On Privilege

“To be a god is to be totally absorbed in the exercise of one’s own power, the fulfillment of one’s own nature, unchecked by any thought of others except as obstacles to be overcome…” ~ Bernard Knox, quoted by seon joon

Is privilege the dubious gift of the gods
to those who might otherwise be indistinguishable
from the rest of us, if not for some intensity

that sets them apart? And is it privilege as well,
to have more propensity for feeling, be more thin-
skinned, unable to see It’s just a joke,

get over it, be stung too easily to rankle
or protest the cavalier ways in which immortals
break the rules, eat their young, wrap the best

parts in their golden parachutes while leaving
crumbs, rut with bulls and swans and tumble women
bathing at the spa or riverbank? And when the gods

take what they please, incite wars, turn
friends and kin against each other, is it
privilege too that those who speak up—

start signature campaigns, write letters
to the editors of major newspapers, step
forward to witness— wind up with the pink

slips, possessions repossessed, the missing limbs,
or worse, under the sod in an unmarked grave?
And what of those who struggle to piece the sleeves

of days together, the milk to the bread, the health
to the body, the ink to the letter, the soul to the law,
the song to the mouth, the pigment to the dream?


In response to thus: terrible to hear....

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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 What Is Left of Wings, I Ask (forthcoming, 2018 Center for the Book Arts Letterpress Chapbook Prize, selected by Natasha Trethewey); 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 is a member of the core faculty of the MFA Creative Writing Program at Old Dominion University which she directed from 2009-2015. In 2018, she was the inaugural Glasgow Distinguished Writer in Residence at Washington and Lee University. When she isn’t writing, reading, or teaching, she cooks with her family, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

1 Comment

  1. Simply gorgeous… a lovely poem


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