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.
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.
A forest is an ink bottle. The shore, a slate that lets you make mistakes. Ceriths and cowries, keyhole limpets— all the spaces the universe fit into after it broke into pieces.
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?
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.
"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.
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 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.
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.
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.