Leialoha Apo Perkins

Leialoha Apo Perkins Poems

He knew. A summons glues all. The air sucks itself dry,
then dies. There’s little time to write a note:
“To the country for the day -Don’t wait.'

The kitchen sink cracked
The air stalked out
His voice hung
Dead centre of her heart

Shot! Shot yourself!
Body punctured! Lumped! Limp! Gone!
Snapped! Life derring diddle doo!
What could a bullet, cosmos

Who knows what insects Mandelstam kissed, blessing,
before eating them? (What he drank to down it all?)
What he ate: Ants with their delicate air, sleek black
body parts, snipped waist, massive heads eyeing who, what, there?

One by one – husband, lovers, friends
Wrote, slicing truths wafer thin
From turds of brute lies – courage
Incised by knives. Every turn

Grief has no face, no feet. Its hands, bound, tongue paralyzed -
if withered is the heart. Eating is from inside small paned windows
looking out and seeing snow descend, bend trees to sag. Snow: glass.

How many times must the NKVD knock
on the door? Snap to attention, boot heels
clicking, the brass knuckles of their belts glint
on the polished oak floor? The china quivers,

Trembling, furious, quaking Fundaments
- silently screaming eagles was Akhmatova.
“This man is a Firebrand! A Torch! Poet!
He loves peacocks, even song, old maps!

So you sat in his living room, the Poet’s,
and noticed his gaze consumed
you and you dared not look back?
You averted looking back, held yourself

Leialoha Apo Perkins Biography

1998. Hawai'i Award for Literature. (Hawai'i State Foundation for Culture and the Arts and the Hawai'i Literary Arts Council) .)

The Best Poem Of Leialoha Apo Perkins

When Akhmatova Met Mikhail Bulgakov, Under Condemnation

He knew. A summons glues all. The air sucks itself dry,
then dies. There’s little time to write a note:
“To the country for the day -Don’t wait.'

A summon unsticks too. Relatives, friends, foes stand back.
He said “Let’s walk.” To the river. His wife’s hair
burnished iodine gold in the sun that morning.
His infant son kicked the irreverent air.
It was cold, cold out.
A summons arches like a scimitar.
He said nothing about the Commissar’s note.

Everyone knew. The Bureau smells – that old, familiar fear.
An odor permeates – the newspaper, the wooden benches.
Even steel does not resist clean, acrid wash of Lysol.
Behind one odor another is steeped, stronger than the latrine’s.
Only the incoming breeze rallying from off the Baltic Sea
cleans, but does not sweep away the clenched fist
of prisoners’ sleep. There is the yaw of the waiting rooms.

We walked. The trees declined. The streets waggled away.
Beautiful houses waited naked, their grounds bare,
the garden statues - scratched, chipped, redolent
of a far off day - their histories bound in books in archives.

We talked. He noted the brilliant peacock blue, patching
the sky. He recited a poem. He says nothing he didn’t mean.
He joked. He laughed, lightly, like a kite, gently, riding high
looking for Spring. When it came to earth again,
he would be ready, it seemed. It would come. It is not locked up
in an iron safe by the Commissar and his Committee of Friends.
The Muse, he says, is as we are. He smiled, wanly.

We walked. We talked centuries past the clock’s
Time keeping hands. From a makeshift road stand,
we bought a plate of Borscht. We ate it at a pier, on the piles
- gulls wheeling above us, like a crowning, and finer.
Above them, still, a flock of geese honked their traffick,
Pulled by the gravity of stars, pulled by the earth’s iron clad
heart, fired, then, and singing. We watched: birds diving, rising,
crossing orders of powers - skating their lives across the deep sky.

We stood there, the baby cooing; he, shading his eyes
(with a bandaged hand) , captive, clearly seeing the Beauty
that lay still, if like stone – that is the Purity of the earth, sky, land..

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