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By Joseph O. Legaspi

Bitaug, Siquijor, Philippines

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.


Notes:

The epigraph of this poem was originally omitted in the changeover to the new website. Because of this, reciting the epigraph is optional for the 2019-2020 Poetry Out Loud season.

Source: Poetry (July 2017)

  • Activities

Poet Bio

Joseph O. Legaspi
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.

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