Luisa Igloria’s JUAN LUNA’S REVOLVER

Her words are searing.

Self would like to say, “a seminal work.”

Read, ponder, know.

Genius has no country, genius bursts forth everywhere,
is like light and air — the patrimony of it all, cosmopolitan as space,
as life, as God.

— Jose Rizal, on Juan Luna

Juan Luna’s Revolver
(an excerpt)

could well be the subtitle of an opera
performed to a mostly well-heeled crowd

in Manila’s national museum.

—   among the audience, the great grandniece
of the famous painter’s murdered wife.

The latter’s name was Paz (meaning peace,

that dream of living without fear of arousing
violence when confronted by the strange or

uncanny, or that which seems to bear

little resemblance to ourselves).  Looking
at pictures of compatriots

abroad in the nineteenth century, why

should we think everything was profiteroles,
white gloves, silk ties, salon conversation,

bellas artes?  Bumping into the Filipino,

a woman on the streets of Madrid regards
his Malay features and exclaims, But how well

you speak Spanish (lo posea tanto como yo)!

It’s said the painter’s mestiza wife
and mother-in-law paid for more than half

the rent of his studio and apartments.

Yet one September in Paris, in 1892,
he barged into the bedroom

and shot them both:  his wife, on suspicion of

an amorous liaison with a Frenchman
(possibly taller, possibly better-endowed,

though he himself was said to have wondered

how it could be, given that Paz was not

especially attractive); his mother-

in-law, her brains marbling the mantel,

because she valiantly tried to stop him.
All accounts thereafter become the Petri

dish for gossip:  his trial in a French court,

his conviction of nothing more

than a crime of passion.  His return to

the motherland after seventeen years;

And the rest you must read, dear blog readers.  You must simply, simply read.  You can order direct from the publisher,  here.

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