1. Consonance

    “Philavery /fil-a-vuh-ri/ n. an idiosyncratic collection of uncommon and pleasing words”

    Unable to sleep till late (or early), I dithered
    and tossed in the abstemious dark then clicked
    on the lamp switch and sat up to read, finally
    settling on my red-bound copy of Foyle’s Philavery
    (a present from my daughters two Christmases ago).
    I’m not sure how it is that my mind drifted
    to the issue of consonants– specifically those
    that bump up in threes in the middle of words,
    like castaways on an island. They sit shoulder
    to shoulder and pass the coconut shell dipper
    from hand to hand as they count sharks’
    triangles in the morning and punched tin lights
    overhead at night, having given up any real
    hope for rescue. By then I’d begun to find more
    and more of these words– like esssse, which
    was the way some medieval 14th century texts
    spelled what we know today as “ash”; or, more
    familiar: “rhythm”, “craftsmanship”, and “ironclad”
    (the latter reminding me of the Battleship Wisconsin,
    berthed at the riverfront not even a quarter mile
    from where we live). So when my husband, grumbling,
    asked if I would like a ham sandwich (notice the three
    consonants snug in the middle there, not even needing
    any mustard or mayo?), what could I do but nod my head
    absently and muse aloud how it would be great if we had
    some schnapps to go with that. While he was downstairs,
    I’d drifted to Chelmno, a little town in Poland (its name
    derives from an old Slavic word for hill), then wandered
    some more afield, picking up a few hitch-hiking doubles
    to keep company with the others: one sweet-talking
    beekeeper, one slightly facetious bookkeeper, one gay
    gypsy who’d been to Albuquerque. When morning
    arrived, they marveled at the sight of a snowpack
    glowing in soft light. I knew that a dog was barking
    somewhere in the hills of Pennsylvania, and hoped he
    would not cause an avalanche. When snow and ice melt,
    they feed the rivers and the streams, but sometimes
    cause flooding. You wake when you hear a resonant
    knock in the dark, even though it could be only a woodpecker.
    But then it could also be the sound of a new door opening.

    ~ Luisa A. Igloria
    01 15 2011

  2. Hi Dave — for consistency, I guess “esssse” should HAVE quotation marks around it. Thanks!


    Snowpack glows in soft mid-morning light:
    As glaring as its empty monochrome, it wakes
    The valley up to a frozen stasis—same day,
    Same scarred skies, same sun, same snow…
    Until a dog barks and snarls at some staccato
    Of a stray woodpecker, opening a new door:
    Could be an early spring, how else explain
    This interloper in this wet and weary winter?

    — Albert B. Casuga
    Mississauga, 01-14-11

    Should be: “Could be an early spring; how else explain” on penultimate line. Pls Dave?

  4. Four of the five poems on this page are some of the coolest Morning Porch posts ever. Keeping this blog going has been an epic achievement, I think. And I am amazed that anyone could keep the quality so high for so long — really cool.

    The chasing squirrels’ wedding bells
    The collapsing snow devil
    The woodpecker making a ‘door’

  5. Do you ever see Mandarin words in random snow scratchings (RE 99 names of God in Arabic…). Somehow Mandarin letters aren’t swishy enough to randomly form in Nature like Arabic.

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