Joseph O. Legaspi


Poet Joseph Legaspi was born and raised in the Philippines; his family immigrated to Los Angeles when he was 12. He earned a BA at Loyola Marymount University and an MFA from New York University. Legaspi’s collections of poetry include Threshold (2017), Imago (2007), which won a Global Filipino Literary Award, and the chapbook Subways (2013). His honors and awards include a poetry fellowship from the New York Foundation for the Arts. With Sarah Gambito, Legaspi cofounded Kundiman, a nonprofit organization that promotes and serves Asian American writers and writing. Legaspi lives and works in New York City. Source


Amphibians live in both.


Immigrants leave their land, 

hardening in the sea. 


Out of water.


In Greek, amphibian means

“on both sides of life.”


Terra and aqua. Shoreline. 

In fresh water:


amphibians lay

shell-less eggs; 

immigrants give birth

to Americans.


Tadpoles, polliwogs 

metamorphose: gills

in early stages. On land,


amphibians develop lungs. 

Immigrants develop lungs.


Through damp skin 

amphibians oxygenate.


Immigrants toil

and sleep breathlessly.


Skin forms glands.

Eyes form eyelids.


Amphibians seek land; immigrants, other lands.


Their colors brighten, camouflage.


They’ve been known to fall 

out of the sky.


Fully at home in the rain.





Literary Movements:


Anthology Years:





Science & Climate

Literary Devices:


a figure of speech that creates a comparison by showing how two seemingly different entities are alike, along with illustrating a larger point due to their commonalities


the repetition of a word or phrase at the end of successive clauses

Extended Metaphor

a metaphor that extends through several lines or even an entire poem