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About this poet

Joseph O. Legaspi was born in the Philippines, where he lived before immigrating to Los Angeles with his family at age twelve. He received a BA from Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University’s Creative Writing Program. Legaspi is the author of the collection Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017) and Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award. He is the recipient of a 2001 poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts, and in 2004 he cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization serving Asian American poetry. He works at Columbia University, teaches at New York University and Fordham University, and lives with his husband in Queens, New York.

The Kisser's Handbook

(The Sensitive Male Chapter)
 

Awkward and dry is love.
A moist kiss simmers as cherry pie.

A peck reddens into poppy.
Several feed like birds in your hands.

The first kiss carries history. The customary roses,
a bouquet received by two.

On the right side of her mouth, she is your mother.
On the left side, she's the sister you never had.

If delicate yet firm, a kiss can resuscitate the drowned Ophelia;
hurried and open-mouthed, moths flutter out of her body.

A kiss that glides smoothly possesses the pleasant lightness of tea.
If it smudges, prepare yourself for children.

A kiss that roams the curving of the lips,
the tongue still tracing the slopes even
without her near is a poet's muse.

When bitten on the lower lip—I am your peach—
if she’s left there biting, dangling, she'll burn the tree.

When she's sucking your lips as if through a straw
she wants you in her.

Never quite touching, sky and earth bridged
by clouds of breath, speak in recitation:

Because I am the ocean in which she cannot swim,
my lover turned into the sea.

Or cradle her in the cushions of your lips,
let her sleep in the pink.

From Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Used with the permission of the author.

From Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017). Copyright © 2017 by Joseph O. Legaspi. Used with the permission of the author.

Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi

Joseph O. Legaspi is the author of Threshold (CavanKerry Press, 2017) and Imago (CavanKerry Press, 2007), winner of a Global Filipino Literary Award.

by this poet

poem

Somewhere someone rises
far earlier than you before
the faintest glimmer blues
the darkest dark wakens
without alarm without body
roused by the nightingales
neighbor friend or stranger
who hasn't seen his sunlit
children faces a cold sink
oh caffeinated sleepwalker

2
poem

             "Tell me whom you love, and I’ll tell you who you are." – Creole Proverb


The man whose throat blossoms with spicy chocolates
Tempers my ways of flurrying
Is my inner recesses surfacing
Paints the bedroom blue because he wants to carry me to the skies
Pear eater in

poem

We suffer through blinding equatorial heat,
refusing to unfold the suspended bamboo shade 
nested by a pair of hardworking, cheerless sparrows.
We’ve watched them fly in-and-out of their double
entryways, dried grass, twigs clamped in their beaks.
They skip, nestle in their woodsy tunnel