America, it's been a while since we've taken visitors downtown to the memorial of the general who wore his sunglasses like he was in a commercial and not that southeast Asian theatre of war where soldiers impaled babies on bayonets, thrust their dicks into peasant women and, in the heat of April, set thousands of gaunt prisoners of war on the long march from Bagac and Mariveles to Camp O'Donnell in Capas, Tarlac. The docents will point out the general's effects and the famous picture of his dramatic Leyte landing: striding knee-deep into the surf as cameras click away. America, this is you with your stern jaw, somehow dwarfing both the archipelago's president and the little statesman barely five feet and four inches in his dress shoes; this is you saying I have returned. By the grace of Almighty God our forces stand again... in the blood of our two peoples. After Liberation Day, my father, already in his early thirties, climbed up a tree so he wouldn't have to share three whole bars of Hershey's milk chocolate. As they rumbled into town in their jeeps, American soldiers had thrown these and packs of nylons by the handful at people running and cheering alongside. My father laughed, recalling that he'd staged his own kind of liberation in the bushes. O America, you've left and returned but have also never left. Your companies continue to harvest ore and tobacco and pineapples. You play war games in Apocalypse Now sets of jungles, then go off-base to pick up bar girls in Olongapo or Angeles. Some of them wind up like the tragic heroine in that typical operatic ending: she takes her life because the foreign hero who was supposed to return left on a boat to find himself a real American wife.
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.