Tuesday, June 28, 2011

1882 by Bob Atkinson

Part 1
(c)2010 Bob Atkinson

they sat around a circle
tobacco smoke in the air
mixed with burning wood
Mesquite the flavor there

neither saw a real solution
to the problems they addressed
no way to revert to the past
without violent redress

the General tried to be patient
his was an awful fix
he knew right wasn't on his side
humanity wasn't his

yet the direction couldn't change
of a civilization on the move
burning crops and possessions
of those he now talked to

his was a pleasant nature
his feelings were heart felt
even though he had killed
many women, children and men

he sat and watched the faces
of those who had been wronged
and listened to their stories
while wishing he was gone

no amount of sleepless nights
would put his thoughts in place
no amount of guilt and shame
would make him in the right again

he heard the words as they were spoken
then again as they were translated
by the men who understood
directly what both sides said

this was a clash of cultures
developed miles apart
different ways of doing things
different feelings in the heart

one had followed the path of the wolf
and lived off others' lives
and held the ways of predators
under clear warm skies

nature had developed them
and fine tuned them in the arts
of hunting all of those things
their people should require

the other organized their folk
to expand upon new soils
regardless of who had been there first
to the victor goes the spoils

nature must here be commended
as she doesn't ever play her favorites
just lets those lives develop
who are lucky and never satiated

for wisdom in these early times
was not one of their strengths
greed and cunning and wanton violence
was contained in their bag of tricks

Part 2

there in the canyon of Black River
far from each others' home
they sat and watched the water flow
as wild as each of them

the women and the children
laughed and played and did their work
trying to forget the forces
that precipitated such wild violence

all those times of arrow heads
and lead bullets in the air
causing relations to become a part
not of the living but of the dead

to end this sort of life
where those who held the guns
shot those who had not the power
to sustain a lifetime on the run

was now topic of discussion
was now the work at hand
of men who clung to old ways
men who couldn't understand

the thoughts of those opposed
to continuance of the past
as a way of life here in God's lands
as had been the life for generations

and on the other side the same
a wish to really know
what were the feelings 
of these men
with painted faces
and tabs on their toes

Part 3

they held the seeds of discontent
in reaping what's been sewn
by bands of crooks with credentials
in the west or eastern zones

monies sent to stop the killing
monies meant to atone
for that which had been thrown upon
the natives in their home

became the rich man's gamble
he didn't care where it came from
as he left a culture in shambles
and put some with pride on the run

losing land at a good clip
became the natural order
Clifton and Globe on either side
became San Carlos' new narrow borders

wherever land was found
to have a real or imagined use
the knife was used to carve it out
of the Apache's loop

the Warm Springs band had found
their promised lands of old
were taken from them quickly
when others wanted for themselves
it's every boulder, stick and stone

the year before in '81
Victorio had had enough
and painted red his homeland
with the white eyed blood

Lozen had her people protected
until she was called away
by duty to a friend in childbirth
whom she had hidden away

in the reeds of the river
one hundred soldiers mounted
rode past them without seeing them
had no sharp eyes or noses

Apache scouts had sauntered by
seeing through the reeds
a warrior woman and her friend
and the friend's small baby

they saw her but kept closed mouthed
they knew her power to be strong
she was the priestess of the land
not only of the Warm Springs Band

had done “the River Crossing”
another story to be told
how one with a sense of purpose
can save both young and old

flooded though it was
the Rio Grande held them not
as a fence or a wall of water
the woman warrior crossed the lot

as she kept the five hundred safe
at least they're safe for now
she returned her friend and the baby
to San Carlos' sheltered houses

but then arriving at Tres Castillos
the tragedy unfolded broadly
as women, children and Victorio
fought with the Mexican Army

as the day settled darkly
on those of Victorio's band
tragedy did unfold
nearly to the man

they were handed their own blood
with rifles, swords and sabers
death jumped upon them without quarter
deep below Mexico's borders

had Lozen been there with them
she would have seen the danger
and settled not into a camp
but prepared for the attacking strangers

the man who would later
shoot Captain Crawford in the head
at Tres Castillos killed all he could
of women, children and men

they killed those who only
loved freedom more than chains
now we look to the mountains
where their spirits still remain

(to be continued)

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