Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Poems by Joseph O. Legaspi

Whom You Love
By Joseph O. Legaspi 

             "Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are." – Creole Proverb

The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates
Tempers my ways of flurrying
Is my inner recesses surfacing
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies
Pear eater in the orchard
Possesses Whitmanesque urge & urgency
Boo Bear, the room turns orchestral 
Crooked grin of ice cream persuasion
When I speak he bursts into seeds & religion
Poetry housed in a harmonica
Line dances with his awkward flair
Rare steaks, onion rings, Maker’s on the rocks
Once-a-boy pilfering grenadine
Nebraska, Nebraska, Nebraska
Wicked at the door of happiness
At a longed-for distance remains sharply crystalline
Fragments, but by day’s end assembled into joint narrative
Does not make me who I am, entirely
Heart like a fig, sliced
Peonies in a clear round vase, singing
A wisp, a gasp, sonorous stutter
Tuning fork deep in my belly, which is also a bell
Evening where there is no church but fire
Sparks, particles, chrysalis into memory
Moth, pod of enormous pleasure, fluttering about on a train
He knows I don’t need saving & rescues me anyhow
Our often-misunderstood kind of love is dangerous
Darling, fill my cup; the bird has come to roost


[ a subway ride ]

By Joseph O. Legaspi


His artfully unkempt strawberry blonde head sports outsized headphones.  Like a contemporary bust.  Behold the innocence of the freckles, ripe pout of cherry lips.  As if the mere sight of the world hurts him, he squints greenly and applies saline drops.  You dream him crying over you.  For the duration of a subway ride you fall blindly in love.  Until he exits.  Or you exit, returning home to the one you truly love to ravish him.

V-Neck T-Shirt Sonnet

By Joseph O. Legaspi


I love a white v-neck t-shirt

on you: two cotton strips racing

to a point they both arrived at: there

vigor barely contained, flaming hair,

collarless, fenced-in skin that shines.

Cool drop of hem, soft & lived-in,

so unlike my father, to bed you go,

flushed with fur in a rabbit’s burrow

or nest for a flightless bird, brooding. 

Let me be that endangered species,

huddled in the vessel of the inverted

triangle: gaped mouth of a great white

fish on the verge of striking, poised

to devour & feed on skin, on all.

Vows (for a gay wedding)

By Joseph O. Legaspi


What was unforeseen is now a bird orbiting this field.


What wasn’t a possibility is present in our arms.


It shall be and it begins with you.


Our often-misunderstood kind of love deems dangerous.

How it frightens and confounds and enrages.

How strange, unfamiliar.


Our love carries all those and the contrary.

It is most incandescent.


So, I vow to be brave.

Clear a path through jungles of shame and doubt and fear.

I’m done with silence. I proclaim.


It shall be and it sings from within.


Truly we are enraptured

With Whitmanesque urge and urgency.


I vow to love in all seasons.

When you’re summer, I’m watermelon balled up in a sky-blue bowl.

When I’m autumn, you’re foliage ablaze in New England.

When in winter, I am the tender scarf of warm mercies.

When in spring, you are the bourgeoning buds.


I vow to love you in all places.

High plains, prairies, hills and lowlands.

In our dream-laden bed,

Cradled in the nest

Of your neck.

Deep in the plum.


It shall be and it flows with you.


We’ll leap over the waters and barbaric rooftops.


You embrace my resilient metropolis.

I adore your nourishing wilderness.


I vow to love you in primal ways.

I vow to love you in infinite forms.


In our separateness and composites.

To dust and stars and the ever after.


Intrepid travelers, lovers, and family

We have arrived.


Look. The bird has come home to roost.


About the Poet

Joseph O. Legaspi was born in the Philippines, where he lived before immigrating to Los Angeles with his family at age twelve. He received a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. Legaspi is the author of the collection Subway (CreateSpace, 2013), Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017), and Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award. He is the recipient of two poetry fellowships from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2004 he cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization serving Asian American poetry. He works at Columbia University, teaches at New York University and Fordham University, and lives with his husband in Queens, New York.


1 comment:

BosGuy said...

I can 100% relate to Legaspi's poem [a subway ride]. I've never followed any of my crushes off the subway but I've been tempted and god knows I have a vivid imagination for what would follow.