Gawain and the Green Knight

by gm

Mark Callanan


Like the Green Knight stooping
to retrieve his own severed melon
and hold it aloft, a lantern,
I’m fumbling for an errant thought,
though without his flair for theatre,
the grand gesture, his ability
to make B-movie stunts
not only plausible but frightening
for the knight with axe in hand
who ghosts at the notion
of trekking to the chapel to see himself
decapitated. Figuratively, I mean.
He won’t see anything, unless you trust
the French doctor who declared
a head, freshly severed, spoke to him
in blinks, thus proving the body
is vestigial, a thing existing
past the point of its own utility,
persisting in existence as if existence
is the point. It’s not. Our doc
did nothing else of substance.
Presumably, the executed was
buried or burned. I think they were done
with mounted pikes by then,
but truth be told, my research
consists entirely of extremist videos
in which they bag the head
then saw it off with a machete.
Point being, there is the me
that resides quite comfortably
in my brain pan, part of a machine
that shits and eats, paints a wall
to make it pretty for his clientele,
and then the me who’s cut-off
from the scene, who passively
observes the action of his fingers
playing concussively the keyboard;
the me that drifts like a dumb,
bumping helium balloon
against the ceiling, the me
that thinks itself into being,
and in so doing, tips its hat
to French philosophers and doctors
both: those that prove I’m here
sitting in the throne of power,
and the ones that prove a me,
usurped from his gilded seat,
who contemplates the new regime
from a pike pole at the city gates.