Before the Hit, They Removed my Leash

~ afterRight Before The Hit, They Removed My Leash,” acrylic on paper by Ulysses Duterte Jr. (2016); scroll midway down the linked page to view an image of this painting.

~ especially for every child victim in Philippine extrajudicial killings/the “drug war”

An ordinary sky is the hypothesis
at the edge of a blue window riddled
with holes. I am every child that crawled

unassuming into a bandanna of light,
seeing only the smooth beveled heel
of a slingshot, a trampoline of mud

mixed with runoff from the gutter.
I did not fear the mastiff transfixed
on its leather halter, the marble glaze

in its eyes. How should we put the rest
of the equation together— the M-16’s
watery shadow as though affixed

to no hands, the tank idling on the corner?
Still we rise to the foreground, whom you
have the audacity to call innocents.

Let me undo every expectation of what’s meant
as a target. Watch me explode again and again
through each scene’s tearable fabric,

the milk around my mouth not yet dry:
unseen forces tethering me in the crosshairs,
taut as a laser pointed directly at my heart.


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.

One Reply to “Before the Hit, They Removed my Leash”

  1. A picture really paints a thousand words. It’s amazing how each viewer may differ in the interpretation of a painting. :) You’re a great poet Luisa! My painting is about the failure of parents’ training and disciplining their children early in life, thus becoming problems of the society when they grow up.

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