Icarus in Manila

“I like to imagine Icarus, having fallen, having lost his wings, swimming to shore, crawling up the rocks, finding his new life, no longer son of the great Daedalus, but an anonymous man, lost, far from home, ordinary but alive.” ~ Kazim Ali, The Silver Road

Something about a war, about the gods
fighting for ascendancy; how bits

of rock they threw were pulverized
and landed in the waters to make

these islands. Everything seethes
like noonday heat, all day into night.

Here in the city, I walk with others
through labyrinthine streets, careful

to avoid run-ins with police, trying
to blend in. Wading ashore I must

have looked like a straggler; or one
of those cats slick with sewer grime,

slinking through the alleys. Some days
I help a ragtag group of children sort

through dump yard piles of metal;
or at dawn in the market, unload

baskets of produce from trucks.
Fear is one of the cheapest

commodities— each day yields
a new tally of bodies felled

by masked gunmen, assassins
for hire. In this world, target

could mean anything including
a child or grandmother or school-

boy. There is a morgue that ran out
of space for corpses: they had to pile them

into a drained swimming pool. Even a bull
waiting in its lair could not be this cruel.


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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