@ 27.105 MHz: Brief Elegy For A Young Man, Slain For The Way He Loved

Haters, uncouth thugs, broke the life from his flesh;

and shattered his beauty that, somehow, threatened---

so they believed---their manhood, which their very

assault upon him obviously disproved.

Doing that to him,

 

they relinquished their shriveled souls' birthright (much

worse even than Esau's faithless act) not far

from a small Old West village, called Freebridge where

Jalapeno Gundown fearlessly loved that

teenager, WildColt.

 

Those boastful, brutal braggarts knew that, of course.

They abducted their barefoot, long-haired victim

one warm night.  They stripped him of his polo shirt

and his boy friend's ring.  They despised his "skinny"

jeans and grass-stained soles;

 

and used their fists and manure-crusted boots to

express the hatred that deserves no language,

the prejudices that deserve no quarter.
Just down the backroad where they flung that dying,

battered body; in

 

a mostly forgotten graveyard---adjacent

headstones, Jalapeno Gundown's and WildColt's,

cry out to God for the innocent life crushed

out on these desolate, darkened plains; and God

is not slow to act . . . .

 

Starward

 

Author's Notes/Comments: 

The murder that this poem laments is based upon the brutal, and ultimately fatal, assault upon Matthew Shepard---but does not replicate all of the exact details.


I located the action of the poem so I could site it advantageously at Freebridge, a small, now abandoned, town named for the now demolised structure that once spanned Foxhome Creek.  Here Jalapeno Gundown and his lover, WildColt, found welcome and acceptance; and, in small cemetery somewhat difficult for visitors to find, their weathered, nearly unreadable, headstones are closely adjacent.  Jalapeno Gundown was a New Englander, driven from his family's estate in Providence, Rhode Island, due to his orientation.  On the Western frontier, he acuired the skill to defend himself, along with the appellation by which he became known (I will not give his family's descendents the satisfaction of citing his mundane name), and also, there, met the great love of his life, the Native American adolescent whom Jalapeno called WildColt, said to have been of surpassing beauty, who gave to Jalapeno the most exquisite affection and unwavering loyalty.


The poem alludes to two Scriptural episodes in Genesis. 

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patriciajj's picture

A courageous and unflinching

A courageous and unflinching statement thunders through this excellent elegy and that is: we can never, we must never, forget.

 

In your opening salvo you bludgeon the arrogance and cowardice that drives depraved humans to such atrocities, then you allude to Esau's foolishness as a cautionary tale to others who "relinquished their shriveled soul's birthright". 

 

Written with silencing power and searing clarity, this evokes all the emotions needed for change: shock, outrage, and gnawing grief, especially at the end, where we find ourselves on those "desolate, darkened plains" crying out to Heaven with questions as well as entreaties. 

 

Mercifully, in closing, you gave us hope and lifted our sights in spite of a horror that knows no closure. 

 

A crucial work of art. 

Januarian's picture

Thank you for understanding,

Thank you for understanding, and for explicating the purpose of this poem.  It came to me in a flurry, and while I thought to make it a Tanka sequence, it chose, instead, the other format I have used from time to time.  This poem, after it formed in my mind, was very insistent on being written (and in my hurry to accede to its insistence, I mistyped the geographical references, which I have corrected)---and I truly believe that your comment has expressed the reason for the poem's insistence on being brought on to postpoems.  Thank you for always going to the crux of those of my poems on which you comment:  to receive such comments from a Poet of your creative stature as well as exquisite compehension of life and life's issues is a privilege for which I will never cease to be grateful.


Januarian

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patriciajj's picture

I'm so moved by your kind

I'm so moved by your kind response. It's a joy and a privilege to read and comment on your essential work.