Sightseer in This Killing City

Sightseer in This Killing City

by Eugene Gloria


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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.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780143133841
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 06/04/2019
Series: Penguin Poets Series
Pages: 112
Sales rank: 556,221
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.40(d)

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

Apron 10

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

[The Afterlife]

Alfonso Street 55

On the Death March He Survived 57

On the Sorrowful Father Standing. And Falling. 60

Stone 62

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

[All-American Alien]

Salt Song 77

All-American Alien Boy 79

On the Guttural Song of Machines 81

Failure 83

Salt 84

My Lanky, Landlocked So-and-So 85

Frontier Psychiatry 86

Ode 88

Baby American 90

Notes 93

Acknowledgments 95

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