This entry is part 4 of 20 in the series Highgate Cemetery Poems


Decapitated head

Six fresh oranges
in the short grass
on the grave of the founder
of an import/export company,
born in Aleppo.
A toddler strains against
his mother’s grip: Ball!
How to explain
the Silk
Road, the souk,
the once-unassailable
hospitality of merchants?
How to explain torture,
a feast of agonies called
the magic carpet?
A cricket plays his hit single.
Ball. Ball.
Such longing!
In Syria, they say
a narrow spot can contain
a thousand friends.

Series Navigation← Hedera helixIn Loving Memory →Mutiny →
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Dave Bonta (bio) crowd-sources his problems by following his gut, which he shares with 100 trillion of his closest microbial friends — a close-knit, symbiotic community comprising several thousand species of bacteria, fungi, and protozoa. In a similarly collaborative fashion, all of Dave’s writing is available for reuse and creative remix under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 United States License. For attribution in printed material, his name (Dave Bonta) will suffice, but for web use, please link back to the original. Contact him for permission to waive the “share alike” provision (e.g. for use in a conventionally copyrighted work).


  1. I appreciated this one a lot, Dave. Beautiful and poignant.


  2. I like this very much but feel compelled to ask whether the cricket / hit / single / ball combination was a deliberate evocation of both insect and sport or accidental. Because it slightly confused this slow-witted reader.


    1. Thanks. No, not deliberate. “Hit single” was meant to refer exclusively to music — it’s not really a sports term, though “single hit” would be.


      1. Cricketers hit (a) single quite a lot. I should have made the sport I was referring to clearer I think. But no matter :-)


        1. Oh right, cricket! Heard of it. I wondered if I wasn’t triggering some sort of obscure British reaction there.


          1. BAH. I think you mean “English” as well of course as some of the more populous nations of the world.

          2. Meaning, I suppose, that there must be some sort of English national team? How droll. Oh, and look — even the U.S. is an associate member of the International Cricket Council! We must have a team, too. Wow. I had no idea this was such a popular sport. I’m sure it’s all over ESPN-3.

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