@ 27.055 MHz: Les Bois!; Overheard In The Territory Of New Mexico, 1887 Or So

" . . . audacibus adnue coeptis."

---Vergil, The Aeneid, IX


The world in that age and place made my Beloved mean;

by declaring our love perverse and obscene;

by calling such affections, between ardent boys,

sinful, useless, sterile, shameful and silly:

the self righteous hurled at us (and our private joys)

their prudish and prejudicial curses,

along with plenty of sticks and stones and rocks.

My Beloved clung to the somewhat fantastic hope

that he would discover some reason and rhyme,

in our existence that would help us cope,

but society offered neither tolerance nor time.

So we explored our bodies' pleasures in surreptitious spurts,

in a corner of Tunstull's ranch, at the end of one of the passes,

a covert shielded by unusual trees, and vines, and grasses.

Having left behind our hats, and boots, and shirts;

clad only in baggy trousers and our favored fawn-gray socks,

we loved each other, sometimes into intimacy,

shielded from the peerings of the so-called neighborly,

in that copse that reminded me of Vergil's early verses.

I loved him, often and fully there, clothed or nude,

before their persecution soured his entire attitude:

my ever Beloved---beautiful, shy Billy.

I have heard they treat you much the same in this trite town---

that they jerk your feelings about with a merciless jolt.

But they may not have heard of your regional reputation---

the Boston born dandy whose transformation

emerged from persecution's aggravation,

to earn you the fierce, put poetic appellation:

pistolier and shootist, Jalapeno Gundown,

lover of the Lakota young man, Wild Colt.

Your coupled Love is an affront to, and a denial

of the lies they tell against the Truth they revile.

I am honored to make your acquaintance, sir.

This book I am reading?  How kind of you to have inquired---

the title character is said to have been partly inspired

by my Beloved (an aspect of the novel, with which I concur):

A Tale Of The Christ, written by our former Minister

to Constantinople, who once was the Governor

 

of this territory, Lew Wallace, author of Ben Hur.


Starward

 
Author's Notes/Comments: 

The poem presents a couple of historical theories I have entertained for some time:  that William H. Boney (1859-1881) had experienced homogenous love and desire while working on the ranch of John Tunstall (1853-1878); that he responded violently to early persecution for the expression of his nature and affections; and that, very broadly, he affected Lew Wallace's characterization of his novel's eponymous Ben-Hur. 


I do not have sufficient information to state, positively, the identity of Billy's boy friend, the speaker of the poem.  A few facts, and a few more speculations, suggests that he was not an active participant among the Regulators, nor took an active part in the Lincoln County War.


Lew Wallace (1827-1905) served as Minister (the United States did not then use the rank of Ambassador) to the Ottoman Empire (Constantinople), 1881-1885.  He had previously served as Territorial Governor of New Mexico, 1878-1881.  Ben Hur, was published in 1880.


Jalapeno Gundown, a Boston dandy who was also transformed by societal persecution for homogenous affection, was almost three times as old as the adolescent WildColt when they met, and became lovers.  They are said to be interred in the same grave (having been given Christian burial) somewhere in New Mexico, but their joint headstone was long ago defaced and then destroyed by haters.  I have not been able to ascertain the dates of their births and deaths.  Scant information comes from certain locals in that vicinity:  they tell me that Jalapeno Gundown died of natural causes, and that WildColt was, shortly thereafter, beaten to death by drunken cowboys who ambused him, transported him to a deserted road, and flung his mutilated, dying body over a barbed wire fence.  The locals who spoke to me believe that the murderers of Matthew Shepherd may have been copycatting the murder of WildColt.  "At least," the local town clerk told me, "WildColt died barefoot---as he liked to live."  I have agreed not to disclose the geographical location of the sources of this information.  Out of respect for the memory and the wishes of Jalapeno Gundown, I refer to him only by his chosen appellation, and not his mundane name.


To give the poem an informal tone, like an overheard conversation, I did not maintain a strictly regular iambic pentameter.  I believe I have accounted for all of the rhymes, and that each line rhynes with at least one other line.

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