1. Some people joke about how immigrants can't tell the difference
between jokes and non-jokes.
2. They're always so serious, even when their co-workers
slap them on the shoulder and say I was only joking.
3. In our world we don't fool around with language; words
are like spells— once said, they cannot be unspoken.
4. According to one legend, the tree of heaven fell
into the earth; its branches, once heavy with sweet
oranges, snaked through rock as veins of gold.
5. A true map will show where hills have been leveled,
where plains are barren as sorrow; where soldiers
came with guns to finish off the livestock.
6. This is where ships with foreign flags first dropped
anchor in the bay; the shore, lined with rough grass,
was a mouth sealed shut, never speaking of El Dorado.
7. You probe through fissures in rock; as you go,
your body inching forward makes a tunnel.
8. The gods will not tell you if the roots of the tree
are in Kabayan or Kibungan.
9. One does not fool around with language; that
would be irresponsible. Listen instead for thunder.
10. You knew what was yours for as long as you can
remember; when someone takes your finger to make
a mark on paper, the taste of rusted metal
fixes in the air.
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.