A book on etymologies explains inauguratio— a ritual ceremony by which a college of ancient diviners and high priests of government obtained, or endeavoured to obtain, the sanction of the gods to something which had been decreed by man. The day would have to be auspicious; augurs scanned the skies for stars, starved the birds in the royal coop or fed them to the fire as sacrifice—which could possibly be another word for bribe. From antiquity, there are countless stories of collusion and betrayal; and of orators delivering impassioned speeches against tyranny and corruption in the state—the enemies they made rose up with force, not hesitating when they set assassins loose. Unsatisfied with plain old slaying, they cut off the head and right hand of Cicero, which were displayed on the podium from where he'd spoken. More, the wife of his enemy took his head into her lap and turned the dead man's tongue into her personal pincushion. There's no end to public commentary in the fevered anxiety of our own days, on the violent mob advancing with intent to threaten and destroy. But when they shake their heads and declare America, this is not who we are—I have to pause. History overflows with euphemisms: substituting decency for self-interest, pacification for war.
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.