(Ed. note: The following is a poem written by Neil Fauerso in 2003, when he was 21. It was recently included in the two-person show ‘Joey Fauerso & Neil Fauerso: Dig Three Tunnels’ at Testsite in Austin.)
They say when your head is cut off,
clean as with a guillotine you remain conscious
for ten seconds.
Ten. That’s a long time.
Enough to recite the alphabet at least twice.
Enough to say the names of all the people
who truly meant something to you.
Or apologize for all your misdeeds in an earnest
general way: I’m sorry to all the people
I hurt. Long enough to remember some of the best times of your life,
those tiny moments that prick memory like ornament glass.
The time you drove a yellow convertible through fog so thick, you didn’t realize you
crossed the Golden Gate bridge until you reached the other side. The time
you swam and made love at midnight in a river still and reflective as enamel to the
waterlog of submerged city sounds.
But what about the physical?
If you’re thinking, you’re probably feeling.
If not pain, then place.
Would those sweet thoughts pass if your head
was tumbling in spongy red dirt?
The kind that clouds like sea foam.
It would be kindergarten, when you were rolled up into a plush
12 foot rug of infinite dustiness,
except now the ground would be the rug
and it would go on forever.
If you were sputtering grit, would you be able to remember the time you
And your friend watched glowing Greenland from the tin syrup light of an airplane?
What would you do?
What would you want your head to fall in?
I’d beg to be dropped onto a catapult and launched in the air.
I’d play myself as a baby-faced blue blood,
my family’s lawyer would plead for my last wish
across liquid oak and lamps sleeping in a forest canopy.
I would get it.
My head would drop into the catapult’s mouth.
It would be lined with a simple cotton pillow.
Someone really on the ball would make sure it activated
Right when my head hit the cushion.
My head would fly through the empty air.
The sky would be so blue it would almost feel liquid.
The expanse of the air and the insignificance of my tiny
Head would be deeply fulfilling, I would feel assimilated
Like those sea creatures that are mostly water
And are more a part of the ocean than anything else.
I would expire before my arc began to fall.
I would look directly into the sun.
My hair blown back, would feel softer than the strands of a peach.
My hair would be happy.
My hair would have more time to live and grow.