Sunday, June 26, 2011

Canoa Creek Raid by Bob Atkinson

Canoa Creek Raid

Part 1
(c)2011 Bob Atkinson

below Green Valley village
yet north of Old Tubac Town
was a ranch house that stood
for a short while
built by some eastern men

just outside adobe walls
a channel wide and clear
gave water to what some called
modern civilization

there swept the famed river north
was named the "Santa Cruz"
a mighty little river
fed crops for local food

cascaded back then year 'round
beaver dams held back the water
which in dry times ran underground
not showing, but not stopped either

San Xavier del Bac, the mission
 channeled aqua pura
upon the plains of farmlands green
to the Apache's consternation

  felt it wasn't right you know
to scar land in this manner
not natural all were told
by their own wise and aged brethren

in driest times the flow was hidden
dove beneath the desert sands
to surface here and there in pockets
then swirling again below the land

on past Tucson's Pueblo it sped
not a dainty loving place
but scene of many arguments
which did violence and the town disgraced

the Canoa Creek did trickle
 beyond the road north and south
where the lumber men's abode was built
by them strong and stout

fourteen men lie here in the ground
seven in a burial line
then seven more around the ranch
laid down where they were found

dead by not understanding
how commerce here was done
by painted wild men with traditions
bows and arrows, feathers, not guns

 Poston had the year before
brought Anglos to the region
to work the mines that had been
opened for three hundred seasons

by the ones who had come
from the country of Iberia
Basque and Celt and Arab too
men for all seasons
to this fertile land of adventure
with many wagons full of stores
they came to dig out of the ground
gold and silver ore

the land held so very many ways
to get rich or die here young
by the anger of a wild man
who knew how to use a gun

or the ire and torture fires
of those who stole things fast
as they had ever done
in the present and the past

was now a misunderstanding
were new here abouts
didn't know how it worked
or how was proper to stay alive

were rough and tumble men
Maine was their homeland state
survived the winters in misery
cutting timber for a man's wages

all did adventure take
for want of a better life
to a land of unknown challenge
held heat in summer and strife

was a land of plenty, but
could harbor many strange dangers
strength alone couldn't protect them from
the wrath of bands of strangers

were strong and hearty souls
lumber did whip saw
and sold it to the man of legend
at the mining company headquarters

one-fifty a mil if sawed straight
good prices he would pay
for all they could haul down
from Santa Rita Mountains
on a long working day

more wood to bring in as to
put a jangle in their pockets
mules and horses in short supply
the only thing could stop them

down in Sonora, below Nogales
a short way from the border
Apaches had gone “shopping”
to fill all their goods orders

Apaches did have a need
for all that Ussen provided
saddles of quality manufacture
and sacks of grain for tortillas

for gifts to their relatives of stock
give fathers ponies for their daughters
smiles to be had in feasts and dance
when stock offered in such quantity

food for the winter's cold
mule meat was a favorite
over horse that was tough
not juicy like the other, nor savory

so, trek they did wander
as had their great grandfathers
over the mountains across rivers
Mexicans to slaughter in their quarters

yet, if no resistance was made
to the taking of what was needed
no price would be paid
in red blood of the living

a few young maidens for wives
to help with women's work
and some young lads to raise
as Apache warriors and such

slaves some would call themselves
if they didn't do the work
or Apache if one honored
traditions of the leaders
native slaves were in the mines
of Sonora down below
worked until they were dead
then bodies into pits thrown

Mexicans continued traditions
brought here by the Spaniards
putting those into the mines
who didn't call themselves Christians

Part 2

so, tit for tat it had gone on
over 300 years of hate and wrongs
where those that were of different cultures
killed each others' children often

this isn't to justify
one side or the other
no way to say who was right
or disparage the other side
with lies of biased outlook
through distorted eyes

standing on a pedestal
watching this mortal struggle
while shaking fists of rage balled tightly
misses all we've learned of life
and perpetuates the violent fight

rational civilization isn't there
no doing good to others
if those others don't belong
in the category of local brothers

tribalism is ingrained
we have to understand
that them and us
at each others throats
is like two teams in game

was a trick of nature,
nothing we can control
survival in its
most violent momentous pose

bloody killing of those opposed
to the security of one's home
and destiny of one's bloodline
quickly becomes the norm

conquering those who cannot fight
or survive the impact of the gun
is nature's way of weeding out
those who aren't strong

in this life force quest
we sometimes lose the good
although the good in us is strong
not to harm those other fools

so if your culture's challenged
if you need to expand and roam
and others forcefully attempt
to stop you where you are

can you not see the struggle
in our lives that prevails
which gives us a bad side to expose
in adopting what victory entails

Part 3

Tarbox was their captain
had up till now done good
gotten them situated here
and got them lots of food

he was polite to travelers
listened to what they said
gave them a place to wash their hands
and, if needed, a bed

when more than twenty rode up on
horses hot and lathered
he looked to their needs for food
and listened to their songs and jabbering

their's was a tale of regret
Apaches had done again
all those things Apaches do
when they're on the run

had stolen maidens and young boys
ornate leather tack for horses
boots and guns and stores of corn
and killed many men and women

but, all of this does not compare
to the worst of deeds they'd done
they had challenged the viability of
the villages they had plundered

Apaches had stolen
a hundred mules and horses
fine equine stock needed
to perpetuate village commerce
for the harvest season

they took the best with them
aspiring to take them home
not paying one fine peso
or asking for or pleading

in Tubac these men had offered
to Senior Charlie there in charge
half the stock they could retrieve
if assistance was offered

but Poston had rejected
this honorable offer
and wished them luck on their quest
that he would not take part in

Senior Charlie was to leave alone
all those wily Athabascans
never wanting to challenge
the treaty they had effectuated

to go each others' way
not hurting each others' quests
or judging deeply what each had done
in their dealings with the Mexicans

Part 4

the lumbermen discussed the plan
could they carry it out?
how else were they to secure the stock
if not by such providence?

they were told, by the Mexicans
it wouldn't be a problem
Apaches would run away
from rifles and shotguns

so they made the deal, shaking hands
and putting all their stock in
what they had been told by duplicitous men
who sought the devil's bargain

river crossings for a herd
were not so much common
so seeing dust of approaching animals
they devised a plan for stalking

behind rocks and trees they hid
lie in wait for wild painted men
and kill a few with their guns
chasing them off for the bargain

so of the lot fairly divided
they did secure
much to their liking
some of which
they would trade for goods
in Tucson, the local emporium

some mules and horses
they would keep
to help them in their job
of making travelers welcome
and sawing large wood logs

for a while it did payoff
the deal that they had struck
and in their minds was no big thing
the killing of native bucks

Part 5

relatives of Deer Dragging
and Arrow Feather knew
their honor must be avenged
by blood rivers new

White Eyes had not kept the faith
 of the bargain each had sworn
this new test of strength
was theirs to deal with soon

danced they did for days on end
until their spirits told them
the next full moon would be the time
to kill the ones offending

west they came on their quest
was no one to stop them
the mind, you know, has firm resolve
when stalking those who wronged them

with the starlight and the moon
was one beautiful fall night
not cold like winter or hot like summer
temperature just right

through the glass they could see
many of the white eyed demons
laughing loud and seeming proud
of whatever they had been doing

a boulder thrown through a window
first told something was wrong
to the lumbermen of Maine
big bodies, very stong

an arrow shot through that window
wrapped with cloth and tallow
a flame so bright it lit the night
and lumbermen it did startle

out came two men
who ran for the corral
to grab some horses there
and run for help to Tubac town
their speed was pell mell

one took an arrow in the heart
one took one in the throat
either way, they were dead
before their face hit dirt

five more came out running
different ways they did charge
to get away from this raid
on their rancho large

some died of arrow poison
some died of tomahawks
some died of knives cutting throats
some died while they were wet

seven more were in the house
in the moonlight they had seen
through the windows of the house
firm vision of Apache revenge

they came out on the porch
hands in the air
then stepped down in front
on the ground
not to die up in the air

and die they did
when arrows flew
stone spear points in the hearts
of those who didn't know
whom to listen to and trust

Contact Bob Atkinson

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