon and butter in the wine. The wind blows and the poem-in-progress flies away: His tan jodhpurs are encased in black riding boots. When she will be excavated in a hundred years, her bones will have outlined a fetal position. I sense a city bleeding beyond the window: feel Manila’s infamously red sunset.

The “Synopsis” poems are from a series “DECADE” which remixes lines from a series “LIFE SENTENCES” whose poems were written over a decade ago. “LIFE SENTENCES” was the author’s first prose poetry work.

© Eileen Tabios 2009