Once Again

The light around the body, said the poet, a field of energy that tethers it somehow to a world full of rushing sounds: a field of noise and bodies— as when you first walked by yourself to market in that little town so long ago, and nearly swooned from the smells of brine and fish guts, long pearled strips of sausage blotchy pink in their casings and courted by flies; and on the ground, the women clasping their knees and tending baskets of wilted greens; a world in actuality only the size of a teacup nestled between the hills, the man-made lake in the park a marvel with its pleasure boats and one-tiered fountain (the same your husband looked at in a postcard years later and said was the size of a duck pond); a world you thought impossibly unbounded, somehow without end, though you saw how sharply the silhouettes of cypress and pine clung to your field of vision as a trick of night before it descended over the scrim of rusted roofs; how odd to find that light even here on the sidewalk, in this park where they have trapped the golden koi in a shallow basin fringed with cattails; and even closer, in the cheap bronze of a cerveza negra bottle someone drank from, before carelessly throwing it away.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 25 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Monday’s News

This entry is part 23 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011


The bits of broken plastic, a cellphone part, a crumpled bill:
evidence left in haste or panic on the sidewalk.

The neighbors peering out from behind their blinds.

The voice on the phone asking,
Shouldn’t you be telling this to the police?

The caller responding, I thought you were the police?

The flutter of a newspaper someone left on a bench;
the dogs sniffing under the bushes.

Crackle of radio static, news flash on who was caught—

including a twelve year old. The afternoon’s cheek
suddenly, intensely, desiring sleep.

Three croaks from overhead: ravens or crows?

Luisa A. Igloria
10 24 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Rough roads

If nothing else, the fact that the vast majority of roads are no longer intended primarily for walkers ought to temper our enthusiasm for road as a metaphor for life. In the American imagination, a road trip unwinds in a time apart from ordinary life where clarity is intermittent and undependable, but where life-changing visions are possible. A road movie is all about visions.

rough road

This weekend I saw two sort-of road movies by the same director, David Lynch: The Straight Story, which was wonderful, and Lost Highway, which was not. I guess what I most liked about the former was its gentle subversion of the genre, as its cowboy-hat-wearing protagonist travels back roads at the speed of a riding mower, yet remains a figure of immense dignity and charm. Stories unfold more naturally at a walker’s pace, I think, and the movie is full of great stories and characters. By contrast, the break-neck Lost Highway seems to revel in its own incoherence, and the characters are two-dimensional and unlikeable.

country road, West Virginia

Of course, coherence isn’t everything, especially when attempting to depict dreams and hallucinations. With its obsessive sex and violence, perhaps Lost Highway offers a truer glimpse into the American psyche, but The Straight Story isn’t exactly lacking in grit, either: its characters are haunted by aging and infirmity, mental illness and the loss of children, PTSD, broken families, even roadkill — a topic all too seldom considered alongside our romance with the road.

Plymouth Barracuda

The contrast between the two movies is especially stark in the ways in which they acknowledge, or fail to acknowledge, the world beyond their own, fragmented stories. If authenticity derives ultimately from a sense of rootedness, Alvin Straight’s odyssey has it in spades. Whereas in Lost Highway the natural environment is never anything more than background, The Straight Story intercuts regular, slow aerial pans to convey the vastness of the land. Lightning shows up for dramatic effect in almost every other night-time scene in Lost Highway, but never seems entirely real. But in Straight Story, the two thunderstorms are events, and the title character stops everything and sits down to watch them as intently as if they were movies, burning visions of blinding roots into the memory.

Dear scarlet-flushed, hydraulic,

This entry is part 22 of 63 in the series Morning Porch Poems: Autumn 2011


banded muscle that’s caused this hammering in my chest and ears and brain, of course like all the neighbors I’m a nervous wreck but thankful for your still apparently rapid reflexes. Having gone upstairs to brush my teeth and get ready for bed, at first I didn’t hear it clearly, the sudden pounding on the door at nearly midnight, then louder, the sounds of screaming— woman? man?— on the walk outside, followed by flashing lights and the voices of cops yelling Put your hands up! Put your hands up! Now it’s all over the late night news— Foot patrols leading big dogs to sniff around in the bushes and in the mews, even a helicopter buzzing overhead, lights sweeping in arcs like wipers across a dark windshield. Reports are mixed— Drug bust, car chase; one caught, one still on the loose; or all of them now in jail. Your wild agitation diminishes, but never really the fear; and the sorrow as well for a world where no one opens windows to let in the night air anymore.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 23 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.


This entry is part 31 of 37 in the series Bridge to Nowhere: poems at mid-life


I have three turnips:
sharpness gathered in softening rinds
like new wine in old wineskins,

pink & white carousels
from a run-down amusement park
graffitoed by nematodes.

They fit oddly in the palm
with their rats’ tails & severed tops.
What planet are they from?

They’re marooned—no eyes
to sprout grappling hooks,
no way to win back the sun.

But when I slice them open:
starch-white deserts
unriffled by any wind.

Shirtwaist Elegy

There is an ache like a shield across the place
where my heart should be, fleshy like a fist
or callused like fingers and embroidered

with floss. Needles track a path around its contours,
their swish adjusting as they push and retract.
See the crown of the oak burning, brighter

than a furnace at the factory window. Hear
the treadle’s slap, the blouses spool paler
than spring blossoms and thin as linen,

from under the hands of girls. Whipstitch and chain,
darts that gather the billows in. The shirt I’m wearing
is made in Bangladesh, Turkey, or the Philippines,

where clotheslines crisscross sky: sleeves and bodices
flail in salt-laced wind— weft of signatures whose
facing edges I’ll button and wear against my skin.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 22 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Landscape, with Night Sky Obscured by Street Lamps

Here where we crane our necks, walking home
where yellow lights flood the little streets
and alleys in measured increments, neither
can the trimmed points of cypresses figure

where the constellations lie. The hunter
seems merely an old bedtime story: its belt
and quiver and bow, its prey too small
from this distance to see. And that river

of stars dividing the greater distance
between time and prophecy I’m sure
is milky, its edges tinted lilac
or cool blue; and the vessels

that pour and pour yet never reach
the pinnacle of thirst. What becomes
of them when the dark unsettles, when
the lion opens its maw and the bird

flies, trembling, back toward the sun?

Luisa A. Igloria
10 21 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

Woodrat Podcast 46: A philosophical lunch with Will Buckingham (Part 2)

Will Buckingham with Sea Legs, Moomins, and the sea

The second half of my epic bull session wide-ranging conversation with British novelist, philosopher and blogger Will Buckingham (listen to Part 1). Will talks about how he got into Buddhism and why he eventually drifted away from it; how he turned his doctoral thesis about the literary qualities of Emmanuel Levinas’ writings into a work of philosophy for a popular audience (Finding Our Sea Legs: Ethics, Experience and the Ocean of Stories); and why he’s so fascinated with the I Ching.

“What I love more than anything in life,” Will says at one point, “is to have interesting conversations.” I couldn’t agree more. This conversation was definitely a high point of my two weeks in the U.K.

Podcast feed | Subscribe in iTunes

Theme music: “Le grand sequoia,” by Innvivo (Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike licence).


In the shelled cities, in the ghost towns,
among the buff-colored hulls of strafed

buildings, the dead congregate: brides
who never consummated their vows,

their bridegrooms in whose mouths sand
rained the lost hours before they

could even fill with sweets and dates.
And the wraiths of mothers who pined away,

not knowing which part of the desert
they should water with their tears;

which rock cradled the tongueless
or sightless remains of husband,

brother, son— Above the oil fields
and endless plains, the calculus

continues, one end of the hourglass
swinging over to the other;

and under night’s dark tent, stars reel:
so many hornets released from the nest.

Luisa A. Igloria
10 20 2011

In response to an entry from The Morning Porch.

After Dark

It’s never dark enough for me. I had to carry my fingernail clippings all the way to the woods & deliver them to the earth in secret so as not to feel completely parenthetical. A deer blew its nose at me from the other side of the shed. The sky behind it was pink with the lights from town.


Every time I read the word stone I picture the head of a sheep. Something about domestic animals makes me want to ruminate, grow a second stomach or a gizzard, eat the leaves off trees until the sky is dead to them. Wild things frighten me with their too-clever eyes & the sudden clatter of their too-many feet. Thank god the insects stayed small.


It turns out that if you blow on the slit in the back of a cicada shell, you can produce a high-piched whistle. (Remember, you read it here first!) Does it sound like a cicada? Of course not. It sounds like a very small appliance of unclear function. I saw an ad that said Hunters Wanted, & realized I was still wearing a blaze-orange vest. The sun had set hours ago, following an obscure schedule of its own devising.