Luggage Poems

all my books collect dust

except the one of love poems

you gave me that day

when the spring rains

kept us indoors

my lips always tingled

when I kissed her—

true love, she whispered

I didn’t say

cat allergy

the way you look at me

while I rub your arms—

you are the painting

I have never painted

a thousand times

summer breeze

lifts a corner

of our picnic blanket— +

I place a grape

on your outstretched tongue

perhaps I dream

to much of you—

but, for all the world

that summer cloud

is the shape of your face

these roses

in a porcelain vase—

I cannot believe

yet I want to believe

they are from you

she points to the sundog

and asks

if it means anything

I tell her it means

I love you

our ladder propped

against the gutter—

you turn to see

if I am here

steadying it

jingle of the dog’s collar

out in the hall—

we pause

in our lovemaking,

Christmas Eve

dans le corridor

le cliquetis du collier du chien

notre pause

en faisant l’amour—

veille de Noël +

morning sun

warming our sheets . . .

for a moment

as you slide your body down,

your nipple in my navel

a snail has left

its delicate silver trail

on my book of love poems

left out on your porch


at last we depart

after lingering

in embrace—

the echo of your footsteps

in the fog

ink stain

on the pillow slip—

what else but write

can I do

while you’re gone

her plane disappears

into starlight . . .

and somewhere

in her luggage

my love poem

The translation of the “jingle of the dog’s collar” poem into French is by Mike Montreuil, from Atlas Poetica, 2010, in which I was one of twenty-five poets in a feature focusing on Canadian tanka poets. See also “Poèmes de bagages / Luggage Poems” for French translations of seven of these tanka.