We Outlast Empire is a recurring series which aims to highlight poetry that explores the many angles of our current global and political situation. With words, we hope, we may transmute a part of ourselves—a part however small or large—that can exist without drawn borders, without violence, without injustice. Read MT Vallarta’s interview with poetry editor Muriel Leung here. 

Empire is a black hole:


Everything stretches when you are close to the event horizon—put the Philippines on the map of the


United States and there they will stay while I am President1—my dead skin is bloated by waterboard


torture——it is difficult now to express the wonder and the sense of awe we experienced2we gaze up and see a


sky full of dust—he ordered members of a death squad to kill criminals and opponents3—Maria Orosa chops


up dogs to go with my spaghetti arms—Are you in the affected area? Send us images and video, but please stay


 safe4I am part of a contingent of porcelain whores, taking photographs of our burnished faces


projected on museum glass—and there—an Igorot boy goes dance, dance, dance while holding


a parasol and white hand—are you—the priestess—the prostitute sailor—she escaped to the countryside as


a guerilla fighter5—the lady who cleans toilets in my dorm—you know, you look like my mother—


she too swallowed light



[1] General James Rusling, “Interview with President McKinley,” The Christian Advocate, 22 January 1903, 17.

[2] Dorothy Daniels Burk, “The World Came to St. Louis: A Visit to the 1904 World’s Fair,” The 1904 World’s Fair Society, http://www.1904worldsfairsociety.org/BookReview1.htm.

[3] Oliver Holmes, “Philippines president ordered murders and killed official, claims hitman,” The Guardian, Sept. 15, 2016, https://www.theguardian.com/world/2016/sep/15/philippines-president-drug-dealers-rodrigo-duterte-extrajudicial-killings-crocodile.

[4] Sarah Brown, “Typhoon Haiyan: Your stories,” CNN iReport, Nov. 7 2013, http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/1057748.

[5] “Maria Lorena Barros,” Wikipedia.com, last modified November 27, 2016, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Maria_Lorena_Barros.


Read MT Vallarta’s interview with poetry editor Muriel Leung. 

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