Two Poems

by Asa Drake

Listening to the Storm, Still Distant vs. Specific Rain on the Banana Leaves

I bring jam to share at work after an exit interview in which a colleague calls me robotic, unbelievably kind. I imagine that at an impressionable age she watched Blade Runner or Cloud Atlas or Ghost in the Shell or Madame Butterfly.

I watched Soylent Green at an impressionable age. 

I try to be beautiful by eating jam straight from the jar. I make the jam myself to avoid the effects of apocalypse: plastic particulates in the salt, a short growing season, supply chain shortages. 

I do this during two of the forty-eight consecutive hours I have to myself.

I must account for each of them. 


A co-worker tells me it’s hard to stay in a good mood when she has four hundred hours of sick leave. She is dying, even after twelve weeks. 

Twelve weeks being the bright line at which she must return to work or lose her insurance. 


I want to avoid self-sacrifice. 


Last week, I told my mom that I couldn’t meet up in New Orleans. The only thing I can save is the date.

Instead of saying I still need her, I send tea and garden photos. 

She sends café selfies with beignets. 

Two weeks later, she texts from urgent care. They have no prescription for her, and she has so much to do. 

I ask if she would like me to be there with her. After all, I have four hundred hours of sick leave and isn’t that the point of FMLA? 

Then I find out that is not the point of FMLA. 


At work, the security guard insists I use the honorific, Officer, in written reports. 

It isn’t like the movies, this world. Someone can run for safety and show love. 

I delay telling my boss, I can live or work, but I don’t want to do both. 

I write down twelve projects I might complete this year for additional income.

I decide to pay off my credit card.

When two co-workers die suddenly, nothing stops. 


A downpour. 

Which insists     Thursday      will not be consumed by the thousand           

             accumulated  tasks.                 Task today:

                          Planned Parenthood advises stocking up responsibly on Plan B.

Which means              leaving                        something for others.

After a meeting,                      someone leaves                      the office without

             saying goodbye. 

A co-worker sinks her teeth                into something she can’t finish, and 

I’m unwilling to eat after her              or throw out              what we both want.

Is it petty                     to cry                                      over  such things?

                                                    The soft powder on plums 
                                                    and blueberries and grapes.

Which is wild yeast    identifying fresh       

                                                   unbothered                  fruit.

I want to name the part of me 

                                                   which denotes how long it has been  
since I left home.

                                                 Or the part that reestablishes domicile. 

For every poem 

                                    in a garden     

                                                    I want to know about property.         

Who owns it? 

Who tends       it. Is this fruit             stolen. Now    

                                                                       or in the next stanza?

I shake ants from me 

                             but not as gently as I can.

                                                                                        I have lost
                                             patience, even

 for this. 

Asa Drake is a Filipina American poet and essayist in Central Florida. Her chapbook, “One Way to Listen,” was selected by Taneum Bambrick as the winner of Gold Line Press’s 2021 Poetry Chapbook Contest. She has received support from the 92Y Discovery Poetry Contest, Tin House and Idyllwild Arts. Her most recent poems can be found in American Poetry Review, Copper Nickel, and Waxwing.