Luisa A. Igloria

“I wanted nothing but your happiness.” ~ Brenda Shaughnessy,”Magi”

But it is true I wanted to find
some joy for myself too. Why

regard these things as if they
were such a terrible contradiction?

There are those who want diamonds, houses,
sex, men, money, the beauty of the world

with which to garland their bodies. Or travel;
time to read books, widen the berth on which

one might perch through calamitously tilting
years. Space in which to turn into a self

separate from the ones attached to the glittering
need and hunger of others. Once, I was told: reach

and you can reach for others. Become and you can be
their more. I’ve pressed myself as hard as I can

into the mouth of that machine. Can you believe me then
when I say I wanted nothing but your happiness? Still do.

The darkness thinks itself
immutable, so the sky says
we should be afraid—

But the light and all
it touches belongs
to us— Be careful!

Maybe you can try
to keep us from where
we once bathed in pools

of starlight. Maybe you
can try to wipe away cities
of fog as we chart them—

Someone saw where we hid
our wings. Until then
I didn’t know how

it felt to leave the body.
I’m always listening for
the rustle of our bones.

is not taking calls or SOS texts right now.

All vision quest tickets sold before this date will possibly be honored again at a time to be determined (or not) by The Sphynx.

Do you seriously think y’all could just keep coming back any time of day or night just because you have a matter of utmost urgency that you think deserves immediate quasi-divine intervention?

S/he is damn tired of taking calls. Especially from repeat customers. Who won’t take advice anyway.

That’s not what we do here anymore. Move along.

You think The Sphynx gives a shit about your little road rage incident that’s now unfolded, and how you didn’t rein in your famous temper?

You don’t need no prophecy to tell you what’s coming.

Maybe, you should go break stacks of porcelain plates against a wall in one of those Japanese stress-relief emporiums.

And who told you anything good could ever come of shacking up with your dad’s old lady? Royalty or whatever, that’s about up there with all those pious child molesters saying Well, Joseph was much older when he took the Virgin Mary to wife.

Did you know the plural of sphynx is sphynxes or sphynges? Yes, there’s more than one of us. Part lion, part human, part bird; in the Philippines’ Bicol region, part human, part eagle.

We like to give pop quizzes. In a good mood, we might spin them as riddles. Like: Why can a being with breasts, facial hair, in drag, see how things are really going down, better than a congress of greedy white men?

If you can’t figure this out either, maybe you deserve to be eaten alive; or flown out (no extra charge, you’re welcome) and dropped from a height into a volcano’s cauldron.

Here’s how you graph this selection: select B and C from the column and insert a scatter plot.

Someone re-telling a story of nearly falling more than thirty feet from a rocky mountain trail might experience his breathing grow more rapid.

The child doing homework at the table wants to know how the Buddha crossed continents. Who gave him plane tickets, boat rides, lifts on buffalo-drawn carts?

Look for symbols to represent the distribution of everything felt across a discrete period of time. For instance, a metal platform across a gorge; something mashed drenched in gravy.

The pilgrim stopped to bathe in a stream, and according to the legend, all the fish either died or fell into a swoon.

After her purse was snatched in a crowded train station, she asked everyone on her contacts list to resend their information.

She couldn’t tell where the thief had run— she turned and turned but of course the lights on the art deco ceiling were announcing a different signal.

Outside, the clear sharp smell of water turning into ice. The moon’s face as if dusted with pollen, large clock face devoid of insistent hands.


In response to Via Negativa: Serv/ice.

1. What must have had a name, though it was penned up and bleated for weeks, for the fattening.

2. When no one yet thought of packing for any journey; all of the house posts still stood upright.

3. When it rained, and mud stained the hems of our clothes brick red.

4. How we sheltered most those plants that had more than one use: salve, decoction, bitter soup.

5. Afternoons, when we fiddled with the knobs of the TV set to watch old black and white movies and people danced with umbrellas in the rain; plantation hands sang sweet, sweet potato pie.

5. When sometimes the cook would take pity and save a plate of scraps.

6. When a woman at the dinner table remarked on the long wait cicadas are subject to— in comparison to the briefness of the ecstatic moment.

7. That is, we are habituated to assume that the longer the length and distance, the more unpleasant the experience.

8. How trees must know true clairvoyance; they are the only ones who ever really talk with each other in a language often dismissed as sighing, rustling, trembling.

9. That need to touch the surface to sense where vibrations visited last.

10. Every time I falter and look for some tether to draw on; for light to materialize in a form I might recognize.

Infinite: in-finite, to dwell
inside what ends. On the other

hand, it’s endless, the falling
that never stops: leaves from

trees, hair from our heads, teeth
loosening throughout the terrible

funhouse interior of the mouth.
How to go on and say I go on,

how to keep coming back or
pressing re-start? Every day

I brush handfuls of dead
cells from the carpet. I look

briefly in the hallway mirror
each time I leave the house.


In response to Via Negativa: Yucca moth.

The world’s markets are going
to ruin amid these newly imminent
threats of war. So we are reminded
art— words— must be the natural
beeswax wrap to keep all remaining
freshness in. Half a red watermelon
radish, last night’s squash, yesterday’s
forgotten sandwich. Danger and fear—
they always have a slick but clammy
texture. You wrap and rewrap the square
envelope, the long rectangle, the flat
disc. But let it not be said we were not
mindful of adding more waste to the already
denuded environment. Pressing carefully
around all the edges yields the proverbial
hermetic seal. How can the agitated
liquids inside the cup hear the splendid
carillons break open in the air? Bees
and locusts. Whales and cranes. Notched
wheels bearing powerful rain. All
the humid sounds on the outside,
like human breathing. That apple you
returned to the fridge after you bit
into it and then changed your mind.

While there is someone left
to remember, we can believe we exist—

What of the things we used to call
ours? do they continue to exist as long

as we can call them back to mind?
Those birds we kept in a wire cage

on the porch, pairs of white and dun
and dusky yellow: how they sang

as if they’d never known migration
nor seen widows walking down the road.

At one end of the street, familiar barricade
and yellow tape. Lights louder than sirens.
Warnings to stay away. How far away?
All the students still at the café, busy
at their laptops. Steam hissing from coffee
machines. Assess the hierarchies of danger.
Trees surrender, having thrown up their arms.
Machines assess the hierarchies of danger.
At their laptops, steam hissing from coffee,
all the students still at the café. Busy
warnings to stay away— how far away?
And yellow tape. Lights louder than sirens.
At one end of the street, familiar barricade.

That time between seasons
when it seems there never will
be leaves again, or the color
green; and drifting clouds
of white-tendriled seed,
or the sound of moving water;
when the heart doesn’t know
how long it must hold as it’s
swung across the bridge—
Is today the day I’ll fold
a letter for the last time,
the day you’ll climb down
from your tower of long-
held fears? At times I think
we’re finally learning to sit
in the quiet of this in-between,
to stop asking if what we’ve done
could ever have been enough.


In response to Via Negativa: Plea bargain.