Travelers

(October is Fil-Am History Month)

6

Before Allos, before
the orchards and
the canneries, there was
the dog. There was always
the dog they took pleasure
kicking in the ribs,
baiting its snarl, testing
its fangs. No dogs and none
of your kind
, read the hand-
lettered signs, before they
chased us out into the streets.

7

But before the voyage,
before the shiploads of young
men seduced by promises of new
worlds beyond, there were
the other dogs of war
and treachery, bodies pawned
for twenty million bits
of currency no one
has seen.

8

You who cannot fathom
the cost of being flung
or set adrift or having
to learn how to live
in the in-between:
not everything we’ve done
is out of choice.

9

Dog without pedigree
Dog without chains
Dog sniffing in the wilderness
Dog rooting for the prize
Dog roaming the alleyways
Dog dark as night
There are other forms of love
if you can look beyond
its register of names

10

But you don’t.

You see only
this face,
the canvas
of my skin,

the history
of lies you’ve
perpetuated.

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 (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, knits, hand-binds books, and listens to tango music.

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