Thursday, June 30, 2011

Year of Fire by Bob Atkinson

Year of Fire
(c)2011 Bob Atkinson

sheets of flame a hundred feet
crackle, flicker and so much heat
the ground for miles was turned dark black
when fire retreated and then attacked

into canyons, and up to ridges
the yellow gold of severe combustion
the red, the blue the purple haze
seems the whole world's ablaze

carving paths through virgin forest
attacking homes and lives of workers
taking beauty with its power
snuffing out wildlife so precious

Year of the Fire makes one who loves
bold canyons carved through years of floods
with ridges high with pines so tall
so very sad to see them fall

nature's realm sustains much loss
no good can come from taking out
that which took so long to grow
and that which lives down below

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)

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