We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE
OR
title

Birthmark

Jon Pineda

Publication Year: 2004

In Jon Pineda’s debut collection Birthmark, loss takes the shape of a scar, memory the shape of a childhood, and identity the shape of a birthmark on a lover’s thigh. Like water taking the form of its container, Pineda’s poems swell to fill the lines of his experiences. Against the backdrop of Tidewater, Virginia’s crabs and cicadas, Pineda invokes his mestizo—the Tagalog word for being half Filipino—childhood, weaving laments for a tenuous paternal relationship and the loss of a sibling. Channeling these fragmented memories into a new discovery of self, Birthmark reclaims an identity, delicate yet unrelenting, with plaintive tones marked equally by pain, reflection, and redemption.

Published by: Southern Illinois University Press

Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (45.3 KB)
pp. 1-3

Title Page

pdf iconDownload PDF (26.7 KB)
p. 4-4

Copyright

pdf iconDownload PDF (35.9 KB)
pp. 5-9

Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.8 KB)
pp. 10-11

read more

Acknowledgments

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.2 KB)
pp. xi-xii

Grateful acknowledgment is made to the editors of the following magazines where these poems first appeared...

1. Half

read more

Matamis

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.2 KB)
p. 3-3

One summer in Pensacola, I held an orange this way, flesh hiding beneath the texture of the rind,...

read more

Wrestling

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.5 KB)
p. 4-4

Before the season, we were already pissed, our bodies tightening around ribs, our eyes, like panthers, sinking into shadows....

read more

Memory in the Shape of a Swimming Lesson

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.4 KB)
pp. 5-9

If anything, it is like water. Taking the shape of what surrounds it. A concrete pool. The walls of a throat. My earliest memory is of my father...

read more

Visitation, or How a Son Came to Resemble the Archangel

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.8 KB)
p. 10-10

The children dig, dulling new plastic tools, their backs to the surf never ceasing to surprise them. The father watches from a chair with only a few days left in it,...

read more

Arboretum

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.7 KB)
p. 11-11

Maybe the great tragedy of my childhood is that I could never keep a fish alive for longer than a week. On Sunday, I’d slide a blade on the cheek of a bag & watch everything empty into a round, glass bowl: water, fish, & beige strands that rose when each suddenness rippled from its body...

read more

The Metaphor of Sunlight Can Be Carried in a Bucket

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.9 KB)
p. 12-12

As children, we waited for low tide & walked through the slick thickness, threatening each step deeper than the next in pools formed by the creek’s edge. Schools of minnows flashed in a stir of light. A half mile into the heart...

read more

A Shadow of Gulls

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.7 KB)
p. 13-13

Against the ferry’s hull, a knot of water fell when the engines died, & we drifted between pilings woven together with rope. As the boat pressed into boards, the crew appeared, pulling free blocks chocked behind tires...

read more

The Muse, or Stars Out on Interstate 81 South

pdf iconDownload PDF (23.0 KB)
p. 14-14

On the tip of a hill, the silhouette is of something not of this world, the body silent in the birth of another shadow, swelling still among stars & veins. The sun dropping below the mountains left hardly any light, except what glimmers on the membrane & slips...

read more

Willoughby Spit

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.9 KB)
pp. 15-16

In the middle of the tunnel, his car loses power & coasts, but there is not enough momentum to push him through the upswing. He stops, listens as horns begin to mimic the beat of his hazards, drivers cursing behind the glass...

2. Door That Always Opens

read more

Between Rounds

pdf iconDownload PDF (39.2 KB)
pp. 19-26

Outside, barking dogs from our neighbor’s yard remind me of boxing matches my father & I used to watch at the Amphib Base in Norfolk....

read more

Memory in the Shape of a House Made of Doors

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.4 KB)
p. 27-27

If anything, it is like the house his friend had told him about made completely out of doors, somewhere in Colorado or California. He liked the idea: A house built with nothing but used doors, each with its own history of useless hinges...

read more

Shelter

pdf iconDownload PDF (29.9 KB)
p. 28-28

Have you forgotten the way my face winced at my father when, instead of shaking your hand, he walked off sputtering...

read more

Black Sea Bass

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.7 KB)
p. 29-29

It lay in a cooler filled with ice the night we were out of power from the storm. Its skin was gray when I reached inside, not the way...

read more

Birthmark

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.1 KB)
p. 30-30

After they make love, he slides down so his face rests near her waist. The light by the bed casts its nets that turn into shadows. They both fall asleep. When he wakes, he finds a small patch of birthmarks on her thigh, runs his finger over each island, a speck of light brown bundled with others to form an archipelago on her skin. For him, whose father is from the Philippines, it is the place he has never been, filled with hillsides of rice & fish, different...

3. Inevitable Distance

read more

Miscarriage

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.0 KB)
p. 33-33

We’d been trying for months when, one night, we heard what sounded like a baby, its cries sharpening outside. Our neighbors had gathered in the backyard...

read more

Five about Flowers

pdf iconDownload PDF (33.5 KB)
pp. 34-38

One summer I could not walk into one of the rooms where we lived without first seeing them spread about, watered, in handfuls. Daisies....

read more

Corolla

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.4 KB)
p. 39-39

A man edges his way toward a herd of horses that have slowed in the receding water. He offers one a handful of vegetables while his other hand comes into view like a bird from far off, hovering just so above the horse & its mane...

read more

Hunger

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.1 KB)
p. 40-40

The morning after their son is born, he goes home to feed the cats. He drives through Ghent, with its thick Victorians, & crosses the tracks to the edge of Riverview where the same-styled homes stand, though the paint peeling from each shutter makes them seem ruined...

read more

A Few Words on Rome, or The Neighbor Who Never Waves

pdf iconDownload PDF (36.6 KB)
pp. 41-45

Passing Viareggio, he sees his reflection in the window & past that, part of a beach where it is said the poet’s body washed on shore, where a pyre was built there on the sand, the blaze filling him...

read more

Weight

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.0 KB)
p. 46-46

On the steps of Santa Croce, a woman held her child, his hand cupped above a plate of coins...

read more

Bonfire

pdf iconDownload PDF (20.9 KB)
p. 47-47

We build a bonfire in the backyard. The world is a different place now, someone says, & they are the first to light a match & let it set it off. Light hammers the surrounding dark each time fire strik...

read more

Night Feeding

pdf iconDownload PDF (30.0 KB)
p. 48-48

Our son cries from the other room, & it is this sound that wakes me, wakes us both. Because we share in caring for him, I ask,...

4. Undoing

read more

Living Together

pdf iconDownload PDF (34.4 KB)
p. 51-51

Bruce Denbigh placed a stick in the spokes of my tire, & I went flying...

read more

In Strange Circles

pdf iconDownload PDF (21.3 KB)
p. 52-52

How is it that, years later, after watching a few men along Franklin heave bloated bags of trash into the back of a truck, I remember that summer at Atlantic Beach when hundreds of man-of-wars had washed onto the shore, & though a voice on the radio kept warning everyone to “stay away from the oceanfront,” we drove there anyway, just to see our blurred reflections in the steamy globes slowly deflating in the sun? Later that night, underneath the pier the sounds & lights from the bars along the boardwalk receded into the on-shore break, this world slipped into other worlds. We touched by accident...

read more

Translation

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.1 KB)
pp. 53-54

I try to see him as a boy, back in the Philippines, waking to the sound of machine guns. His family would spend their morning spreading a paste over the sores of the house’s thick walls...

read more

In the Romance of Grief

pdf iconDownload PDF (35.6 KB)
pp. 55-59

There are three oaks in the yard. As saplings, their translucent branches were braided...

read more

This Poetry

pdf iconDownload PDF (22.2 KB)
pp. 60-61

It is where she has gone. A spoon clicks in her mouth while her eyes fall back, & the one holding her hand is not me or you. It is a boy, her brother, & he is afraid, though he remembers something...

Other Books in the Crab Orchard Award Series in Poetry

pdf iconDownload PDF (31.2 KB)
p. 62-62

Back Cover

pdf iconDownload PDF (59.3 KB)
p. 63-63


E-ISBN-13: 9780809388615
Print-ISBN-13: 9780809325702

Page Count: 80
Publication Year: 2004

Series Title: Crab Orchard Series in Poetry

Research Areas

Recommend

  • You have access to this content
  • Free sample
  • Open Access
  • Restricted Access