I greatly respect Rebecca Morgan Frank’s poetry on the Filipino-American relations. Her own family has deep roots in the country. She reminds us of one of America’s first international ventures, its first war against insurgency, and its first export of the American system – for better and for worse. Her poetry is learned, well-researched, and powerful.
A juramentado was a Moro warrior in the southern Phillippines, whose ferocity and resistance was well known to Spanish and American colonialists, and who inspired an upgrade in weaponry in the American Army to stop fanatical charges.
Poetry by Rebecca Morgan Frank
Bind the body in bondage to God, the blood flow
slowed steals the quick out of the bullet’s rip,
makes you unstoppable for that flight
of blade that smites the godless bodies.
A streak of dominos falling from your
welded touch, a stroke of devoted luck.
The moving holy body perforated by a useless
gun guides guerilla warfare: the jungle-buried bodies,
prone, your target, and your flash attack bates
the ineffective smack of bullet. Bodies lie.
Arms are in evolution, now created to cap
this newfound spectacle: a man who dies for love
of the afterlife, no country here his own.
Stories say that women passed, bound their breasts
and spun through town, whirling dervishes
wielding the kris. A fearless edge that gave birth
to the Colt .45, engineered to stop the juramentado.
The latest weapon in the battle of gods.