A fourth collection from a prize-winning poet whose "gift is breathtaking" (Naomi Shihab Nye)
Eugene Gloria's Sightseer in This Killing City captures the surreal and disorienting feelings of the present. In the wake of recent presidential elections in the United States and in the Philippines, Gloria's latest collection sharpens his obsession with arrivals and departures, gun violence, displacement, cultural legacy, and the bitter divisions in America. Through the voice of Nacirema, the central persona of the collection, we are introduced to a character who chooses mystery and inhabits landscapes fraught with beauty and brutality. Gloria quotes melodies from seventies soul and jazz, blending the urban lament of Thelonious Monk and John Coltrane with the idiom of Stevie Wonder and Fela Kuti. Sightseer in this Killing City is an argument for grace and perseverance in an era of bombast and bullies.
About the Author
Eugene Gloria's previous poetry collections are My Favorite Warlord, winner of the Anisfield-Wolf Book Award, Hoodlum Birds, and Drivers at the Short-Time Motel (2000), a National Poetry Series selection and recipient of the Asian American Literary Award. He lives in Greencastle, Indiana, and teaches at DePauw University.
Read an Excerpt
Of my self-creation is this legend of my betrayals, my disloyalty to my origins.
Of my once and future past,
of rajas and gilded palaces,
of brown sailors building empires, I lay no claim.
I lay no claim to your founding fathers,
no claim to pearl divers and tattooed pirates jumping ship to grow a colony in Louisiana.
What I’ve inherited is this feeding frenzy for rainbow, rainbow, rainbow,
this multigenerational spectral light show
inducing a diarrhea of bullets; and no arrests.
I’m the youngest son of a youngest son,
a second baseman in the minor leagues,
a family trope deputized to react and bleed—whose only compensation is his own capacious longing.
Hand me your gun, America,
and let my body be the soundtrack to the spectacle of our recent events.
If only this miasmic island of sundown towns and Bible colleges, of folksy neighbors with their hiya doin’ gestures and holding keys to the kingdom come raining down with molten rocks upon this megalomania
of abandoned cities, of cowslip turnips, of holy
JesuschildrenofAmerica, of thee I sing!
Call me Mr. Gone / who’s done made / some other plans.
All that remains is nostalgia and this aching torso of blue.
Table of Contents
Implicit Body 3
The Pall of a Past World 5
Zones of Contact 7
Liner Notes for Monk 11
Nighthawks Oceania 12
The Monk's Tale 13
The War on Drugs 14
The Shape Of 16
[A Walled City of Psalms]
Thirteen Dreams and One Duterte 19
Why They Bees That Way 22
The Maid 24
The Holler 25
King Lear 27
In Languedoc 28
Settling on a Bed in the Goon Republic 30
The Suitcase 31
My Phantom Escort, Pier Paolo Pasolini 33
In the Andes 34
[And the sheen of their spears was like stars on the sea-Lord Byron]
Sightseer in This Killing City 37
Nurse Nacirema 39
The Handsome Face of Tatlonghari 41
Ave Nacirema 43
Like the Spars of a Sailing Ship 45
Seamstress to the Band 46
The War on Drugs 48
Ne Me Quitte Pas 49
A Mutiny of Flowers 50
My Sad Economist on the Nature of Things 51
Alfonso Street 55
On the Death March He Survived 57
On the Sorrowful Father Standing. And Falling. 60
Ghost Car 64
To the Wife, an Ode 66
The Boy Lazarus 68
Shall We Meet at the Little Lambs? 70
A Psalm for Beauty and Violence 72
Yo-Yo Boy 73
Salt Song 77
All-American Alien Boy 79
On the Guttural Song of Machines 81
My Lanky, Landlocked So-and-So 85
Frontier Psychiatry 86
Baby American 90