Luisa A. Igloria

Contributor Biography

Originally from Baguio City, Luisa A. Igloria is the author of Maps for Migrants and Ghosts (Co-Winner, 2019 Crab Orchard Open Poetry Prize), The Buddha Wonders if She is Having a Mid-Life Crisis (2018), 12 other books, and four chapbooks. She teaches in Old Dominion University’s MFA Creative Writing Program, and at The Muse Writers Center. In July 2020, she was appointed Poet Laureate of the Commonwealth of Virginia. The Academy of American Poets awarded her a 2021 Poet Laureate Fellowship in April 2021. She can be found at: www.luisaigloria.com

Matins

From under the cracked
bark of a dead cherry,
a titmouse fishes out
a sunflower seed. Sing twice,
small herald of mercy—
once for the husk
that housed the kernel,
and one more time
for the milky heart that blesses
your tongue and gut.

Sonnet to Fleeing Things 

"The stork in the heavens knoweth her appointed time;
and the turtledove, and the crane, and the swallow,
observe the time of their coming."

—Jeremiah 8:7

Dear Life, every time I think I’ve caught up,
there you go speeding by, waving as you pass.
Why do I always have to be the one who has
to snap the documentary photograph,
spontaneous yet looking artfully composed
thanks to those swans at the edge of the frame?
Their necks crane north, their aim some
obviously fairer mecca where, among hosts
of other migratory souls—terns, pintails, rainbow bee-
eaters and cedar waxwings—they’ll search out currents
of warmer air to help them soar. Oh small intervals
that mark these earth-bound cycles: in the mean-
time I’ll turn my gaze to the late snow outside,
speckled with shadow though eggshell white.

Letter, Fumbling Around in the Dark Again

"They can be like the sun, words.
They can do for the heart what light can for a field."

—St. John of the Cross

Dear fellow pilgrim, today the road seems
a little less cold, a little less clear as we inch
toward the warm mud of April. The hems
of our tunics are far from the earth, our jeans
are double-cuffed. For fear of rain, the cardinal
doesn’t want to hang her prayer flags in the trees.
A few stray flakes come down, like bits of frozen
milk: and I’m out of coffee. Where’s the nearest stop,
some diner where we might use the loo and get
a bit of soup, a knuckle of bread? I know we’re not
going to the Alhambra to walk in the gardens or catch
the view from the Mirador de Lindajara; we’re not
even on the famous road to Santiago de Compostela
where the saint’s remains lie like a star, where his bones
unfold like the thorns of a compass rose buried in
the depths of a field… Groucho Marx knew that nights
are dark as the inside of a dog’s belly—but isn’t that
why book lights were invented? I don’t give up easy.
I’m fumbling around for the light switch, for the power
cord, for the fuse box. And there’s got to be something
with which to jimmy the skylights—think of how
we could open our mouths to evenings of falling stars.

Little Girding Song 

Thin milk of clouds, wafers
of brittle twigs on the walk.
Gather up your stores
of praise and gratefulness,
o my heart, for the coming day.

Letter on Sameness and Variation

Dear heart, at the wood’s edge, the blue-
headed vireo repeats its only line. It isn’t true
it has nothing to say—just as it isn’t true


that sameness will not want to make us
look again. The wind disturbs the waterfall
of dogwood blooms along the branch


and when they settle back in place
they are themselves, but also different.
The same way you return but also dazzle


with your many aspects, one day turning my
heart on its side and another, making me
cry out; or rendering me without speech.

Thomas Alan Holmes

Contributor Biography

Thomas Alan Holmes has taught American literature at East Tennessee State University, with interests in Appalachian, Southern, and African American literature. He has co-edited Walking the Line: Country Music Lyricists and American Culture (Lexington Books), Jeff Daniel Marion: Poet on the Holston (University of Tennessee Press), and The Fire that Breaks: Gerard Manley Hopkins’s Poetic Legacies (Clemson University Press). His scholarly and creative work has appeared in journals such as The South Atlantic Review, Appalachian Heritage, The Valparaiso Review, The Connecticut Review, Louisiana Literature, and The Appalachian Journal. He has received the College of Arts & Sciences Distinguished Research Award for 2014-2015 and the 2020 ETSU Graduate Council's Graduate Mentor Award. In the Backhoe’s Shadow is forthcoming from Iris Press.

Beholden

He speaks in stones and trees, the bones of things,
creation fresh and new with dawning day,
and nature in its resonance then sings.

The school child feels the life that morning brings,
and, restless, runs, discovering her way.
He speaks in stones and trees, the bones of things.

 

The hungry lover to beloved clings
and presses breath and life to loving clay,
and nature in its resonance then sings.

 

The worker, using plow or pen or strings,
looks to the world for models that will stay.
He speaks in stones and trees, the bones of things.

 

The parent, love outstretched like hovering wings,
still holds in heart dear children far away,
and nature in its resonance then sings.

 

And you, my friend, raw, tender from life’s stings,
commune with me as I in dumbness pray.
He speaks in stones and trees, the bones of things.
And nature in its resonance then sings.
 

[I find my Jackself, Father Hopkins, here]

I find my Jackself, Father Hopkins, here
beneath the lip of concrete walk, the nest
that’s blown from that whipped cherry tree, the best
that I can tell, some feathers still stuck there
where hatchlings fouled then flew and now somewhere
begin their nests and broods. What downy breast,
what shelter, wing or setting hen, professed
through watchful action God’s own watchful care?

Now watch me care, inadequate and lost,
just housed, just fed, not comforted but kept
away from friends and music. If I brood,
then I am selfish, focused on the cost
of keeping others from me safe; accept,
O Lord, my shame, my penitential mood.