Saturday, October 27, 2012

Patron Snakes




We are a bible nation. History, literature, politics for better and worse steeped in the good book. Amazing how white Europeans adopted a dark Palestinian, and brought him on over to the New World.

Blame it on the Greeks.

Just for the record: "wine dark sea," Homer, of course. "…and they shall take up serpents," Mark 16:18. Of which more later.

I learned about the sound of snakes breathing on NPR. An intrepid woman traveler woke to the sound in her ear.


PATRON SNAKES

i.

Here's the sound
of a snake
breathing

phhhh

no voice
just breath

phhhh

Teeth and lips and breath
     try it
          phhhh

A serpent hangs from a branch
and strains toward Eve

phhhh

she freezes at the sound
thought follows
the original is originated

and we
are cursed
until blood is shed for us

Or so the story goes.


ii.

Snake
     crawls
          through
               time
                    comes
                         to
                              America…

iii.

Europeans,
white - what else,
pure of heart and miserable

bounding

over the wine dark

Clutching,
in mind if not heart,
myths
and a dark skinned God

encounter

Hallowed be thy name

Massasauga
Mohave
Blacktail
Black Snapper
Great Adder
Diamond Back
Sidewinder

and they shall take up serpents

breath hiss and rattle.


iv.

John Billington

a catholic - a "stranger" - with his cross-hung god

came over with family
on the boat Mayflower
along with the "separatists,"
and their invisible deity.

John's son found the company's cache of powder
tried to blow the Mayflower out of the water
his solitary plot fizzled
but young Billington
never saw another
solitary moment.

A few years later:

John Billington the senior, hot tempered, shot John Newcomen - a new comer

          Shot him in the woods
          Shot him dead

It was the colony's first murder.

John Billington hanged for his crime

it was the colony's first hanging.

He was a "troublemaking murderer, a knave, and a scoundrel,"

or so said the Governor

"he was beloved of many,"

said his neighbor.


Pffff…


Eleanor Billington, John's sad, hot tempered wife

loudly and publicly slandered a neighbor

and was locked in the stocks
          and whipped.


Dorcas Billington,

age 22,

their hot blooded daughter,

fornicated

was found out

     -how?-

and shamefully whipped.


Pity the poor Billingtons -

          breath hiss and rattle.


v.

This is the Story of John Billington

John Billington and his family dear
Came over here on the Mayflower
During the voyage his fine young son
Tried to blow that boat to kingdom come.

John Billington in a white hot rage
Let bloody murder out of its cage
Shot Newcomen in the woods so drear
Was hanged for the crime and died in fear.

John Billington had a wife named El
With a mouth as rank as the pits of hell
She was locked in the stocks and whipped one morn
For fouling the air with contempt and scorn.

John Billington's daughter, aged twenty-two
Had no use for church or prayer or school
But would lift her skirt and play with the boys
And one day was whipped for her sordid joys.

Let's drink to the mem'ry of John Billington
His wife, and his daughter, and his fine young son
Let's drink to the town-folk righteous and pure
And drink to the ship that brought them here.




Here's the Troubadour's take on the Mayflower.
Bob Dylan's 115th Dream







2 comments:

  1. Sounds like the Billingtons were sowing the seeds of the religion of individualism, and reaping its harvest. History repeats.

    ...a wonderful work, Richard. I could see, hear and almost smell the trauma of thier lives and maybe of life in general in thier time.

    ReplyDelete