P. K. Harmon

Meto and His Appetite for the Raw

We call the oldest Meto
which means pelagic water
deep water out of sight of land

and it is also the word
for stick chart the navigational
map of currents from island

to island—it is a powerful name—

and like so many children
he is a picky eater—we often can’t
get him to eat what has been prepared

but slice up a fresh yellow fin or
marlin or wahoo but especially
yellow fin and he will eat like a predator

this boy will eat like he needs to save it
up like a shark whose knowledge is
contained in what it consumes

like his very spirit depends on the spirit
of the ocean and I remember when
this boy was an infant and was placed

in the ocean to play and a shiver
of juvenile black tips came to him
like a prophesy and splashed up to him

and he laughed and reached out to them
and they offered their dorsals and pectorals
and caudals as if he were one of them

and contained the primary understanding
the unadorned the desire for raw sustenance
and we knew we had named him well

this boy our boy is a smooth slice
through the water and his mother
the mother of water and the raw

deliciousness and depth of its power


Often, it’s not about when I bush-cut the grass,
or the swaying of the mango tree in the breeze,

or where I place a sprouting coconut
while two cats judge from a low-slung beach chair.

When a storm opens from singing clouds,
it’s beautiful to be the blade with some thirst
or the weak-kneed plumeria, staked in a pot that bursts its own sides.

Weed the unwanted,
and the blooms are always waiting,
pages ever-turning on their warm dreamt openings.

None of the Sundays, none of the Saturdays,
none of the soiled tools rusted in this cliff-line yard
are ready to tame the green;
their fruits whisper in the sea-blown air
of the resourceful willing.

The Daughter

There, two grey tabby cats slept,
tired by the many rainfalls—
their slumber contains
one dream.  In the afternoon, a child
presses her arms into a purring body
as if talking
(pretending to) the sentences that are in her heart—
just the sound, just everything
musical then, might say what rises from her.
The knowing is too simple for others, a language of one,
all within her spirited life as this child.
In fact some of this sings the air recognizable
for us—to we who listen, but haven’t
heard, this song—is the soft hour
of her day.  We think, with natural light
and the shadow.  An occasional verse
built inside it.  Syllables
in the urge, around how her voice and the animal
of the evening collide.
It’s a melody.  We’ve listened to it
on exactly a thousand evenings.  One of us
may join the tune,
may turn it into a salvation.
Baninnur: A Basket of Food

P. K. Harmon’s collection of poetry What Island was the 2011–2012 winner of the First Book Prize in Poetry from Serving House Books and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s MFA Program in Creative Writing. This year, his work has been part of an ongoing feature in the Pandorian, an online art and design webpage in London, England.  He has recently had poems published in Micronesian Educator and Pacific Daily News, with a forthcoming publication in Southeast Review.  He is currently Professor in the College of Liberal Arts and Social Science at the University of Guam.

detail of Diasporic Waters - Joy Enomoto - 2014