~ "Ever since President Rodrigo Duterte
assumed office almost two years ago,
33 people have been killed daily nationwide.
... In about two years – from July 1, 2016,
up to June 11, 2018 – police have recorded
23,518 Homicide Cases Under Investigation (HCUI),
equivalent to an average of 33 people killed a day."
(Philippine Rappler, December 2018)
Nothing of gold here
that flakes from the burnished
hinges or edges of books.
Impossible to carefully pry
binding threads loose and flatten
each goatskin signature, each
pulped and marbled face.
Where the artist meant to capture
some miracle or a vow, instead,
the stains on the shirt of a body
lifted out of the mud. Rivers
fill with corpses, their arms
crossed or bound like tortured
saints. In the reeds, pale limbs
float like stunned and bloated
fish. Eyes peeled back; ears straining
toward the call of vesper birds before
they explode in the crosshairs.
Poet Luisa A. Igloria (website) 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 was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia for 2020-22, and in 2021 received 1 of 23 Poet Laureate Fellowships from the Academy of American Poets and the Mellon Foundation. 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.