Psalms of the American Wilderness
1. The Endless Shores
She was the apple of our eyes to all.
Her boundless shores imbued the worldís
Imagination. Endless streams engulfed
Her beaches heading inward, saying, "Come
And take these lands for Christís sweet self.
Remake my New Worldís unkempt face inside
Her sparkling streams. My woods meander dark
Into the mountainous hedge. Come, wander here
To heartís content and make me live replete
With teaming lives and churches grand, with farms,
with towns, whose lovers enter tiny wooden homes
in which their children dine on rough hewn chairs.
The place of Kings shall be not grander than
These quiet homes of men Iíve sheltered here."
2. Turning Their Backs on Kings
I tore the heavenís starry face with lights
That flashed above my golden plains, my nights
As clear as polished glass. Mine is the gown
Each maiden craves, brilliant green, enstoned
With common jewels, a crown arrayed the likes
Of Queens and Kings but meant for those poor souls
Who fled the halls of European pomp
for wooded groves whose only walls were homes
Hand built by gristled arms with meager tools.
My people are rejected men who faced
My horrid Indians whose axes tore their scalps.
And yet they came, escaping wars and laws
Enslaving them in European ways.
Here, find they rest and till my sides for food.
3. Each Man a King Unto Himself
I bring each man a kingdom lone and hard.
Here, upon my face reside a million scribes.
Each man a soul lost in my wilderness, each
A man in torment, scuttled from a thousand laws,
Tossed by storms upon my torrid shores where sands
Betray my wetted thighs now raped by blades
Of man-made axes, adzes, plows, and tills
That slide like loversí hands deep into my holes,
And steel my shuddering lengthened wounds with seeds.
There, am I marred beyond redemption by
Their endless pushing ploughs reaching deep
Into my holes, for they have opened wide,
My scars, 1producing children out of maize
To feed their skinny squirming human stock.
4. Squaw Man
He was a man of men, enslaved in chains
By Londonís slavers. So fast he came across
The icy Seas, a goner sailing toward
My wooded womb. I took him into me,
Warmed his sorrowed face, laced with tears
For Merry England, forced to work a slave
Indentured to his captors. Then I gave
him light. I saw him running in my woods,
Took pity on his sorrow, gave him far
Distant sanctuary in a wooden home,
A squaw wife. His children grew to see
A newer way of life, with fences tall
To keep them safe, outing Indian hordes
Who wished to slay them fast and mean.
5. Who Are These Men Inside Me?
Who are these people coming here to warm
Their lives upon my ancient breasted hills?
Are these the legendary pioneers
Whose Ways the stars foretell? Or are they those
Of Satanís realms, devoid of souls, hell bent
On killing off the world hill by hill
Until each valley swims in blood? I hope
For them to be the gods of deeply held
Redeeming values, souls God ridden like
A horse with golden saddles, hooves that skim
My valleys graceful, full of gumption, full
Of love. Would be a shame to find these men
Came all this way to hate the more. I want
These men to love me. I want to love them, too.
6. Venison Men
Their muskets blaze inside these meadows loud.
A deer stumbles to its death for cooking in
An open hearth. I feel its blood soak down
Into my soil, drink its soul within my heart
Of hearts, releasing it from pain. I give
My deer my solaced grasses green with love.
I give them men to kill them, toss their meats
To hungry children mouths, to raise them up
So strong and lean that men within these realms
Shall never grind them down and make them slaves.
My venison floods veins of steel. These hearts
Of iron shall never fail my test. Lean men
Are carved like sides of deer into a cut
Of meat more reddened than an armyís firing line.
My land, now, hear my plea. These children I
Have sired into your waiting arms. I pray
To your green wooden spires that line these roads
We carved into your rugged woods. Here, have
We planted crops, here, have we wedded down
Our loves in rugged beds of straw, beside
The animal stalls built in our barn-like homes
Each sharing warmth from each, both man
And cattle, each a unit, sewn like sperm
To egg, producing each for each a place
To be. Our breaths intermingle, man
And bull, moving the wintry airís scant heat.
Together we are one. Both man and cow.
Now, each of us sustains each of us.
8. The Patriotís Song
I am a patriot, a soul of this,
An ancient land, so newly adapted to
This world, the word "America" itself
Is hard for me to say. I am not from here.
I come from Germany, Woher, kommte Ich
Aus, im klienem Booten durch einem kaltem See.
Ich bin Amerikan. Yes, American, new words
For my old mouth speaks gruff and hard
To form upon my lips. So, somewhere
In these furtive soils, my progeny finds hope.
And I, lost in the wilderness, away
From everyone I ever knew must find
My way or else I die alone and scared,
Beat down by all these horrid work-filled years.
9. The Patriotís Song ContinuedÖ
For I am here a new-found man,
Informed inside himself anew, but forced
Into a changeling, fast encountering men
With savage arrows, strung on bows and aimed
Between my furrows, bent on killing off
My children and my futures far past time
Itself to say. I hold a palm of dirt up to
The stars and pray, Oh, Earth, sustain my arm
To kill the Indian beast until he kills
No more the flesh of mine, that I may live
Forever through my progeny. Now,
My soil, I kiss your darkened ball inside
My hands. You are my world. Now, keep me from
All evil in this swarming land of strife.
10. The Patriot Answered By Godís Blessing
Inside his sleeping mind, the German felt
The hands of God upon him, warm and still.
Godís fingers covered all his ways, caressed
His muscled sides, his mud-smeared farmerís feet.
"My child," God said, "You came alone. Your faith
In crossing Oceans filled with ice and winds
Was more than that of Moses crossing over from
The Pharaohís vengeful wrath inside the Reddish Sea,
That Pharaoh, Ramses, whose sole son was killed
By my own fingers on that pestilent night
When death sailed through the streets of Egypt where
The motherís cry thickened the air with screams.
ĎMy hands now bless your hands. My heart your heart.
We are one. You, I. Me, We. America.í"