~ "The project [to build Kennon Road- the Benguet Road] began in 1903
and opened for travel on January 29, 1905. It was originally called
the Benguet Road and later renamed in honor of its builder, Col. Lyman
Walter Vere Kennon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."
To carve a road winding 5,000 feet upward onto faces
of limestone and clay would bring you to your knees.
Convoys of laborers, soldiers on swaying scaffolds
deployed to bring the mountain range to its knees.
Any war's a big temp agency: jobs from artillery
loader to bootblack for generals while on your knees.
In between skirmishes, fanning away mosquitoes.
Relentless heat, rolling trousers up to the knees.
In the camps, fights as children chanted Chinese-
Japanese-Filipino-Negro. A boiling up, from the knees.
The story of "Tanabata's Wife" is set against this time. Foreigners
settled in the foothills, tending to cabbage farms on their knees.
It's said "Buffalo Soldiers" defected, wanting to stay behind in
the cool green hills. If found they were to be beheaded on their knees.
The story circulates about Private David Fagen, who joined Aguinaldo to fight
American soldiers--- All the colored ones, they wanted brought to their knees.
1899: an Indianapolis newspaper calls for "Negroes to quit claiming kindred with
every black face from Hannibal down. Hannibal was no Negro, nor was Aguinaldo."
Back in the mainland, Twain wrote To the Person Sitting in Darkness, in which
he cut down the lie of the "Blessings of Civilization," bringing it to its knees.
Some stories say Fagen wasn't subdued, nor beheaded; that he'd lived
further north, raised a family, grown old. Kept both his head and knees.
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.