there's excitement inside me
a tuned-up car, detailed
hugging each curve to Hana
cocktails in cup holders
waterfalls & a peacock
what a beauty
a strong & pungent off-gassing
a bus ride with a kind driver
even the strange dog didn't bite me
lucky day going forward regularly
this glowing bus is gorgeous
no reports of break-ins
no litter at my feet
I must have kissed you
a hundred times tonight
a bird at the feeder
I couldn't help a little soft-shoe
isn't the spaghetti delicious
even the rain opened pink succulents
the road winds so nicely around the hillside
skin alive & receptive
wind & touch &
this feeling in your core
a murmuration of starlings
you're a great blue heron
on unseen currents
oh to be bird & kite & panther
it's not the heart but a sensation
sun-core radiating warmth
spill of warm tea on your lap
it's not love for another
but for self and other
bright auras overlapping
in imagination or confusion
a steel rod still glowing from fire
hot glass ballooning at the end of the straw
excitement & calmness of soul
lava glowing & inching forward
around stone & tree & me
sighing when it meets the sea
Thanks to The Round Magazine for publishing three of my poems in issue xvi: "I Love It When We Fall Backward and Deep," "Seated Next to a Friend's Husband at the House of Prime Rib to Celebrate Eric's Fiftieth Birthday," and "Where Did You Come From, Angel?"
A night to remember. Thanks to poets Joyce Jenkins and Richard Silberg, editors of Poetry Flash magazine and co-hosts of the Poetry Flash reading series at Moe’s Books in Berkeley, where I read from A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees with the amazing Jan Beatty. Her book, Jackknife, is magnificent. And I will never forget the gorgeous introductions by Richard Silberg.
Making Risotto for Dinner When His Ex-Wife Calls
While I mince an onion, he talks with her,
planning their son’s bar mitzvah, sounding
so familiar, so nuts and bolts. Turning up the gas flame,
I sauté the onion translucent. Butter sizzles, foams,
as they go over the invitation list, names I’ve never heard.
Adding a cup of Arborio, I think of white rice
thrown high in the air by the fistful. I pour
two glasses of chardonnay, one for the risotto,
one for myself, sip, then gulp. Blend.
The band, flowers, menu?
Heady, I stare at the recipe to orient myself, to understand
what I am doing: Add broth, cup by cup, until absorbed.
Add Parmesan. Serve immediately.
The word immediately catches my eye,
but their conversation continues, then his son
gets on the line and hangs up on him,
as I stir and stir, holding the wooden spoon.
“Making Risotto for Dinner When His Ex-Wife Calls” by Kendra Tanacea from A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees. © Lost Horse Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
When It Happened
When Dad came home from the hospital, Donna Summer,
on the radio. A blue robe. Welcome home! Detoxing,
there were ghosts: his mother white-nightgowning toward him
through the center of his bed. Back of his neck, railroad-stitched,
just over the cervical spine. Christmastime? The Super-8’s
flood light so bright, he’s squinting. Hold up the new robe!
Blondie was singing about hearts of glass, and either there were icicles
or it was hot and humid. A tropical dress on a heavy July night.
Sometimes I think it was January, his car skidding on black ice.
Other times I’m sure it’s July and summer vacation, tuning the radio
to catch a song and a breeze through the screen. Set the table,
wash the dishes, just one long Formica day.
He was there, then he was gone. He came back.
It was Christmas and we gave him a blue robe. To lounge,
to recover. Recover. But it was July in the heat of summer
when I was a nurse in South Pacific. That’s when he got sick.
Or became sick. When he spent long nights in the basement,
magnifying quartz, pyrite, slices of mica. The cellar:
the coolest place on those sleepless nights, radio crackling,
the antennae unable to grab onto a station.
by Kendra Tanacea
The rhododendron in Monroe
from the picture window of my childhood home,
that gave us, every year, its first bloom on the fourth
of June. Lilacs every April,
a constant hedge of baby’s breath. These things
still happen in my absence.
And, at the edge of the yard, where all my efforts cease,
the wild tiger lilies are opening,
tangled in the forsythia,
just where the woods begin.
“Perennial” by Kendra Tanacea from A Filament Burns in Blue Degrees. © Lost Horse Press, 2017. Reprinted with permission. (buy now)
By Kendra L. Tanacea
Carving a turkey, basted by his ex-wife, around a table
in this fall night. Children, dog at hearth.
Alone in your flat, loneliness settles in the chest:
phlegm. Dark meat sitting in watery gravy.
You’re home, while the man you sleep with clears
his ex-wife’s plate. I mean, she’s there in his house,
the one you’ve been naked in, wandering the kitchen,
looking for a snack in the shadow of Mount Tam.
It’s a cold place. Even his dog barks when you kiss,
and you are what you are: a stranger in a family’s home.
You walked yourself stupid today, to the ocean and back,
hoping to lose yourself in the people carrying yams
and pecan pies from their cars to front doors. You want
to stop imagining the scene, the setting and clearing,
the dumb domesticity of it all, scraps to the dog,
playing Pictionary, renting a movie. You think,
this is what I was meant to be: a sorry animal
aggravating her own wound. This persistent cough:
jealousy. Every ugly thing gathered into a cornucopia
of grievances: Thanksgiving.
BY KENDRA TANACEA
A dense cloud cover.
No horizon and a faulty altimeter.
No orientating moon.
Have you flown like this before?
Hoping the disconnected self can return
from a flat-line. Apply the defibrillator,
and the soul high in the corner
will merge back into its body.
A runway lined with white lights
and the magnetic pull of earth.
Like those who stepped out of the fuselage,
wandering lost in an endless cornfield.
They never thought they were in Iowa.
They thought: this is heaven.
by Kendra L. Tanacea
For My Grandfather
Every Sunday, church. In his gold shirt.
On Easter, in his black overcoat and buttonholed
carnation, he carved lamb from a spit in our yard.
Later, we danced in a tight circle. Opa! Papu.
When his daughter was born, he paid for the delivery
with an inlaid chest, fitting all those pieces together:
the concerned doctor, chin in hand, the feverish child,
the lantern’s honey-stained light.
On April Fools’ Day, his wife’s birthday, he carved
the skin off an orange in a continuous spiral,
recomposed it into a perfect whole, placed it
in the wooden fruit bowl.
When she could no longer speak, he made her
an easy chair. And combed her gray hair
and built us a home with its bones
on the outside. All those years of scaffolding.
After thirty years of piecework, after arthritis
bowed his fingers, he carved a chair for the bishop
with a relief of St. George, riding a rearing horse,
spearing the open-mouthed dragon.
He carved at night. Steady hand, chisel,
curlicues of wood. Sawdust resting in the wrinkles
of his pants, on his white mustache, in the hollow
of his good ear.
When he became ill, he sank into the love seat
by the plate-glass window. In silhouette,
his Einstein hair, Philip of Macedon nose,
and slight paunch that grew with cancer.
That February before he died, he carved Lincoln
out of snow. Great man seated on his chair,
chiseled features. At dusk, he splashed it
with water and, overnight, it iced like marble.