Joseph O. Legaspi

Death and the Writer



Was it Schiller or Goethe who stored rotting

apples in his desk? The story changes.


Joyce wrote with blue crayons on cardboards

lying on his stomach in his white coat.


Flannery surrounded herself

with the gazing eyes of peacock feathers.


I sit and stare at a snowdrift of pages,

searching for that which disappears.


Clad in her mother’s fur coat, Sexton

turned on the engine of her awful rowing.


Apples, white coat, feathers, fur coat …

Things decay,


mushrooming into lore,

mesmeric as a boy’s heart suspended


in formaldehyde in a jar

Stephen King keeps at his bedside.


Against this windowless corner

my desk shrinks as I scribble.

I Miss You



I miss you like I miss Manhattan,

Its synergy, kinesis, can-do attitude.

I yearn for our Dutch Golden Age or

Bygone era of the Italian Renaissance.

Where’s the moon in daytime? You I crave

Like being read grim fairy tales in bed. How

Dancing feet long for tap shoes. I miss you

Bad as a Barbara Walters primetime special.

Maple syrup slow to trickle, tapped from

Old trees. Bee in winter, let us escape to

Tropical Christmas, stocking stuffers of

Chocolate coins and apples from China.

I’m an open umbrella without a metal

Stem. Humming that pop song with the

Deserts missing the rain. Oh, I so miss

You with the sorrow of Switzerland.

You’re photographs in a house afire.

Shrimp paste I’m now allergic to eat.

Art exhibition or play I meant to see.

My retrospective. Limbs a-phantom.

The last night you were alive



I woke up abruptly, my skies

Nearing blue on the other

Half of a large country. Apart

Most of our lives we never

Learned togetherness, unable

Even to attempt. Arrested.

Opposite pages of a book.

I envisioned you best from

Afar, theatrical spotlight

Beaming over your hospice

Bed out west. I resided where

None of my ancestors landed.

I needed to be someplace safe.


JOSEPH O. LEGASPI is the author of Threshold and Imago both from CavanKerry Press, and two chapbooks: Aviary, Bestiary (Organic Weapon Arts) and Subways (Thrush Press). His works have appeared in POETRYNew England ReviewBest of the Net, Poetry Dailyand the Academy of American Poets’ Poem-a-Day. He co-founded Kundiman, a non-profit organization serving Asian American writers.