Luisa A. Igloria

(in response to Billy Collins’ “Orient“)

No, I will not dwell on landscapes
colored with pretty prayer flags and
dragon-decorated temples, or villages
eternally shrouded in mist, the kinds
so easily conjured in armchair travel
fantasies, because— hello, have you read
the news lately? There is a building boom
in China and the national bird is now
the construction crane. In Changsha,
they built a 30-story hotel in two weeks,
and have plans for several more. In October,
thousands of factory workers doing piece-
work on the shiny new iPhone 5 went on strike
in Zhengzhou and in Taiyuan. Around these
factories, they’ve built metal nets to catch
the bodies of would-be suicides: overworked,
undertrained, poorly paid (we know the concept
here as liability). I do not bow from the fulcrum
of my waist and my talents do not include
“cultural dancing” or being able to cut your toenails
while giving you a blow job. The sound of my voice
is not soft like a bell or like a little saxophone: it is
nothing diminutive, and my children will tell you
that years ago, when their father spent the household
money on a used car someone had conned him into buying
sight unseen, I threw pots and pans against the wall
and told him to go to hell. And yes, I have another side,
I have many sides, but they are all grounded in history,
bristling with context and all the languages in which
I dream. If you dug a hole in one of these worlds and fell
headlong into it, you would think you’d discovered
a new country; you would wonder how long it would take
before a band of beautiful, half-naked women would appear
to bear you away in a hammock and make you their king.

 Dis-Orient — Luisa Igloria

Luisa A. Igloria (http://www.luisaigloria.com ) is a poet and professor, and the author of The Saints of Streets (forthcoming from the University of Santo Tomas Press, 2013), Juan Luna’s Revolver (University of Notre Dame Press, 2009 Ernest Sandeen Prize), Trill & Mordent (WordTech Editions, 2005), and 8 other books.  Luisa has degrees from the University of the Philippines, Ateneo de Manila University, and the University of Illinois at Chicago, where she was a Fulbright Fellow from 1992-1995. She teaches on the faculty of Old Dominion University, where she currently directs the MFA Creative Writing Program. Since November 20, 2010, she has been writing (at least) a poem a day at Dave Bonta’s Via Negativa site.

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