Place[meant]: Joseph O. Legaspi

Place[meant] is a recurring series that explores identity beyond the geopolitical and physical parameters that have come to define our sense of place. From a train in Queens to the cuff of a bodily spell, the poems in this series navigate place as both material terrain and residual traces of one’s memory. Place[meant] delves into how migration, diaspora, borders, technologies of power and control, biopolitics, and historical violence shape our identities, the powers of which are anything but benign.

Urban Jungle

On   primetime   TV  (which  means  nothing  anymore),  Bear  Grylls,   survival   expert/
adventurer/Eton  grad,  scavenges  a  carcass  in  the  Zambian  wilderness.  Before  hyenas
arrive he slices flesh off  a  furry  leg  amid a  swirl of  feasting  flies.  It  would  be safer if he
cooks it, he narrates, but there’s no time for fire, so he bites into pink and gristle. His thin
upper lip leaves me a-quiver.  I,  then, cannot masticate my tacos carnitas.  My guacamole
greens   darker.  Once  he  consumes  his  protein  Bear   gallops   deeper   into   scrubland,
strategizing the arduous intricacies of staying alive. He’ll spend the molasses night atop a
baobab,  the  tree  of  life,  which  fruits  he  harvests with logs, flung. I  fetch  the  tiramisu
gelato  from  the  freezer.  Bear  dodges  hippos,  elephants;  climbs   cliffs;  discovers   safe
water.  I’m buzzed on pinot  noir.  By  this  time,  Bear  has  devoured  a  bevy  of  coveted
proteins: caterpillars squeezed empty of its green innards, roasted; bullfrogs fished with a
thorn   tree  branch  once  used  by  the  Rhodesian  Army  for  torture.  I  sip  my  cup  of
Darjeeling. Survival is hard work.


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