By Joseph O. Legaspi
Three women dragged the spiky, bulky mass
onto a bamboo table on the side of an island
road. A raised hunting knife glinted in sunlight,
then plunged with a breathless gasp, slicing into
the unseen. To a passerby they were a curious
wall, a swarm of onlookers, barrio children
and younger women, buzzing with a rising
gleeful cadence as a mother busied herself
with the butchering. Surprisingly, a citrusy,
sugary scent sweetened the stranger’s face
when offered the yellow flesh like thickened
petals, licorice to the touch, he stood awed
at the monstrous jackfruit, bloodless armadillo
halved, quartered, sectioned off for feasting.
His tongue tingled ripely. This country’s foreign
to me, he continued, but I’m not foreign to it.
Source: Poetry (July 2017)
Poet Joseph Legaspi was born and raised in the Philippines; his family immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 12. He earned a BA at Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University. Legaspi’s collections of poetry include Threshold, Imago, which won a Global Filipino Literary Award, and the chapbook Subways. With Sarah Gambito, Legaspi cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization that promotes and serves Asian American writers and writing. Legaspi lives and works in New York City.
More Poems about Activities
Vagrants and Loiterers
You got that clean waistcoat,
the bright white of a well-tailored
shirt, you got those loose-as-sacks
slacks and some spit-polished shoes,
and you know, whether you are looking
like money, or about to take a stroll,
to tilt that hat like you own
the world; yeah, smoke...
In the warmth of night I put feet to my plan: waited
for my brothers to sleep. They’d spent the day
sharpening their hooks, repairing the great net,
filling gourds with fresh water. They’d bundled
taro wrapped in leaves sitting below the cross seats.