joann balingit

Dream Lunch at the Café Negresco


At last.

It’s been a lifetime.

The waiter gently

Strokes your crown

As the red wine

Rises in your cheeks

And the soup spoon

Warm and heavy

Slides from your hand.

The guitarist in the corner

Strums a song you wrote

In your childhood.


As you settle into

Your waiter’s arms

The diners smile in chorus.

The busboy blows you a kiss.


Morning, Walking Home


Past black eyes of cottages

past a white cat paused

by a white-washed wall

paw lifted, a sundial


but for this fog, aqua wool,

frayed mist too groggy

to get up and head over

breakers off Guincho.


Who are Carlos e Maria?

I saw black-shawled women

two to a bucket

scour their red names.


Old worn-out towel

unraveling in the sky,                                                             

don’t look now--

the Rio Tejo’s spewing stars


into last night’s bay.

The moon, a smear

of chalk dust, no candle

to light the sun, o meu carinho.


Good road, slope home

gently, please, the way bare

shoulders murmur slowly

under longed-for hands.


Good morning, hands.

You awake?  My sandal

strap’s undone. My heart

hardly buckled on.