What does it mean, luck? Books of perforated lottery tickets sold by street waifs in the dusty plaza, outside church doors to catch the pious streaming out from mass. And then there’s Jueteng, from the Chinese Jue, flower; and teng, bet. A dog is 12, a cat is 26, a snake is 14. Whatever you dream, the cobrador can assign its mystical made-up number. Obliquely across the street from us, a bungalow ringed by concrete fence and concertina wire, where the numbers king of the north had set up a nice hideaway for his mistress, the mother of his child (#__). We saw her being pushed in her pram by uniformed nannies— Yellow layette and booties. Rattle that made a rattling sound before they disappeared again inside the gate. Select two numbers between 1 and 37 based on anything from the license plates of your political rival to the date of his planned assassination. When he ran for governor one election year, rampant rumors: snipers in the hedges, dark tinted cars closing in on our street. Father made arrangements for us to sleep overnight at a friend’s house on the other side of town: wormhole through which to slip away from gunfire. When we got there the drapes were drawn, but our host’s wife let me play a little on the piano, very softly. Or count the keys, she said. How many black? how many white? The hammers thudded with their little boots of felt.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (Poetry Foundation web page, author webpage ) was recently appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia (2020-2022). She is Co-Winner of the 2019 Crab Orchard Open Competition in Poetry for Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Southern Illinois University Press, September 2020). She 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 former US Poet Laureate 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; she also teaches classes at The Muse Writers’ Center in Norfolk. 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.