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Recorded for Poem-a-Day, July 12, 2017.
About this Poem 

“‘The Galleons’ is part of a long sequence that's about, among many things, the centuries-long colonial structure that sustained Spanish control over Latin and South America, the Caribbean, and the Philippines. Doing a lot of reading about the Spanish galleons and their trade routes, I began to obsessively see the aftermaths of that history everywhere—in my own story as an immigrant from the Philippines, in the coffee and other goods I consumed, even in the O’Hara poems I was reading, and in the golden summertime mornings in New York when the nannies and their strollers are out and about.”
—Rick Barot

The Galleons

Because I am reading Frank O’Hara
while sitting on a bench at the Brooklyn Promenade

I am aware it is 10:30 in New York
on a Tuesday morning

the way O’Hara was always aware
of what day and hour and season were in front of him

It is 12:20 in New York a Friday
he wrote almost sixty years ago on a July moment

that must have been like the one I am having now
the summer hour blossoming

at the promenades by the rivers and in the parks
and in the quiet aisles of the city

when everyone who should be at work
is at work and the trees are meditating

on how muggy it will be today
and the fleets of strollers are out in the sunshine

expanse of the morning
the strollers that are like galleons

carrying their beautiful gold cargo
being pushed by women whose names once graced

the actual galleons Rosario
Margarita Magdalena along with other names

Essie Maja from places that history has patronized
like O’Hara going into the bank

for money or the bookstore to buy
an ugly NEW WORLD WRITING to see what

the poets / in Ghana are doing these days
or the liquor store for liquor

or the tobacconist for tobacco
and sitting at the Brooklyn Promenade I haven’t looked

at the news to see who now has died
though my fingers keep touching the phone’s face

to find out that when it is 10:30 in the morning
in New York it is 11:30 in the night

in Manila and it is 4:30 in the afternoon in Lagos
and in Warsaw and it is 9:30

in the morning in Guatemala City
where it is also Tuesday and where it is also summer

Copyright © 2017 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Copyright © 2017 by Rick Barot. Originally published in Poem-a-Day on July 12, 2017, by the Academy of American Poets.

Rick Barot

Rick Barot

Rick Barot is the author of Chord (Sarabande Books, 2015). He directs The Rainier Writing Workshop, the low-residency MFA program at Pacific Lutheran University, and lives in Tacoma, Washington. 

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