September 30, 2009

Manifest Destiny (RWP # 94)

(My Angel & My Demon by Thomas Hawk)

The above photograph is the "prompt" for this week's poem. Clearly a close up of a foosball machine with the little red and white men. After studying it a bit, I had a “Eureka” moment. Having just traveled throughout the 4 Corners area of the US, land of the Zuni, Hopi, Navajo and Ute, I have been attempting some poetry on what I saw and felt in that region. This photo became a stepping off point for some of my ideas...

Across the horizon
in mist wrapped malignancy
something insidious
slowly comes closer.

"All things before me
are mine for the taking.
It's my God Given right
to conquer the savage."

With intractable whiteness
he travels relentlessly
absorbing all in his wake
and vomiting pestilence.

"Who is this pale demon
that believes he can purchase
a God Given country
with blankets and bloodshed?"

Fixed still as a statue
uncomprehending of danger
the red man continues
to watch his destruction.


  1. I had missed this writing as I am super busy at work. I am so grateful the FB comments caught my attention so I could pause, read, and embarce. Thanks again Cynthia for giving me something to ponder. Julie

  2. Hi Cynthia,

    Here I am, beginning to catch up! How fortunate and clever of you to blend this pic with your native indian experience. And how well you do it! I love the sounds within the first stanza.

  3. You are adept at switching from grandmother's fairy tales to the truth of the American genocide. No one has a manifest destiny, it was a pompous justification for greed. My wife taught high school on the Navajo and Hopi gulags (opps, I meant reservation, I had a slip of white man's conscience). I spent many nights talking to my Native American friends and developing a deep understanding of 'their' religions and life. Darn, I'm glad I got that off my chest.

    Thank you for taking the time and the talent to produce this poetry. I thoroughly enjoyed and agree with its intent and content.

  4. This is why I find photo prompts so interesting. They can lead us in unexpected directions. Very powerful. I like the phrase 'mist wrapped malignancy'.

  5. Thanks for tackling such heavy history in this poem, Cynthia.

    "Vomiting pestilence!" That is strong!

    Paul Oakley
    Blogging his ReadWritePoem poems at
    Inner Light, Radiant Life

  6. Vomiting pestilence could refer to the small pox
    which devasted the Indian population. I dont know if it's true but it is said that the blankets that were given as gifts were sometimes deliberately infected with small pox virus.

  7. I like the balance in the poem, not of power, but of human presence and point of view, and how the face off/ stand off is half confrontation and half question, half astonishment, how the "red man" can't comprehend his own destruction: it's that pointless and unjust.

  8. I really like the first and third stanzas; malignancy, insidious, intractable, relentlessly--big,heavy, hard words.

  9. Intense! The violence of conquest lends itself quite willingly to the poet's pen.

  10. I want more!

    All the comments about your poem ring true but there is still more that can be brought to the page I hope. It leaves me hungry. Having to re-read it several more times just to try and bring the images to a much more vivid place in my brain. Fabulous work - if you continue with this piece please let me know.


  11. Your poem is thought provoking and i for one will be so elated when the word "continues" does not continue anymore. There is so much to learn and treasure. Thank you, Cynthia.

  12. Great response to the prompt image! A very powerful poem, great write.

  13. This worked really well - the inclusion of the quotes threw me a little - are they real quotes or poetic devices - but the overall message of the poem is strong.

  14. i like where you went with this prompt...well done and thanks for sharing

  15. Amazing how we combine what's in front of us, what's in us. This poem could be taken farther, it's true; I'd like to see the landscape you traveled included in some measure.

  16. A powerful piece - vomiting pestilence continues in one place or another. Well done...

  17. Praying my comment takes today! Yesterday I tried without avail...

    This stanza...oh, wow.

    *With intractable whiteness
    he travels relentlessly
    absorbing all in his wake
    and vomiting pestilence.*


  18. The above comment was from Julie Jordan Scott, whose ID is not interacting with your blog very well today. ^shrugs^

  19. hmm, i like this idea of a dialogue - and wow, the images:"mist wrapped malignancy"

  20. Epic. I love it.

  21. Powerful words. 'Vomiting Pestilence' also struck me...

  22. I really like the different and contrasting voices in this piece. I also like how the last stanza takes it from history into the present. Nicely done.