~ after Kathleen Graber America, I've got a touch of cabin fever too & wish I could go to a favorite restaurant again, walk down a short flight of steps into the cool brick-lined interior of what used to be a speak- easy. Wouldn't it be great to order a dozen each of the local oyster varieties, some bread & butter, a nice pull of something bubbly. We'd sing happy birthday or happy anniversary while clinking glasses & taking group pictures. But what if there's a man at a nearby table whose hatred boils over at the sight of anyone— but especially brown people like us—having the gumption to reach for a little joy during this time of sickness & despair, which sometimes feels worse than death? America, he thinks we cannot be in the same room with him. So we get video rolling. We ask him to repeat the hateful obscenities he's hurled our way, so he can be held accountable & shown out of the building. We hold our ground, America. After all the years our kind broke their backs & your hard soil to bring fruit & grain to your table just so you can put a clean white cloth & a crystal service on it; after graveyard shifts during which our kind daily tend to your sick & dying: we have the right to be here & the wages are overdue.
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.