Landscape, with Mountain Road and Stories of Defection

~ "The project [to build Kennon Road- the Benguet Road] began in 1903 
and opened for travel on January 29, 1905. It was originally called
the Benguet Road and later renamed in honor of its builder, Col. Lyman
Walter Vere Kennon of the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers."

To carve a road winding 5,000 feet upward onto faces
of limestone and clay would bring you to your knees.

Convoys of laborers, soldiers on swaying scaffolds
deployed to bring the mountain range to its knees.

Any war's a big temp agency: jobs from artillery 
loader to bootblack for generals while on your knees.

In between skirmishes, fanning away mosquitoes.
Relentless heat, rolling trousers up to the knees. 

In the camps, fights as children chanted Chinese-
Japanese-Filipino-Negro.
A boiling up, from the knees. 

The story of "Tanabata's Wife" is set against this time. Foreigners
settled in the foothills, tending to cabbage farms on their knees.

It's said "Buffalo Soldiers" defected, wanting to stay behind in
the cool green hills. If found they were to be beheaded on their knees.

The story circulates about Private David Fagen, who joined Aguinaldo to fight
American soldiers--- All the colored ones, they wanted brought to their knees.

1899: an Indianapolis newspaper calls for "Negroes to quit claiming kindred with
every black face from Hannibal down. Hannibal was no Negro, nor was Aguinaldo."   

Back in the mainland, Twain wrote To the Person Sitting in Darkness, in which
he cut down the lie of the "Blessings of Civilization," bringing it to its knees. 

Some stories say Fagen wasn't subdued, nor beheaded; that he'd lived
further north, raised a family, grown old. Kept both his head and knees.  


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