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The Hanged Ghost

              for my great uncles
Mamerto, Nicasio, Prudenci Llanes
who were hanged by the U.S. military
for their armed resistance against
the American occupation of the Philippines

Who am I?               I

slide my body          Into

your body                         all my weight
yours          I even place the gnawed
peach pits of my ankles
into your ankles

I’m the rain
gathering in your right        ear
I’m the cold roar                 of the storm

in the black burning           trees
                in the hills’ cedars   It’s a new
season for them           to hang
heads            from gibbets and magnolias
and not once examine
the blue light’s angle off these
dark eyes       off every inch
of the hand             dragged           they say
by the hooves        out of the shadows
to the edge      of a road     Afraid Yes
I’m      so afraid          On the Day of All Souls

I breeze back
to the churches of the living
I follow                     the hymns
to the deep caves
and feel with my fingers    for the secrets
scrawled          with great care       on their walls

Grief          Haunting            Don’t the dead
also long          to be touched         in the dark

When boys come           to shove
the small of my back    and make me swing
so slightly
as if they could scare off         the other ghosts
to their astonishment

touch is a kindness
and a failure

But who will say?           Even if someone cuts me down
there will always be another            with arms wide open
to say: here it is     Our communion
of silence and lies  Left here long enough

even the mushrooms              in time
will take me           in their double thousand
microscopic mouths


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