Luisa A. Igloria

Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) is the winner of the 2015 Resurgence Prize (UK), the world’s first major award for ecopoetry, selected by former UK poet laureate Sir Andrew Motion, Alice Oswald, and Jo Shapcott. She is the author of Bright as Mirrors Left in the Grass (Kudzu House Press eChapbook selection for Spring 2015), Ode to the Heart Smaller than a Pencil Eraser (Utah State University Press, 2014 May Swenson Prize), Night Willow (Phoenicia Publishing, 2014), The Saints of Streets (University of Santo Tomas Publishing House, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize, University of Notre Dame Press), and nine other books. She teaches on the faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University, which she directed from 2009-2015. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

This entry is part 8 of 8 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Summer 2016

They live along train tracks
or at the river’s muddy edge

At midday it glints
a glossy brown, clogged

with debris and flecked
with crumpled soda cans

and plastic shopping bags
It doesn’t seem to run

to the sea anymore
It swells its banks

in a hurricane and washes
flotsam into makeshift homes

There where streets
are narrow and the light

is often dim, day
is a rope which might not

make it to the other end
Jeepneys and pedicabs

hurtle through the throng
Bravado of plastic pennants

and chrome horses clipped
to their hoods, mud flaps

lettered with the drivers’
children’s names

And didn’t you hear him
call out for mercy

Should it have been
his time to die


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

We wanted even then
to change the world:

a daunting undertaking,
not to be accomplished

in a night, a week,
a season of marching

in the streets with banners
and bullhorns and signs.

But the teacher said, Start
with this place: your feet

on the soil, the feel
of fabric on your skin;

those high-pitched sounds
that could be the wind

or something human
unraveling; the knobbed

outline of a whelk
scored on your heart.

Until you know how the world
calls to you through every

broken thing, nothing
will change: nothing.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

You’ve been here before,
in the pocket of anxiety,
the vestibule of distress.

What could you do to get
through the dim corridor
that stretches as if

without end? You are
the only one here again,
in this hallway of echoes.

No mythical bird sits
in the trees, braiding
its songs, biding time,

waiting to drop a load
of constipated pellets
on the head of any

unsuspecting traveler
on the road. No crone
appears to demand

you choose between
two doors— one, a pit
of snakes or horrors;

the other, a clear
path through an orchard
hung with globes of fruit.

Do not wonder about
the cries that bounce
off the walls at night.

They are only the birds
of your own dejection,
bumping blind against

the crowded furniture
in the interior. Remember
that quiet is not always

the sound of sorrow or
abandonment. In the silent
entryway, wait patiently

to hear your voice begin
to speak with its familiar
timbre. And you will cross

the room, take her hands
in yours; embrace her,
tell her she is home.


In response to Via Negativa: Funereal.

I believe in doubt

I believe in the trellis
that supports
the bending vine

I believe in thirst
I believe in hunger

I believe in what
the body knows before I do

I believe in time

I believe in the thorn
that remains in my side

I believe in the fickle
ways of water and the stealth
of things that find their way

I believe in the mouth
restless for sugar
as well as salt

I believe in the dream
that fills with dreams


In response to Via Negativa: Outcaste.

I like the quietness of the kitchen
very late at night, when I am almost

the last one awake. I put away dishes
and wipe down the counter. I sit

at the table to finish the coffee
that remains in my cup, making

lists for what I still need to do
in the morning until I realize

it is already morning.
The clock continues its steady

parcelling out of the hours: not
doubling forward, not going back.

Night has shrunk to the dark
iridescence in a butterfly’s wing,

and the newly dead lie in their coffins,
sleeping. Is it right to disturb

the peace that is to their demise
attributed, by bringing to mind

all that they were not when they lived?
On most things we are taught to hold

our tongues and to keep counsel;
for who are we to think that others

in the world have not had terrible
things done to them? And I can say

when I received news of a certain
death, I no longer felt anything.

No flicker of anger, not sorrow
nor pity nor love. I was only

a child those many years ago,
when the first seed of my innocence

was taken. But not my wonder,
which must have curled into itself,

into a ball— Like the small
dark body that folds its wings

and lies for days, unmoving,
in the shadow of the porch.


In response to an entry from the Morning Porch.

Alas, I am always
looking back—

A scent, a tree-
lined lane;

the way stones
are laid next

to each other
or wrap around

the rain-slicked porch
or chimney—

The shape of hills
at sundown,

the yellow of a sun-
flower bending

beneath its own weight—
I move about

in this other world now
but something in me

grows more quiet
through the years:

I am most restless
rooting in place.


In response to Via Negativa: Fallen.

Yes, organic produce may have a tendency
to spoil more quickly than the shiny waxy ones.

Could the next sleeper hit be a film about what happens
to all the chicken feet cut off before the meat is packaged?

A friend sent me an article about how mummified wasps
wind up in the dense, flowery center of dried figs.

The day before, I heard a scientist featured on a radio
show, talking about her research on cockroach milk.

Every morning in summer I go out into the yard to pick fruit
from the tree; by afternoon, the half-ripe ones are ready.

What’s too high up on the tree remains on the branch. In the heat,
they split open from inside. Or the birds make pennants of them.

What falls to the ground becomes a mecca for the ants.
Just look. Everywhere, there is a mouth quietly at work.


In response to Via Negativa: Mobile Device.