Decapitate

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
Derived from the Latin decapitare—
caput: the head; and de: from or down.

The way the head is completely severed
from a body, with invariably fatal 

prognosis (according to every 
dictionary).  What Perseus did 

with adamantine sword to gather
the Gorgon's writhing head into a sack,

though guillotines, axes, chain-
saws, and sometimes smaller,

blunter instruments have been 
applied excruciatingly to the same 

purpose. Saints, king's wives; anarchists,
captives in war, hostages turned into

examples—heads on spikes, heads 
rolling into the executioner's basket. 

Cockroaches survive decapitations;
swatted at, horseflies are merely 

stunned—a clean death: you pick 
them up, hold their bodies with one 

hand while you twist their heads 
and pop them off with the other.  

Words

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
How quick we are with words.
             How sure-sounding. 
In the summer canopy, lengthening
               call of light accompanied by 
the vocalizations of birds. To the trained
              ear, perhaps it's possible
to distinguish not just the nature
              of their calls but also what they hold,
what they curate in them. They craft
             their language with the same
care we do. I think, with more.

We slip back into the current

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
We slip back into the current
            of ourselves as if there hadn't been
a break; as if the year didn't add 
           long intervals of silence that branched 
across the four dimensions of space.
           We're eager to throw back 
the shutters and put away 
           the books of the dead— 
Do they miss how near we came; how
           the wilderness between us at times
seemed as close as a wick to flame?

Moribund

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
You can dream of a knife, its laddered 
spine beside a plate of bread or fruit, 
and not think twice about it. You 
might dream of the same knife sailing 
through the air, landing in the soft 
center of a target that explodes 
as a blast mine.  It releases cloudy 
hexagons in the air, summoning 
the bees. In the dream you give them 
all your teeth, which you've plucked
like pearls from a modest clothes-
line. You've been told that to dream
of losing teeth is a portent of coming
death. But the bees know this already:
when they fly too far or are separated
from their tribe, they die alone in that wide
wilderness just a few yards from the hive. 

Nocturne: Near & Far

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
                   "We try to see in the dark; we toss up 
                   our questions and they catch in the trees."
                                                               ~ Annie Dillard


          After rain, the cotton-heavy breasts of clouds;
the redbud, the hawthorn, the fringe tree.

          I still hear the one that tapped all morning,
insistent in front of a gate that wouldn't move.

          Only the moon pauses, stretches wide 
as a palmful of dough. Unmuffled, the owls begin 

          their two-note chant: who-when? 
who-when? I've long understood how distance  

         is what makes the faraway conspicuous, 
the near at hand swizzle into a kind of silence.

      









The laying out and the sorting: the more than enough

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
You are of the tenor again,
while the vehicles of this life
wave their assorted banners and say
                    what were you thinking?

You can't take anything
with you, but neither do you want 
to take anything for granted,
                    you know? 

To not allow for any
more pleasure, to speak
a constant apologia: it takes 
                    away such depth of sky.

Even a tiny wound 
reeks of salt-lick and pine
kindling. Even the ancestors
                   come back for a taste.

All the recent talk about the new Marvel superhero

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
All the recent talk about the new Marvel superhero 
           being Filipino or FilAm or Filipinx—Specifically,
Captain America, following up on the premise 
           delivered at the conclusion of Avengers:
Endgame as the shield is given to Sam Wilson.
          Furor, though, over the name this character is 
given—Ari Agbayani, private school scholarship girl,
          hair bobbed & uniform-skirted. Short, too,
if you look closely at the sketches. She's bent on
          justice for her best friend, but does it really
kick audiences in the face if they can associate
         "labia, genitalia," with "Ari?" I'd like to know
more about her: like, does she know how to use a tabo?
         need to eat rice at nearly every meal? This
ordinary girl— does she know anything about the
         People Power revolution that toppled Marcos,
quelling the old corruptions at least for a while? 
        Remember that other guy who draped 
stars & stripes over his shoulders, held a walis 
       tambó affixed to a shield to join the January 6
uprising in the Capitol? Since Ari's described as
       vigilante-like, would she have swept this
wannabe Captain America into the Potomac? 
       Xenic cultures of rabid flag-smashers,
yelling deranged slogans— A world that teeters on 
       zombification, desperate to replicate heroes. 

Anting

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
I never knew either about such a word for such 
        a thing as this sight captured on camera: a crow
                  sitting quite still, letting an undisciplined parade
of ants crawl up and down its feathers and all over 
        its body. Audubon supposedly observed it in turkeys
                  as early as the 1830s— No one knows for sure 
if in symbiosis, or if the birds were simply tolerating the insect 
        picnic in order to have a ready supply of snacks on hand.  
                 In one picture there's a crow in an almost Sphinx-
like pose; in another, a crow bends over like a dark  
        tent  in some desert, not knowng if the arrival 
                 of these tiny nomads is a blessing or a curse. 

Apocrypha

holloway overhung with ancient trees n Cornwall
History bears down 
again: its breath the humid 

reek of cities where we scuttle 
like crabs in the shadows.

Brown and bareheaded we climb
up platforms as trains clatter away 

to pre-set destinations—Some 
parts of the world act with this 

kind of certainty all the time,
as if arrival were a given, as if

the doors will always open.
But so frequently now are we 

addressed again: with unexpected 
blows, with names that halve 

and mongrel us, that mail-
order-bride and nanny us, that want

to throw a pail of disinfectant in
our faces. History is pages and pages

of script: unclean in parts like these, 
the ones they'll classify apocryphal.