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Death Undignified, Fort Laramie 1860

Debbie Guzzi Avatar Debbie Guzzi - LIFETIME Premium Member Debbie Guzzi - Premium MemberPremium Member Send Soup Mail Go to Poets Blog Block poet from commenting on your poetry

Below is the poem entitled Death Undignified, Fort Laramie 1860 which was written by poet Debbie Guzzi. Please feel free to comment on this poem. However, please remember, PoetrySoup is a place of encouragement and growth.

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Death Undignified, Fort Laramie 1860

The summer sun was high. The heat was oppressive.
The whalebone corset dug into the body's tender parts.
Peering from the shop, my hand touching the pane
of dearly brought glass, I feel the vibration of the incoming riders.
The weak blue sky pales, and clouds over with the dust. 
Children playing at hoop, let it drop with an unheard clatter.

Inside Fort Laramie’s provisioner, Mrs. Dreary’s dropped plate clatters.
Outside the general store, a thunder of hoofs race pell-mell through heat oppressive.
“Indians,” the children scream, running through the miasma of dust.
Folks in wagons and on horseback flee for other parts.
“Sioux,” I nod. Gunshots ring through the air savaging the riders.
The shopkeeper’s wife runs up the back stairs. Her baby screams in pain.

Arrow flights buzz by shattering shop window panes.
The indians leap from horse back to tile roof raising a clatter.
Mr. Dreary reaches for his Sharp shooter and aims at the riders.
A cat’s eye marble falls from the toy display, a mundane oppression.
Dreary slams shut the door. The shards of glass scatter, bullet parted.
“Mame, git away from that window now! Gener’l Connor’ll kill me if y’ur dusted.”

My eyes, now black and hollow as a barn owls, tear, full of dust.
“Damn heathens” Mr. Dreary cusses. Bullets clip through the broken pane.
Pulling me behind, opening the useless glass door. “Thop” an arrow parts
his scalp. He falls backward, landing beside me, spurs clattering.
The wee baby screams again and I turn to see Mrs. Dreary's oppressive
grip on the child. “He’s dead.” She says grabbing the Sharp. She kills a rider.

The arriving soldiers chase the mongrel band of heathen riders.
Mrs. Dreary, babe in one arm, Sharp in the other, kicks the fallen marble in the dust.
She walks through the door, out of one carnage into another type of oppression,
the soldiers are executing the Sioux braves. Children watch in pain.
Across the street a lone warrior perches. A roof tile clatters
to the dirt. His arrow flies and a soul is parted.

Falling with blind numbness, forward, down, parting
the water in the horse trough left for the incoming riders.
My brass buttons and flint arrowhead scrape the tub clattering,
no one in the street notices my departing in the days dust.
My open mouth fills with the rancid, taste of pain.
“How improper,” was my last lucid thought, oppressive.

The clatter of hoofs rocks my parting
The oppression of man against man leaves with the riders.
Only dust and the pain of the living remains.

Poet: Debbie Guzzi



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  1. Date: 7/1/2014 1:55:00 PM
    Ahh!! Great quality poetry!! Way to go with this win..Congrats..Sara

  1. Date: 6/28/2014 1:08:00 AM
    Debbie this was a great entry. It kept my interest to the end of the story despite the repetition of words. Congratulations. Love, Joyce

  1. Date: 6/27/2014 8:55:00 AM
    Debbie, congrats on a fine win in a difficult challenge.

  1. Date: 8/5/2011 4:19:00 PM
    Deb, Congratulations on this gem as well as the other two making it through to the First Rounds of PS's Intl. Contest! Always a pleasure to read, girl! Love, Annalise

  1. Date: 8/3/2011 7:03:00 PM
    Congratulations on making the first cut with all three of your poems Debbie and good luck!

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 10:53:00 AM
    Congrats on a well written well deserved win, Deb. Nice going. Luv Ralph

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 10:29:00 AM
    A big congratulations on your win Debbie. I also believe it is one of your best poems. Love, Carol

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 9:19:00 AM
    Oh my, you sure pulled out all the stops here, Debbie? A sestina and in dialect too-- way to go on your awesome win with this gripping piece-- I was only able to write a sestina once and that was one huge challenge-- kudos to you for this impressive story! I think you inspired me to try writing one again soon! Super congrats on your win! hugs

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 8:23:00 AM
    Wow.....not only an amazing story of the wild west, in perfection, but in sestina form....only you could pull it off!! Congratulations!! love it!!

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 7:51:00 AM
    Great story here Debbie, and to think you pulled it off in a Sestina. Well done, and congratulations on your win in Joyce's contest!~Chris

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 7:22:00 AM
    Wow wow wow No words needed to describe this masterpiece.Many warm congrats for this win.

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 6:40:00 AM
    A bit different for you..well done. Congrats, I hadnt seen this before and I really like it. BG

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 6:31:00 AM
    Congrats Debbie on your awesome win in Joyce's contest with this unique write .. so happy to be sharing the winners podium with one of the best luv..

  1. Date: 2/28/2011 4:34:00 AM
    stirring the mind and engaging the feelings, lights… KUDOS to you for king-sized win, :) huggs, nette

  1. Date: 2/27/2011 11:15:00 PM
    Aha, so you entered your best sestina into the contest. My remarks from June are right below here.Glad to see you score really high with this one, Deb. Congratulations. Luv, Andrea

  1. Date: 6/27/2010 11:25:00 PM
    DEb, this is one I had commented on before. I just forgot its title. I can't recall: why did you want me to see it? I can't recall what made you ask me to come see it. Anyway, yes, this is your BEST sestina. I remember really thinking so when I saw it the first time. Those final words do not sound forced at all, and that is the art of makng a good sestina. Soupmail

  1. Date: 6/10/2010 7:37:00 PM
    WOW! Absolutely brilliant!! Terrific story, my friend...This one goes to my FAVs! Great-great work. Ruben.

  1. Date: 6/10/2010 5:07:00 AM
    Nice Sestina, I loved "Walking through the door, out of one carnage into another type of oppression the soldiers are executing the Sioux braves. Children watch pained. Across the street a lone warrior perches. A roof board clatters to the dirt and his arrow flies and flesh is parted."

  1. Date: 6/9/2010 11:10:00 PM
    wow, Deb, this is quite the sestina, especially for western lovers! REads like one of those shoot em up cowboy movies! I really like how you worked all the words into the last little stanza there. excellent final line. Very fine work! LUv, Andrea

  1. Date: 6/9/2010 6:41:00 PM
    This is truly amazing, I felt like I was right there, you have mastered Sestina, dear heart, just wonderful. It rates a big 7 for me.. love constance

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